February 4, 2013 by Will Ray
I’ve often struggled with staying focused while at the computer. Facebook (which I am on for my job – sometimes), news media, sports, stupid YouTube videos, and everything else is a non-stop, 24/7 distraction machine. Anyone else struggle with this?
It’s horrible. It takes away from your work, and it sucks the life out of you. Those things are leeches of your time, energy, willpower, and effectiveness, and they need to be squashed.
I began looking for real solutions to this problem last year. I use Apple’s Safari web browser and have for a while, so I needed a solution that could work with that. I used RescueTime’s service with the valuable “Get Focused” tool until they converted to a premium pay-service model last year. I still use their time-tracking tool to see where I spend most of my time on my computer, which gives me a weekly report about my productivity.
Last month, I found the solution I’ve been looking for. Enter “WasteNoTime,” a great little plugin designed for use with Safari.
Among other things, it’s features include:
– Blocking of certain distracting sites
– Set time allowance of browsing “blocked” sites each day (example: 30 minutes/day to browse all sites on block list)
– “Instant Lockdown” – blocking of all sites except those you specifically pre-designate
– Time tracker feature
– Customized settings for when the plugin is active or inactive
Here’s how some of the features work:
Upon install, you’ll find a new button on your Safari browser that looks like this:
Clicking on that will show a pop-up menu:
This menu shows if the plugin is active and tells you how much time you have remaining to spend on your “blocked sites.” Clicking into the “Settings” at the bottom brings up a new tab or page from which you can adjust the myriad of settings
Here’s how I use it. I have the plugin active from 8am-5pm, Monday-Thursday. On those days, I allow myself a total of 30 minutes of time on my “Blocked Sites” – Facebook, news media sites, blogs I love, basically anything that sucks time from things I need to accomplish.
You can set even a custom time allowed for certain sites; for example, I give YouTube 30 minutes a day in case I’m trying to find a video to use for Bridge, or watching a sermon for research. Here’s my block list:
Once you use up that 30 minutes (or however much time you set) those sites on the block list are gone for the day. The plugin is pretty fascinating. If you have multiple tabs open, and some sites are allowed, and others are not, it will only count down when you are viewing the tabs on the block list. Pretty cool.
Also, when you do the Instant Lockdown, your browser is literally locked down. No access to anything, unless it’s specifically on the “Allow” list and you choose that option. On my lockdowns, I allow YouVersion.com, BibleGateway.com, MoreThanDodgeball.com, and Crosswalk.com, in case I’m working on a project for Youth.
You have to allow the timer to run down. You get to set the time, so if you need an hour or 20 minutes, it’s customizable for you.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using this plugin to help me stay focused and crush the distractions. WasteNoTime has helped me with that. Check out LeechBlock (for Firefox) or RescueTime (universal) for some other great options. Whatever you do, it’s time to drop the distractions and get some stuff done. Take control of your life.
Question: What tools do you use to keep from getting distracted?