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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Jess Stratton here and welcome to Monday productivity pointers. This week on Monday productivity, I'm going to talk about how to stay focused on the task at hand. It's hard sometimes because we all get distracted from social networks. Sometimes, the call for Twitter, Reddit, and other social network status updates is just too great. And sometimes we just need to buckle down and get our work done. So in this video I'm going to show you some tools that you can use for both the Mac and PC that can temporarily shut off access to your favorite social network, so you can get your work done.
Sometimes we're just on auto-pilot, and we just click to see the updates. Otherwise, your browser's homepage may be set to that social network. So every time you open up your browser, you're going to that site. Now another quick tip that I like to do, and sometimes it doesn't always work out, but I try, is not to post a status update before I, buckle into work for the day, or before I'm getting ready to do a big task. Why? Well for one, the desire to check for updates is just too great. And two, I'm increasing the odds that somebody is going to reply to my post, in which case my phone is going to buzz, chirp, and ding me all day long so I won't be able to concentrate on my work.
All right, enough of the tips, on with the tools. Now before I get to this tool think about whether you actually need internet access or not to even complete that task that you are trying. In fact if you don't need internet access, you could always simply unplug the ethernet cable right from your computer, or disable wifi, or disconnect from your wifi network. But the chances are that you're going to need internet access for some aspect of your work. You just don't want access to certain social networks and sites.
Now this tool is going to work for both the PC and the Mac because we're using the Firefox browser. It's an add-on called Leech Block. To get to that add-on, you're going to open up Firefox and visit addons.mozilla.org. It's going to take us to this add-ons page. And in the search box, I'm going to type LeechBlock, all one word. You'll see that it comes up as the first result. So I can select it, or I can click the green icon. And here's LeechBlock. Now, all it's going to do is have you decide what sites you want to block, and when.
So the first thing I'm going to do is add it to Firefox by clicking the big plus sign and clicking Add to Firefox. I'm going to click Install Now and tell Mozilla that yes we really want to add it. And now click Restart Now to restart your browser. The browser gets relaunched and it's going to take you back right where you were. But there's one difference. LeechBlock is now installed. So let's come up here to the top, select Tools and you'll notice that you now have a new tool option called LeechBlock. Now, before we put our browser on lockdown, we have to tell it what to lock down.
So select Options. This is going to take us into the LeechBlock option screen. And now we can select and create up to six different blocking block sets. So let's just create one for now. We can enter a custom name for this. I'll call it Social Networks. And here is where we put in the domain name of all the sites that we want to block, one per line. For example, twitter.com, facebook.com. Now the next thing we need to choose is when we want to block these.
So I'll click Next. And we can enter a time, in which LeechBlock is automatically going to work, for example, 9 in the morning until 5 o'clock at night. Or you can put in a time range that says, 9 o'clock in the morning, to noon, separated by comma, and then again at 2 PM to 5 PM. You could also instead enter a time limit after which to block these sites. For example, you could use these sites for 15 minutes every hour.
You could also specify certain days to which to block these sites. For example, by default, it selects Monday through Friday but it leaves the weekends open. Now, you can also turn this off and put your computer on lock down. So we'll do that. I can un-check these. And just have the sites in that When to Block field. So now I'm just going to click OK to get back to the Firefox browser. If we want to go on instant lockdown, for example, if you have a big chunk of time and you know you need to buckle down and get work done, we're going to come back up here to the Tools menu.
Select Leech Block, and choose Lockdown. We have to specify what the duration of that lockdown is. For example, if I know I just need a good one hour's worth of work without any distractions, I can put in a one here. I can do an hour and half, by specifying one hour, 30 minutes. Etcetera, etcetera. The last thing I need to do is decide which sites to block during this lockdown. Now, remember. We could create up to six custom block sets of sites. For example, you could only block out new sites or social networks.
So remember I renamed my block set to be Social Networks and I included Facebook and Twitter. So I'm going to select my Block Set one. Click OK. And now we are on lockdown for the next hour and 30 minutes. So if I try to go to Twitter I can't do it. I have been blocked by myself. So that is how you can customize any sites that you want to block, so that you can focus on getting your work done.
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