Sidekick Features: Distraction BlockerBy Simon Patel
Looking for your phone while talking on it is already in the past, even the “oops, wrong mail recipient” is not a thing anymore. But it is still over and over again (and even worse than ever) the temptation to check all the parasocial co… oops, wait a second, I must take a BeReal real quick, so I’ll have two more opportunities today. Right?
Distractions are a solid part of digital life, they emerged not even like a bi-product, suddenly and unexpectedly. No, they were created to be the way we know them. And as your attention struggling not to jump to a mediocre youtube video to digest along with some lunch, everything goes according to plan. But luckily, years of social media addiction weren’t that blindly accepted to let it further thrive on lost productivity, anxiety, and growing numbers of interactions with follow, like, and repost buttons. Internet distraction blocker found its place among users pretty swiftly as a decent handy tool in this continuous fight. And we’re excited to tell you, with Sidekick you get the distraction blocker app as a built-in boost toward productivity, which we will dig into later in detail.
Down to the Bone
The trend of military/government projects becoming something so commonly essential in almost every small life is contagious. Though cargo pants are a hot topic right now (not really), we’re talking about the Internet. It took years to create the product we know from the 1960s project, a project makeover of more than half a century long. How come an important instrument keeping different kinds of scientific secrets became a minefield of distractions?
The invention of the World Wide Web in 1991 easily becomes the start of a new era. From this moment capitalism begins its merging with the Internet’s body. The first banner created by AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Company) finds its place on the web in 1994. “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE?”. Internet distractions evolve.
Bit by bit, consuming attention, time, and money that looked like freedom and convenience at first, grew greedy and demanded more. Every kind of service or tool that took place on the Internet soon enough found its place in the all-monetizing hands of the market. And though the actual origins of the attention economy concept can be traced back to economist Herbert A. Simon’s work in the 1970s, it is inseparable from reality after the early 2000s’. Every new iteration only serves the purpose of grabbing more interested eyes and gluing them at least for a second or two to information that will bring income. Guess the first questions on how to eliminate distractions of web world were asked somewhere in these early years, along with creation of first ad-blockers. But what completely changed the game, it’s social media.
Not only it brought parasocial connections to the next level, these platforms abruptly expanded the number of eyes and daily users, surely enough to bring even more money to the table. Then go first cases of social media addiction and lives to turn upside down because of it. The scientific community noticed the unprecedented practice only at the sunrise of the 2010s, making it something resembling a full circle.
And a few milestones worth mentioning before we can back it up with statistics are smartphones that laid internet eggs in the pockets of the majority of modern people, making distractions a Tamagotchi, and obviously COVID-19 with the necessity of remote working, studying, and shopping in the name of safety for a year or more. Sure, the last one wasn’t permanent but had a loud influential toll, we hear still echoing every now and then.
To sum up the 30-year-long rollercoaster of the World Wide Web, we can’t put it shorter than “it changed the world”. Ethically, economically, and… routinely.
Let’s talk numbers, shan’t we? UCLA survey in 2001 showed that approximately internet users were spending online 9.8 hours per week, roughly translating into 1.3 hours per day. With different times, different speeds, and structures, then probably it mostly took time to find the needed resource and digest the information + maybe some online shopping. A global overview report by DATAREPORTAL published in January 2022 in contrary shows almost 7 hours (6h58) of daily internet usage, whereas only social media takes 2.4 hours. So the survey takes a humble guess with theoretically 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day, the typical user spends 40% of their life online. Impressive, if not to say scary.
The Damage is Done
Now, when the damage is done, what is the real cost of all those distractions that were progressively multiplying online growing someone’s pockets for an average user? What is there to do?
First, acknowledge the problem.
Worst-case scenario — addiction, and here we have very-well known symptoms that escort almost any other addiction too:
- Preoccupation: if you’re not a blogger or someone whose life or work depends on producing the content (though they too can experience this not in a prof-deformation way), but catch yourself all the time daydreaming about the new post you’ll make later in the evening or thinking about what are posting others, it definitely can be a red flag.
- Neglect of personal life: your relationships or work are noticeably suffering from your absence, missed birthdays, and deadlines. Internet distraction overthrew you from your own place in life.
- Withdrawal: cutback hurts more than just a loss of a step in the routine. You can feel restless, anxious, or irritable while trying just to keep a healthy distance from social media.
- Tolerance: brief-checks are turning into hours of scrolling and the need for them is a constant client.
- Lack of control: even wishing to cut down on your media usage isn’t enough to actually do it.
- Mood modification: it can become a significant part of emotional regulation but in an unhealthy way of escaping the outer world.
- Concealing the addiction: the darkest part is a shame. Many addicts tend to cover up for their problems because they feel there’s an issue and it’s too challenging to meet it face-to-face. So if you have an urge to hide the real time you are spending online it can be a call too.
Milder and most common situations the majority of us have experienced at least once — FOMO or unread chats/channels inducing anxiety, problems with focus, and/or work-life balance. That’s already a lot to find yourself longing to block distractions completely.
For example, the 2005 study “Constant, Constant, Multi-tasking Craziness: Managing Multiple Working Spheres” conducted by the University of California, Irvine, states that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully regain mental focus after an interruption. You can do the remaining math yourself, knowing damn well the effect of different notifications from all the platforms you have enabled to send you a signal or at least a banner. Productivity loss is a real thing.
Then, cognitive overload. Where the amount of incoming information regularly exceeds a person’s processing capacity — starts confusion, emotional burnout, and stress. Infinite scroll feed, personalized content, recommendations, daily or weekly compilations, and other tiny little details screaming “comfort” from the front, arguably covering a new distraction trap. All and all we are just humans and our capacities are limited too, there’s no shame, but better be careful until it eats you up with severe anxiety or depression.
Do you have a good sleep? Tips on avoiding your screen for an hour before and after a vacation at Morpheus’ place can sound ridiculous, but they actually are onto something. The ‘blue light’ emitted by our screens suppresses the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. This disruption of circadian cycles can lead to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Feels already like a long blanket of a receipt with all the hideous side effects.
Oh, yes. This is the part where we finally can pull heads off of the nightmare trip through the distraction valley and finally see some activity that can be a solution for someone or launch a search of one for another. So how to avoid distractions and stay focused?
Setting Clear Online Goals: getting to know what you want and need can be challenging, but definitely not impossible. Define as sharply as you can what is it you want to achieve, the clearer the goal — the easier resistance to pull something irrelevant and time-consuming.
Scheduling: separate online and offline activities, sort out which time is better spent out of any screens, for example — reminding about previous talk, before and after sleep. It’ll at least help improve some sleep quality, and probably minimize distractions overall.
Taking Regular Breaks: the golden rule for every prolonged activity, you need some rest. Breath in, breathe out, refresh your brain, and give it a little energy boost. A powernap? Visiting the nearest park bench? Meditation? Dancing to your favorite song? You choose.
Digital Tools to Combat Distractions: Finally, apps to block distractions. Do Not Disturb can be helpful outside of vacations and paper signs to hang on your door knob. There are already many options to help you maintain focus even more reliably if you’re already commited: app limiters, focus timers, website blockers, and distraction-free modes.
It’s time for our Distraction Blocker to shine!
Attention Gear**: B**lock Out Distractions
At Sidekick we value your time and respect the need to stay focused. That’s why we didn’t stop only making just another web browser, it’s created to be a real assistant. Starting from the Sidebar turning your browser almost into a web OS, and even apart from built-in tools already investing in your focus quality, like our AdBlocker 2.0, for example, we created a very simple, intuitive, and usable Distraction Blocker.
The built-in little helper would make an extra step of channeling your energy back from distraction to work-related content, it is energy-saving and time-efficient. Plus, the burden of anxiety covering your body with a sticky sweat after you find yourself completely distracted and struggling to get back to the task on your own is gone. You are just skipping this anxious part straight to another task, meeting, or report. To put it simply: it helps in avoiding distractions preventively.
You won’t get lost in billions of adjustments either, all you need, is to separate your greatest distraction app or service from the vital part of the working routine and redirect the first one to the second. Figure out your scheduling and feed it to a Distraction Blocker. Let it be from Sunday to Thursday from 9 AM to 4 PM, you won’t be able to access youtube and will be redirected straight to the planner where all your daily tasks are waiting for you to tick them out, how is that? Seemingly easy and two-dimensional it can be super handy and improve the stumbling life-work balance.
And can’t it be a nice detail, that you won’t need to install the Distraction Blocker extension, because it’s already built-in and ready to run for you?
Approximately 10% of Sidekick’s users employ our Distraction Blocker and Notifications Mute to focus on the important stuff. The fresh survey completed by our users showed pretty interesting results:
- Leading roles, each having more than 10% to itself among participants were: manager/team lead (26%), engineer (25.3%), founder (18%), freelance/consultant (12.7%), and creator (10.7%)
- 81% gave positive responses, reporting feeling more focused (53.3%), less overwhelmed (28.7%), and less anxious (9.8%)
- The top 5 most-blocked distraction apps are Youtube (47.8%), Instagram (32.6%), Facebook (28.3%), Messengers (26.1%), Twitter (26.1%)
The modern digital landscape, evolving from a government project to an omnipresent entity, has significantly restructured our daily lives, drawing us into a vortex of incessant digital distractions. The consequence? An overwhelming cognitive overload, productivity loss, and in some severe instances, addiction.
However, amidst these challenges, we find hope. Solutions like our Sidekick’s built-in Distraction Blocker have emerged, helping users regain control over their digital lives. Such tools, combined with a mindful approach toward our online habits, can aid in successfully navigating this ever-evolving digital age. We must remember that the power to sculpt our digital life lies within us, and with the right tools and mindset, we can transform the internet from a master to a servant, thereby reclaiming our time, attention, and productivity. And remember, we’ll always be by your side to help you win this fight for focus. Distraction doesn’t stand a chance.
A distraction blocker is a digital tool designed to help reduce or eliminate digital distractions by restricting access to specific websites or applications, thereby enhancing focus and productivity.
Sidekick’s Distraction Blocker works by allowing users to identify their biggest online distractions and schedule specific times to block these websites. For example, if you often find yourself distracted by YouTube during work hours, you can set the blocker to redirect you to your work planner between 9 AM and 4 PM from Sunday to Thursday.
Yes, the Distraction Blocker can help improve your work-life balance by limiting distractions during work hours, allowing you to focus on your personal life during non-working hours. By defining clear online goals and using scheduling, the Distraction Blocker can help you maintain this balance.
The Distraction Blocker is more flexible and personalized than many other tools. It doesn’t just block access; it redirects your energy back to your work by leading you to more productive tasks. Blocking out distractions wisely, it makes it an excellent tool for managing attention and reducing the anxiety that can come from trying to resist distractions.