Blocking yourself from time-wasting websites
Lately I’ve been frustrated with how much time I waste reading certain websites when I want to get work done. I’ll be sitting at my computer being productive, and then I’ll go “Hey, I would like to read the entire life story of Sarah Palin”, and then three hours later I’ve somehow managed to click my way to the wikipedia article on the ancient civilization of Sumer. (They invented writing!)
After fretting heavily about this over the last few weeks, It occurred to me that it might be possible to block my computer from accessing certain websites, and that this would be a boon to my productivity, not to mention my self-respect. I set about looking for Firefox plug-ins to accomplish this and came across this article on Lifehacker. The author offers two solutions: a Firefox plug-in that allows you to restrict access to certain websites to certain times of the day, and a system-based option to “Block the sites entirely”, which is what I chose. The “Block the sites entirely” method has the benefit of blocking my computer, rather than just Firefox, from accessing the websites I specify; this way I can’t just switch to Safari to seek out a list of the largest cities in China by population. Of course, it’s always possible to unblock the sites, but my hope is that the minor hassle of doing so will be enough to deter me from falling into another link-clicking binge.
Implementing the “Block the sites entirely” option involved editing the “hosts” file on my Mac. Editing the “hosts” file was a little harder than Lifehacker describes; I had to change the ownership/permissions for both the “hosts” file and the folder in which it’s contained to be able to save my changes. But it’s working now, and Wikipedia, Pitchfork and Google News are blocked! Here’s to remaining ignorant about future Sarah Palin developments…