Quit Wasting Time Now

wasting time

It’s easy to trick ourselves that when we’re on our favorite social media site, we’re busy marketing our books. Chatting with your friends is not marketing your book (disable Facebook chat!). If you aren’t being busy on purpose, you’re just wasting time. It’s time to quit.

Authors don’t have time to waste.

You have deadlines to beat. Stories to write. Books to get published.  You have more important things to do than to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.

One of the easiest (and cheapest!) ways to solve the productivity problem is to turn off the internet. That’s right.  Turn off the wi-fi. Use some good ol’ fashioned self-control. But if you’d like an app for that, I’ve tracked down seven that will help you quit wasting time now.

1. Rescue Time – Free

Shame yourself into cutting down time on social media sites. This app will help you block distractions and take screen shots to give you accurate time tracking logs. At the end of the week, you can print off a complete analysis of how you spent your time. For the visually inclined, the data can be turned into graphs.

2. Freedom – $10

This app will help you block the internet so you can focus on your work without sneaking glances at your email, wikipedia, the news, the stock market, your Twitter feed, or the latest kitty cat video on YouTube…anywhere that isn’t your word processor. Your browser will simply act like it’s offline for the amount of time you selected. To get the internet back, you have to reboot your computer. That will make you think twice!

3. Anti-Social – $15

This Mac-only application will block you from your friends on the internet. If you squander most of your time in chat rooms, social networks, and YouTube, this is the application for you.

4. Easy Task Manager – Free

This app is compatible with the Getting Things Done method. Remember the method to get your inbox to zero? Same people. With this app, you can keep the focus going.  Learn how to prioritize, strategize, and get things crossed off your list! For Macs only.


  • I’ve had enough! Thanks to @AuthorMedia, I’m reclaiming my time. Here’s how. – Click to Tweet
  • Don’t get sucked in by the internet. There are ways to escape! – Click to Tweet
  • Ironic that I’m posting this on the internet. I just discovered how to recover my time. – Click to Tweet

5. Think – Free

Studies have shown that none of us can multitask as much as we think we should be able to. Think makes it easy to focus on the task on hand by blocking everything except the program you select. Genius. For Macs only.

6. Stay Focused – Free

Do you use Chrome? You should know by now that Internet Explorer is bad for authors. What you might not realize is that Chrome can be very productive for authors. Especially with the Stay Focused plugin. Instead of tracking your time on a social media site, it limits your time. Let’s say you want to spend only 60 minutes on Facebook a day. Once enter that goal in, that’s all you’ll be able to spend on there. Say goodbye to wasted time.

7. Focus Booster– Free

The logic behind Focus Booster is simple. Make a list, allocate time to work on those tasks, then give yourself a break. Your tasks will be broken into 30 minute chunks. Focus for 25 minutes and then an alarm will ring, giving you a quick five minute break before you are off to start your next task.

Authors, you don’t have time to throw away. You don’t have the luxury of wasting countless hours on the internet.


How do you stay on task? Is there a specific app that you use? Share your tips in the comment section!

22 Responses to Quit Wasting Time Now

  1. Cheryl Reifsnyder March 7, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    Great list–thanks! I use Harvest, which tracks time spent on different projects. It has a free options but I actually pay for the pro version because I’ve found it so helpful with respect to invoicing, reports, etc.

    • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      I forgot about Harvest! Thanks for the tip.

  2. Michael March 7, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I use Leechblock. This plugin works with Firefox (I believe it also works with Chrome), and it allows you to specify lists of websites to block. After creating the lists you can say what times and/or days to block the specific lists. I would definitely recommend it!

    • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks for the recommendation, Michael!

  3. Adam Blumer March 7, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Wow. Great advice. Thank you. The trick is figuring out which time on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest is marketing and which is wasted time. Building relationships on any of those is *supposed* to be good for marketing our books, so therein lies the dilemma. And how much time on them is good for marketing and how much time is too much? Not easy answers.

    • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      It does seem like a catch-22, doesn’t it? Spending some quality time with your analytics will help you discover which networks are working for you…and which ones are just wasting for time.

  4. Sandra Orchard March 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I’ve used Concentrate for Macs. They offer a free trial to check it out. It has a few bells and whistles in addition to locking you off the internet or whatever other apps you set it up to do. Of course, if self-control is the real problem, it doesn’t handcuff you from hitting the quit button so the internet comes back on. Best cure for that is power outage at your server…my most productive day :)

    • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

      I’ve been known to go to coffee shops that don’t have wi-fi to work on projects. They are hard to find but there are a few of them out there.

  5. Marji Laine March 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Okay, I’m so laughing. As I was scrolling down at Pinterest, this email noticed popped up and I inadvertently clicked it while I looked at the next page. Next thing I know, I have a window that has opened in front of every thing that says, “STOP WASTING TIME!”

    • Marji Laine March 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Um, Yes, Lord?

      • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

        You aren’t the first person to tell me this today. I guess we’re all guilty of indulging in social media while we should be working. :)

  6. Nick Thacker March 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Great post, Caitlin! Also, great links. I talk a lot about productivity and motivation over on my site (http://www.livehacked.com/blogging-business/pillar-content-the-secret-to-building-a-blog-people-love/ ), and specifically how it relates to bloggers and writers. I’ve used Think before, and I love it!

    Also, I love the site!

    Thanks for the helpful posts and links!
    Nick Thacker

    • Caitlin Muir March 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks for letting us know, Nick!

  7. Tyler March 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Great post, Caitlin. I’ve looked into Freedom before, but haven’t done much more than look. A week or two of using one of these applications would be enough to re-train people to make better use of their time.

    • Caitlin Muir March 14, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks for stopping by Tyler. Let me know which application you end up with!

  8. Edward Smith March 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Thanks, that was a good list and most of them were new to me. As an alternate thought, I recently heard a motivational speaker say that as important as staying on the task, such as these tools will help us do, we will be equally well served by making sure we have the right goal in the first place. OK, thanks again, Edward Smith.

    • Caitlin Muir March 14, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      That’s a great point. Prioritize wisely!

  9. Pudge August 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Working online is a bit of a struggle for us to have the motivation to focus on work and avoid distractions. Productivity isn’t going to be the first thing in our mind whenever we try to open up sites like Facebook, 9gag, Reddit and Twitter. I think this is a great list, Caitlin. :)
    Although, if I can add another suggestion; I might know an awesome time tracking software that captures screenshots off of the user’s computer screen every 6 seconds. Screen monitoring is just one way “Time Doctor” helps a person to be more productive. Sometimes, we need a little bit of help and motivation to finish the goals that we have set for the day.

  10. Kumar August 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I believe tracking time is the best way to avoid wasting time, which will indeed help business growth. I have seen many spending more time on social networking and surfing similar kinda websites.

  11. Mauricio Caranza October 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Can I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody that genuinely understands what they’re discussing over the internet. You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular given that you certainly have the gift.

  12. Irena Cobble November 12, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    I have only come to realize that his second quotation is so true.


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