I sat down at my computer at 4 p.m. with the rest of the afternoon and evening in front of me. I was almost salivating with thoughts of how much I could get done with all this free time. The next thing I remember was looking at my clock and realizing 3 hours had passed and I had accomplished nada.
Have you ever had the intention of watching one YouTube video and then a ‘related video’ in the right toolbar caught your eye so you clicked on that one? These ‘rabbit holes’ are all too familiar when you start with one Wikipedia article and end up clicking through hyperlink after article after hyperlink until you come to your senses an hour later.
Remember a golden rule about information consumption: Interesting is not the same as relevant. Many millions of things on the internet are interesting but very few are relevant to our goals.
So if that’s the problem then what is the solution?
I believe it is much more effective to create external constraints rather than using your own willpower. This is true no matter how strong or weak you believe yourself to be.
I have tested many different tools to prevent myself from checking my Facebook 20 times a day. Below I will give my opinion on various blocking software available and how easy it is for your addicted self to circumnavigate them
This Firefox add-on is extremely popular on the web. By the way, if you are not browsing the web using Mozilla Firefox then I recommend you do.
It’s free and simple to download. What’s great is that you can specify the period of time or day of the week that you would like to block a site. For example: between 9 and 5, only have access to the evil site for 10 minutes every Sunday or block it completely. If you choose to enable access for a set period then you will see a countdown timer in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. You can create up to six different categories of sites to block e.g. emails. social networking. videos, adult content, etc. Pretty nifty.
As this is a Firefox plugin when I’m shaking from email withdrawals I can just load my Safari browser on my Mac or Internet Explorer if I’m using a PC.
Created by Steve Lambert, a Brooklyn-based developer and artist, this one is for serious addicts.
Before pressing ’start block’ on this baby you had better be sure because there is no going back. Even a reboot of your computer won’t disable the block. Like Leechblock you can set a time limit of anything between 1 minute to 12 hours. If you deem a site to be poisonous to your productivity you can add it to your black list in one click. Also, Steve and his team have always responded promptly to any emails I have sent them with questions or problems that are not answered by their excellent FAQ. There also does not appear to be a limit on the number of sites that you can add to your blacklist.
Only available for Mac users. Blocking a domain will disable all sub-domains. For example, if I wish to block Google videos because I’m searching for humorous clips now that my YouTube is blocked- I will also block all other Google pages in the process. I have also experienced a recurring bug that sets the timer to 00:00 with a perma-block. (Actually, that should be an advantage
This blocker does not discriminate in terms of productive or unproductive websites, it declares an all-out war by disabling your network connection entirely.
Great for creatives who want to block all distractions to get into that all-important flow state necessary for writing, composing, programming, etc. You can also specify the time you would like to disable your connection and can set it to anything from 20 minutes to 8 hours.
Only available for Mac users at the moment. Also, unlike Self Control, a simple reboot of your machine will disable the block.
More of a productivity tool than a pure blocker, this time management and analytics tool has more uses than I can discuss here.
The basic version is extremely useful to see where exactly you are spending your time and comes at a great price: free. If you would like to track your online time then this is the tool to use.
The ability to block sites is only available on the paid version of the software.
Modify the host’s file on your own computer
No need for fancy plugins here. Go minimalist by editing a simple text file that lives on your own system.
Once you have entered the website to be blocked it will be inaccessible across all platforms- Safari, Firefox, explorer, and so on.
For Luddites and nonprogrammers, it can be a little tricky to set up, however, the step-by-step instructions here are excellent. Ironically, once you are familiar with the process of entering a site onto your block list then you will also know how to remove a site also. Also, some URLs I have entered are still accessible for whatever reason. My advice would be to enter many different versions of the domain.