When it comes to online distractions, we all have a childish streak. So why not borrow a strategy from the Net Nanny playbook and put yourself on a little web restriction? By using a browser plugin to block sites that you know you can hardly resist, you can reduce the threat of Facebook or Failblog sucking up half hour chunks of your workday.
Site blockers are an old school web technology originally designed to keep kids from stumbling onto porn while using the family PC, but they're gaining popularity with personal productivity buffs because they add a helpful layer of reinforcement to one's own sense of self discipline.
Will it totally prevent you from wasting time? Of course not. If you want to get to Facebook, you're not going to let some browser addon stand in your way. But if you have to disable a blocker or switch browsers to get to Facebook, you'll at least have to think twice about how you're using your time.
All major browsers have available plugins that fulfill this role. On Google Chrome, I like SiteBlock, which gives you a simple box to type in the URLs you want to filter and an option to unblock them for a limited amount of time at regular intervals throughout the day. It's a nice approach that leaves you just a little time for self indulgence. On Firefox, a similar app called BlockSite does pretty much the same thing as Chrome's SiteBlock.
Internet Explorer includes a feature called Content Advisor, which you can configure to either always allow a site (even if IE sees it as a security risk) or always block a site. In IE9, click the Settings button, then Internet Options. Under Content, click Enable for Content Advisor and click the Approved Sites tab. Type in a URL and click Never to block it.
This strategy works best when you use only one computer for your work, so you don't have to worry about disabling a blocker when you're not working. One way of making this work on a multi-purpose PC is to use one browser for work and another for play, essentially creating a cognitive division between your productive time and your leisure time.
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