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Show HN: Steal back your productivity (heyfocus.com)
42 points by Jasber on Feb 11, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments

I've been using StayFocusd for this exact purpose for years. As others have mentioned, there are rather a lot of extensions and apps that will selectively block distracting sites for you.


Clearly, I have not added HN to my blocklist :)

I saw a lot of these apps out there but none that worked quite how I wanted. I wrote a little more about this in the case study: http://bradjasper.com/blog/case-study-focus/

Eventually my goal is to make Focus pretty extensible so you can run your own custom scripts on focus & unfocus. Hope to have some of this out soon.

This is a small Mac app I made that helps me stay off Hacker News :). It's a menu-bar app that with 1-click blocks certain websites.

If you're interested I did a little write-up here: http://bradjasper.com/blog/case-study-focus/

Also open-sourced it: https://github.com/bradjasper/focus

I could really use this ! but seems fine (get the nice inspirational quotes) with Chrome and Safari, but Firefox still is able to get through. I am typing this using Firefox 26 ...

This is great, thanks for releasing the app and the source code.

Just one question, why is it so big? 1.8mb executable seems quite large.

Still, fantastic!

The case study link on the page is broken actually.

Thanks for catching that! Fixed

I've been using an app called Concentrate (http://www.getconcentrating.com/) for probably 5 years that does the same thing, but it also lets you define apps and services to block (so for example, if I want to get really focussed, I block my Mail app so that I can't check it for the next hour).

I had the pleasure of working with Made By Rocket (makers of Concentrate) when I was a senior in high school (I was 17). Living alone in downtown Boise Idaho, working 40 hour weeks for two different startups, and finishing high school, man that was a rough year.

Concentrate is great, but I'm going for something a little different with Focus over the long-term. Hope to have more features out soon that make this clear :)

There's an older app called Self Control that does this but for a specified time window and cannot be disabled once it's started, including by rebooting. http://selfcontrolapp.com/

Considering the number of machines, physical and virtual, that I have laying around, that wouldn't be much of a barrier.

In my experience, it's not about making accessing these sites impossible, just harder. An alternative is artificially injecting a 30-second delay to any interaction with those websites. When it takes that long for a page to load, it can slowly teach you to un-learn compulsive checking.

see alt text of this comic for example: http://xkcd.com/862/

I'd really like a one-click focus app that:

    * blocks distracting websites (and arbitrary hosts so I can't SSH to my IRC bouncer!)
    * starts playing some elected noise (either generated -- pink noise -- or pre-selected rain/ocean/etc.)
    * blocks notifications (can the OSX notification stuff be set to DnD?)
    * is a Pomodoro timer: will unblock everything by itself in 25min (or whatever time is elected)
Unfortunately, I don't have the time to make it :(.

I'm working on integrating some of this into Focus already, and plan on adding pre-focus & post-focus hooks to add your own custom functionality to cover everything else.

Should be out soon and the app is set to auto-update, so stay tuned :)

Awesome :)

You can insert scripting to the pomodoro app to block wifi (and maybe even play white noise): http://muratbuffalo.blogspot.com/2013/05/one-pomodoro-two-po...

Just to add, I'd love the ability to block notifications as well (as possible with the built-in "non-distracted mode") except for a chosen few applications. For example, I'd like if iCal could still keep me updated on schedules via notifications.

Thanks for making this. It's beautifully crafted and great attention to detail is shown with the inspirational quotes and the optional b/w icon.

Nice, exactly what I'm looking for. A few ideas for features:

More options in the filter preferences. How are wildcards handled and multiple domains?

A system-wide hotkey for turning on and off the distraction (I'm an avid Vim user and do a lot of text editing so I'd prefer not to use the mouse too much). Maybe even make it work together with Alfred.

Custom messages for the blocked website.

Thanks, these are great suggestions. Should definitely be able to get these added.

Nice touch showing a motivational quote when you try to visit the blocked website.

I've been using Concentrate[1] so far with great results. It has a few more options (such as a growl message every X seconds) but no nice motivational quote for websites! :) Also – the first version is actually free (click the buy button).

[1] http://www.getconcentrating.com/

I just can't seem to get Focus to work.

I am using DNSCrypt from OpenDNS, but when I disable it, I still can't get Focus to work. I have Automatic Proxy Discovery and Automatic Proxy Configuration turned off in System Preferences -> Network, but turning these on didn't seem to work either.

Could you add a quick install guide with the required settings?


Hi, if you email contact@bradjasper.com I would be happy to help you set it up.

There's a great free Safari extension called WasteNoTime which does something similar without a proxy, and also has the added benefit of tracking the time you spent daily, weekly, or monthly across all sites (including non-blocked ones) so you can see which ones you need to block.

The unfinished video alone deserves the upvote. Cool idea, now I need to get back to work :)

This app is awesome! I've tried out others, StayFocused, manually editing /etc/hosts, but I love the simplicity of this.

Would it be possible to add exceptions to sites? For example, certain subreddits allowed only?

It would be cool if you could set a schedule for certain times to block sites (or time limits). There are various browser extensions for this, but it would be more effective on the system level.

Thanks this is something I'm definitely thinking about, but can't resolve what happens when you really do want your internet connection back.

Should it just let you?

What happens if a client calls or an emergency happens and you need access?

Would love feedback from anyone who wants this feature.

Most time-wasting sites never need to be accessed, though some of them are occasionally useful.

I think the app should let you access blocked sites when you need to, but make it difficult in some way. E.g. it could pop up with a warning and require user to enter a code. Often people waste time impulsively so a small block is enough to get them back to work.

(Alternatively, it could send out an email or post it online when a user over-rides a blocked site. Or it could fine the user!)

Regarding entering a code: would it be possible to use the google two factor Auth app somehow for that?

I've been desperately looking for an app with this feature.

Can you look at how "LeechBlock" for Firefox works? It's practically perfect but's only for Firefox.


Have you tried "StayFocusd" for Chrome?

The issue is it's too easy to disable a Chrome extension, and then you need to re-enable to get it back. It would be better if they allowed you to temporarily over-ride it instead.

    Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

    The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

Looks pretty useful but since its OS X only, so I can't use it.

Btw, just cursious:

>Do you have a grayscale icon? I don't like colorful icons in my menubar.

Wow, are all Mac users this... particular?

> Wow, are all Mac users this... particular?

I can't speak for all, but me, yes. It's just a visually very quiet area in the upper right, because most icons are black or greyscale. So it is slightly annoying if one of them is colorful.

In Chrome when going to https version of a blocked site, I get the "Error code: ERR_TUNNEL_CONNECTION_FAILED" instead of the inspirational quotes!

I couldn't find a way to intercept SSL traffic that wasn't insecure (method I used was a custom root certificate), so opted for a broken connection instead.

I think the only way to do this securely is a browser extension which I was planning for a later version.

Same here on Firefox 27

509 Bandwidth Limit Exceeded

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

Would this interfere with RescueTime? I like having the metrics of which app I use the most but want to block things using Focus.

I just use RescueTime's get focus functionality.

sudo vim /etc/hosts - just add the website you want to block. Be smart to Skip downloading softwares. :)

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