I used to use the Chrome extension Stayfocusd to limit the amount of time I spent on Facebook and Twitter. But then I uninstalled it, because I realized that Facebook and Twitter are wonderful things that I should be using more of and that it’s not at all a waste of time to interact online with other human beings.
However, I’ve recently become a bit annoyed by the amount of time I spend thinking about books that I am going to read instead of actually reading books. Whenever I am reading a book that I enjoy, I will literally spend hours browing Amazon.com, Goodreads, and LibraryThing, making lists of books that I want to read and then downloading them from Project Gutenberg or putting them on hold at the library. There’s something about deciding to read a book that, in some ways, resembles the pleasure of actually completing it. It satisfies the urge for completeness: there’s a feeling that if I can just know every book in a given genre or thematic group, then I’ll somehow be able to master it.
But obviously I can only read about 150-200 books in a year, so most of this time is wasted.
Furthermore, it tends to make actually reading the book feel a little pale in comparison. By the time the hold comes due, I am so over the book and I often don’t even pick it up.
And finally, I tend to get too bogged down in my lists and lose the spontaneity of picking the right book for the right moment. If I’ve piled my reading list three months deep, then it’s hard to see past that and get in touch with where I am at the moment.
This is a form of madness!
My solution was to install Stayfocusd and limit my combined time on Amazon, Goodreads, and Librarything to less than 15 minutes a day. This is more than enough time to browse around and discover a few interesting books. Browsing is a fun and useful past time…when conducted in moderation.
It’s pretty easy to get past the block by just using safari. But so far I haven’t done that too much. Usually when the block comes on, I realize it’s time to stop.