We’re all guilty of falling into the abyss of the internet.  Go to Google to get the answer to one question and 30 minutes later waking up a dozen websites away wondering how we got there.  No surprise our productivity is shot. 

The gem in a recent HubSpot article, Breaking Up With Bad Habits: How I finally Stopped Procrastinating Online, author Scott Tousley sings the praises of a free website-blocking Google Chrome extension that can be set up in 30 seconds. 

So, how does it work?  After you set a specified amount of time, StayFocused blocks distracting websites and puts this message on your screen.  (LK: I couldn’t help adding some comments of my own.)

Shouldn’t you be working?

Scott describes the StayFocused setup in three steps.  (LK: Making a list of the distracting websites sounds like I’m going to break up with some of my best friends.)

Step 1: Write down all websites that distract you.   

Websites that distract me most, causing Black Hole Browsing, are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Trends, and upvote-based websites such as reddit, Hacker News, or Thus, I setup my StayFocusd accordingly. 

Step 2: Set maximum time allowed for all websites each day.

I set my maximum time allowed to 10 minutes per day, which blocks all websites listed. This forces me to move quickly when checking Facebook, Twitter notifications, Linkedin requests, the headlines on Google Trends, and articles websites. (LK: 10 minutes? Are you serious?)

If something looks intriguing, I'll save to Pocket for later. 

10 minutes too little? Cool. Work your way down. Start at an hour. It doesn't matter. All that matters is you start somewhere. 

Step 3: Set active days and hours websites are blocked. 

I block web pages every day of the week, for all hours. 

Why? I don't want to waste any of my life mindlessly browsing online, not merely weekday business hours.

Instead, 24/7 Black Hole Browsing blockage forces me to focus on things that are actually important, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I focus on writing these blog posts (!), listening to your feedback, and analyzing data.

Laser focus on important professional tasks then allows me more time to enjoy personal activities I love, such as hanging with family and friends, writing, playing piano, and surfing (in the water, not the web). 

Great ideas, Scott!

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