Do You Need A Focus Boost?

A lot of you are managing your social media accounts almost continually for your business or blog, and struggle to keep focused on your daily tasks. You sit down at your computer and innocently enough, check your Facebook for updates, catch up on reading some articles from your RSS feed, and find a bunch of great articles you just have to read now on your Twitter feed. (That one gets me every time! ) Before you know it, it’s lunch time and you’ve done everything but work! If this sounds like you, you need a focus boost!

Google created the Chrome plugin, Stay Focused for all of us who are unable to focus on the task at hand with distractions everywhere. The plugin acts like an accountability partner to limit the time on sites that create distractions from your daily tasks. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to give them up entirely, you shouldn’t. We all need a little downtime between tasks to clear our heads and blow off some steam. Stay Focused is designed to be fully customizable, so you can decide to block or permit whole sites, certain sub-domains and even specific pages. That means you can block Google Reader (so you are not tempted to read the next catchy headline that comes across your screen) and you can still access Google Search for anything you need to look up. See how your productivity and income can change if you only spend time on things that matter.

It’s really as simple as downloading the plugin and giving it permission to access your browsing activity. Click “Install” and it will load to your Google Chrome browser.

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In order for you to really stay focused, you will first need to determine what sites actually distract you. There are some obvious ones, like Facebook and Twitter that you could knock off right away but I bet there are some others you aren’t even aware of. The best way I have found to determine distractions, is to track them with RescueTime. This tool has helped me to regain my day and recognize sites and activities that were taking away from my productivity. The arrows show you where I have been spending unproductive time, so those are the sites I would choose to block in the next step.

Now that you have determined the root cause of your distractions, you can begin the process of setting the limits for those sites. Navigate to the sites you identify as a distraction for you, and do the following for each; Go to the top, right corner of your Google Chrome toolbar, you will see a blue circle (Is it me, or does it look like an eyeball??) Clicking on it will open the site settings window.

As you can see, I spend a lot of time on Twitter reading articles and promoting material. That’s not a bad thing, since it’s required for my job and important for my blog, but on days when I have a task list longer than the hours in the day, I need limits to help me stay on task. By default, Stay Focused allows you 10 minutes to browse the sites you add to your blocked list, which is plenty of time to send a few Tweets and read a few posts without eating up any of your productivity. You can change the amount of time you are allotted by right clicking the Stay Focused icon. When you navigate to the site, you will notice the icon has turned from blue to red. If you open it, you will see the remaining time you have to visit that site. It doesn’t have to be used all at once, so you may feel less likely to cheat if you break it up and do a little all day.

Your not always working, so you can adjust the settings to only limit or block sites during your designated work hours. Right click on the Stay Focused icon, and scroll down to “Active Days” and mark the boxes you want the settings to be active. Note that you can’t tun it off for the current day, so make sure you turn off the weekends ahead of time!

Next, you will want to set the hours you want to block out distraction for each day. In the same window, scroll to “Active Hours” and set your workday hours in the boxes. Note that any changes you make to the hours, won’t take effect for 24 hours. The delay in changes will take away the temptation to stretch the time you are allowed to browse.

If you’re allowing yourself too much browsing time within your limits, your still not going to get anything done. Some of you might need to enable the Nuclear setting! It will block every site except for specifically allowed sites for a specified period of time. To enable it, scroll to “The Nuclear Option” and enable the settings you want. Again, there is no way to cancel this once it is enabled.

If you made a resolution to be more organized and productive in 2012, give this a try and see if it helps you to Stay Focused!

Image credit: Education by Big Stock Photo