Thursday, March 22, 2012

Self-Control and the Struggle to Stay Productive

What's your Internet Achilles' heal?  For some it's Pinterest.  For others, it's on-line games.  For someone else, it might be eBay.

I don't have a problem clicking away from any of those, but I can't seem to stay away from Facebook.  It can suck the hours right out of my day.  I don't know why I have such a weakness for it.  While I do "get something out of it", especially on my Haphazard Homestead page, I don't think what I get out of it is commensurate with the time I can find myself putting into it.

Worse is that I can't seem to leave it alone on my own.  I'm not normally one who has trouble exercising willpower, but staying away from Facebook is harder for me than cutting back on sugar was last month, or giving up cigarettes cold turkey was ten years ago.  I did give FB up cold turkey a couple of years ago (really, that long ago?) and did fine, but I don't want to give it up entirely now; I think it's a usefully tool for bloggers.

What I have found that works for me is LeechBlock.  LeechBlock is a free Mozilla Add-On for those who use the Firefox browser.  I can choose what sites to block and either block them entirely, for specified periods of time each day, or specified amounts of time within a time period (for example, I can block a site for 45 minutes out of each hour), or I can set up one-time blocking as needed.  There are also tracking tools to show you what sites you spend the most time viewing and other nifty tools.

I've tried a few different scenarios.  Blocking Facebook from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. was a little too stringent, but allowing myself 10 minutes each of those hours was still too lax.  I'm currently allowing myself a half-hour in the early morning, an hour at lunchtime and a half-hour in the afternoon, plus unlimited time in the late evening and on weekends.  That gives me several large blocks of time during the day to get other things done without the Facebook distraction.

I'm sure there are other similar tools on-line for folks who don't use Firefox.  I did a very quick search of "website blocker" and came up with a few.  LeechBlock is free, and others may be as well, but I have seen some that charge a fee for the service.

I think these tools work psychologically as much as they do practically.  In addition to my laptop, we have two other computers in the house that are not blocked.  I could easily hop onto one of them to see FB while mine blocks it, but I don't.   I could also get on Internet Explorer and access it that way, but I won't do that, either.  I guess I just need a small reminder to turn away and stay on-task with other things.

I don't block any other sites at this time, but if one becomes a time-suck for me, I will add it to my list.

What about you?  Do you have a lack of will-power when it comes to certain websites, or the internet in general?  What tools do you use to make your day more productive?

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  This is simply a tool that works for me and I thought I'd share it with my readers.
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