I have a tendency to take on more work than I should. I never miss a deadline, but I often come close. It’s not unusual for me to have to work on the occasional week night or Saturday morning, all the while wondering why I agreed to take on yet another project when my plate was already full. I probably need to learn to say no a little more often.
But I also need to spend less of my workday on Twitter.
It wasn’t easy for me to admit to myself that I wasn’t being as productive as I could. More than that, it was embarrassing to realize how irresponsible I was being with my time.
Like a lot of people I know, I do almost all of my work on my computer. I also have a tremendous amount of autonomy with my work, so no one is ever hovering over my shoulder to make sure I’m on task. I’m a big girl, and it’s generally expected that I’ll act like one without much intervention.
And I do. Usually. As I said, I never miss a deadline. But the hard truth is that when I find my mind wandering during the workday, it’s all too easy to pull up Twitter or Facebook for a little distraction. An hour (or two, or… you get the point) later, I find myself staring at the clock wondering where the time went - and what adjustments I’ll need to make in order to assure my work still gets done.
Telling myself to be more focused wasn’t enough. The intention was there, but the self discipline was obviously lacking. Instead of beating myself up for my apparent immaturity, I found a way to force myself to be more productive.
I installed LeechBlock. LeechBlock is a Firefox add-on that lets you block your ability to visit specific websites during set times. You can limit the time you’re allowed on a certain URL, or block out sites for predetermined windows of time.
After downloading and installing the add-on, I configured LeechBlock to block Facebook and Twitter, my two biggest time sucks, for the six hours that I need to be doing the majority of my work. If I try to go to one of those pages during those set hours, the Google spreadsheet that keeps track of my monthly projects and deadlines opens up instead. It’s a friendly digital reminder that “hey, isn’t there something else you’re supposed to be doing right now?”
It is amazing how much more work I’ve gotten done since installing this productivity tool on my browser. (And by amazing, I mean kind of shameful.)
I’m not proud of the fact that I need a computer program to keep me from playing around on social media websites when I should be working. I am, however, relieved to have found a solution that picks up where my willpower leaves off.
Have you tried LeechBlock? Do you have other tricks or techniques that you use to help you be more productive?