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Force yourself to work instead of browsing. Focus is a Mac app that blocks distracting sites that shows you an inspirations quote when you try to visit a site you shouldn’t.
It’s so easy, when you’re supposed to be working, to open a Facebook or Reddit tab instead. “Just five minutes,” you tell yourself, but that five minutes will quickly becomes an hour or five. Apps like Focus aren’t going to stop this entirely – you can, after all, simply turn them off – but they can help your present-self give your future-self a prompt; a reminder to stay focused.
I’ve outlined a few ways to block time wasting websites, and I think Focus is the simplest I’ve seen yet. It’s not the cruelest, however – keep reading to find an app that blocks time wasting sites for a set amount of time, even if you delete the app itself. But first, let’s take a look at Focus.
Blocking, Made Simple
Using this app couldn’t be simpler. If you’re feeling distracted, just click the Focus icon in the menubar.
Activate by clicking Focus. When you do, the menubar icon becomes colorful (there’s a grayscale option if you prefer).
Now get to work. If you should lapse, and attempt to open Reddit, you’ll be greeted instead by a motivational quote:
Hopefully the combination of the quote, and the reminder of your intention, is enough to keep you focused. Of course, you could simply click the icon again to turn the filter off. This isn’t meant to be a hardcore lock that blocks such distractions entirely. But with a little bit of self control, this prompt should be enough to remind you to get back to work.
Easy To Configure
Configuring the app couldn’t be easier. There are a few options:
And then, of course, there’s the screen where you can choose which sites to unblock:
The default list includes more social networks and a number of news sites. You can remove the ones you actually need for work and add other sites that distract you. Sites are blocked, system-wide, using the Automatic Proxy Configuration. If you use a Twitter client, and block Twitter – and you need it for work – that will also stop working. Keep this in mind.
Brad Jasper, the creator of Focus, wrote an interesting case study of how he made the app. I’d recommend reading it if you want to learn a bit more about how it works.
I’ve been using Tomighty as my workflow timer lately. I work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. I think Focus is the perfect companion app for Tomighty.
Start your 25 minute work session, then block distractions. When it’s time for your break, unblock them.
Not sure about Focus, but still want to block distractions? Here are a few options.
I promised to share an absolutely sadistic distraction blocker with you, and here it is. SelfControl lets you set a list of sites to block, then pick an amount of time to block them. Once you do, there’s basically nothing you can do to get those distracting sites back: even deleting Self Control will do nothing. If you want a nuclear option, try this.
There are also browser-based options. Among my favorite is Productivity Owl for Chrome, which adds an Owl character to your browser who swoops in to save you from time wasting websites
It’s got a surprising amount of personality, so check it out. If you prefer Firefox, check out LeechBlock [No Longer Available], which blocks time wasting websites in Firefox
There are other apps for the job out there, of course. I hope you will share any favorites I’ve missed in the comments below.
Image Credits: Man standing Via Shutterstock