Getting Work Done When You Really Want to Goof Off

I struggle to get started on work, which means everything takes forever to accomplish. Here are two requirements I need for focus:

I. Get started working

by getting off Facebook/reddit/Twitter/whatever. Get yourself some personal Web Blocking Software (something that’s configurable to times, days, and sites blocked). I’ve been using StayFocusd for a number of years:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 2.43.26 PM

StayFocusd is my extension of choice for blocking distracting websites.

Here’s how I set it up:

  • allow me 30 minutes per day Monday-Friday 7a-6p on distracting websites
  • block these sites:,,,,,,
  • I cannot change settings for the current day
  • sometimes, I’ll use the nuclear option for an hour — which blocks everything except (my textbook), (attendance system), (my moodle site)
  • make a $10 donation to the developer every time I use my full 30 minutes in a day

Get StayFocusd or similar browser extensions to stay off distracting websites whether you use Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

II. Keep working

by managing work and rest time in a sustainable way. I don’t want to marathon for two hours then be done for the day, for instance. I like the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes break) for its simplicity. Get a timer for your computer or desk.


What do you use to get focused and stay working?

3 thoughts on “Getting Work Done When You Really Want to Goof Off

  1. I didn’t know such a thing existed! I typically use good old fashioned will power to get focused. I also write down my daily goals as a very detailed, prioritized to-do list. Once I knock a few items off, it gives me the motivation to continue until I’m done or very close to it. I also can get really overwhelmed when I have a lot of work to do, so crossing things off the list makes me feel accomplished and even everything feels more manageable.

  2. I’m a sucker for productivity posts, Megan!

    The only, only thing that works for me is the simplest solution to internet distractions: going far away from the internet.

    My paranoia of being near a computer has had the healthy side effect of making me rethink which of my projects really need a computer in the first place.

    • Thanks, Michael. Please tell me you read Lifehacker if you like productivity posts. 90% of what I do or use for productivity comes from them.

      I agree about getting away from the internet — sadly I’ve set up so much of my educational practice around online stuff, that I cannot get offline at exactly the time I need to focus. The “Go Nuclear” option on StayFocusd is great for those times. I can block out everything but the exact sites I need to write a test or grade essays, for example.

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