In our last post, we talked about tools for minimizing the effects of working all day long in front of a computer. Today, we will see some tools for helping us keep focused and free of distractions.
We usually spend 8 or 10 hours per day – or sometimes even more than that – in front of the computer. However, it is quite difficult and it requires an extreme effort and discipline to stay focused and not check your email every 5 minutes (or less!), check what your friends/colleagues are tweeting about, see what people are posting on Facebook, read that (giant) infographic about productivity (how ironic!) on Google+, see who has viewed your LinkedIn profile, chat on Skype about your weekend adventures with a friend, browse Pinterest to find something cool, watch Beyoncé’s new video clip on YouTube, see who has commented on your blog. Phew! Talk about distractions! And the list goes on. Besides distracting and not allowing you to focus on your work, those are dangerous time-wasters if you are not careful.
Well, if you are one of those addicts who have a hard time keeping yourself away from online distractions, it may be a good idea to go hardcore.
StayFocusd is a Google Chrome browser extension that limits the time you spend on sites that, as predetermined by yourself, make you waste your time. Set the maximum amount of daily time you allow yourself to spend on each site and, after that, you are not allowed to access any of them for the rest of the day.
It is scientifically proven that our brain remains attentive only for a limited amount of time (and on a limited amount of information). To avoid overloading our brains with information or working long hours on a task non-stop, it is advisable to split your time in productive chunks and breaks. You can actively work for say 25 minutes knowing that you will have say a 5 minute-break to do whatever you prefer. After all, rewarding yourself is also important.
Strict Workflow is a Google Chrome extension similar to the Pomodoro technique – but as the name says – stricter. It enforces you to work 25 minutes in a row, blocking a list of websites set by you. After that period is over, you are allowed to access those blocked websites for 5 minutes. You can repeat that as necessary and change the timer duration.
Now if you want to have a better idea of the time you spend actually working and the time you spend on social media and the like, the software Visual TimeAnalyzer tracks all your computer usage (work time, pauses, internet use, etc.) and provides detailed reports of all your activity. You can find out how much time you spend on Facebook, working on projects, and even daydreaming!
If you just need to focus on writing your blog post, preparing your next presentation or writing a book, Ommwriter is a free text editor app for Mac OS (CreaWriter for Windows) that runs in full screen. You can change the font type and size, and the background image. Just indulge yourself in a calm distraction-free environment to be highly focused on your writing only.
Good luck and stay productive!
Do you know any other tools that help us keep up the good work and stay aways from distractions? Don’t be shy and share your thoughts with us.