LeechBlock for Online Time Efficiency

| July 5, 2011

LeechBlockI’m reading the 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss for the second time.  If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you borrow it from your local library (as I’ve done) or purchase a copy.  I’ve borrowed it twice from the library and think it’s time for me to purchase my own copy.

What I like about the book is that it’s not all theory. I’ve read my share of positive motivational books (and will continue to do so), but what I like about this book is that Timothy Ferriss provides hands on examples and resources.  One of the resources mentioned in the book that caused me to put the book down, walk over to my computer and download the plugin was the time productivity tool LeechBlock.

I Love Wasting Time4 Hour Workweek

Of all the hours I spend online, I work for about 2 to 3 hours a day and the remainder of the time online is spent checking stats, roaming around forums, checking my earnings and the like.  Although an outsider looking in may think I’m actually working, but I’m not.

As an insider looking out, I realize I’ve developed a few serious time wasting habits.  My  ultimate goal is to create a respectable residual income flow and spend as little time online as possible making it happen.  My less than productive habit of constant stat checking does not add to my financial  bottom line.

Downloading LeechBlock

LeechBlock is a Firefox plugin that can be configured to prevent me from playing around on time wasting sites.  I’ve configured LeechBlock to stop me from visiting StatCounter, Google Analytics, Google AdSense,  a few forums and a few other time wasters from the hours of 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (I give myself an hour’s break between 12:30 and 1:30).  It’s not that I’m on the computer for that many hours, but from time to time I’ll walk by the computer and the computer’s magnet draws me in to check my stats (I’m sure you guys have felt the computer magnet’s attraction).

There are several configuration options with Leech Blocker.  So far I’ve only managed to configure it for my biggest time wasters.  Once I get a good handle on the plugin, I’m sure I’ll “discover” other uses for it.

Give LeechBlock a Shot

It doesn’t work on IE and I’m not so sure about Chrome, but since I use Firefox it works just fine. This week will be the first week of using LeechBlock.  I fully expect to be so much more productive whether it’s online or off.  Let’s face it,  if I’m not wasting time checking my stats, I’ll either write more, get more things done around the house or spend more time harassing my family.

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Category: Freelance, Tools, Writing

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (27)

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  1. OJ Wessels says:

    Leechblock is fantastic. It could be improved though. Most obviously, it could be changed so that it actually blocks the specified URL’s. I have tried to block *.wow.com, wow.com, google.com and *.google.com with leechblock, but it did not stop me from ending up on those sites.

  2. Michael says:

    Wow do I ever relate to this post. I spend way too much time checking stats, not to mention Twitter and Facebook, doing “work” but ultimately not getting much done. I think I’ll give this plug-in a shot. See, this is why Firefox will always be my browser of choice.
    Michael recently posted…Books For WritersMy Profile

  3. Teresa says:

    Felicia,

    Just wanted to add my thanks and appreciation. I rarely comment anywhere, but I read your blog faithfully; it’s one of the very best. I too have recommended your blog to three friends. Thanks for keeping it real 🙂

    Teresa

  4. Melissa says:

    Hi Felicia,
    That is what I did,pretty much. I spent the better part of yesterday morning studying how I handled things in the past. The first year of writing, instead of a hourly schedule, I worked by weekly goals. I decided each Saturday (I didn’t work on Sundays)how many articles I wanted to produce each week for each site, private cliet, magazine, etc. Then, as long as a I got some completed everyday, I had a sense of accomplishment. Somewhere down the line the money overtook the muse.

    But now I am back on track. I’m a spreadsheet kind of person so I created a spreadsheet that is weekly, monthly and yearly based. My monthly goals were based on how much income I need for my family and paying off one source of debt. Then, I created my 2011 goals, such as 75% of my income being revenue based. With the income sheet you provided, I am able to see how much revenue I average (although I cut my average daily revenue by 15% because that is how much it was effected by Panda so I fingured I would be prepared if it took another cut and if it isn’t hit again or any increases I see, well thats just extra money!) Once I had the need & want in front of my face, I could plan weekly goals to reach my monthly income while working toward my over all yearly goals. In other words, 25% of my work will focus on direct pay,25% on my own sites & 50% contributing to revenue earning sites. In the future, when I get better at the actual money earning part of my own sites, a large part of my focus will be on them. Hey, why give someone else a cut of my money when my own sites can pull in all the profit??

    I hope I didn’t confuse you. I pretty much made my yearly goals revenue based, monthly goals are income need based. Then I created a spreadsheet that showed how many articles I needed to reach both types of goals. And the facts were right there…I had been doing three times the amount of active income type articles than I really needed to live comfortably. The passive income I received never really calculated into my bill paying money, it was more like spending money. The active income money was nice but it was taking a toll on my body, my mind, my love of writing and my life. From the very beginning, I wanted to work my way to a 100% passive income but getting paid NOW, overtook that goal. But now I am back on track!

    Thank Felicia. Check out my blog, I mention you’re help and great advice in my last two blog posts, with backlinks here. There is also a post from 2010, dedicated entirely to NJFM bc I loved this site so much. LOL I tell pretty much anyone who emails me to start at NJFM. All the info they need is write here! Thanks again for reminding me to get my career together!!
    Melissa
    Melissa recently posted…Writing Quality, Now QuantityMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Melissa, it sounds like you have a solid plan. Your comment and recent blog post shows how important it is to track your efforts, review your efforts and make changes along the way. As you know, if it weren’t for spreadsheets and stat tracking I would have wasted a lot of time and effort.

      Your plan sounds well thought out and definitely doable. I’m also happy to see that your recent self evaluation brought a sense of freedom and re-ignited your love for writing. I have the feeling that you’re going to do extremely well. You see, you didn’t really need my advice at all. You had it within you all the time. 😉

      Thanks for being so supportive of NJFM and thanks for the shout outs in your blog posts.

  5. Melissa says:

    Felicia, thank you. I think I will try out the voice recognition software and maybe a few of the other tools and plug-ins I have seen mentioned here and there. I had my first paid writing job was 12 years ago, as a field reporter for my college newspaper. I wrote occasionally here and there until a few years back, when I found myself with a family and me and my hubby were laid off. Until the beginning of 2011, I had a workable schedule that satisfied me. Because I was making a decent living, enough to support my family, I just continued to have bigger goals: both financial and writing. I let my drive to succeed take over and the next thing I know my writing took over and I was even thinking about tomorrow’s articles and making plans as my head it the pillow at 3am, after a 10+ work day. After completing all of my obligations for private clients, I figured it was time to reevaluate and make a more workable schedule.
    Is there an article on NJFM concerning setting daily/weekly/monthly/ goals? Is there a post where you talking about what your average writing day is like? You are so awesome…I would love to read more about how you handle that part of your writing career. Thank you for all your help!
    Melissa
    Melissa recently posted…Time ManagementMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Melissa, I don’t think I have a post that shows what my writing day is like. My writing schedule is dictated by my spreadsheet. In the beginning my spreadsheet told me I needed to write more so I did. My schedule constantly changed as my family obligations and income changed.

      After my second year of earning money online, I vowed to give myself a break during the summer months so my summer schedule is barely existent. I write when the urge hits. During the rest of the year, I try to write one or two articles/posts a day 5 days a week in order to add fresh content to my residual article base.

      My current schedule differs so much from my first year’s writing schedule. Back then my daily article goal was at least 10 articles 5 to 6 days a week. I worked as many hours it took to reach my goal. The more I worked the more shortcuts I learned and eventually was able to accomplish more in less time. As my residuals grew my need to write so many articles diminished.

      You’ll have to do quite a bit of experimenting until you find what works for you. That’s why I say freelance writers have to be nimble and light on their feet when it comes to managing their time. Unless you’re single with few obligations, it’s tough to pre-set work hours and adhere to it.

      My driving force during all of the freelance writing time management gymnastics was to create a steady residual income stream. It has been my experience that a large enough income stream solves all time management problems. I guess in other words, I did what I had to do to get to where I wanted to be.

  6. Melissa says:

    Hi Felicia!
    Thank you for a detailed post. My issue stems from need & want. I need steady income from active income sites but I want to make a living off passive income. So I work myself to death it seems. Getting out of the 9-5 mindset is what I want, but with my current writing obligations, I need to learn to say when. Like an obsession, I will decide to stop and before I know it, I am right back to working on something. It got me to thinking maybe I need a schedule. Maybe I am just a time management fool. LOL

    • Felicia says:

      Melissa, I hate to say this, but in the beginning I worked myself to death too (or at least it felt like it). It took a while before I figured things out. Working 10+ hours a day became the norm. For me it was the productivity tools that helped get me through the rough spots. For you, it might be something else.

      Schedules sort of worked for me. I’d set a schedule and two days into it, I’d have to change it. As you know, life with children means flexible schedules. That’s why the recognition software worked so well for me. It didn’t make a difference where I was, I could always get some work done. I used to dictate articles while out walking the dog (talk about obsession).

      Things are different for me now. Although I still use my voice recognition software, I don’t use it nearly as much as I did during the earlier days when 24 hours just didn’t seem to be enough. My schedule is much more relaxed now, but it took 4 years to get to this point.

      Hang in there. Don’t get discouraged. Ask for help. Strategically arrange play dates that will allow you to get some work done. Voice recognition software isn’t for everyone, but it was a life saver for me.

      If anyone has any time saving writing tips to share, I’d sure love to hear them.

  7. Ken Muise says:

    Felicia,

    LOL! That is actually going to be a future post. “How to come up with a name for your bird…” something like that.

    My “Boom Boom” was what I called my security blanket when I was a kid. When I bought Boom I knew I was going to have to go to Maryland with him (here now!)BUT without my wife and kids (military duties and they are happy where they’re at…sounds odd but its part of the life)….anyway when I told my mom about Boom Boom…she was like, “like your blanket?” My reaction was “holy poop! you’re right!” It was mind numbing actually…to think that I subconsciously was using the Boom Boom as a crutch again.

  8. Ken Muise says:

    Thanks Felicia,

    That’s why after reading the hype, I always come back here to find level but passionate advice. I am reading the post that you referred now but what I meant was that I read that sites like blogspot won’t do as well overall. I understand the limitations in design, yada yada yada, but it didn’t make sense to me that people just wouldn’t “find” my blog because it had “.blogpsot” in the URL.

    Again…thanks…You’re swizzlest, bomb-diggity!

    Ken
    Ken Muise recently posted…A Quaker Parrot’s Cost And Lifespan-Worth Their Time And Your MoneyMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      LOL. You have a way with words, Ken.

      Some folks have an elitist attitude when it comes to blogspot blogs, but as far as being found, I don’t see why your blog should be penalized because of having blogspot in the URL. After all, blogspot is owned by Google and we all know Google wants its own to do well.

      BTW, how did you come up with the name Boom Boom?

  9. Ken Muise says:

    Hi Felicia and Everyone…

    I was looking for a place to post my question and since we’re on the subject of “time management” I thought I’d ask it here…

    For those of you who write for sites and run blogs how do you split your time between them? What I mean is: If I write for Textbroker for 2 hours I know I am making money. If I work on my blog for two hours, posting and such…whatever…then the money doesn’t come immediately but I know that I have to keep them up. How do ya’ll do it?

    Also, I read an article/blog somewhere last night (wish I could remember where because I’d link it) which says that when yous start a new blog you should post several times daily and NOT to expect traffic until there are 50 posts. Really? I am new to the blogging for myself thing and geez..that’s a heavy workload to take on while trying to make money with other sites. I’m sure I’m not the only one doing this and would like some opinions. Felicia did you write for TB at one point…and other sites…or do you and still do this? Wow..that was like a 10 question paragraph…my bad.

    One more question: Do hosted sites such as blogspot take an automatic hit because I don’t have my own domain? I read that somewhere too…lol

    Any tips or slaps would be greatly appreciated.

    Ken
    Ken Muise recently posted…Quaker Parrots–Great Talkers And Smarter Than MeMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Wow, that was a loaded question(s). I’ll try my best to address them. Melissa, I hope you’re reading this too. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to answer your email as yet, but I believe Ken is asking the same question(s) you asked.

      Let me preface this by saying that sometimes we read as much as we can in an attempt to do the right thing. We don’t want to waste time making mistakes so investing time reading helps us to reach our goals quicker…or does it? There are times when the best way to success is making your own mistakes.

      On NJFM, I try to share my journey. What works for me may not work for you. Always keep that in mind. I try to refrain from hard and set rules such as write x amount of posts a day and don’t expect traffic until 50 posts. That may be true for the author of that statement, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.

      Time management is the second hardest aspect of being a freelance writer. The biggest challenge is sticking with it. Once you finally make up your mind to stick with it, you have to learn to be nimble and light on your feet. It takes years to shed the cubicle mentality of having to work x number of hours a day for a set period of time. Over time you’ll find a writing pattern that works for you.

      In the beginning, I started blogging and creating websites because I enjoyed it. The difficulty in managing my time didn’t begin until I realized I could actually make money. It’s funny how my writing time was a no brainer until money was involved.

      My biggest time/energy challenge occurred when I was writing for Demand Studios. My spreadsheet said I needed to write a certain number of articles a day in order to reach my financial goals. Once I wrote the magic number of articles, the rest of my writing time went to my blogs. The only problem with that was once I was through with Demand Studios I didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to write on my blogs.

      I did manage a couple of blog posts and a few residual articles, but most of my time was spent on Demand Studios. I never really wrote for Textbroker. I wrote one article for Textbroker back in 2008 or 2009 just to test the waters. It was enough for me to write a review about them and that was it (the $1.50 I earned for that article is still sitting in my Textbroker account).

      Time Management Tools

      I soon realized that this new working model of mine was broken. Writing became a chore instead of the joy it once was. I blame myself for that. I allowed the money to get in the way of my joy. I needed to earn money, but I placed myself on a work at home treadmill with Demand Studios and knew I had to get off of it.

      Around that point in time I invested in a few time management tools. I’ve written a few posts on increasing my productivity with Dragon Naturally Speaking and my digital voice recorder. By learning and training my voice recognition software I was able to get two and three times the work accomplished in half the time. Let me reiterate one point “by learning and training my software, I was able to improve productivity. Although I did improve my productivity immediately after I purchased the software, it wasn’t until I spent time learning and training it when it really paid off for me.

      The icing on the cake was using the digital voice recorder. I use a headset when dictating into my recorder (I used to wear the recorder around my neck so it was always nearby). Whether driving to/from the store, soccer, football, cheerleading or visiting relatives, I dictated my ideas and articles during my “down” time. You’d be amazed at how many Demand Studio articles I wrote while folding clothes, washing dishes or preparing dinner.

      Yes, I had to do some editing once the articles were transcribed, but that was the easy part. Once I was able to increase my productivity, I applied the same tools when writing for my own blogs and other content mills.

      About New Blogs

      To coin a phrase Oprah uses (I think she got it from Maya Angelou), “When you know better, you do better.” When I first started blogging, my blogs didn’t get much traffic or make much money. From experience I learned what worked and what didn’t. I repeated my successes and dropped my failures.

      I have blogs that don’t have 50 posts and are earning several hundred dollars a month and I have blogs in excess of 50 posts that still don’t earn very much. The recent blog that I started in April of 2011 has earned about $1,500 so far and it only has 36 posts. I’ve been writing here on NJFM since 2008 (close to 500 posts) and it recently earned $2,000. That’s four months vs. four years and 36 vs. 500 posts; so much for that 50 post theory.

      Don’t get me wrong, I know I could probably earn more with NJFM, but I’d rather keep this as my online writing journal so to speak. I don’t want to sell it out for money and lose its authenticity.

      I think one of the biggest mistakes folks make is focusing too much effort on one blog. The more blogs you create the more you learn. I just registered another domain name. Once I finish the blog I created in April (I think I need about 20 to 25 more posts), I’m going to work on another one to see if I can duplicate the success. Once I can duplicate the success I’m going to write a book about what I did and how it worked. However, I can’t write that book until I actually duplicate my success.

      Sorry, I went off topic for a bit. Back to time management. Figure out what you want. Write your goals down both financial and personal. Chart your progress and constantly tweak it. That’s why I’m such a stats junkie. By tracking my progress I was able to dump duds and put my efforts into sites/venues that brought high financial return. When I reached certain milestones, I was able to indulge myself in writing for sites that were not so lucrative just for the joy of it. Now I write 99.99% for myself.

      In the beginning, however, I had to suck it up, work hard and work smart. Oh, and sometimes you have to put on blinders. Reading other blogs (including NJFM), may be helpful, but don’t allow all the reading to cause you to lose focus. By putting on blinders I accomplished things that I later found out couldn’t be done, or so “they” said couldn’t be done. This brings to mind my new favorite quote by Mark Twain, “When ever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

      I now look at the term “conventional wisdom” as an oxymoron. Uh oh, I went off topic again. I’ll end it here. Hope somewhere in the above verbiage I actually answered your question(s). 🙂

      Oops, forgot this last point: Not sure what an “automatic hit” is. But check out this post regarding Blogspot vs. WordPress.

  10. Luke says:

    You are the same as me! I was reading about one tool to combat procrastination. You will putt a name of the task and a timer. Then you let the timer go, and see how much you can do.

    People said it worked great but i haven’t tried it..i just cant convince myself that i need it.

    It something else…it my mindset that need a fix, and since i cant DDOS YouTube i need some other solution…

    Hopefully the plugin will help a bit 🙂 (it sound promising)

    I recommend you TheMillionerFastlane – great reading !
    Luke recently posted…What degree should i getMy Profile

  11. Oh no.. If I download leach block, will I have to add nojobformom as a restricted site? I love reading blogs about blogging (I learn a lot). It’s my online “bad” habit. I’ve been trying to limit it to a couple days a week for a couple of hours though. Thanks for the great post!

  12. Ignatius says:

    Thanks, Felicia. I will give that a try. I am an absolute champ at wasting time on the Web. I have even considered doing the research for my articles each day and then taking the computer someplace where there is no wireless to do the actual writing.

  13. 🙂 I can so identify with this post! I waste a lot of time too, and do it knowing that I ought not to….ending up staying up late at night to finish stuff. These days I simply log out of email – which used to be my biggest bete noire. Always enjoy reading your posts, Felicia, and I find myself looking forward to your updates. By the way, loving the new look.
    Vidya Sury, Freelance Writer & Blogger recently posted…Are you stressed out?My Profile

  14. Sakura says:

    Hey Felicia, have you heard of simpleology.com? The core is free and I think you might REALLY like it.

    It’s technically the companion to a book; do not purchase this book. The site effectively recaps everything in the book for free.

  15. Allison says:

    Brilliant! I’m going to do this today. I am one of the worst when it comes to checking and re-checking my stats 😉 – Thanks for the tip, Felicia!

  16. Ruth says:

    I love Leech Block! It really does help when you use it regularly, though I kind of fell out of the habit :s This is a good reminder for me to start using it again!
    Ruth recently posted…Join Me In My July Challenge?My Profile