Stop Wasting Time Online And Get Things Done With The FindFocus Website And Distraction Blocker

Block Distracting Websites & Apps With FindFocus

"I turn it on whenever I need to focus.  Really liking it."
Brett McKay from the artofmanliness.com

The Ultimate Guide To Block Websites On Google Chrome (And Other Browsers)

Are you trying to stay focused, but finding that relying on willpower is just too much to handle?

Do you start fresh every day, fail, then vow to start again to get things done.

Maybe it's time to learn "How to block websites on google chrome and other browsers"...

In this post you'll learn about a new and counter-intuitive way to block websites with four proven methods (three of them are free).

You will not only learn how to ban distracting websites but to schedule your non-productive surfing hours so you can stay focused and get things done without missing the things you like about the internet. 

There are  4 ways you can use to block yourself from any website (3 are free)

  1. Make changes to the hostfile and restrict access to certain URLs 
  2. Use a browser extension that blocks websites for Google Chrome
  3. Use a free free and open source website blocker (with limited capabilities) 
  4. Use a professional website blocker  

Of course all of these solutions have their pros and cons. 

Read the article to find the right solution for you. 

The Main Reason to Restrict your Internet Access Or to Block Certain Websites

There are a lot of reasons why you may want to limit your access to various sites on your computer and on your mobile phone.

Studies show that that up to 40% of the population suffer from internet addiction.

Everyone has his own guilty pleasure sites and wastes too much time instead of getting things done and being productive.

Some people feel they are wasting too much time on Facebook but still need to use the business manager because it's part of their job.

Others are trying to pass the next exam or finish their thesis and want to use a website blocker for studying. 

Basically every expert on productivity recommends to Cut Out distractions

The main advantage you are getting from using a software or an app like that is that you cut options.

Knowing that you cannot access Netflix in the the next 5 hours takes out the decision out of your day because it's blocked. 

You don't have to resist going there any more because you KNOW it's blocked. If you block distractions you can use all your willpower to finish that boring task you need to do.

One, stop browsing… I know maybe you found me because you were browsing somewhere and I hope you make me part of your focus on your personal development, that I’m a purposeful part of your life, but I can tell you that overall browsing completely wipes out your focus and your willpower.

Brendon Burchard

The world’s leading high performance coach

All that browsing, all those tweets that you’re reading, those newsfeeds that you’re reading guess what?


Every time you’re looking at them guess what your mind has to do?


It has to make a decision, pay attention or not pay attention and that decision is costing you focal power and resources later on, even if you don’t know it.

The secret ingredient you need to use is something that researchers call Delay Discounting.

Delay discounting is a trick that's recommend by behavioral scientists.

Researchers found that the longer you have to wait for something (e.g. watching that funny cat video) the less it is worth to you.

Usually your brain chooses immediate gratification at the cost of future rewards. This is because immediate rewards trigger the older, more primitive part of your brain.

By blocking a site you give yourself some time to cool off and the promise of the reward is reduced.

Figure 1: Illustration of the Area Under the Curve. The maximum reward and the maximum delay were set to one. We then converted the indifference points to proportions of the maximum reward, and the delays to proportions of the maximum delay.

Source: http://journal.sjdm.org/10/91215/jdm91215.html

The researchers found that even small delays can dramatically lower the perceived value of any temptation.

In practice that means your urge to visit Facebook, Reddit, Youtube etc. or playing a game has only a short time to overwhelm your brain.

To choose the right website blocker you need to know if you want to block a website forever or only temporarily for a few hours each day.

As soon as there is any distance between you and the temptation, the rational part of your brain takes over

That's why the methods described below work to block yourself from your favorite websites work.

However, they are not created equal mainly for two reasons:

However, after an initial period that typically lasts for a few days or maybe a week, you probably fall back into the same old habits for two reasons.

Either because you know how to find a way around the solution to easily or you forget to block the url again after you disabled the website block.

To choose the right method you need to know if you want to block a website forever or temporarily for a few hours each day.

Method 1: Block a website in google chrome for FREE by changing the hostfile

Changing the host file is probably the most common advise you'll find if you google for any advise on "How to block a website". 

This solution is easy and fast. 

Unfortunately it's very easy to disable again and therefore not very effective.

Blocking the host file is no effective solution.  It ONLY works if you already have A LOT OF willpower.

To use this method is only recommend if you already have a lot of willpower and just want a little bit of extra work to access your favorite website. 

Here are the two methods explained in detail. 

How To Block A Website In 2 Minutes By Changing The Host File On Windows Computer

How To Block A Website In 2 Minutes By Changing The Host File On A Mac Computer


Method #2: Block a website on Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari By using a free browser extension

Using a browser extension to limit the access to distracting URLs is the preferred option for most people looking for a free online time management tool. This is the best solution for someone who just wants to gain a bit more control of his or her surfing habits.

Using a browser extension is a great solution if you need to block sites at work and are not allowed to install a fully functional native website and distraction blocker.  

Using a browser extension is a great solution if you need to block sites at work and are not allowed to install a fully functional native website and distraction blocker.

How To Limit internet access on google chrome using the most popular browser extension  

There is hardly any productivity article that won't mention StayFocusd. With more than 800,000 active users in 2018 this browser extension is by far the most popular extension in this category for Google Chrome.

You can customize StayFocusd so that it lets you onto restricted websites or domains for a specific amount of time each day while a countdown clock shows how much time you have left.

Add site(s) to block in the text box below, then click "Add Blocked Site(s)".  To block multiple sites, add one per line. Do not type the http:// If you want to block the entire site, leave off the www (i.e. cnn.com instead of www.cnn.com) You can use a preceding asterisk as a wildcard (i.e. *.com blocks all .com sites, or *foo blocks all domains with the word "foo" in them)

Unfortunately, there's one very obvious way to get around Stayfocusd, and that's to launch a different Web browser because since Stayfocusd only works in Chrome.

Hello Internet Explorer 🙂 

The best feature of is that can customize it is to enable it only on certain week days and specific times, for example as only weekdays between 8a.m. and 4p.m.

Stayfocusd has two more features that are responsible for it's success. With the nuclear feature there's no turning back (except switching to another browser).

The first feature is called  "The Nuclear Option."

Once you activate it Stayfocusd will completely block the sites that you want for the number of hours you set, regardless of the days and hours you've set as allowable surfing time. There is no way to stop the nuclear option once you activate it.  

reflect about whether you really want access to your unwanted websites

The second feature is called "Require Challenge." With this option Stayfocusd asks you to complete a very difficult challenge before you can make any changes to your settings that restrict internet access.

In order to "win" the challenge you need to type a word-for-word a paragraph, without making a single error (!!!)  This means that if you hit backspace or a capital letter where it should be lowercase, you have to start over. It's not possible to copy-and-paste the paragraph either because StayFocusd counts your keystrokes.

For most people this takes a few tries before they win the challenge. While typing you are forced to delay your gratification and reflect about whether you really want access to your unwanted websites.

It's even more powerful if you can change the text that you're required to type to something that can potentially make you more motivated to continue the project you are tying to finish. 

Block Sites Immediately With Leechblock on Firefox (and Google Chrome) 

temporarily block websites with Leechblock

The most popular site blocker for the Mozilla Firefox is a simple extension called LeechBlock (It's available for Google Chrome as well). Like StayFocusd the extension allows you to specify which sites you want to block and when to block them.

You can specify up to six sets of sites to block at different times and days for each set. You can block yourself within fixed time periods, set allow amount of time per hour), or use a combination of time periods and time limit (e.g., allow up to 5 minutes in every hour between 8am and 4pm).

If you want to use this net blocker extension to block a specific url you can use specified wildcards (e.g., reddit.com/r/all) and exceptions like reddit.com/r/nosurf) to  ban websites. Leechblock also comes with another feature called: The lockdown feature which you can use to block sites immediately for a specified time.

There's one very obvious way to get around any website blocking extention. Launch a different web browser.  Hello Internet Explorer :)


Control Internet Access on Safari (and Google Chrome) with WasteNoTime

block websites for a period of time for studying

Your best bet if you want to use an extension for Safari (Mac) is WasteNoTime which is "designed to help you manage your time spent on the Internet more efficiently". Like LeechBlock it's possible to block a web pages and limit internet access on Google Chrome as well.

Basically this web blocker software adds an icon to the Safari browser toolbar. If you click on the icon it will display a popover window, where you can see how much allowed time you have left, add sites to be blocked, and access the Settings.

The extension provides a status bar that allows you to monitor in real-time how much time you have left for accessing sites on the block list. This free productivity software allows you to add sites to the block list easily by clicking a couple of buttons.

The context menu allows you to add web pages to the block list while you are browsing. If I really want to concentrate on work WasteNoTime allows you to block ALL sites by adding a  * to your block list. For sites with a custom time limit, the global time limit applies. When either of them is used up, the site will be blocked.

Method #3: Block Access To Websites on Mac (But be careful and know It's limitations) 

This article would not be complete without the most popular website blocker for Mac which is called SelfControl and was downloaded over 400,000 from MacUpdate alone.

SelfControl is a free and open-source net blocker for macOS that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet.

The best part (apart from the fact that it's free) is that it's super simple to use.

Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." For example: To block Youtube, you would add youtube.com to your block list. However, some websites have different domains for different functions, and you may need to block all of them to get it working fully.

Until the timer expires, the software will modify your host file and you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

The software was created by a great guy called Steve Lambert how decided to make it open source. 

SelfControl is still a very powerful, and lightweight app that is used by thousands of people. It's probably the best website blocker for Mac if you don't want to spend any money on software.

Click to Tweet

However, some institutions like the Wharton University of Pennsylvania, don't recommend using Self Control because a number of their students have lost all their data after having to reformat and reinstall their Mac. 

SelfControl is a Mac application that some students install to keep distracting sites such as social media from interfering with school work. However, we don't recommend using SelfControl -- a number of students have lost all their data after having to reformat and reinstall.

SelfControl can permanently damage your system files 

Once preferences are set in the application, the web blocking software embeds itself in system files to prevent access. Even if the program is removed, the system files are damaged and require a reformat & restore.

I interviewed Steve Lambert, the creator of Self-Control and he explained that many people don't understand the concept of free (open source)  software:

Creator of The SelfControl App

Steve Lambert

Creator of SelfControl

One of the things we were talking about was being a customer and having expectations about software instead of being a participant and saying it would be really great if this feature was existing.

I pay you to code it.

Then I say, why don’t you pay someone else to do that? Shifting this expectation was almost impossible because understanding of open source software was just not there. I was saying you do it and people were just thinking I was a jerk.

But the good thing about releasing self-control for free is that it is way more popular than if it would be a commercial software. People downloaded for free and I hope they understand it as a gift and instead as of the product. I think, Self-control is useful for me and people can use it, if it’s useful for them, too. A lot of people understand it that way and use it because of that. And then they think: “Oh God this is so helpful”.


Open Source Problem #1: There is no customer support: 

Self-Control is open-source software. That means nobody is responsible for customer support. Of course there are some volunteers how answer questions on github, but for the most part the user has to solve a problem on it's own. 

And Steve mentioned in during the interview: 

Understanding of open source software was just not there and shifting expectations was almost impossible. I was saying you do it and people were just thinking I was a jerk.

Open Source Problem #2: The Software is not actively developed:

Self-Control is open-source software. That means nobody is responsible for customer support. Of course there are some volunteers how answer questions on github, but for the most part the user has to solve a problem on it's own. 

To quote Steve Lambert again: 

That’s the Thing With Free Software... It’s Been Years That People Wanted This Feature And No One Made It.

Of course SelfControl is still a very powerful, and lightweight app that is used by thousands of people. It's probably the best website blocker for Mac if you don't want to spend any money on software. 

The Best Free Solution To Block Access To Websites on Windows - Is Not Available Any More 🙁

The best free alternative for Windows is not supported any more.

I'm sorry there is currently no free alternative to SelfControl for Windows that we can recommend to you. The only one worth mentioning was SelfRestraint but the URL to the official website does not work & the source code at Github has not been updated for an extended period. 


Method #4: Use A Professional Website And Distraction Blocker

The #1 Alternative To SelfControl for Professionals & Productivity Experts

Browser extensions like StayFocusd and Leechblock do a lot of things right. They may help but a lot of people turn to a professional alternative because if you are using the host file blocking method or an browser extension it's too easy just to switch to another browser. 

The alternative to block websites on Google Chrome and other browsers is to use a professional website blocker like FindFocus 

FindFocus comes with all of the features that made browser extensions like StayFocusd and web blocking software like SelfControl so popular (without the downsides of messing up your files or being limited to one browser). 

The app was build to keep your system secure and uses an approach that does not use the hostfile or making changes to your operating system. 

However, once the app is running you cannot turn it off. 

FindFocus was build to reverse Bad Browsing habits

When you try the app you'll immediately get access to a membership area where you'll be introduced to a completely new way of using the internet.

For example with FindFocus it's possible to 

  1. Block distracting websites like Facebook, Youtube, Reddit and Quora throughout the day.
  2. White-list all the websites that you need to work and force yourself to unlock the Internet (for max. 10min per session) if you want to do a quick search on a site that’s not on your white-list.  
  3. Block email until 2pm, while still being allowed to send email without seeing your inbox in Gmail 

FindFocus is the only software on the market allows you to have multiple profiles running at the same time.


The truth is that most of us don't want to give up our flexibility.  That's the reason why most people "like the concept" of DEEP WORK and FOCUS but  slip back into bad habits sooner or later.

The Counter-Intuitive Approach To Productivity- Why Being able to bypass a website block will make you more productive

There are different options to block a website for a shorter periods. And many reasons to do so.

Maybe you are working on a blog article and need to do a quick research. Or there is something your wife asks you order some new shoes or something for the kids ASAP (I know, I don't want to argue with my wife :D)

The truth is that most of us don't want to give up our flexibility. That's the reason why most people "like" the concept of deep work and focus but than go back to the same old habits sooner or later, even after paying for a solution like Freedom.  

Let's be honest here. No matter what website blocker software you use there will always be a solution to bypass any internet blocker on the market. 

The best way to use FindFocus is to intentionally allow yourself to give into your craving and "pause" you block for short period of time.

After a couple of minutes the software will automatically start again and will prevent you from loosing hours on end in an OCD-loop.  

The idea here is that you know best, what's right for you, especially if you know the websites you need to block at work.  

Maybe you need to protect yourself with the "Fort Knox Mode". (It's called this way because just like with SelfControl, it's not possible for the average user to bypass the Fort Knox Mode). 

But maybe you just want to make checking your emails just a bit more difficult to and give an extra dose of motivation to stay away from it. 

How to temporarily block a website Without limiting your flexibility

The best way to use FindFocus is to make use of delay discounting. That means you intentionally allow yourself to bypass any website block whenever you want. 

This might sound crazy but it works. 

This works for two reasons:

  1. You don't have to disable the website blocking software completely
  2. You only allow access to a restricted site for a certain time period 
website blocking by url address

I found the best way around this is create and and adjust the software towards your weaknesses. 

For example, I still like to go to Facebook once in a while. However, I made it very difficult to the main website.

First, I need to type in a text without making any typos and then I have to wait for minutes to access gain access to the platform for five minutes. 

Maybe I'll do this once or twice every day, maybe even every hour.

Even while finishing this text, I went to Facebook. While I work I only allow myself to use the Facebook Business Manager.  

Block Facebook with FindFocus

After going through this procedure two or three times I got so annoyed and decided to finish the post you are reading right now

Never Forget To Turn On Your Website Blocker

As you can see in the screenshot, all grey profiles are running at the same time. That means you can run independent profiles for different purposes. 

For example if I allow myself to go to Facebook I still don't have access to Youtube or certain news sites. You can even that block websites and certain URLs forever.   

The best way to use FindFocus is to make use of delay discounting. That means you intentionally allow yourself to bypass any website block whenever you want.   This might sound crazy but it works.

permanently block a website With Blacklists

FindFocus has another feature called "The Black-List" that allows you to block websites forever.

While you can always can create a schedule to run 24/7 there might be some websites you never ever want to visit again. For example this could be useful if you want to block access to porn websites, gambling websites or any website that you think is 100% bad for you.

The blacklist is completely independent from any schedules you create. It's build in a way that have to wait a few hours or even multiple days before you can disable it. Be careful using the blacklist because you won't be able to close FindFocus if you use this feature.

Conclusion: Which Is The Best Software To Block Websites?

Obviously, I'm a bit biased here but all these website blocking methods work

In the end it boils down to your intention. 

  • Using the host file method or an extension is free and has no downside,however for many people it's too easy to get around
  • Using Self-Control is a great solution if you don't want to spend any money (andcreate backup of files) because there is a small risk that it might damage your computer system
  • Using a solution like FindFocus is obviously not free but gives you the highest chance to succeed in changing your bad online habits long-term.

Before you make a final decision, you can try FindFocus for free for 14 days and discover the method that works best for your specific situation.  

Help Others To Find Focus

Stop Wasting Time Online & Get Things Done

"I turn it on whenever I need to focus.  Really liking it."
Brett McKay from the artofmanliness.com


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Martin Boeddeker
 

Martin Boeddeker is the founder of FindFocus.net, the One-Page Productivity Planner and the mind behind the FindFocus Distraction Blocker for Mac. He studied industrial engineering and management in Germany and worked for some of the biggest companies in the world. With FindFocus he wants to help people to get rid of what he calls DigitalADD so they focus on the things that truly matter in life.

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