Productivity Hack Of The Week: Manage Online Distractions

We all get distracted by time-sucking websites at times. Here’s how to take back control of your computer time.

Productivity Hack Of The Week: Manage Online Distractions
[Photo: Flickr user Jared Tarbell]

Oh, the Internet–a blessing and a curse to the average worker.


While browsing the web can be infinitely helpful, lurking in the dark recesses of the Internet are tons of distracting websites just waiting for you to cruise by.

While some might argue that taking a Facebook break is actually good for you–
psychology researcher Shelly H. Carson believes for example that distractions can take you down interesting pathways you hadn’t expected–it’s still pretty clear that there’s only so much time you could spend on the site before you officially deem it a complete time suck.

So to help you get off Facebook–or Reddit, or Twitter, or any other site you browse when you just don’t want to do work–here are a couple free tools to help you maintain your online distractions.

Track How Much Time You Waste Exactly

For an idea of how you’re actually spending your day, check out RescueTime Lite, an app that runs in the background while you work on your computer or smartphone.

The tool tracks each second you spend on applications and websites and gives you weekly reports and data based on your activity. In using the tool you’ll begin to notice time-wasting trends and just how much time you spend not being as productive as you thought.

Set Some Time Limits

Once you know how much time you actually spend screwing around online you can decide how much you want to cut that down.


StayFocused, a productivity extension for Google Chrome, allows you to restrict the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites.

Simply add the tool to your Chrome extensions here, open Settings, indicate what sites you consider time-wasters under the Blocked Sites tab, and then set the amount of time you will allow yourself to use these sites under the Maximum Time Allowed tab. Keep in mind that the timer applies to all blocked sites in aggregate, so if you spend it all on Twitter, then no Facebooking for you that day.

Block Out Sites Completely

Do you lack self-control completely and need to put yourself on a productivity lock down? You could try working with just a single tab open or you can try completely blocking specific sites altogether, which you can do in Google Chrome using the Block site extension.

Once you install the extension, right click anywhere on your web browser, hover over Block site in the drop down menu, and click options. From there you can make a list of sites you want blocked during your chosen time intervals.

Now every time you attempt to visit a blocked site you’ll be redirected to the company’s special blocked website.

To help you work smarter instead of harder, we’re hitting you with a productivity hack each Friday. Check out our hacks here.


About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere