Most people treat time as infinite resource because they don’t have to earn it. So we’re caught in the sea of unlimited information and entertainment made possible with the Internet connection. If we track the time spent on each activity, we’ll be able to see our habits, and use it to encourage us to spend time wisely.
The benefit of working in front of computer is we can do everything with a press of key, a swipe of trackpad, or a motion of mouse. This simplicity is also a double-edged sword because distraction is one tab away. If you’re one of the few lucky people that work using computer, you should realize that distraction is your worst enemy.
We fall to distraction because they only seize a tiny slice of our time — reading a link bait article takes about one minute, watching a video on Facebook takes about two minutes, and checking out Twitter takes less than five minutes. How much time can be wasted checking out news?
But when you track all those time, you’ll be surprised with the amount of time spent on activities that doesn’t contribute to your growth as a professional.
The great thing with being a geek or nerd is we care about numbers — we tend to score the highest among our friends when it comes to playing games. We just need to shift the attention to a new game called “time conqueror”. The achievements we get from completing this game brings more satisfaction than the high score in Swing Copters.
If you’re new to time tracking, I‘m going to share a Safari extension that you can use to track your browsing habit.
Limiting Distraction with WasteNoTime
WasteNoTime is a wonderful time tracking Safari and Chrome extension made by Qiao George Yang. Inspired from the LeechBlock Firefox extension designed to block time-wasting sites, WasteNoBlock gives us set of features to view our browsing time breakdown in day, week, and month.
The first time you run this extension, you must configure the working hours, the day when extension is active, and the amount of time allowed to visit blocked websites in two block of time: within working hours, and outside working hours. For example, you can set the working hours between 9–6 PM, and assign 30 minutes for within working hours, and 120 minutes outside working hours.
The moment you visit blocked sites, the time will start ticking. When it reaches zero, WasteNoTime will block the site and show you related quotes to get things done and get back to your focus.
Balancing Between Productivity and Creativity
My main browser is Safari where I spend most of my time for my personal projects — such as preparing content for this site. I limit the maximum 20 minutes during working hours for wasting time on sites like Twitter and YouTube. Outside of working hours, I assign about 50 minutes for random browsing which I use to update Twitter status or scheduling posts with Buffer.
As for works related tasks, I use Google Chrome. I don’t limit the time spent on any websites and use the chart to see where I spend most time during that day.
The whole idea of this limiting environment is to force myself doing actual works in front of computer.
We want to stay productive most of the time, but it doesn’t mean we must exhaust ourselves with endless of tiring tasks. An athlete pushes their muscle to its limit during training session, and let it rest so it can release the potential power in official match. Our idea muscle needs to rest by exposing it to entertainment — books, movies, or music. We must balance between creativity and productivity. Set a day or two where you can let your idea muscle explore new ideas.
Pomodoro with Instant Lockdown
Pomodoro is a popular technique to do a short burst between our activities. The muscle training follows the similar routine. An athlete jogs for a while, does a short quick 100 meter dash, then back to jogging. WasteNoTime has a feature to instantly lock all websites for a specified time. Once locked, you won’t be able to visit any websites until you finish the dash — unless you’ve whitelisted a few websites you need to get actual works done.
Mould Distraction into Attention
Don’t fight distraction. Rather than forcing yourself to be productive, replace the difficult tasks with simple tasks that contribute to your overall goals. You can try to learn something new that you can apply later. You can reply questions from your customers. You can send new ideas to your boss. These small and easy tasks are great for recharging yourself after a tiring dash.
I suggest running the extension for a week without blocking any sites. This’ll give your the overview of your browsing habit. Number doesn’t lie. I’m learning to manage my time, and this extension helps me makes conscious effort to fix and identify my browsing habit.