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The internet. It’s our best friend and worst enemy, depending on the hour of the day and our frame of mind.
It’s our ally when it comes to finding important info or Googling someone’s photo. But when it comes to procrastinating, getting sucked down a social media rabbit hole, or online shopping (and forget about reading all those reviews) . . . well, sometimes we could just use an “off” button.
Online addiction–it’s not only a formidable money-suck, it can be a time-suck as well (which is just as concerning, given how much your hour is worth).
So, after spending one too many precious hours online, we’ve decided to fight fire with fire. We’ve found software, plug-ins, and websites that will help you focus on the task at hand (like, you know, your job — or your life) instead of getting sucked into yet another flash sale or Youtube marathon.
Read on for our online addiction fixes.
If you use Firefox, the browser add-on Leechblock can block any sites you specify between certain hours. If you have a habit of shopping online in the evening after dinner, you can select your favorite shopping sites for a “no shopping time zone” between 6-9 pm, or block all sites from 9am-12pm to get that report done. The program allows you to still elect to receive emails during these times. Cost: Free
If you are trying to write the next great American novel–or just get through that memo–but find yourself obsessively checking your Facebook feed, try Freedom, the (in our opinion) aptly-named app favored by successful writers. Like your very own Big Brother for your internet access, it’s more heavy-handed than the lighter web apps, because it completely shuts down your access to the internet for a certain amount of time–which means you can’t just change your mind and turn it back on (it requires you to reboot your computer if you want to circumvent yourself). Cost: $10
You need to get some online research done, but you’re a sucker for looking through your friends’ latest Facebook album from her trip to Italy, or can’t say no to a Tweet that needs to be responded to. If you’re a social media addict, try Anti-Social from the makers of Freedom, which specifically blocks social sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also set up your email client so that it blocks people from pinging you. Just until you come up for air, of course. Cost: $15
If you need to go on a procrastination diet, RescueTime is your calorie counter. A helpful diagnostic tool, it tracks and charts out the websites where you spend your time (potentially scary when you see your two-hour a week Amazon.com habit in front of your eyes)–and presents it to you in a handy format so you can change your habits accordingly. If you have an urgent project that needs doing in the next hour, you can put yourself in “Focus Time” and the application will block your most distracting sites, as designated by you. Cost: $6 a month.