Does this sound familiar? You have a day off class. You sleep in, getting up around noon, then get on facebook. Five hours later, it’s evening and you haven’t gotten any of that work you told yourself you’d knock out done. Why? Because Facebook– and many other websites– sucked you in and you lost track of time.
It’s okay. We’ve all done it. And we’ve all kicked ourselves for it. I used to do it daily. What changed? I didn’t suddenly develop willpower or a love for doing my work. Instead, a blog I was reading on one of those lazy days pointed me to a Firefox extension called Leechblock. If you’re like me, you probably don’t mean to spend so long on the web– it just happens. Leechblock locks you out of those websites after a certain amount of time each day.
Leechblock has three stellar features. First, it allows you to set a time limit for websites. Say you want to spend 30 minutes on Facebook every 12 hours (this is my set up). You can enter that info into Leechblock and it’ll lock you out of that website after that amount of time. You can configure it to allow you a certain number of minutes a week, a day, a half day, every 6 hours, every hour, etc.
When that time is up, there are several options for what the page will display. When I type in Facebook.com after having spent too long on there, Leechblock redirects me to http://www.jstor.org, because, let’s face it, that’s what I should be doing anyway. You can have it redirect you anywhere, or show you a blank webpage. Whatever works for you.
Its second great feature is locking you out during specific blocks of time. I am locked out of all my timewasting websites from 20 minutes before my class until 20 minutes after. Again, these websites redirect me to http://www.jstor.org.
Its final feature is its best: a lockdown mode. Let’s face it. There’s no time better for wasting time online than the night before a big paper’s due, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled all nighters for a 3-7 page paper. 3-7 pages! It’s really only a few hours of work, but it’s probably twice as much time on the web “taking a break.” Now, I tell Leechblock to lock me out of my procrastination websites for 4 hours and I have no other option but to work. So I do. So I get things done much quicker.
You can have it lock you out for any amount of time– from 5 minutes to a week, basically. For example, I have a paper to write tonight. I’ll lock myself out of my websites for 2 hours and see what I can get done.
Does this sound good to you? It’s not that we are lazy or actively trying to procrastinate– it’s that we don’t realize the time drain. If you’d like to try it, here’s how:
Step 1: Install Firefox, if you haven’t already. This is so much better than Internet Explorer I can’t even tell you. Basically, Firefox allows much, much better protection from viruses. It’s also much more friendly to webpage designers. It’s as easy to use as Internet Explorer, and 10,000 times more interesting. In the weeks to come, I’ll highlight various Firefox extensions; you can’t use them if you don’t have Firefox (hint hint!). The link to download it: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/
Step 2: Install Leechblock: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476. Click the Add to Firefox button, then quit and reopen Firefox.
Step 3: Click on the Tools menu. Roll down to the Leechblock menu, then click on the Options section.
Step 4: Into Block Set 1, type the first website you want to block. You’ve got 6 block sets. I block Facebook in Block set 1; I block my blogs in block 2.
Step 5: Select your block actions. If you want to block the site, say, from 7-9 pm every weekday, you’d enter 1900-2100 in the “Enter the time periods within which to block these sites” box (you have to use military time), then check Monday-Friday in the days box. You can also add the time limit option.
Step 6: Check the “Actively block pages on these sites” box. Trust me on this. Also check “Prevent access to options for this block set…” This keeps you from being able to disable your block when it locks you out.
Step 7: Enter the page you want to be redirected to in the “Enter the fully specified URL” box.
Step 8: Click okay!
That’s it. It’s a fairly simple set up.
To utilize the lockdown:
Step 1: Go to the Leechblock menu that you find in step 3 above, then click on Lockdown.
Step 2: Specify how long you want to block them
Step 3: Click okay
If you decide to do this, let me know. I find it really helpful to my ADD self; let me know how it works for you. And to get you all started with this, I’m offering a challenge: Put facebook on lockdown for four days. I’ll be doing this after sending this email. Do it with me, and see how it makes you feel. Obviously, you can always go to the computer lab and check it, but this will make you have to walk across campus– are you really going to want to do that?
So take my challenge. Let me know how it goes. Let me know if you need any help; let me know how you’re doing.