Do you spend too much time surfing the web when you should be working? I know I do. I can’t tell you the number of hours I’ve lost by reading Reddit, watching videos on Youtube or surfing news sites.
Luckily, I was able to change that. I installed a Chrome extension called StayFocused. It’s pretty simple: after installation, you add the websites you waste the most time on. Then you give yourself a time limit. The time limit is a total for all the websites. For example, mine is set at 30 minutes per day. This means I can spend a total of 30 minutes per day on ALL the websites I have listed in the settings – not 30 minutes per website.
I also set what’s called the “nuclear option.” This means that after 10:30pm, I can no longer visit any of the sites on my blacklist, regardless if I used up that 30 minutes or not. I did this because I know that I waste the most time at night.
Think Twice Before Cheating
There is an easy way to cheat though. I can visit all my favorite time-wasting websites for as long as I want by opening up an incognito window. Surprisingly, I found I don’t do this often. Taking that extra step to open an incognito window just so I can see the latest posts on Reddit (for example) forces me to think twice about wasting time, and perhaps there’s something more productive I can be doing.
If one really wants to, however, you can change a simple Chrome setting to allow StayFocused to work in incognito mode as well.
Changing The Settings
What about just changing the settings? They’ve thought of that too. You cannot change the settings for the current day. And I made it even harder for me to change the settings by choosing an option that makes me copy, word for word, a long piece of text (oh yeah, copy/paste does not work). They want to make it a pain in the ass to change anything you have set. Again, it can be done, but having to take those extra sets makes me think twice about it.
Maybe in the future StayFocused will add an option that will render Chrome useless if it thinks you’re cheating. This might be a little extreme for some people. But at least you won’t get fired from your job for watching too many twerking videos on Youtube.
Since I don’t track my hours of actual productive work, I can’t give you stats about how much StayFocused has increased my productivity. But I can say that for me, this extension works great.
As far as I know, this specific add-on is only available on the Chrome browser. However, a quick search revealed there are plenty of similar extensions for other browsers. If you have a nasty habit of wasting a lot of time surfing the internet, you should find something similar to keep you accountable. You’ll be surprised at how much more productive you can be.