Page 1 of 1


Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 4:27 am
by reinhard
Who needs bookmarks in the age of google? It's all too easy to find what you're looking for, even if you aren't really looking for it. What we need are the opposite: anti-book marks of forbidden sites, to jar us into a little more consciousness again.

This is a simple little distraction management system I've been practising for a couple of months or so.

Take a red post-it and write down the names of three (or so) websites that are constantly distracting you. Then draw a slash through them. These are your anti-bookmarks, your index of prohibited sites. When you are busy and want to focus on a task without distraction, affix the post-it to your monitor. Do not visit these sites while the post-it is attached. When you are done focusing (say, at the end of the work day) take down the postit. You are now free to visit these sites.

I'm amazed at how well this works, with just three sites (slashdot, nytimes, fidelity). These are the sites I almost automatically go to to procrastinate. Apparently, I find it difficult to procrastinate without going to one of these sites (because going somewhere else would involve a level of intentionality that is inconsitant with the nature of procrastination). By eliminating these procrastination points during peak attention hours, I essentially eliminate procrastination. I would never have guessed that so much (virtually all) of my procrastination went through these three sites. I knew they were biggies, but I figured I'd just divert my traffic through other sites, or that I'd find replacements. And I'm sure I could, if I tried. But procrastination is a lazy thing, and making yourself have to try is enough to avoid trying.

I keep the anti bookmarks up at work the whole day, so that postit just stays there. At home I take it up and down as needed. I think one of the keys to making this work is to keep the list very, very short (so you can cache it in memory for rapid retrieval :-)). I think you'll be surprised at how just the few top offenders represent most of the problem. And when the post-it comes down, you visit those sites with an intentionality that makes it almost worthwhile -- it isn't really procrastination any more.


Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:47 pm
by navin
So how long before you have the anti bookmark FireFox plug-in? :)

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:53 pm
by reinhard
Yeah, it could suggest anti-bookmark candidates to you.

"You've been visiting this site an awful lot... anti bookmark it?"



Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:57 pm
by jimmyd
Great system.
The Leechblock add-on for Firefox facilitates your anti-bookmark system very well. It lets you block access to differet Web sites during different time windows, and/or limit access to a set amount of cumulative time.

Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2008 8:53 pm
by reinhard
Nice! I knew if I waited long enough someone would code this up for me :-)

I've actually found that the number of "gateway sites" is so small that merely writing them down on my "big picture" (to make it official) has been sufficient to keep me safe. Still, nice to know I have technological backup if I discover new ones and the number gets out of hand.


Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:43 pm
by Dandelion
Oh dear. I just started using Safari - and it's got the 'top sites' feature - all my most visited sites gathered together. An Anti-anti-bookmark system.

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:56 am
by Blithe Morning
I tried this. It worked.

I took down the post-it or maybe it fell off, I don't know.

I can say I need to put up the post-it again.

Posted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:56 pm
by reinhard
I must confess, I haven't stuck with the anti bookmarks system as described above (or used an electronic equivalent).

But I have found another helpful, similar system: it doesn't involve post-its, but the back of my beloved daily index card.

I draw a little box with an icon of a TV (old-school tv with antennae). This is my "screentime" box. (Hey, the "screentime" term works with kids, why not adults too if we have the same problem?)

Every time I indulge in screentime I set an alarm for 21 minutes. Screentime for me means looking at the following sites: facebook, nytimes,,, quora. These are my big distractors these days. When the alarm goes off, I stop, and record a little "21" with a circle around it in my screentime box. If by some miracle I pull myself away early, I write down however many minutes I used. The goal is one >=21 minute session a day. But if I have more sessions I'll record those as well. If they add up to 21 minutes or less that's still pretty good. It's a little too early to tell, but so far I'm please with how it's limiting distractions and keeping me focused on more important stuff. It also makes me oddly resolute and efficient in my distraction, which makes it almost not a distraction anymore, but a positive, productive task. Maybe a well-done distraction is no longer a distraction? Again, too early to tell, but that would be a lovely bit of self-improvement alchemy...