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I've never been at the stage where I don't do _anything_, but I'm often frustrated that I don't do _enough_.

I went through a stage of spending way too much time on Reddit - on the order of 4-5 hours a day. This has been discussed often, but it can be crippling - as soon as you hit the tiniest mental roadblock, you switch your browser to Reddit, next thing you know it's 20 minutes later and not only is your roadblock not solved, you even forgot what you were doing. So then you read more Reddit while you try to remember.

It's terrible, and a lot of it isn't even conscious, until the day is over and you realize how little you did.

My friend made a good point - you don't NEED more than 15 minutes a day to keep up to date with what's on sites like Reddit or HN. You can spend a lot more time, but beyond a certain point it's just frustration that you've already read all of it.

So I installed LeechBlock:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476/

I set it to allow 15 minutes of access every 6 hours to my timesinks, and I set it to not allow access to its settings during the blocked times (so I can't easily turn it off).

At first I would hit the blocked page every few minutes, without even realizing that I intended to do so. The frequency was a bit shocking, to be honest - part of it was honestly muscle memory by then (alt-tab to browser, type "re", down, enter). The blocked page made it possible to force myself to focus on work again, every time, but it also made me realize how badly my brain patterns had been disrupted - my brain just craved distractions and did NOT want to focus for more than a few minutes at a time, which is never enough to do anything meaningful.

After about a week, the cravings for distraction were a lot lower. After about two weeks, they were mostly gone. I've now settled into a good rhythm, I complete tasks without interruption and check the time sinks for a few minutes at a time in between tasks - and I always have the safety net of the 15 minutes per 6 hours limit. I usually hit that limit, but not always.

Sure, it's trivial to circumvent LeechBlock (just use a different browser, for example), but that's not the point. The point is that you are making a conscious decision that what your brain is doing is not OK, and you need to re-train it to do what you want. Things like LeechBlock are not magical solutions, but just tools to help you do that.

Edit: I prefer LeechBlock to the hostsfile hacks because it's not as rigid: it lets me settle into a natural rhythm that works for me, which also means I'm a lot less likely to turn it off and "forget" to turn it back on.




I just have a "startwork" script that uncomments my etc/hosts files.

    #!/bin/sh
    bash -c "awk '{sub(/#127/, "127")};{print}' /etc/hosts > /etc/hosts.new; mv /etc/hosts.new /etc/hosts;"
And my etc/hosts looks like this:

    127.0.0.1               www.onemorelevel.com
    127.0.0.1               onemorelevel.com
    #127.0.0.1               www.hulu.com
    #127.0.0.1               news.ycombinator.com
    #127.0.0.1               www.facebook.com
    #127.0.0.1               www.youtube.com
    #127.0.0.1               www.netflix.com
    #127.0.0.1               mail.google.com
    #127.0.0.1               www.reddit.com
    127.0.0.1               www.techcrunch.com
Once I run the startwork script, sites are blocked by uncommenting the sites. There is no "startplay" script or "stop work" script, since I want to make it more painful to undo. To undo, you simply comment out the sites you want to visit.

It's been pretty effective so far. The mere fact of putting up barriers to the things that you don't want to do more of, and lowering barriers to those that you do want to do more of goes a long way.


startwork script should be on a cron job which runs every 30 minutes. (details:http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1917827)



I installed the StayFocusd extension a week ago, and set 20 minute limits for Hacker News and Facebook. From that alone, my productivity has gone up tenfold. The amount of time I wasted wandering the internet was ridiculous!

In short: I highly recommend StayFocusd for Chrome users.


I concur, StayFocusd is good. Now, if only it could prevent me from using firefox as well...


Thanks for this, I was persuaded by parent's argument, but am a Chrome user.


LeechBlock is awesome. It actually includes wildcard blocking of subdomains as well -- that's extremely helpful to me (sadly I've found myself visiting de.reddit.com when the site was blocked in my hostfile.)

I also love the custom redirect. Great addon.


Nice addon will have to give it a try at work.

One thing that has worked well for me is the Postrank addon for Chrome for Hacker news: http://bit.ly/aKLjCT

It means rather than spending hours on Hacker news I can quickly glance to see if there is anything interesting to read and add it to Instapaper. Then read it later on Instapaper app on my phone when I have downtime on the train for example. Kind of best of both worlds, get my fix of interesting info on HN and don't lose too much productivity at work.


Installed on your recommendation. Will try it out, though I probably need a few more than 15... :)


I experienced your same situation but with "get shit done": http://userstyles.org/styles/28042


But what if I miss out on an insightful "How to get on TechCrunch" article or fail to provide my $0.02 advice for a "Ask HN" post?


Or worse -- what if someone is wrong on the internet? http://xkcd.com/386/

Ha ha. Though I've shamefully spent all-nighters "working" on that problem, even while knowing the futility of it all. The upside is that in the process I often end up updating, refining, and researching my own opinions on important topics. The downside is that the sometimes egregious lack of sleep probably shortens my life.

Here's what sucked up a chunk of my should-be-sleeping time recently: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5782108/1/Harry_Potter_and_the_M...

(found via HN, I think?)


Is there a chrome equivalent?




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