Focused on distraction
November 16, 2012 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm easily distracted by the Internet while I write, but I don't want to shut it off altogether. Please help me cobble together a solution.

I use Pomodoro timers to schedule my writing time (for example, write for 20 minutes, then a 10 minute break). I'd like something that blocks access to specified sites, but I do need to look stuff up while I'm writing.

I installed Chrome Nanny and it's doing a great job of telling me how much time I'm wasting on my frivolous sites, but it doesn't block or close tabs even though it appears to be configured correctly. I'm rusty with regular expressions so that might be part of the problem.

Is there a solution that combines multiple user-configured timers and a site-specific block? I'm willing to buy such a program if it exists; otherwise, please help me put together a system that prevents me from browsing MeFi when I should be typing.

Specifics: I work cross-platform, with Windows 8 on a desktop, XP on a netbook, and an iPad. Something that could work on all three would be awesome, but the most important one is the Windows 8 machine; I use the others in places where there's already situational distraction.
posted by catlet to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Leechblock for Firefox can be configured to block various list of sites in various ways, and can get the list from a URL (though I think you'd still have to configure the timers in each browser.
posted by BrashTech at 7:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Freedom is great[1], but it blocks all Internet access which doesn't fit your requirements. I'm not sure if this exists for Windows, but the author of Freedom makes an app called "anti-social"[2] that blocks only social networking and media sites that is equally good.

posted by theNonsuch at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: I'm here to help.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:51 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

I use Concentrate for mac, which allows set time lengths, specific site and network blocks, and even blocks certain applications on the computer. I have various setups like "15 minutes writing w/ email" and "1 hour writing w/o email". When I click on of these it opens what I need and closes everything else. I realise that's not fully helpful to you, but maybe you can find Windows alternative based on searching around Concentrate?
posted by distorte at 7:57 AM on November 16, 2012

Here you go. The process of doing this is just annoying enough to keep you on track for extended periods of time. Also, this isn't browser-specific solution, either.
posted by lobbyist at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use StayFocusd for Chrome as it can be set to allow you only so much time per day on a particular site. So for example, you can set it up to allow you an hour a day on Metafilter, then it blocks it. Or you can just block sites.

Personally, I use Chrome as my work browser and block all the non-work sites I use to screw around on. So yes, all I have to do if I REALLY MUST see what's going on on Facebook is open up Firefox instead, but that seems to be enough of a speedbump to keep me on task and cut down the casual browsing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:02 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sternmeyer, that is exactly what I was looking for - a configurable Pomodoro timer with site blocking. Thank you! (I would have answered this earlier but it wouldn't let me get to MetaFilter....)

Thanks for all the answers - please keep them coming, as what works for me might not work for others.

Also, iPad solutions would be awesome; Concentrate is desktop only, and I run Safari and Perfect Browser on that.
posted by catlet at 8:30 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

RescueTime is a whole company around this problem. It's mostly about measuring time wasters; very detailed reporting. But it has a distraction free mode that effectively blocks things, too.
posted by Nelson at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2012

I used the "Invisibility Cloak" script. It lets you set "surf times" for various websites (like, "after 3pm"). The script can be found here, and the LifeHacker article here (although their link to the script is broken)
posted by jrobin276 at 5:36 PM on November 16, 2012

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