One of the things I love about using a Chromebook is also one of the things I hate. Since Chrome OS is browser-centric, it is far too easy to open a tab for awhile and waste time when I should be working. After thinking about how to stay focused and get more done, I came up with a Chrome OS productivity tip that works well. I researched and then installed a Chromebook site blocker extension on Chrome OS.
There are a number of them. For now, I am using StayFocusd, mainly because it has the features I was looking for. I wanted an option that allows me to block sites for configurable hours and days, for example. This allows me to create chunks of work time without online distractions. I also wanted a solution that would allow me to have a bit of a break from downtime. StayFocusd allows me to set a number of minutes that I can use a blocked site.
I’ve also looked at other services that extend beyond Chrome OS in case you want this type of service extended to apps on a PC. Freedom and FocusMe seemed interesting for those who need a little productivity boost in this case, although they do have a subscription fee. The StayFocusd extension is free. And it can sync your settings across multiple Chromebooks or devices that you use the Chrome browser on.
The setup is relatively easy for this Chromebook site blocker extension.
You can configure the sites manually or add them to the StayFocusd list by clicking the extension on any open tab. And if you’re curious how much time you have left on a site you’ve blocked, but added “time for me”, the plugin will show that as well. I noticed that having a blocked site open in this case only affects your time limit when viewing the site.
I like to check Twitter every now and then, for example, so I set aside 15 minutes of use during my working hours. This allows me to jump into the Twitterverse, check for notifications and / or reply, then go back. Without limit, I tend to doomscroll without noticing how long I am blowing.
You can also configure notifications for all time limits set on a site.
For productivity enthusiasts, you can even lock StayFocusd. There’s a nuclear option that blocks all sites for up to a time you specify, although I wouldn’t see that too useful on a Chromebook. And you can set up a challenge question to ask before making any configuration changes. It will inspire you to take up your challenge, but also offer an inspirational quote to make you think twice.
From a security perspective, no browsing data is sent from a Chromebook with StayFocusd, with one exception:
“StayFocusd does not collect all personal information, and it also doesn’t track information about which sites you’ve visited or for how long. It also does not transmit your data from your own computer. The only exception is that it uses Google Sync to sync your blocked sites and allowed sites with your other computers. You can turn off this feature from the Customize tab of the StayFocusd settings page.
Note that if you wish, you can also enable this extension for incognito mode. No need to sneak in there when there is work to be done!
So far this extension has helped me do more on my Chromebook. And I only configured it for working days: on weekends, I have free rein on the web.
Of course, if I’m late with my IT homework and need extra time to finish it on a weekend, my Chromebook Site Blocker extension is just a click away for extra productivity time. .
Are you using a similar solution or another Chromebook site blocker extension? I’m sure there are plenty of other options for increasing productivity that I haven’t heard of yet.