Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions

Aaron Couch 13-10-2012

stayfocusd chromeThe Internet is a vast place, with loads of information that can often be overwhelming. It would be an understatement to say that it’s the primary resource for research and getting work done. But don’t be caught off guard by its trickery. Although it can be a place of productivity, it also is a master at leisurely distractions that can eat up time you don’t have. StayFocusd for Chrome is among several great  tools to help prevent these distractions from keeping you from important work.


Notice I said “help” and not that they will. Something I want to emphasize is with any tool like this you often assume that it is the be-all, end-all to preventing procrastination (or fill in the blank of a problem that an app can solve). So before I explain StayFocusd’s features and options, remember this:

  1. It won’t do you any good if you don’t set it up and use it, let alone have it disabled.
  2. Ultimately, you’re the one in control — not an extension. It can be a tool and asset, but not a solution.

Now To The Features And Options

You can customize the StayFocusd options as much or as little as you’d like. Even with the default settings, it can help you be productive. Below is the dropdown window in Chrome which displays the website you’re on, time remaining (which you can adjust in the settings) and advanced options such as blocking or allowing a custom URL.

stayfocusd chrome

Maximum Time Allowed

The first option you should become familiar with is Maximum Time Allowed per day. Be sure to set this time accordingly as you cannot change it once the time has run out for that day.

stay focused app chrome


Active Days

The next option is which days StayFocusd should be active on. Note that you cannot change it from the day you’re on so if you don’t want it to be active the next day, uncheck it the day before. This is helpful if you only have certain days that you work, especially if you install this on a work laptop which you take home, but don’t always use it for work.

stay focused app chrome

Active Hours

Active Hours will only apply to the active days which you’ve previously set. At default it’s set to for the entire day, but if you want to restrict 10 minutes of leisurely browsing to the hours you work and not be restricted the rest of the time, be sure to adjust this setting accordingly. Note that once changed, the changes won’t take affect until 24 hours from the time the change was made.

stay focused app chrome


Daily Reset Time

Daily Reset Time is another helpful feature if you work odd hours in the day. Just like the other settings, changes made to this will not take effect until 24 hours from the time changed.

stayfocusd for chrome

Blocked Sites

Here’s where we make all of the magic happen. Actually, it’s just where you block websites, but the way StayFocusd works is pretty magical. Like the rest of the pages, the instructions on the settings page are easy to understand and follow. Simply start adding websites the way you’d type them in any modern browser.

stayfocusd for chrome


However, if you were like me, you stopped at just a few websites that you could think of. You know there are more that you look at and waste time on, but just can’t think of them. Luckily for you, StayFocusd has done some of the work. If you click on the link “Check out this list” next to the question about suggestions, you’ll be presented with a list of popular distractions across the web. Simply click the “+” to add them to your block list.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Blocked Sites List

Note that not all of the sites are pictured above (e.g. Reddit or YouTube aren’t shown in the image, but is on the list), so make sure to check out the complete list.

Another option on the Blocked Sites page is The Reddigglicious Option which is a combination of words from three common timewaster websites: Reddit, Digg and Delicious. The concept is that often times we aren’t on these websites, but are on websites with links to them. This is a must-have feature for people with CHS – Click-Happy Syndrome. I’m one of those people – where I will just click on a link without even thinking about why I was on that page. Perhaps I was even on the page for a legitimate and productive reason (which happens to me all the time and I will touch upon that in a bit.) So as the image below states, this feature works by continuously running the timer while on webpages that even though they aren’t on the blocked list, contain a link which is.


stayfocusd for chrome

Allowed Sites

This isn’t a mandatory setting to use, however if you want to ensure that the timer doesn’t use up your time on certain sites, you must add them to this list.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Allowed Sites

The Nuclear Option

This setting is insane, hence the word “nuclear” in the name. The image below is pretty self explanatory, but just use caution with this as many times you might forget about websites you use on a daily basis, such as webmail. Be sure to add these sites to your allow list (although this can get tedious if there are a lot or you don’t have a specific set of websites which you use). This feature can be quite beneficial if used appropriately – just make sure you completely understand how it works so it doesn’t actually inhibit you from accomplishing work.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings The Nuclear Option

Require Challenge

What about just changing settings? Well, if you don’t trust yourself you can enable this option, but I warn you – you better have 100% (no less) typing percentage, meaning no mistakes, otherwise you could become quite frustrated.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Require Challenge

The strategy behind the challenge is that changing settings for your own convenience will be extremely difficult or impossible, or at least an inconvenience to say the least. Below is a preview of what you would have to complete before altering any settings if this setting were activated.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Challenge Preview

Note: you can see this exact preview by clicking the link “Click here” next to the question asking if you’d like to test the challenge before you turn it on.


Can I customize any of these settings or features? Are there more features? I thought you’d never ask. The answer is yes to both. In the first image below, you can see features such as Sync, Popup, Infobar, and “Are you still there?” overlay.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Customize

You may want to disable sync if you use Chrome Sync between two computers, such as a personal and work computer, but don’t want the same StayFocusd settings or even the extension itself on your personal computer and only want it on your work computer. I find this option rather beneficial. The other options in that image are pretty self explanatory.

Other options on this page are customizing the notifications that StayFocusd prompts you with and also adjusting the text for the challenge.

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Customize2

Import/Export Settings

Lastly there’s the option to export and import your settings. Obviously if you go to great lengths of customizing this awesome extension, you don’t want it to be all for not. The export function allows you to save a “backup” of this or even just make it easy to add these settings to another computer (yours or even a friend’s)

Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions StayFocusd Settings Import and Export Settings

Two Weaknesses of StayFocusd To Make Note Of

These aren’t really weaknesses of the extension itself, but just areas to be aware of that the extension is limited.

Can Be Manually Disabled

Obviously if this wasn’t the case, we’d have to worry about a very invasive browser extension that would literally be controlling us. Despite all of the extreme settings like The Nuclear Option and The Challenge, the Achilles heel of StayFocusd is that you can go to your extensions page and disable it at any time. This is actually nice if you made a mistake in the settings and no longer have control over adjusting them, or need to adjust them sooner than allowed. However, it’s obvious that if you have little to no self discipline, you can easily give in to yourself and disable the extension. This gets back to the two important points I made at the beginning:

  1. It won’t do you any good if you don’t set it up and use it, let alone have it disabled.
  2. Ultimately, you’re the one in control — not an extension. It can be a tool and asset, but not a solution.

Not Applicable For Everyone’s Use

I fit in this category as well as a lot of people working in tech, research, writing, journalism or a combination (and probably other areas too). We often use “timewaster sites” to help us in some way: check Facebook for an update on a company’s status, contact a company through Twitter regarding a problem, search YouTube for a video to use in an article, or just scouring the Internet for ideas or research. How do you separate the two?

First, you can still add sites you know you won’t be using and are likely to be distracted by to the block list. Also, there are some settings such as specific times/days that websites are blocked.

However, that still leaves lots of time to be distracted by potentially helpful, but also distracting websites. I can’t count the times where I’ve gotten on Facebook to do something productive and found myself distracted. In fact, that may have even happened while writing this article, since I logged on to use Facebook as an example in one of the first images.

stayfocusd chrome


In the end, StayFocusd is an excellent tool to use. Just remember that you have to still be disciplined, however, StayFocusd is great for keeping you off websites and reminding you what your real purpose is at a computer. Below are a couple of articles which have tools similar to StayFocusd (one even features it).

Download and Install StayFocusd at the Chrome Web Store and stay informed with updates from the Twitter account (@StayFocusd).

What do you think of tools like Stayfocusd for Chrome? Do you use one, perhaps this one, yourself? Do you have any concerns or have you found it to be beneficial to your productivity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Related topics: Google Chrome, Procrastination, Time Management.

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  1. Jennifer
    October 29, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    This looks like a great option in my home IF it can be applied differently to different users on the same device. Any info on that available?

  2. Anonymous
    August 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Very useful until I discovered that it doesnt work in Incognito Window... also not useful at all.

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 30, 2015 at 5:50 am

      Even when you grant it access to work in Incognito Mode?

    • Anonymous
      September 3, 2015 at 12:56 am

      It does work! You have to change the settings to allow the extension work in Incognito: Settings -> Extensions -> Check the box "Allow in Incognito"

      • Mihir Patkar
        September 3, 2015 at 7:20 am

        Thanks Linda!

  3. Jeremiah Iliffe
    October 28, 2012 at 10:38 am

    This is quite useful

  4. Siddhant Chaurasia
    October 24, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Now I can really focus in my studies

  5. Myst Gunn
    October 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I should have known this app during my college years. Very useful article.

  6. Vishal Mishra
    October 15, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    This is really good application for time management. Thank You MUO !!!

  7. Kulwinder Rouri
    October 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Very useful, I think it is useful for everyone.

  8. Chandra Babu
    October 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Is it better than K9 web protection ?

  9. gpvprasad
    October 14, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Nice app

  10. Edwin Williams
    October 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks! I'll have to use this when I have final exams!

  11. scott boyer
    October 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    great app for all of you who still work lol

  12. Anonymous
    October 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    hahah amazing. And guess what... i already said about the author (Aaron) that his posta re long and just when you think they are finishing, they just won't. And while readin the article; in the middle i got the idea it has to be aaron and no one else.... LOL i was right :) Keep it up aaron. Nice article again!

  13. Alex Downs
    October 13, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This seems pretty useful

  14. Vipul Jain
    October 13, 2012 at 9:08 am

    This is really useful.
    But i'll use it on my future kids, not myself :p

  15. Ashwin Ramesh
    October 13, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Really useful!

  16. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 13, 2012 at 6:22 am

    this would be a great app for a student! :)

    • Anonymous
      October 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      absolutely fro me!

  17. Macwitty
    October 13, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Seems to be an app with a lot of thinking behind
    My dream is atill an app with restrictions based om the time of the day. Some restricted during working hours and other, working related, restricted at the free time of the day.

    • Travis Kelm
      October 13, 2012 at 5:58 am

      Doesn't the "Active Hours" feature of the program accomplish exactly what you describe?

      • Macwitty
        October 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        You are right - can't understand how I could missed it
        Thanks for your comment