On improving your web browsing productivity

Get back to work!

Here’s a stat I read recently: one-third of women between 18-34 years of age check Facebook when they first wake up (before even getting up for the bathroom). I cringe because I find myself doing the same thing often. And then when I eventually get to my computer, I would be loathe to count how many hours I’ve spent procrastinating instead of working on an imminent work project.

In a post today, author Tim Challies explains how he’s found it helpful to use a blocking tool called Leechblock to improve his productivity at the computer. This tool would be particularly useful for people who work from home (e.g. myself), as well as those who work without any supervision for most of the day (e.g. students, pastors, etc).

Anyways, the original Leechblocker can be found here – however, it’s only available for Firefox.

From a quick search, here are some alternatives, whether it’s for another browser or for all browsers on your computer:

  • Google Chrome StayFocused. This has most of the features from Leechblocker. It includes a devilishly hard challenge that you must type correctly, with NO mistakes before you can change settings that you’ve set up (in case you’re tempted to tweak them afterwards). I replaced it with the words from Psalm 119:32-37.
  • For those on Windows, you could try BinarySwitch. It doesn’t have as many features but it works across ALL your browsers.
  • For those on Macs, SelfControl is a simple tool that works not just for your internet browser, but also for any other apps you want to list in the program as well.

Of course, simply installing external tools without also examining our hearts and desires would make this a futile exercise. Our hearts are weak in that I know even if I was successful in improving the productivity of my internet browsing, I could just as easily waste time on other things, like playing video games, chatting, emails, changing your wallpaper. Even the Apostle Paul acknowledged that sins remained a battle through his life (Romans 7:21-8:4). So it’s not enough to simply change our habits to have victory over an area of our life (you could extend this to other spheres like mobile phone use, pornography, bible reading, prayer/devotional time).

Additionally, forcing ourselves into external changes – without acknowledging our need for the Spirit of Christ to empower our actions – will inevitably lead to a period of ability, then failure when our own self-effort is unable to sustain the work, and our subsequent guilt discourages us from continuing the effort. Perhaps even worse, if it’s by sheer willpower we sustain these habits, then we just get a proud heart, thinking that we were able to do it on our own.

So if you trust Christ as your  Lord and Saviour, take heart that His finished work not only brings us from darkness to light, but clothes us with power to do what is right. Perhaps for you and me, one of these internet browser tools might be one of His means to do that.


– William Chong