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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/shutterstock_73492042.jpg”>The new player in the field may be addictive, but even before it came along there was no lack of websites that are way more beckoning than work. Be it Facebook, email, Google Reader, or just your favorite blog, the Internet today is distraction galore.
While some of us work in offices where these sites are blocked, some of us have to exercise incredible willpower on a daily basis when we try not to waste our time on these websites. There are many solutions out there, and today I’m going to to review the best blocking solutions I could find. No matter what browser or operating system you use, one of these is bound to work for you.
KeepMeOut lets you set a certain amount of time in which you’re only allowed to visit the culprit website once. Meaning, if you want to visit Facebook no more than once every hour, this is a solution for you.
Aside from setting the time-gap limit, you can set it to work only on weekdays and set certain hours of the day in which the blocking would work. It’s not very flexible — you can only choose all days or just weekdays, and you can’t choose different times for different days, or separate time spans like 0900-1200, 1400-1700.
KeepMeOut works by creating a new link to your website of choice, which you are meant to use every time you want to visit this website. The best way to use it is to bookmark the new address in a way that is most accessible to you. If you visit this new address more than once in your allowed time span, the website will be blocked.
Keep in mind that if you use just the regular address and not the one created by KeepMeOut, nothing will be blocked. There is also no time limit per visit, so if you really want to cheat you can just leave the page open and come back to it, or browse your feed for 2 hours without interruption.
MinutesPlease is another web-based solution that uses a different principle. It works by allotting you a certain amount of time to spend on a website, and blocks you when your time is up. It doesn’t actually block the website per se, but simply closes the website’s tab automatically. Nothing prevents you from opening it again once it does this, so a certain amount of willpower is still required.
As can be seen in the screenshot, you don’t have to visit the MinutesPlease website to use it. You can enter an address directly that will open your requested website for the requested time. You can also bookmark these addresses if you want to use them regularly. You can open several websites at once with MinutesPlease, and it will keep track of your remaining time in all of them. You can pause, add time, or cancel the limit any time you want, so again, some willpower is still a must.
While surfing your forbidden website, you’ll see the timer ticking away on the MinutePlease open tab (if you chose to use it). It will only show the last timer you set, though.
Note that your time is still running out even if you’ve switched tabs, so don’t waste it!
StayFocusd provides a much more flexible and sound solution for those of you who are looking for something more sturdy. Once you install it, you’ll find the StayFocusd blue icon in your Chrome toolbar, which you can use to block the site you’re currently on or to access further options.
StayFocusd can block whole sites, block only specific subdomains (or allow them), and block multiple sites. Once you visit one of the blocked sites, the StayFocusd icon will turn red, and the countdown will start. The timer is set at 10 minutes by default, but this can be changed, of course. The timer will only run when the blocked site’s tab is active, so you don’t have to worry about wasting your precious time. Once your time is up, the website is blocked.
StayFocusd comes with plenty of configurable options, and you can set it up exactly to your liking (or dis-liking, once it blocks your favorite website). If you’re really desperate, you can choose “The Nuclear Option”, which will block all your websites for the whole day – and there’s no turning back!
LeechBlock [Firefox] [No Longer Available]
LeechBlock is an old hat in the blocking game, and it feels like the most solid one of the bunch. If you like everything to be just so and feel the need to create multiple blocking schemes for each hour of the day, give LeechBlock a spin.
LeechBlock leads you through the creation of a Block Set (of which you can create up to 6), and let’s you configure every little nook and cranny in it.
Once you enter one of the blocked websites, a small timer will start running at the bottom right corner of the window. The timer stops when the tab loses focus.
Once your time is up, your out of luck. The website is blocked for you. Unlike StayFocusd, you can configure it to block it only for a certain amount of time, and then surf it again for a limited time. This way you can look at Facebook for 5 minutes every hour, and no more!
Whether you choose the web-based option or the add-ons, you’d still need a certain amount of willpower to stay focused on your work. But there’s nothing like a good countdown to make us feel guilty enough to stop!
If you still need motivation, check out some tools that track the amount of time you waste online.
How do you stay focused on your work? Share your solutions in the comments!
Image credit: Shutterstock