I have tried to monitor my application and web site usage before. While there are great solutions for that (like ManicTime) it never led to actionable results for me. While back I decided to try StayFocusd Chrome extensions that takes proactive approach and blocks distracting sites.
What it does
StayFocusd allows you to configure a black list of sites. Once you have that in place it will monitor time on them and block once limit expires.
The settings are combination of several things:
- which specific sites should be blocked;
- how much time a day they are allowed in total;
- which hours and days of week monitoring is active on.
My configuration includes all newsy sites, on weekdays, within my (commonly) working hours.
I was impressed with settings. They are quite comprehensive and flexible. Sites can be configured quite precisely. For example I could block Twitter, but leave access to their documentation for developers on subdomain.
Extensions has several means to save you from yourself of sorts. Most setting changes apply next day, to make it pointless to increase your limits on the spot. There is also optional challenge, which requires typing a long text without mistakes before changing settings.
The way app works all blocked sites share a single pool of time. This works well for sites where you spend longer times, reading content or watching video.
However I discovered that it doesn’t do much for site I can check very quickly just to see if anything new has been posted. While it doesn’t consume much time it is still an interruption.
I was somewhat surprised by what effect extension had on me after a while. I started to stay away from work on weekends. Which is sort of mirror of what extension aims to do.
It helped me develop a better sense of distinction between work and leisure time. Something that can be a challenge in remote work.
In the end I think this kind of helper is what you make of it with intent and discipline you have.