Use HabitLab To Effectively Manage Time During Online Browsing


HabitLab is an is an open-source project from Stanford Labs which in the form of add-on for Google Chrome actually makes interventions when you spend too much time on sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and so on.

What makes this add-on interesting is how it keeps track of time and how it modifies your interaction with these sites. It does this with the help of nudges (more on this later).

Here is how to install and use HabitLab :

Download and add it from Chrome Web Store here.

HabitLab Chrome Web Store add-on

It will be available as an icon next to address bar after installing.

HabitLab add-on icon

On first run, it will ask to add websites that you’d like to limit when it comes to spending time.

list of sites that can be added in HabitLab

You can choose a level depending on how you’d like to restrict time on sites, from simply keeping a track of time to closing the site after 60 seconds.

range of settings for restricting time during online browsing in HabitLab

HabitLab will start tracking time spent by displaying a timer whenever the added sites are opened.

HabitLab timer for added sites

Nudges and what they do :

HabitLab has a concept of nudges. These are basically restrictions/interventions that can be applied either globally to all sites or to specific sites.

So for example, if you’d like to restrict the time spent on YouTube, then there are specific nudges for that which will remove the sidebar videos, or disable the comments from loading after each video and so on.

These basically try to limit your overall usage when visiting sites.

By using such nudges, you can significantly cut down on time spent on these websites.

HabitLab has general nudges and specific nudges depending on how you’d like them to be used. These nudges can be enabled or disabled as needed.

General nudges:

general nudges in HabitLab

Bouncer : It will ask about the time required to spend visiting a site.

bouncer nudge in HabitLab

This will be then displayed in the corner.

bouncer nudge to track time

Once the time is up, the tab will close on own.

Bouncer nudge in HabitLab after closing the website


1 Min Assassin : Automatically closes tab after 1 min. To know what a specific nudge can do, click on the icon and choose TRY NOW.

1 Min Assassin nudge in HabitLab
1 Min Assassin nudge active in HabitLab

Gatekeeper : This is a delay screen which makes you wait for few seconds before visiting so that you may change your mind. 🙂

Gatekeeper nudge in HabitLab


Mission objective : This is a goal based nudge and asks about the purpose of visit.

Mission objective nudge in HabitLab

So it keeps you focused rather than just lurk the sites.

Scroll freezer : This will automatically freeze scrolling after some scrolls. Good to have when you keep reading tons of comments.

Supervisor : Shows time spent on top of the screen

Supervisor nudge in HabitLab

Stat Whiz and Stat Whiz Banner : This will show the time spent as well as the number of visits to the sites.

Minute Watch : Shows the time spent on top corner of the screen.

Minute Watch nudge in HabitLab

The above nudges work for all the sites as they basically keep time.

However, site specific nudges in addition to the above can also limit your interactions.

Site specific nudges for some popular sites :

Facebook nudges:

Facebook nudges in HabitLab

Time Injector : This shows a timer in your Facebook feed indicating the time spent so far.

Feed Eater : Completely removes news feed and therefore less clicking around

Feed Eater nudge for Facebook in HabitLab


TimeKeeper : Shows time on desktop.

No Comment : With comments turned off, you’d no longer get in flame wars or scroll through lots of comments thereby saving time. 🙂

Clickbait Mosaic : This removes clickbait headlines which would make you browse.

YouTube nudges:

YouTube nudges in HabitLab

Sidekicker : Disables YouTube sidebar which leads to clicking one video and to the next and so on.

Sidekicker YouTube nudge in HabitLab


Think Twice :
Similar to Gatekeeper, asks if you’d wish to proceed with viewing YouTube video.

Think Twice YouTube nudge in HabitLab


No comments : Just like Facebook, this too removes comments from being loaded on YouTube videos.

No comments YouTube nudge in HabitLab


Feed Diet : This hides recommended videos thereby making you focus on completing watching what you wanted and then close YouTube.

Feed Diet YouTube nudge in HabitLab

Twitter nudges:

Feed Eater : The only site specific nudge available is the one which removes Twitter feed.

Feed Eater Twitter nudge in HabitLab

All other general nudges can be used though.

HabitLab Settings:

With so many useful nudges, you’d soon realize which nudges work the best as HabitLab shows the effectiveness of each of these nudges. Simply click on the HabitLab toolbar icon and choose SETTINGS.

accessing HabitLab settings

Then select the sites for which you’d like to see the nudge results.

nudges and their effectiveness in HabitLab

You can also vote for nudges, code your own nudges and submit new ideas from here.

managing nudges per site from HabitLab settings
submitting nudge ideas in HabitLab

Other sites can be added too from Settings section.

Clicking on individual site settings will show the nudges available and which are active. Also the default time restriction/goal for each site is 20 minutes.

You can change it to any other interval from here as needed with the lowest being 5 minutes and highest as 60 minutes.

changing goal interval for sites from HabitLab settings

You can also sync with Google account to make sure all the nudges and other settings are available across different devices.

sync HabitLab settings and nudges

Also a pie chart of top 5 sites is available directly by clicking the HabitLab icon and selecting RESULTS.

accessing HabitLab results

Scroll down after clicking to view the sites as a pie chart breakdown based on the time spent.

pie chart breakdown of top 5 visited sites for the day

This is a comprehensive time management Chrome add-on for managing online browsing habits as it not only keeps a track of time spent but modifies how you’d use these sites.

Do try it out.


Leave a Comment