How Students Can Beat the Lure of Social Media
It’s no secret that the lure of social media websites often prevents students from giving their full attention to studying and assignments. And once students log into their social media accounts, it’s that much harder for them to log back out.
Luckily, there is an easy way to avoid distraction and crack the books and that is to let your computer resist those temptations for you.
No matter your operating system or browser of preference, there’s a productivity tool available that will help you better manage your time by temporarily blocking the websites that get between you and your studies. These extensions give you control over which sites to block, at what time of day to block them and for how long to block them.
LeechBlock for Firefox users allows you to block specific websites during fixed hours (ex: from 9AM to 2PM, or during your peak studying hours) or for a set time limit (ex: for 10 minutes, half an hour, and so on). Or, you can use a combination of the two to create a schedule that allows you to dip a toe into your social media and then logs you back out before you can get completely sucked in. For example, sites can be unblocked for 10 minutes every hour, or 15 minutes every 2 hours, etc. LeechBlock is free and can be downloaded through Firefox’s collection of Add-Ons.
There are several Chrome extensions that allow you to manage your social media browsing. Nanny for Google Chrome (formerly Chrome Nanny) blocks specific websites during certain times of the day or limits your browsing to a certain number of minutes per day or per hour. Stay Focusd works the same way, but it also allows you to block specific in-page content, like videos and games. With Strict Workflow, you simply click a timer that blocks distracting websites for 25 minutes, unblocks for 5, re-blocks for 25 and so on. (You can change the duration of blocked and unblocked time). All extensions are free and available through the Chrome Web Store.
For Mac users, SelfControl is a free and open-source application for OS X 10.5 Leopard or later allows you to block your access to distracting websites and mail servers. Add websites to your blacklist, select a period of time to block them for and click Start. Proceed with extreme caution, though: you won’t be able to access your blacklisted sites until the timer expires – even if you restart your computer or delete the application – so don’t make hasty decisions when choosing what to block and for how long. SelfControl is free and available at MacUpdate.
WasteNoTime is a productivity tool designed for Safari users. The Time Tracker feature actually shows you how much time you spend on individual websites every day (brace yourself for the real numbers), while the Instant Lockdown feature allows you to focus on your work for a period of time with limited Internet access. The Time Quota feature automatically blocks selected web sites when you have spent a preset amount of time on them each day. WasteNoTime is free and available through Safari’s collection of extensions and add-ons.
Unfortunately, there’s no configurable extension or add-on for Internet Explorer that allows users to block and unblock websites with ease. If IE is the only browser available to you, you’ll have to block websites through its Content Advisor option. Go to Tools / Internet Options and select the Content Advisor, where you can block distracting websites. Unlike the extensions for other browsers, however, you’ll have to manually unblock the websites after you’ve finished studying.
Just kidding. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
If you struggle with productivity, why not give some of these tools a try? You’ll still have to exercise discipline and show some self-restraint, but extensions like these will improve your chances of sticking to a productive schedule. Happy studying!