How to limit yourself for the good of the cause

Imagine a workday, when you don't have that much of a working attitude. But you've decided to make at least some progress.

But first… and here are your hands already typing "facebo…" in a new browser tab.
What did just happen? Your brain just found a cheaper way to get a dose of dopamine.

It is zombie mode!

In zombie-mode, our brain grasps every chance for distraction. And the main source of distractions is, of course, your browser.

We use the browser for both work and entertainment. So it's too easy to switch to zombie mode accidentally.

It's nice to be ready for such situations to make a zombie's life harder. Let's building several lines of defense.

Prevention

Sometimes you want to just post something on Facebook real quic… and bam. You're already forgotten your plans and scrolling through endless feed of kitties.

This happens, because the "new post" page is combined with the newsfeed. So newsfeeds naturally grab our attention. Let's fix that.

Facebook

News feed eradicator (4.5/5 stars)

Removes Facebook newsfeed

Youtube

Toggles (4.5/5 stars)

Minimal alternative interface for YouTube

Twitter

Twean (5/5 stars)

Makes your twitter feed old-school by hiding all media elements

Blocking anything with Adblock

I would be rather surprised if you don't have AdBlock installed. But you might not have heard that you can use it to hide custom elements on any page, like newsfeed on Twitter or Tumblr.

Adblock (5/5 stars)

Not only blocks ads, but also able to block any element on any website

Just use the context menu Adblock → Block this ad, and create a zen mode for any website:

Described solutions work well until your inner zombie wakes up

Zombie mode light

You're still working, but your brain is already seeking for more interesting stuff.

Let's take a look at what might catch its attention and gradually destroy all distractions.

New tab page

Having it blank reduces the chances to turn into a zombie:

Empty new tab page (4.5/5 stars)

This is it

Favorites toolbar & extensions icons

Just check these. If you have too many stuff in there, you might want to hide them, while you'd like to concentrate.

Autocomplete

How often have ben you in this typical situation? You were about to type in something related to your work, say "productivitymode.com", you just typed the first 3 letters "pro"... And the browser is already full of distractive suggestions with links to ProductHunt.

To sort this out, we need to clean the history first:

Forget Me (3.5/5 stars)

Delete everything about a website

After that we use History site blocker to prevent some sites to be stored in history:

History site blocker (3/5 stars)

Disables the record of some sites in Chrome history

Proactive zombie mode

In this mode, it is not enough to just hide the distractions. You have to block entire internet segments completely

The most tender option:

Time Tracker (4/5 stars)

Keeps track on how much time you spend on various websites

Stricter options:

Block site (4.5/5 stars)

Automatically blocks websites of your choice

I love Blocksite, because it can redirect you from a distracting website to the one of your choice, so the inner zombie doesn't even realize what's just happened.

Stayfocusd (4.5/5 stars)

Increases your productivity by limiting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites

Stayfocusd has flexible settings and the ability to customize your own blacklist. But it's still an extension, so your zombie can just disable it in the settings.

Rescuetime (OS X app)

Helps you understand your daily habits

Rescuetime is also a feature-rich solution. It has its own database of distracting websites, different levels of strictness, nice reports, etc.

But you can turn on the focus mode only after getting a paid subscription. If you are looking for a free solution, SelfControl is your friend:

SelfControl (OS X app)

Blocks your own access to distracting websites

So, there are many options. You can combine them.

Remember, zombies are lazy - if it has to invest too many efforts to reach a distraction, it might decide that it isn't worth it.

Hardcore Zombie mode

If your inner zombie is truly unstoppable, then your options are somewaht limited.

Freedom disables the internet completely for a period:

Freedom (OS X app)

Disables internet access completely for some time

UPD: It looks like guys who developed Freedom.app decided to change their business model. Now they offer a service.

Well, you can turn off your wi-fi router. Some routers have support option of scheduling time periods.

If you don't need admin access, you can ask somebody to set up Parental Control and not to tell you the admin password.

Why does it actually happen to us?

Of course, all these tools are just workarounds, and the real problem is way beyond the scope of this article.

Maybe your work is really boring, and you hate it. Or maybe you just forgot, why you've decided to do what you do.

Maybe you need to change something, I do not know. But I promised, there will be no lectures. So I just give you some keywords: Goals, Awareness, Rest, Plenty of sleep.

If you feel like you need more information, describe your situation and send me an email, and I'll do my best to help you.

This article is a part of Productivity Mode for OS X course
If you missed first article: Stop suffering from too many tabs in Chrome"


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