Automatically teleport yourself to a productive site every time you try to visit a site you know you shouldn’t. TimeWarp may be simple, but it’s effective at reminding you to stop procrastinating – sometimes so subtly you’ll forget you even wanted a distraction.
“I’m going to get this done,” you tell yourself, and that was the first lie. “I just want to look at Facebook for five minutes,” you tell yourself, and that was the second. Scrolling through the feeds you notice that someone is wrong about a political issue – and is wrong. “Well, I need to respond to this, but after that I’ll get back to work,” you say – the third lie.
Long story short, the pattern continues, and a dozen lies later and you’re not sure where that hour went. You’re not going to get it back. Does this sound familiar? Stop letting these lies happen. Time Warp is a Chrome extension that lets you set up “Wormholes”, automatically sending your requests for distraction (eg. Facebook.com) to sites that are productive (eg. your online to-do list or calendar).
Using Wormholes To Your Benefit
We all have sites we lie to ourselves about. For some it’s Facebook; for some it’s YouTube. It could be Reddit or Twitter or Tumblr, or some combination of these and more. The point is we visit them assuming it will be quick, but a combination of weak will on your part and click-driven design on the site’s part means you just won’t make it.
So once you install TimeWarp it’s time for some thinking. What are your distraction sites? And what could you be doing with your time during your distracted periods? Consider these things, then set up appropriate rules.
The creation process couldn’t be simpler. Enter the domain of a site you know distracted you (ie. facebook.com) and then decide where such links should redirect to.
My favorite choice, and the one for which the extension is named, is a redirection to a more productive site. For me the clear choice is MakeUseOf Answers, where I try to help readers out at least once a day:
Avoiding Facebook during my workday is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean a little work-related procrastination is bad. MakeUseOf Answers fills that void, because I find that by answering tech questions I find myself thinking of ideas for articles.
If you can’t think of a productive site, however, don’t fret: you can instead redirect your requests to a quote. I keep mine simple:
Every time I see that I’m reminded of what I wanted to accomplish, and that I’ll have plenty of time for watching videos after I accomplish them.
Finally, if you’d rather not block a site completely, you can add a timer.
The idea is that, seeing how long you’ve spent on a site, you’ll be less likely to let a five minute intention become a one-hour reality. Whether this works is up to you, but that’s true of this service in general.
Want to turn TimeWarp off? Simply press the blue rocket icon in Chrome’s extension area:
The icon is blue when TimeWarp is on and grey when off. This allows you to toggle the extension at will, but also means you’re going to need some willpower in order for the extension to be useful. Which is okay, as far as I’m concerned: tools like this are helpful, but ultimately only work if you want them to.
Other Procrastination Blockers
Like the concept, but not sure about the execution? There are other tools worth checking out. Among my favorites is Productivity Owl, who swoops in to save you from time sinks. He can’t redirect, but he can block and has personality to boot:
Another tool Chrome users should check out is Stay Focused, which allows you to set a daily quota for distractions.
None of these tools are better than the other, in my opinion – they just focus on different things. One of them is right for you.
It’s easy to think of procrastination as a bad thing, but it can be productive – it just depends what you do while you’re procrastinating. Spend your procrastination time tumbling through Tumblr and you’ll regret it. The trick is to use your procrastination time to accomplish something worthwhile.
I like TimeWarp because it enables that, but I want to know what you think. Are tools like this worthwhile? Or is the self-manipulation they depend on just a trick people like me to feel more productive? After all, I’m the sort of guy who tries to win at life with gamification, so maybe I’m just delusional. Let me know in the comments below.