You wouldn’t think online privacy is a productivity issue, but it is. For me, as a work from home writer, designer and publisher getting my work done is critical. If I don't, I don't get paid.
I’m wildly keen on digital privacy. I’m also tremendously keen to dodge as many adverts—particularly targeted adverts—as possible while online. I don’t want to be interrupted and distracted while online. (I also don’t want to spend my hard-earned cash on things I didn’t know I needed until moments ago, but that’s another blog post entirely).
As an aside, which one of these is easier to ignore:
- A generic advert for something you don't want.
- A targeted advert based on your recent browsing history and interests.
Dodging all online tracking and its attendant advertising these days is—I assume—essentially impossible. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up. You might not be able to eliminate all online tracking and advertising, but you can substantially reduce it.
Like any good defence, my online privacy is a multi-layered affair.
- I use DuckDuckGo as my search provider of choice on all my devices. DuckDuckGo does not track your search history. This costs me £0.
- I use ExpressVPN on all my devices to mask my location and stop my ISP from logging every site I visit. This costs me about £80 a year.
- I use eero Secure on our routers to block various trackers, speed up surfing and so on at the network level. This costs me about £22 a year.
- I use Safari as my browser of choice on all my devices as it blocks various trackers and hides my IP address from known trackers. This costs me £0.
- I use Wipr, a Safari extension, to block ads and trackers. I think this was a free download from the app store.
- I use Hush, another Safari extension, to block cookies and automatically deny tracking consent notices. I think this was a one-off purchase for about £2.50
- I use DuckDuckGo Privacy, yet another Safari extension, to block all 3rd party trackers and DuckDuckGo Privacy Dashboard, a Safari extension, to see which trackers have been blocked when I visit websites. This costs me £0.
The upshot of all this is that I see virtually no adverts, and almost no targeted adverts. (I’m not naive. I’m still being tracked, but at least I’ve massively reduced the number of trackers following me around trying to serve me enticing distractions.) This means I get distracted less frequently while online. (My browsing and file uploads are also faster.) In turn, this means I am more focused and productive when online.
The total cost of the above is about £100 a year (or £2 a week). Even putting aside the security benefits of a VPN, this is well worth it. I don’t know how you value your time, but if all the above saves me just one hour a week, I'm more than happy.
Did I Miss Something?
Can I reduce online distractions and interruptions even further? Please let me know!