A challenge to end the endless clicking and refreshing

I’ve made a rash decision I’ll probably hate tomorrow, but I’ve decided to give up infotainment for a while—indefinitely would be better. I’ll accept the rest of this month and February as a compromise.

To say I spend too much time clicking and refreshing is minimizing the amount of clicking and refreshing of web pages that I do. Most of that content falls squarely into the infotainment category of content, stuff that I can pretend is important but that’s really just something to read to pass the time.

I go to forums and refresh to see if new threads have started or new replies have appeared. By the time I finish reading through the new ones, I get to go back and start all over because there’s always somebody that’s replied to the previous replies or started another new thread.

I go to blogs and refresh to see if new posts have been posted or new comments have been made. Oh, those comments. So many comments.

I hit trending on my Fire to see the news items of the day because I’m addicted to the easy click. Then NPR.org. They got rid of comments. I used to read those too, even though I cringed every time I did it.

I have easily spent hours on this. I mean, seriously, hours. I use the Mind the Time add-on for Firefox, so I know. In the last seven days, I’ve spent 5 hours and 56 minutes at one particular forum and one particular blog (Kboards and The Passive Voice). That’s only part of the story, a small part, in fact, because I do the vast majority of my infotainment reading on one of several tablets and my phone and I have no records of that time spent/squandered. :o

In December, I spent over 24 hours on these two particular sites on the computer alone, and January isn’t over and it isn’t any better.

It’s disheartening to see it itemized like this.

For Kboards in particular, clicking refresh is addictive. I can’t claim to learn much there because I mostly do my own thing and it doesn’t fit with the advice most frequently put forth there.

For The Passive Voice, I mostly like it because there are interesting discussions. Sometimes. Sometimes things get a bit ridiculous, but hey, it’s the internet, and that’s probably why the comments are so entertaining.

Anyway, all good reasons why I need a break from the infotainment that has me hooked. I don’t like being addicted to things. (Caffeine, remember? Still quit this time, by the way.)

Finally, I don’t like the fact that I’m not living up to my potential. Even at my slowest pace (when I’m actually writing, and you know, not this read through stuff I’m doing now) I can write a thousand words a day in a mere four hours.

If I’d spent those 24 hours in December writing at that slowest pace, I would have written an extra 6,000 words. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering that my December word count was only 10,659 words and that it’s unlikely I’d be stuck at my slowest pace for all those hours, I could have doubled my word count.

I don’t even want to think about how many words it could have been if I were to count the time I’ve spent on all my daily sources of infotainment.

I shudder to think of it.

That’s the part I really don’t like facing. All this clicking and refreshing has been nothing more than a form of self-justified procrastination in the name of learning, keeping up with industry news, and distracting myself with news I don’t even care about, and I’ve let it go on too long.

What’ll I do with all the time I get back? Write more fiction, I hope. Read more fiction, if the writing more doesn’t work out. Either way, I’ll be doing something truly worthwhile.

And maybe clearing out some of the clutter in my brain will help in other ways too. We’ll see.

Failed experiment: site blocking software to fight distractions

Maybe I should give it more time, but I’m not going to. I’m calling this experiment done. Here are a few of the reasons I think this one failed.

  1. I spent a lot of time trying to tweak the block sets, but nothing I came up with fit my work patterns
  2. It pushed me toward browsing the internet and reading the blocked sites on my phone (and I definitely don’t want to develop that habit!)
  3. The out of sight, out of mind approach tends to work best for me and realized this was doing exactly the opposite of that

Time to try something else, and I’ve already got something in mind. But I’ll leave that post for later. :D

Distracted today by an anti-distraction add-on for my browser

This morning I installed Leechblock, an anti-distraction, anti-procrastination site blocker add-on for my web browser. So far, I really like it, even though I lost edits to this post TWICE because I couldn’t stick to the time limits I set for myself and got blocked before I saved my edits. Totally my fault, because I turned on the menu item in the browser that tells me exactly how much time I have left on a site and I knew I was letting myself get too close to the limits each time it happened. :o

I set up some fairly complex blocks and delays, and I’ve spent a lot more time on it than I’d planned. I’m a little unsure if it’s going to turn out to be worth the time I’ve spent, but I’m hopeful. Unfortunately, there are still some tweaks to be made, but I think I’ve mostly got it how I want it.

[removed for edits and pasted below with changes]

Well, that’s it. I gotta go or I’m going to find myself blocked! :D.


That lasted about 30 minutes. And it’s obvious I’m going to be doing most of my work outside my ideal time span, so the time blocks I set up aren’t going to work to help me at all.

Time to do a little rethinking on this. I’ll update when I settle on something.

All right. I’ve made some tweaks.

I’ve set up 5 block sets.

  1. Distractions – blocked outright from 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm), with a 20 minute limit for the rest of the day
  2. Sales reports – blocked after 15 minutes between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) – on publishing days, I’ll deactivate the add-on because I’ll need unfettered internet access, and there’s no easy way to account for that
  3. Internet limits – limited everything except weather.gov and Google calendar between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) to 60 minutes total – if I’m spending that long browsing websites, I’m probably just procrastinating, which can wait until after 2pm :)
  4. Strict limits  blocked outright from 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm), with a 10 minute limit for the rest of the day
  5. Blogging – blocked after 30 minutes between 0700-1400 (7am to 2pm) – this is me trying to make Parkinson’s Law work in my favor – I don’t want to cut off my blogging on days when I need the accountability, but I also don’t want to spend too much of my writing time updating a blog post

What this comes to each day is that in total I’ll spend no more than 60 minutes of my day between 7am and 2pm doing things in my browser. There’s still email, since I don’t use my browser to check, but I really am hoping this will cut down on how much time I spend online distracting myself from writing. :)

It’s a bit late now and I want to get up before noon tomorrow, so I’m going to go. But I’m excited to see how this works tomorrow. First goal: not to override the add-on and see how it works. It’ll be a fun experiment!

Oh, and yeah, I can totally get online with my phone or a tablet, but I believe there’s still benefit to this: I can try to break some bad habits; morning time is my best writing time and I’ve been spending lots of it jumping around online on the computer.

Ghostery and Google Adsense Don’t Like Each Other

So, I’ve had this problem for a couple of months where I can’t login to my adsense account and since I actually got a payment recently I thought it might be time to figure out what’s wrong.

I tried a couple of things that didn’t work and then had the idea that maybe I should try Firefox instead of Chrome, and it worked right away. I looked at Chrome and thought about what might be different, and noticed my Ghostery icon in the top bar. So I disabled the Google Analytics blocking and Adsense loaded right up on Chrome.

Problem solved. Now I just have to remember to unblock Google Analytics when I want to login to Adsense.

Testing ScribeFire because someone recommended it to me

ScribeFire is an in-browser blogging tool that lets you write posts, edit posts, and post posts to your blog. Too many posts? Maybe so, but the tool seems promising. I’ve installed it in the past, but never did get round to really using it. At that time I had only a few blogs. I still had a lot of domains, but I hadn’t discovered what a perfect combination blogging was for me. Writing, designing, coding—I get to do it all with blogs, and much quicker than with my static websites.

I’m going to try out many more of the features of ScribeFire before I decide if I want to make it my blogging tool of choice. Although I really liked Windows Live Writer, which I previously blogged about, I haven’t found myself favoring it over the plain ol’ administrator interface in WordPress. WordPress’s admin interface is good—really good and about the only thing I can complain about in it is how not-easy it is to work with images.

See the screenshot? That’s me writing this post. The interface splits the browser window with whatever you happen to have open in the window. Any links you make will default to the address of the open page, although you can overwrite that link.

Truthfully, though, adding that image wasn’t really any easier than doing it in the admin interface, and the image editing capabilities of ScribeFire don’t seem to be even as nice as those in the WordPress admin.

So, back to WordPress for my posts!