Why I Wrote Saved For Later

18 Oct 2022

I recently wrote and released a Chrome extension, Saved for Later. You can download it here. It’s yet another website blocker, but I wrote it because I didn’t find another extension that solved my problems.

I’ve been using website blockers for over a decade now. There’s a million of them. Historically, the one I’ve used most often is Freedom, which lets you set different blocklists and schedules of when to turn them on/off.

It’s a great app, but I found it sometimes too eager. The websites I find most distracting are also those with information I can’t find anywhere else on the internet — like Reddit, Hacker News and Twitter. So, a workflow I often found myself getting into was looking up some obscure programming fact, finding a helpful link on Hacker News, hitting the block, turning it off, looking at the site, and then… forgetting to re-block it. One week later, I wondered why I was spending so much time on the internet. Whoops!

I’m not the only one who has this problem. Ben Kuhn writes:

I tried to use various things to block distracting websites, but I always ended up turning them off “for a little bit” to look at something they were blocking and, uh, “forgetting” to turn them back on.

He solved it using an app that turns on/off on a schedule. I dislike schedules, though — I don’t want to be looking at the clock to see when I can access the internet. And sometimes, I want the information on Hacker News or Reddit right now.

Some blockers are also a little too overactive. For instance, I often want to keep Facebook blocked, but on many blockers, that will also block Messenger. That’s not good – which I use it to stay in touch with friends!

Finally, I want to be able to keep track of which sites I tried to access but wasn’t able to. Weirdly, it helps me be more okay with not accessing Twitter or Reddit right now — I know I can look at it later. All the blocking apps I found tended to redirect me without giving me any option to continue.

So I wrote Saved for Later; it solves all these problems. It blocks websites by URL, not by blocking requests, so it blocks Facebook without blocking Messenger. It keeps sites blocked by default, but with a timed override available, so I can quickly turn it off if I need to access a specific link. And it saves blocked links so I can access them later if I need to.

I’ve been using it for the last few weeks, and I’ve been pretty happy with it. It does an excellent job of keeping me from spending hours doomscrolling like I used to. But it’s not annoying enough that I’m worried I’ll deactivate it in a few weeks, as I do with most other blockers. If this sounds like something that might be useful to you, too, give it a try!

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