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How to Intelligently Block Websites in Chrome and Microsoft Edge

Block distracting websites the most practical way

The internet is full of information but can get very distracting, making it difficult to study or work online. But Motion, an intelligent website blocking extension, helps you whenever you are struggling to be productive and helps you focus on the task at hand.

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Motion isn’t your regular old website blocker that blocks websites completely. It understands that you might actually need these websites. For example, you might need YouTube for a tutorial, but we know how easy it is to get distracted by that one intriguing recommendation. This is when Motion smartly intervenes with timers and reminders periodically whenever you lose your focus. This extension can be easily configured according to your requirements and preferences.

You can get the extension from the download Chrome Web Store link below. Click on ‘Add to Chrome’ to add the extension.

Note: Since the Microsoft Edge now has Chromium at its core and supports all extensions on the Chrome Web Store, this guide is applicable to the new Microsoft Edge as much as the Google Chrome browser.

Setting up Motion

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Once the extension is installed, you’ll be redirected to the Motion set up page. Start by logging in with your Google account, or you can totally press the skip button too if you don’t feel like creating an account. The extension is usable without creating an account as well.

You’ll then see the ‘Personalize Motion’ screen with a pre-configured block list of the most popular unproductive websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a few more.

You can add more sites to this list by typing the site address in the web address box and clicking the ‘+’ icon, OR delete some of the pre-configured ones if you need them for work by clicking the ‘-‘ icon on the right side of the name of a site in the list.

Add or remove unproductive websites in Motion.

The next step would be to set up your productive hours. You can either set the extension to be active only for a specified time on specified days in a week, OR to be active all the time.

To set the extension to be active for a certain time only, keep the default ‘during work hours’ option selected and configure it according to your work schedule. Set the working days and the time of the day you work so that the extension lets you enjoy the internet after you’re done working.

Set your working hours in Motion
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If you use your computer for work only anyway, then set up the extension to be active ‘all the time’ by clicking on the dropbox selector next to ‘I want to be productive…’ line on the screen.

Keep Motion always active

On the next screen, the plugin will show you demo of its various features. Understand them well, and click through each demo to finish the set up process.

Once the extension is ready to use, it’ll add a floating widget to all pages you visit in the browser.

Motion Widget on Chrome window.

The widget offers quick options to mark sites as distracting and productive, and options to start a ‘Focused Session’ (which we’ll discuss later in the post) or turn off the extension for the day.

Motion widget options

How Motion intelligently blocks websites

Every time you use a website that is listed as unproductive, Motion sets up reminders and timers to help you to get back to being productive. For example, if you start using YouTube, it allows you to pick the time you allot yourself for the website and to hide recommended videos so you do not get distracted.

You can hide recommended videos on YouTube and allot yourself limited time on the website.
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It then starts a timer to help you keep track of the time you are spending on the website.

The allotted time shows up on your window as long as you use the distracting website.

You can stop the timer or un-hide recommended videos from the menu by hovering over the widget.

Un-hide or end the timer from the widget menu.

Using Focused Session

Motion offers a ‘Focused Session’ feature which lets you focus on a task by displaying your task on every web page you visit through the Motion widget. It’s useful in reminding you of the task at hand so you don’t get distracted on the internet.

You can start a ‘Focused Session’ by clicking on the Motion widget and selecting ‘Start Focused Session’ option.

Start Focused Session from the widget menu.

Enter your mission-critical task in the ‘What will you focus on?’ field box and also set the time (in minutes) for which you want this focused session to be active.

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The task will then display on every website you open in the browser as a reminder to help you prioritize the task.

The task and timer will show up on every website to act as a reminder to not waste time.

Allowing certain pages on a blocked website

You can also configure the extension to allow unlimited access to certain pages on a blocked website. Like you might want to block Facebook.com, but not your business pages on Facebook.

For that, click on the Motion extension icon next to the address bar.

This will open the additional options screen for the extension with the ‘My Sites’ screen open by default.

Here, you’ll find a ‘Productive Sites’ list right panel. In this list, you can define pages of a site that the extension will never block, even when the page is of a site that is listed on the distracting sites list.

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The list is pre-configured to allow ‘business.facebook.com’ pages. If you happen to own a Facebook page yourself, open business.facebook.com in your browser and you’ll notice that it’s not being blocked by the extension.

Viewing site usage reports

Motion also provides detailed daily and weekly reports of your most-used sites. It helps you analyze and discipline the time you spend online.

To see these reports, open the extension’s menu screen and click on the ‘Reports’ option on the left panel.

Automatically treat News and Shopping sites as distracting

There’s no denying that news and shopping sites can be distracting when you’re working. But you can’t possibly have the time to add all such sites to your ‘distracting sites’ list.

Most of the news we consume is from Google Search, and there are a zillion sites that Google would show you in their ‘Top Stories’ section for a news-worthy search. But you can’t have all those sites listed in the extension as distracting.

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To tackle this situation, the extension has a neat option to automatically treat ‘News’ and ‘Shopping’ sites as distracting.

You can find these options under the ‘Settings’ section (on the left pane) on the extension’s configuration screen.

Scroll down to the bottom of the ‘Settings’ screen and you’ll see the ‘Automatic Distraction Detection’ section with the following two options underneath:

  • Treat news sites (e.g. nytimes.com) as distracting sites
  • Treat shopping sites (e.g. amazon.com) as distracting sites

Turn on the toggle switch for both of these options to avoid spending unnecessary time on news and shopping sites.

When you open a news site after enabling the option to treat news sites as distracting, the extension will show you the pop-up with options to either ‘Close tab’, or the ‘I need 1 min’ or ‘I need more time’ options to extend your allowed time on the page before you get a reminder pop-up again.


Conclusion

What’s impressive about Motion is that it is effortless to use and customize. Also, the fact that it isn’t intrusive and in your face but gently reminds you not to procrastinate and focus on what should be a priority.

Focus is key to being efficient and productive and the internet can be distracting when self-control is a struggle. And don’t we all just want to finish our work on time and binge watch our favourite shows without having work nagging us at the back of our mind?