This Chrome Extension Helps You Work Less

This Chrome Extension Helps You Work Less
Image: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock

We often write about productivity and, well, life hacks at Lifehacker; how to hack your space, your iPhone, your resumé and next job interview, even your dishwasher tablets to create more storage, more functionality, more opportunity, more cleanliness. But what about when we need to create less? Less stress, less deadline pressure, fewer to do’s? When we are so maxed out by our professional pursuit of purpose and money (and domestic pursuit of Pinterest-worthy organisation), that what we really need to do is unplug and not work at all? Since detaching from work can be hard, there’s now a Chrome extension that helps you do just that, called Productivity Blocker.

Is Productivity Blocker a joke?

Kind of. But not totally. What started as a parody of “our society’s ‘always on’ hustle culture,” according to copywriter and co-creator Steve Nass, has legitimate functionality to block more than 80 sites that Nass and his co-creator Kory Brocious deemed “productive” including: Slack, Fiverr, Duolingo, Linkedin, and Dropbox. “Since there are so many Chrome extensions for helping you buckle down and get things done, we figured it would be funny to do the opposite,” Nass says.

Indeed, there are more than 100,000 Chrome extensions available, most of them heralding the ability to schedule meetings faster, locate contact info, corral your out-of-control browsers tabs, and “streamline your outreach inside Gmail” (whatever that means). It’s not always easy to deprogram ourselves from America’s “live to work” mentality, which dictates that we must always be striving, proving, and getting ahead — while becoming ever more efficient along the way. (See glorification of the hashtag #Riseandgrind.)

How does Productivity Blocker work?

So why not, along with the thousands of Chrome extensions designed to hack our work lives, enjoy one that hacks our down time? With Productivity Blocker enabled, all attempts to access “productive” sites where actual work can get done will be redirected to their custom block page, emblazoned with the message, “Uh-oh. Looks like you’ve attempted productivity during scheduled leisure time. Peruse our suite of recreational links below.” (Links that carry alluringly nonsensical titles like: Trampoline Shopping, Instant Underpants, and List of Animals with Human Credentials.)

“We encourage people to send us any productive websites we’ve missed, by the way,” Nass adds. “We’ll happily block those, too.”

How to get the Productivity Blocker extension

Productivity Blocker can be downloaded for free from the website, or from the Chrome Web Store. (Click Add to Chrome, Add Extension.) After downloading, the extension can be easily switched on or off by clicking the Productivity Blocker icon on your browser. According to Nass, “When you install the Chrome extension, it starts out switched off, so you can turn it on whenever you’re ready.” While it’s currently only available on laptops/desktops, the creators say they may create a smartphone version down the road.

We all deserve a little less time obsessing over that slide deck, and a little more time to enjoy stupid animal trick videos and picking sides in a Reddit debate about whether using the hand scanner at grocery store self-checkout is better than using the flat scanner.

Log in to comment on this story!