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Yes – it’s hard to get a lot of work done when there are just so many interesting things to do online. People to reconnect with, games to play, discussions to join. How do you keep yourself focused and get the job done? Here are 12 geeky techniques which should help you get back on track and be much more productive.
The direct intervention methods:
1. How to limit your time on time-wasting sites
LeechBlock is a simple Firefox extension designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. You can block sites within fixed time periods (e.g., between 9am and 5pm), after a time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour), or with a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., 10 minutes in every hour between 9am and 5pm).
You can also set a password for access, just to slow you down in moments of weakness!
2. How to make time-wasting sites turn blank before a certain time
If you want something more potent, you can try Lifehacker’s "Invisibility Cloak" Greasemonkey user script that turns time-wasting web sites blank before a specific time so you would not be able to use them until after a certain time.
3. How to avoid playing addictive Flash games
Flashblock is a Firefox extension that blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves placeholders on the webpage that allow you to click to download and then view the Flash content.
Originally meant as a way to simply load up pages faster, this also acts as a final barrier so you can think again before you play that addictive Flash game which you know will suck out another few hours of your life.
4. How to completely block time-wasting sites
Don’t want to even get tempted? You can block websites using the HOSTS files in Windows with this tutorial. While this is probably the most effective way of blocking sites, it is juts as painful to unblock those sites when you DO want to visit them after hours.
The guilt trip methods:
5. How to track how much time you spend online
Don’t know how much time you spend online? You can learn the truth when you install the TimeTracker extension for Firefox. Not only does it track browsing time across sessions so you can get running totals even when you close your browser, it pauses automatically when you stop browsing or switch focus to another app.
You can also ask it to ignore certain ‘work’ sites that should not count to your tracked online time if you wish.
6. How to track how you’re spending your time on your computer
If you’re searching for a more detailed breakdown of how you spend your time, look no further than Rescuetime Solo. This freesoftware sits in your background and tracks all the sites you visit and applications you use so you can see how much of your time was actually in MS-Excel vs Youtube :)
7. How to track how much time you’ve spent on Twitter
If you’re a Twitter addict, you’d be surprised how fast those seemingly harmless 140 character messages add up. Tweetstats will help you track your tweeting patterns and more importantly – show you when you tweet so you can check how much time you’ve spent on the additive this micro-blogging service.
The laser focused methods:
8. How to cut out background noise from other apps
Jedi Concentrate is a free windows app which mimics the OSX feature called Expos©. When "concentrate" mode is activated, all windows except for the current active window are smoothly faded out.
Its purpose is focus only on the app in use and to dim everything else in the background when you need to get to work.
9. How to write without any distractions
Dark Room is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, Dark Room is just about you and your text. No distractions, no fancy fonts, no colors, nothing. For a Mac version try WriteRoom.
The nagging reminder methods:
10. How to use a buzzer to control your activities
Just like a school bell telling you to switch classes, working with buzzer counting down also helps give you a sense of urgency and helps you limit your personal time at work if you stick to it. For this, you can try e.ggtimer.com for an online buzzer which is incredibly simple to use.
For example, if you tell yourself you’re going to take a 10 minute break, just load up e.ggtimer and tell it to run for 10 minutes before it beeps. For more information, do check out this excellent related article on combating procrastination with this method.
The GTD methods:
11. How to avoid getting distracted by constant pinging
Turn off all IM and email notifications, and hide that Twitter sidebar. These tools are perhaps the ultimate distraction for information addicts like myself, who want to be plugged in all the time. Seriously though, you don’t really need to be notified in real-time that Martha has come online, or Bob has a new wall post on Facebook.
12. How to do exactly the same amount in faster time
After you’ve turned off your notifications, put aside that urge to constantly check your messages, and instead set aside 3 times in a day to check your personal email and address that Facebook fix. By processing your downtime in batches, you’ll make your personal time much more effective as well.