Internet Productivity

In: Tech Reviews

17 Feb 2008

Lately I’ve been trying to simplify my life, and where I can’t simplify, then automate. My most recent adventure in home automation was to purchase an automatic litter box. Although ultimately I decided on the ScoopFree system with a permanent replacement tray from Forever Litter Trays,it required a lot of research. There were a lot of visits to Amazon.com and LitterBoxCentral.com. (Yes, it’s a real site. No, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to.)

In the early days of my job, I could have done my research at work – I had plenty of downtime. But now that we’re so busy, I had to (gasp!) rely on my personal time. (And this is why I’m trying to simplify – because I have no personal time. See how we made a full circle there?) Apparently, though, there are people out there that are not as slammed at work. According to a recent Salary.com poll, about sixty percent of respondents admitted to wasting an average of two hours a day on the Internet. That adds up to a lot of cat litter!

If you’re one of those people (and you know who you are) you probably want to be productive at work but it’s just so easy to lose track of time once you start surfing! The good people at 8aWeek have developed a Firefox toolbar that will help you reclaim your lost time. The toolbar works by presenting your browsing habits in graphs so that you can analyze where you’re spending the most time (see pic at left). If you find that LitterBoxCentral is taking up a good chunk of the day, you can add it to a restricted site list. Let the toolbar know the maxium allowable time you can spend at restricted sites per day and it will count down the time for you. When time’s up, you get reminded.

If something a bit more hard-core is needed, switch to block mode. (It’s okay – you get periodic cheat times thoughout the day so that you don’t have to go cold-turkey. Cheat times can be set up in the preferences.)

The toolbar also lets users save interesting sites to a list that you can be visited at a later time (presumably when the user is not at work.)

Although 8aWeek features privacy functions (logging can be done locally, on the 8aWeek server for additional functionality, or completely turned off.), I am curious as to what is done with the data that is collected – since they offer the toolbar for free, they have to be doing something to make money, right? Their privacy policy takes great pains to point out that logging can be disabled at any time and that user information won’t be disclosed without “express permission” but a little farther down in the “Information Usage” section it says:

“8aweek may use information collected through our website or toolbar for research regarding the effectiveness of the website and the marketing, advertising and sales efforts of 8aweek and its trusted affiliates.”

Hmmm… In any case, if you’re okay with your data possibly being shared, this is probably the thing for you. Personally, I’m hoping that the time I save by not having to clean the litter box can be spent online – at home.

1 Response to Internet Productivity

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Emma Sometimes

February 20th, 2008 at 21:40

WOW. This is a fabulous idea! I’m going to share this link on my blog um, when I get a moment to get to it. ~snicker~

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