Wasting time on YouTube when you should be working? Try hiring a bouncer!
Ever find yourself spending too much time on YouTube, Reddit and Twitter?
Especially during the afternoon slump?
I know I do!
And it is even harder when I work from home!
I realised that I was lacking a (small but healthy) dose of... shame.
Wait.. How can that be good thing?!
Let me tell you how.
Remember the feeling of "being caught" watching a YouTube video at the office?
The name of that feeling is Shame.
And it's not a pleasant feeling.
But it is an effective way to keep you from going down the rabbit hole.
Because deep down you know that watching YouTube isn't really what you should be doing.
Since you can't rely on a colleague "catching you" anymore, you need to hire something new to do the job.
The job description for my attention bouncer
An attention bouncer needs to
- Tell me what I actually should be doing when I drift away to a distracting website (a little shame goes a long way)
- Let me define which sites are distracting (mine differ from yours)
- Let me create a list of things I need to focus on for the day so I can plan once in the morning
- It needs to be super simple to use
Now that I know what to look for, let's see find a chrome extension that match the job description.
Candidate 1: Forrest
At first glance, this looks like the candidate for me!
Simple to understand. Plays the "shame card" really well. (You don't want to kill a tree, now do you?)
But after using it for a while, I find it being too harsh.
I wanted something to keep me on track my applying a little shame, but this is just more shame than I can handle.
Killing a tree also kills my mood.
- I can configure the timer to match the size of my focus blocks
- It's hard to configure specific websites in the block-list. By default it seems to block the entire internet.
Candidate 2: Prod Todo
The tool seem to be for the master configurator. Which I am not. I want a simple tool that does one thing.
If I was after a tool for GTD, I might look into it, but since I only wanted something that "shamed" me, it is doing too much.
I did however manage to use it for writing this article...
- Creating subtasks to main tasks helps me keep both the overview and more actionable tasks
- I can add sites to a custom blocklist.
- Seeing everything that needs to be done can be overwhelming every time you open a new tab.
- Too many options and alternatives
Candidate 3: Fold Socks
This neat extension lets me fill out my todo for the day by simply opening a new tab. When that is done I simply click the "focus" button which will gently remind me of what I should focus on when I start straying.
- Reminds me about what I set out to do when I "accidentally" end up on YouTube
- Seeing the completed tasks crossed out gives me a nice feeling every time I complete something
- Simple distraction free design!
- Configurable list of distracting web sites, but with good defaults!
- The configurable time only goes up to 40 minutes. I keep my focus sessions to 45 minutes with a 15 minute break, so this is just a tad short on that time.
Who did I hire then?
I value simple tools that do one thing really well. Because of that, I hired Folding Socks to be my bouncer. It keeps my distractions at bay and my attention intact.
And also, I really like the name. It has a fun ring to it that makes "making my process more efficient" more of a joy than a chore.
When I am done with the tasks I have for the day, I get to "Fold socks" (Yay!!)