Email discipline bars you from using certain sites until you get work done. (Credit: Mozilla)
Trying to get work done is tough if you have an internet connection. The constant urge to take a peek at a video on YouTube or check your personal email is a siren song that for many simply cannot be ignored. Luckily, there are several sites and browser add-ons that can help keep us in line, be it with basic productivity or making sure we do not stumble in moments of weakness.
Gmail "email goggles" and "take a break" labs add-ons
Want to send that email at 4am? Unless you're up early, and getting a jump start on the work day, Google's Gmail thinks you're drunk and will wisely make you do the maths problems to prove you're not. Of course, if you really want to outsmart the machine you can simply turn this Gmail labs add-on off from the settings menu, which requires no maths whatsoever.
Likewise, the "take a break" labs add-on can make you stop whatever work you're doing to go enjoy the finer things in life. It keeps tabs on how long you've been working in Gmail and will give you a pop-up that requires doing something else for 15 minutes before coming back to your inbox. This is recommended if you don't want to install one of those ergonomic nag programs on your machine.
Want to hop on Facebook or check your personal email while drudging away at work? You'll need to earn it with Email discipline. This Firefox add-on keeps you from visiting nearly 20 different sites including MySpace, YouTube and Twitter without doing a little bit of work between sessions. As long as you ignore these places for two hours at a time it lets you browse for a short while, before putting up a nag screen that tells you to get back to it. Users are able to override the nag screens at any time by clicking the "cheat" button.
Like Email Discipline, Firefox add-on Procrastato works off a blacklist of sites you probably shouldn't be visiting. Once you're on one of these sites (which you add in manually) it starts a timer in the background. If you're there past your allotted amount, it gives you a pop-up message telling you to get back to work.
See how your daily browsing is broken down with MeeTimer. You might be shocked. (Credit: Mozilla)
If pop-up nags aren't your thing, and you don't feel like being scolded for bad online behaviour, it is worth checking out MeeTimer. Once installed it simply keeps tabs on how long you're spending on each site and breaks it up into percentages — including how much of that was done during "work" time. Consider it the browser equivalent of parental guilt trip. It's not mad at you, just disappointed that you spend 29 per cent of your working day on Facebook.
If you want the nagging features of Google or Yahoo calendar with some level of anonymity there's always HassleMe. The site will send you a friendly reminder email to do something, be it to take out the trash, reply to a certain email or finish a project. You get to pick how often it sends these messages and it promises to change up the times ever so slightly so you cannot anticipate when it will arrive.
If clogging up your email inbox with reminders sounds less than desirable, check out ReminderFox. This Firefox add-on puts a to-do list on the side of your browser. You can set deadlines for each task, along with reminders that will pop up, which can be acknowledged, ignored or delayed, just like in Microsoft Outlook.
Along the lines of MeeTimer and Email Discipline, LeechBlock lets you organise sites you probably shouldn't be going to in sets. You can prioritise each set and block yourself out of using them down to certain times of day or how much time you've already spent using them. Consider this something similar to the parental settings on a TV, keeping you from accessing content you shouldn't be looking at when you're supposed to be working.
Any we missed? Leave them in the comments section below.