Stop Getting Sidetracked At Work With This Simple Trick

December 11, 2013
Don't be fooled. He's not working. He's reading

Don’t be fooled. He’s not working. He’s reading

Let’s just agree on one fact here: If your career requires you to spend the majority of your time in front of a computer screen, you are going to get distracted.

There. With that out of the way, we can let the healing begin.

A few weeks back, I found myself getting sidetracked a little too often. It’s not that I was having any trouble meeting deadlines or putting forth my best work. I just kept finding myself falling through the rabbit hole.

There are not enough sitcoms about Southern interior design firms anymore.

There are not enough sitcoms about Southern interior design firms anymore.

That’s kind of how what the internet is built to do, right? Envelope you in its vastness? Go one place for something, click a link, end up on another site altogether. Minutes later, you’re reading about how climate change is affecting the migration patterns of Canadian geese and what it means for poutine connoisseurs or scanning the Designing Women Wikipedia page because you happened to wonder what Delta Burke is up to these days. (She’s overcoming compulsive hoarding syndrome. That’s what she’s up to. Get well soon, Delta.)

I had to do something. So, I did something very simple. I downloaded a free extension for Google Chrome called, unimaginatively, Block Site. The plugin allows you to — you guessed it! — block designated sites and set up a redirect page. In my case, I blocked sites that purport to being news operations, but whose business model is built on click-bait. You know, the sites famous for their listicles, scathing opinions about minutiae and sensational photos/video.

Now, whenever I try to visit these sites, I am redirected to the GIF below as a not-so-subtle reminder to get back to work. (Thanks, Bruce Almighty.)


One unexpected outcome of blocking nearly every site I had previously bookmarked is when I climb into bed at night, I can open my iPad and read through everything I didn’t see during the day. It’s all there in my Flipboard, totally fresh to me. If it’s a long read, I have time to read it. If I want to comment, I have time to comment. If I want to share it, I have time to share.

Maybe you have laser-like focus when working at the computer. No Facebook post, tweet or link sent by a colleague can possibly take you off your game. Good for you! For the rest of us — most of us, I suspect — there is Block Site. Consider it my Christmas gift to you.