By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 28, 2016 at 11:07 AM

We're all connected 24/7 to computers, tablets, phones and television. But there's more to life than being online – even for a digital media company – so this week we're excited to show you ways to connect with family and friends, even when there's no signal. Steinhafels presents OnMilwaukee Unplugged Week, a celebration of all things analog. Sit back, log into these stories and then log into the real world.

Life is filled with distractions. And that can signal a death knell for folks who are looking to dive in and get work done.

One of the biggest time suckers out there is social media. In 2011, Nielsen found that Americans spent almost 1 in every 5 minutes online on social media sites. A report released in 2016 notes that the average adult (18 and over) spends more than 8 hours per week on social media channels.

Fortunately, there are some savvy technological solutions which, when used smartly, can help anyone limit the number of online distractions to which they’re exposed on a daily basis. Think of it as putting yourself into "airplane mode" – disabling your connectivity to the internet similarly to the way your phone does when in Airplane Mode.

Here are six apps that can help.

Blocking apps

1. SelfControl  is a free Mac application that lets you block specific websites for up to 24 hours. And the app is effective, mainly because it’s nearly impossible to fool. Even if you restart your computer or delete the app from your hard drive, the blocked sites remain off-limits until the timer runs out.

2. Freedom is another popular anti-distraction app, which goes even further than SelfControl by preventing users from connecting to the Internet at all for periods of up to eight hours at a time. The app, which is available for Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android, allows you to begin unconnected sessions both on-the-fly or in advance.Planned sessions can recur at the same time daily or weekly, helping productivity to become habitual. 

3. StayFocused is similar. This Chrome browser extension can be used to help you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. It is highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content including videos, games and images.

Monitoring and time management apps

4. Just curious about how much time you waste? RescueTime is a Chrome extension which tracks your usage, allowing you to go back later and see exactly how much time you’ve frittered away, and where you did it.

5. The Pomodoro Technique is another option. The technique assists you in getting work done by helping you develop 25-minute blocks of productivity with intermittent breaks of 5-10 minutes. The Simple Pomodoro app provides a timer that will alert you when it’s time to take a break and when it’s time to get back to work.

For kids

6. If you want to help your kids to develop healthy online habits – or simply limit where they go and for how long – Ourpact is an iOS application that can help. Created to help parents guide the mobile habits of their children, as well as teach responsibility through technology, the app app allows parents to schedule usage time, limit the amount of time your children can spend on the internet or using specific apps, and block (or unblock) the internet or specific apps as you see fit.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.