I don’t know if you noticed recently, but I write for this site pretty regularly. I also write a decent amount for a site called The AV Club — then there’s all the one-off projects out I’m pitching virtually every week. Oh, and the copywriting gigs I’ve tried to grab lately for extra cash. I also have a novel I’m trying to shop around. For a while before the pandemic I was also a freelance legal witness for Topps Baseball Cards minor league autographing sessions, too...
My point is that you have to hustle almost constantly in the media industry, and it often sucks. In all honesty, I can’t think of a single industry at the moment that doesn’t either A) require or B) actively encourage unrealistic, overextending, unhealthy “grind” mentalities. It’s so embedded within our culture that it’s often taken for granted. Check Google Chrome’s browser extensions tagged “Productivity” and you’ll find literally hundreds of focus tools to promote your Best and Most Diligent self.
Except for Productivity Blocker, whose name pretty much says it all: a Chrome extension designed to promote idle hours, laziness, and generally, much needed decompression time.
A joke with serious benefits — What started as a joke idea about a month ago from copywriter Steve Nass and friend Kory Brocious quickly became a very real product offering genuine benefits we all deserve. I’ve made a few weird Internet projects in the past and every time the starting point is similar,” Nass explains via email. “Come up with something really stupid that makes us laugh. But the more we discussed it the more we started to actually get on board with the idea. Like why not promote relaxation?”
The end result is a simple inversion of all those myriad productivity boosters: whenever a user attempts to pull up sites and programs like Slack, LinkedIn, or Dropbox they are immediately redirected to a page politely chastising them for trying to work, along with a “suite of recreational links” better suited for downtime.
Rebuking the system — “While some people obviously have no choice but to always be grinding, when every fabulously wealthy celebrity is compelled to also shill a tequila brand on the side, it does start to feel like something weirder and more systemic,” says Nass. “These days, even if you have the means, taking some time to unwind has started to feel like a guilty pleasure.”
Nass says that while he doesn’t currently use focus tools on Chrome, he has in the past. He does, however, use his own creation every now and again. A week or so after launch, and the response to Productivity Blocker has been positive. “We’ve had a few requests and encourage people to send us more productive sites in need of blocking,” says Nass.