I spend a lot of time in productivity forums, an occupational hazard for me. In these forums, I often find people looking frantically for block site apps. While I don’t use block site apps myself, enough people are asking about them that I felt an article was timely.
What is a Block Site App?
Quite simply, a block site app or program is software for your phone or computer that blocks you from visiting certain web sites or from using certain apps.
Who Are These Apps Good For?
So why would you need an app to stop you from visiting a web site or using a certain app? Why not just not go to the web site or not use the app?
There are three reasons why you might want to use a block site app instead of just not using the sites and apps:
- Addiction and Willpower – Games, social media, messaging and other apps on smart phones, tablets and computers can be VERY addictive. While it is easy to say people should just quit these apps, we only have so much willpower and it can be very difficult to break this digital addiction.
- Notifications – Many apps notify you with messages and updates, even when you don’t have the main program running.
- Time Control – Most block site apps let you set a blocking time so you can block the distracting sites and apps during your designated work or homework time. So you can check out Facebook or funny cat videos on YouTube all you want – but just during time you haven’t already designated for productivity.
- Tab Abusers – Computers are so powerful, that many of us fall into the habit of keeping every site we look at regularly open in a tab. Some of my clients have 10-15 tabs open when they share their screen with me during our time management coaching sessions. Blocking apps not needed for productivity can help cut down tab abuse.
- Inappropriate sites – Since this article is about productivity, I won’t deal with this here, but block site apps can also be used to keep children from visiting inappropriate sites. (assuming your children’s computer skills don’t eclipse yours…)
Smartphone addiction is huge. One smartphone addiction study found:
- 50% of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices
- 72% of teens feel the need to immediately respond to texts and social networking messages
- even 27% of PARENTS feel they are addicted to their mobile devices
Studies have shown up to half of smartphones users admit to using their smart phone while driving. So if that many people can’t keep their hands off of their smart phones while doing something as dangerous and attention-critical as driving, how are they going to avoid using smart phones during work or study?
Smartphone and social media addiction is especially prevalent among young workers and university students who have grown up with smartphones, but older adults are not immune.
Testing Block Site Apps
To test how block site apps work, I started with BlockSite.co. Blocksite.co (not .com) offers a free blocking service for Chrome and Android users.
I installed BlockSite on my Chrome browser on my desktop computer and on my Android phone. In both cases, the app was quite easy to use.
BlockSite not only let me block a site, it let me choose the days of the week and times. So if I want to block access to Facebook and YouTube during work hours but leave them free to visit during evenings and weekends, this is easy to do. You can set a general time to block all apps or block certain apps at different times than others.
Here is what is looks like when I try to visit a site I have blocked in Chrome.
Blocksite isn’t the only app of this nature, of course. You should try a few to see which one works best for you.
What If I Need Access During Blocked Time?
If you have to access a certain site during your locked time, you can just open the BlockSites app and change the settings.The hope is the reminder that the site is blocked will help you refocus and the extra effort you would have to do to go into your settings to access the site will keep you from bothering to check the non-productive site or app.
Unusual Block Sites Idea
As many of you know, I am passionate about work/life balance. This is why I offer a free work/life balance online course. Many of my clients struggle with trying NOT to work on evenings and weekends. The temptation to just check work email is overwhelming.
What if we turned this whole idea around and blocked all our work apps and sites in the evenings and weekends? No email checking, task checking, etc. outside of work hours.
I think this is an intriguing additional use for block site apps – keeping your personal and family time sacred.
Why Doesn’t CaptainTime Use Block Site Apps?
I work in time blocks – blocks of time dedicated to certain projects or category of tasks. At the moment, I don’t have a problem with smart phone or computer app distractions.
While, I am not addicted to smart phones or computer myself, I do have a Slurpee addiction, however. And the Slurpee app I have gives me a free one every 7 purchases so it is reinforcing rather than breaking my Slurpee addiction. 🙂
Conclusion: Block Site Apps Can Help Productivity
Although I don’t need a block site app for myself, I can certainly see the benefits for my clients who are trying to reduce distractions. I especially see the use for some college students I am coaching on focus and time management for better study and class assignments.
If you are struggling with distractions from your smart phone or computer apps, I highly recommend you give block site apps like BlockSite.co a try. Of course, I am always available when you are ready for a a time management coach as well.
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Garland Coulson, “Captain Time”