As internet-dwelling humanoids, we have a love problem.
We're obsessed. Stuck in a one-sided relationship. We put in hours upon hours, only to receive nothing in return. It's so frustrating. We could be focused somewhere else, yet we can't get it out of our minds.
"Did anyone comment on what I shared?"
"Oh, that looks interesting. I'll just read this one article... "
"LOL that was hilarious. I gotta share that now."
We are in madly in love with distracting ourselves.
However, the obstacle isn't social media itself, rather the result of social media - Black Hole Browsing.
Black Hole Browsing is the 21st century's most compelling psychological addiction that no one is talking about (probably because I just made up the name). It's the internet's plague, sucking the productivity from our minds and into Facebook newsfeeds through it's merciless cycle.
Take Facebook for example. First, we share something. Second, we check to see if it got any Likes or comments. Third, we tell ourselves, "Oh I'll check my feed, just for a second..."
Next thing we know, we're 45 minutes lost in the online abyss of articles, videos, and BuzzFeed lists.
Eventually, we escape the powerful force of the consumption black hole, where habitual procrastinators (I'm a recovering addict) are stuck, by sharing our hilarious/informative/shocking content we discovered ... ONLY TO START THE CYCLE ALL OVER AGAIN.
Hold on real quick while I let my brain explode.
What a nightmare. But good news. The cycle can be stopped, permanently severing our bad browsing habits. And no, it doesn't rely on willpower (cuz we all know how well that works).
Rather, a FREE tool, which can be setup in 30 seconds.
Meet StayFocusd - the website-blocking Google Chrome extension that has saved me hours, if not days or weeks, of wasted time. No longer do I feel hopelessly free falling into the productivity-sucking, procrastination-inducing black hole that we like to call the internet.
StayFocusd blocks distracting websites after a set amount of time, breaking the Black Hole Browsing cycle entirely. After the daily clock expires, I get this beautiful message:
Why yes, my productivy tool sent from heaven. I should be working. You are amazing and I love you.
Blocking distracting websites interupts the psychological urge to check for social media notifications, which causes the "just this once" check of the newsfeed, which leads to 45 minutes of mindless browsing.
After downloading StayFocusd from the Chrome store, it can be set up in three easy steps.
Step 1: Write down all websites that distract you.
Websites that distract me most, causing Black Hole Browsing, are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Trends, and upvote-based websites such as reddit, Hacker News, or inbound.org. Thus, I setup my StayFocusd accordingly.
Does that mean I'm never distracted? Um, no. I am still human. BUT, it significantly lowers browsing distractions, if not eliminating them entirely.
Does that mean I never read? Ha, no. I consume blogs like Popeye consumes spinach. All the time. However, I have set periods of creating (i.e. writing this article) and set periods of consuming (i.e. listening to my current Audible book or reading articles saved in my Pocket).
The person who reads too much and uses his brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
Step 2: Set maximum time allowed for all websites each day.
I set my maximum time allowed to 10 minutes per day, which blocks all websites listed. This forces me to move quickly when checking Facebook, Twitter notifications, Linkedin requests, the headlines on Google Trends, and upvoted articles websites.
If something looks intriguing, I'll save to Pocket for later.
10 minutes too little? Cool. Work your way down. Start at an hour. It doesn't matter. All that matters is you start somewhere.
The key to not feeling rushed is remembering that lack of time is actually lack of priorities.
Step 3: Set active days and hours websites are blocked.
I block web pages every day of the week, for all hours.
Why? I don't want to waste any of my life mindlessly browsing online, not merely weekday business hours.
Instead, 24/7 Black Hole Browsing blockage forces me to focus on things that are actually important, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I focus on writing these blog posts (!), listening to your feedback, and analyzing data.
Laser focus on important professional tasks then allows me more time to enjoy personal activities I love, such as hanging with family and friends, writing, playing piano, and surfing (in the water, not the web).