Fight the Online Shopping Urge With These Smart Tools

Working on the computerThe internet. It's our best friend and worst enemy, depending on the hour of the day and our frame of mind.

It's our ally when it comes to finding important info or Googling someone's photo. But when it comes to procrastinating, getting sucked down a social media rabbithole, or online shopping (and forget about reading all those reviews)...well, sometimes we could just use an "off" button.

Online addiction--it's not only a formidable money-suck, it can be a time-suck as well (which is just as concerning, given how much your hour is worth).

So, after spending one too many precious hours online, we’ve decided to fight fire with fire. We’ve found software, plug-ins, and websites will help you focus on the task at hand (like, you know, your job--or your life) instead of getting sucked into yet another flash sale or Youtube marathon.

Read on for our online addiction fixes:

LeechBlock

If you use Firefox, the browser add-on Leechblock can block any sites you specify between certain hours. If you have a habit of shopping online in the evening after dinner, you can select your favorite shopping sites for a "no shopping time zone" between 6-9 pm, or block all sites from 9am-12pm to get that report done. The program allows you to still elect to receive emails during these times.
Cost: Free

Freedom

If you are trying to write the next great American novel--or just get through that memo--but find yourself obsessively checking your Facebook feed, try Freedom, the (in our opinion) aptly-named app favored by successful writers. Like your very own Big Brother for your internet access, it's more heavy-handed than the lighter web apps, because it completely shuts down your access to the internet for a certain amount of time--which means you can't just change your mind and turn it back on (it requires you to reboot your computer if you want to circumvent yourself).
Cost: $10

Anti-Social

You need to get some online research done, but you're a sucker for looking through your friends' latest Facebook album from her trip to Italy, or can't say no to a Tweet that needs to be responded to. If you're a social media addict, try Anti-Social from the makers of Freedom, which specifically blocks social sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also set up your email client so that it blocks people from pinging you. Just until you come up for air, of course.
Cost: $15

RescueTime

If you need to go on a procrastination diet, RescueTime is your calorie counter. A helpful diagnostic tool, it tracks and charts out the websites where you spend your time (potentially scary when you see your 2-hour a week Amazon.com habit in front of your eyes)--and presents it to you in a handy format so you can change your habits accordingly. If you have an urgent project that needs doing in the next hour, you can put yourself in “Focus Time” and the application will block your most distracting sites, as designated by you.
Cost: $6 a month.

It's not just he internet; learn how much procrastination costs you. Click here.

Tell Us: What are your best tips for curbing your online habits (shopping and otherwise)?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TR7HBYTQXAED3G4IBY7DQZKDSU Kathy in the Wallowas

    I can see the value here – especially if you have children!

    May I suggest some articles or items on ways to leverage the tools?

    “The Social Media Rabbit Hole” might indeed be a time waster – but for me a Facebook game was a key way to support my sister through a cancer scare. Talking about it made her more anxious, so she turned to the Rabbit Hole (Castle Age) for distraction. I played the game to BE there for her (she lives in a remote part of Wyoming, I live in a very remote part of Oregon) – so we “leveraged” the tool that way.

    I also use social media for professional and personal development – Writers Digest, study, giving, and dance community connections.

    Likewise, shopping online may be a time waster for those of you in cities – but I’m 70 miles one way (minimum hour and a half, given our roads) from the nearest reasonable retail town, and online is a great way to cross check prices or get things I just can’t get here without the investment of gas and time. (I rarely have a trip that doesn’t cost me at least $125 – so for me a bit of online shopping – even with delivery charges) can be a significant saver.

    These tools sound helpful, but also like a crutch for tech addiction – and some do cost money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TR7HBYTQXAED3G4IBY7DQZKDSU Kathy in the Wallowas

    I can see the value here – especially if you have children!

    May I suggest some articles or items on ways to leverage the tools?

    “The Social Media Rabbit Hole” might indeed be a time waster – but for me a Facebook game was a key way to support my sister through a cancer scare. Talking about it made her more anxious, so she turned to the Rabbit Hole (Castle Age) for distraction. I played the game to BE there for her (she lives in a remote part of Wyoming, I live in a very remote part of Oregon) – so we “leveraged” the tool that way.

    I also use social media for professional and personal development – Writers Digest, study, giving, and dance community connections.

    Likewise, shopping online may be a time waster for those of you in cities – but I’m 70 miles one way (minimum hour and a half, given our roads) from the nearest reasonable retail town, and online is a great way to cross check prices or get things I just can’t get here without the investment of gas and time. (I rarely have a trip that doesn’t cost me at least $125 – so for me a bit of online shopping – even with delivery charges) can be a significant saver.

    These tools sound helpful, but also like a crutch for tech addiction – and some do cost money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TR7HBYTQXAED3G4IBY7DQZKDSU Kathy in the Wallowas

    I can see the value here – especially if you have children!

    May I suggest some articles or items on ways to leverage the tools?

    “The Social Media Rabbit Hole” might indeed be a time waster – but for me a Facebook game was a key way to support my sister through a cancer scare. Talking about it made her more anxious, so she turned to the Rabbit Hole (Castle Age) for distraction. I played the game to BE there for her (she lives in a remote part of Wyoming, I live in a very remote part of Oregon) – so we “leveraged” the tool that way.

    I also use social media for professional and personal development – Writers Digest, study, giving, and dance community connections.

    Likewise, shopping online may be a time waster for those of you in cities – but I’m 70 miles one way (minimum hour and a half, given our roads) from the nearest reasonable retail town, and online is a great way to cross check prices or get things I just can’t get here without the investment of gas and time. (I rarely have a trip that doesn’t cost me at least $125 – so for me a bit of online shopping – even with delivery charges) can be a significant saver.

    These tools sound helpful, but also like a crutch for tech addiction – and some do cost money.

  • Ailsa

    StayFocusd is an excellent add-on for Chrome. You can use it to limit the time you spend on time-wasting sites, I love it!

  • Ailsa

    StayFocusd is an excellent add-on for Chrome. You can use it to limit the time you spend on time-wasting sites, I love it!

  • Ailsa

    StayFocusd is an excellent add-on for Chrome. You can use it to limit the time you spend on time-wasting sites, I love it!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K4YDR4SLBEFJ2GVQDRRMRRUNGE jerseygirlinspain

    Maybe I’m being a cynic, but whatever happened to self-control?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K4YDR4SLBEFJ2GVQDRRMRRUNGE jerseygirlinspain

    Maybe I’m being a cynic, but whatever happened to self-control?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K4YDR4SLBEFJ2GVQDRRMRRUNGE jerseygirlinspain

    Maybe I’m being a cynic, but whatever happened to self-control?