This is something that crosses the boundaries between productivity and self-care. It’s an absolute joy, and I wish that I had taken the time to set it up months ago. I’m taking about the ability to create separate profiles in Chrome profiles. While it’s hyperbole to say that it saved my sanity, I’m not overselling it by much.
If you’re not familiar, Google Chrome allows you to set up separate accounts for different uses. You can go to your avatar in the upper right, click on it, and select “manage people” from the drop down. The intention is to allow people sharing a computer to save their own bookmarks, store their own passwords, and establish their own preferences. Ideal for couples, families with kids, roommates, small offices, you name it.
Since I have this laptop all to myself, I set up separate profiles for different uses. Here’s a quick overview of each. As we go along you’ll see how it’s helped to keep me focused, and contributed to my overall well-being.
A Business Profile
I already had separate email addresses and social media accounts for my business. All of them flowed into different folders in the same Gmail account, though. Bookmarks were separated into folders. I still saw everything, all the time. There was no clear delineation between being at work and not being at work. That’s why I created a new Gmail address for work, and slowly migrated everything over.
The first thing I did was pick a different theme. The color scheme lets me know that I’m in the business profile. The only passwords saved are for the business accounts, so I can get to my personal social media or website. I even set up a separate AccuRadio account, so that what I listen to at work is distinct from what I listen to on my own time. To take things one step further, I even blacklisted news and entertainment sites so that I can’t be tempted to look at them when I’m supposed to be writing.
Now when I’m at work, I open the business profile and make sure my person profile is closed. I can only see business-related accounts and links. I have access to reference and research sites, but nothing that could be a distraction. It’s helped. To get to anything else I’d have to switch to my personal profile, and even though that only takes a few seconds, that’s enough time to consider what I’m doing and stop myself.
A Personal Profile
This was my original Chrome profile, but it’s been heavily modified. After the business profile was set up and I was sure I had everything, I deleted all business-related bookmarks. I went so far as to go into cookies and delete anything that might be holding a business account login. If a social media site gave me the option to log in with my persona account or business account, I made sure to delete the business login option. I have to change profiles to see anything business-related.
The other thing I did was to delete all news-related bookmarks. I blacklisted all of the major news sites as well, and blocked them on my Twitter account. Twitter’s “mute word” feature has been invaluable, when I want to stay in touch with my more political friends but don’t need to know about the latest atrocity or declaration of willful ignorance.
When I’m on my personal profile I can write this blog, chat with friends, and get to educational and entertainment content. That’s all. There’s no way for me to slip into business mode and start working. I can’t compulsively look at the news and get upset about things that are outside of my control. This has been peaceful, to say the least.
A News Profile
This is possibly the most important profit that I’ve created. It’s the one that I look at the least. I created a new email address for this one, and a new Twitter account, all under a fake name. The only purpose of this account is to have access to news sites.
All of the bookmarks are major, credible news sources. The only accounts I follow on Twitter are news organizations and journalists I respect. Because I have blacklisted the news on the other accounts, if I want to know what’s going on I have to switch profiles to this one.
If I hear of a breaking news story — because no matter how many filters I set up, big news always cuts through — I can go to that account without having to mess with my blocks and mutes and blacklists on the other accounts. The thing is, so I set it up I’m far less inclined to look. There lack of convenience makes me pause. Making it a pain in the butt to look at the news keeps me away from it. That’s why this is the most important profile. It’s the one that exists to protect my sanity. I can focus on the things that are within my control, personally and professionally.