13 Best Free Website Blocker Apps for
Boosting Your Productivity (2020)
How often do you check your email or phone notifications in the midst of doing work? So often it’s embarrassing to count? Yeah, we thought so.
Now, if you’re wondering why you’re struggling to get things done and why you’re not your most efficient self at the office, then it’s very likely the fault is in the little, “innocent interruptions” of checking email or Facebook at work.
We tend to excuse this behaviour, as it’s often only a few 5-10 minutes of “taking a break”, but the true cost of it is quite devastating. Studies show that every time you check your phone, email or social feed and then return to your work, this switching from one task to another causes your focus to drop, a phenomena called “attention residue”, as introduced by Cal Newport in his bestselling book “Deep Work”. In fact, your mind requires about 23 minutes to re-focus and get back to work, fully-focused on the task at hand. That’s a lot of time to lose, and a lot of money.
While there are many roundabout ways to fix the productivity issue, the most immediate solution is simply – stop browsing web. Like for any problem there’s a problem-solving product. So here’s our ultimate list of 13 best website blocker apps that will help you avoid distractions for enhanced office productivity.
Mindful Browsing is a free Chrome extension that helps you become more productive and selective about the sites you visit. The extension doesn’t actually block you from the websites you list, however, it gives you a gentle nudge to decide whether you really want to visit the page in question. A great bonus is that it lets you create a list of activities you’d rather spend time on, and whenever the need to check Facebook comes back, Mindful Browsing reminds you about your goals and the promises you made yourself. If you do need to visit the site, then in 10 minutes’ time it reminds you should get back to doing something useful. Mindful Browsing is an open source extension and doesn’t track your online activity.
Supported by: Chrome
A favorite of many, Block Site is a Chrome extension and cross-platform app that helps you blacklist sites that you feel are distracting your productive workflow. The duration of the block depends on you, as you can toggle the app on and off. As long as the extension is active and synced on all the necessary devices, pictures of disappointed pugs and angry grandmas will encourage you to put an end to your ill habits. The Android app runs outside the web browser, meaning that you’ll be able to block URLs in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other possibly distracting apps on your phone. Block Site also allows you to set timers for your blocks, which can be very useful to keep a specific schedule of work and rest.
Supported by: Chrome/Mozilla/Android
StayFocusd is a Google Chrome browser extension that may come in handy if you want to be a little more strict to yourself when it comes to procrastination. The best feature of StayFocusd is that you can set the maximum amount of time you allow yourself to spend on specific websites. When your limit is reached, you’re blocked out from the site. The only downside is that it’s limited to Chrome browser, but as long as you’re using Google Chrome, the extension will work on various platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.).
Supported by: Chrome
If you’re a fan of Mozilla Firefox, then LeechBlock is pretty much the same as StayFocusd, only for Firefox exclusively. LeechBlock is versatile and has extensive customization options. It allows you to create groups of restricted websites and then assign them to six different time blocks. For each time block, you decide which sites to block, when to block them, and how to block them. You can also choose to set up complex passwords that you’d have to type in before visiting distracting websites, which will make the desire to check your news feed a much more complicated process.
Supported by: Mozilla
If you find that you’re blocking sites on your desktop, but reaching for your phone, then Freedom is a great multi-platform website and app blocking solution. Freedom runs on on any kind and any number of devices, blocking all kinds of apps and websites, be it on your computer, phone or browser. You can commit to your focus by scheduling your block sessions in advance or by creating recurring sessions to make productivity a habit. Locked mode helps you commit to your block sessions by making it impossible to quit an active block session. There’s also the function of whitelisting certain sites, and it also generates reports to see where you’re spending most of your time online.
Supported by: Mac/Windows/Android/iOS
Pricing: FREE TRIAL, $2.24-$6.99/month
For more advanced statistics and an all-in-one tool, take a look at Y-Productive which is a fully-featured productivity app that also blocks sites and applications. Focus mode allows to block distracting websites on Safari, Firefox or Chrome, while you can log tasks in your to-do list and track time for them. Using this data, Y-Productive
tracks the amount of time you spend procrastinating and actually working, compiles your behaviour in beautiful charts and counts the number of your distractions. The app not only helps to steer you away from distracting websites, but also provides a useful insight on what’s keeping you from making progress, so that you can measure to improve.
Supported by: Mac/Windows
Pricing: FREE TRIAL, $6-$7/month
If you’re looking for a simple free extension that blocks sites and shows you useful stats without all the colorful jazz, then WasteNoTime is a really good tool for that. Available for both Safari and Chrome web browsers, this free extension is designed to block distracting websites and also track your time online so you can manage it more efficiently. The extension shares your settings across multiple browsers and/or computers you use for your convenience. You can also set time ranges to apply to the blocks, dividing your days into working and non-working hours.
Supported by: Chrome/Safari
Another productivity solution lies in this neat looking Chrome website blocker – Focus. Focus lets you manage your to-do list and block any distracting sites. The interface is clean and minimal, however, blocking the sites isn’t a straight-forward process, as you have to first list the sites you want to block and then click on “Start working”, which sets off a 25-minute timer blocking the sites for the period. Although its functionality is not that complex like other website blocker apps, it does its job, and the implementation of pomodoro technique is definitely a plus.
Supported by: Chrome
Cold Turkey blocks websites, nevertheless if you’re browsing from Windows or Mac OS, Chrome, Mozilla or Safari. It lets you set up all the various filters you want to use to block distracting websites. When a website is blocked, you’ll see a motivational quote to remind you that you should be working. However, the pro version lets you customize the block page however you wish, be it a nice and sweet or a harsh reminder from your past self to stop slacking around. There are also time limits and schedules, and the app also provides you with beautiful charts to see where your time goes.
Supported by: Windows/Mac/Android
Pricing: FREE TRIAL, $22/lifetime
FocusMe is another all-in-one productivity tool that works as a website blocker, time tracker and also includes pomodoro-style timer functionality. FocusMe allows you to set schedules for blocking and other items weeks in advance. One of the best features is that FocusMe is well-equipped for teams and can be installed on multiple computers. Another thing that really comes in handy when trying to assess the productivity of your team is their generated reports, graphs and visual representations of the collected data.
Supported by: Windows/Mac
Pricing: FREE TRIAL, $9/month
If you value function over form, then you’ll just as much benefit from the sharp and straight to the point extension – Site Blocker. Site Blocker, running on all major browsers, may not have stock photos of sad puppies or state of the art interface, but the lack of it actually makes the extension super light (only 579 KiB compared to the 10.18MiB that makes up Block Site) without losing any of the important functionality. With this free extension you can easily block any site you want, domains or subdomains, and add a password protection, if you like. It also can recognize and block sites by entered keys.
Supported by: Chrome/Mozilla/Safari/Opera
For data nerds and phone addicts, Anti-Social is perfect for gathering useful insights and blocking distracting websites and apps in your phone. Anti-Social involves a bit of gamification, as it makes refraining from using apps a fun competition between your friends. It encourages you to be more anti-social, i.e., waste less of your time on games and social media than your peers. Anti-Social counts minutes spent on your favorite apps and how often you unlock your phone, it also gives you a score to assess how addicted you are to your phone. That should serve as a perfect reminder to change your habits.
Supported by: Android
FamiSafe is a website blocker app suited to block websites for a target device. FamiSafe will be especially fit for parents who want to help their children reduce their phone use (or ground them super effectively), or employers who are left no other choice than to limit their employees usage of social media and similar distractions. The app features website filtering, screen time control, location tracking and even geo-fencing, to effectively monitor the target device.
Supported by: Android/iOS
Pricing: FREE TRIAL, $9.99/month
In conclusion, there are a lot of free and paid tools to choose from for effective website blocking during your office working hours. The paid versions, obviously, feature a more complex functionality ranging from advanced time tracking and stats reports to location tracking. However, we find that most free extensions work just as well in ensuring you don’t visit the distracting websites – given that you don’t “break the rules” and uninstall them.
Anyway – no matter which extensions or website blocking apps you use, you’re already one step further in the journey of maximizing your productivity. We hope this article helps you in figuring out the best app for your needs!