This is a guest post from Tess Pajaron of Open Colleges,Australia. Tess takes us through some interesting tools that can help block out the online distractions that sap our time during the day.
If you love browsing social media or catching up on your YouTube feed, willpower alone may not be enough to help you get things done. Whether you need to do remote work from your home office, fully devote your time to your school work, or even find a new job, you might need a little boost from a tool that will help you be more productive.
1. Cold Turkey
You’re probably familiar with the term “quitting cold turkey”. That’s exactly what this tool does. It will block any website you feel you spend too much time on, and it blocks it for a specific amount of time. This app is designed to prevent you from cheating – you can’t easily close it or mess with your computer’s time to take the block off. Cold Turkey locks you out for the long haul.
StayFocusd is a Chrome extension with a lot of potential. It allows you to set a timer that will limit you to a specific amount of time to visit certain sites. You can use this to block social media, but you can also use this to limit the amount of time you spend doing things inactively. If you’re searching for a job, putting your job board and your email on the list for a maximum of several hours a day will help you be sure you’re productively managing your search without getting burned out, effectively turning your search into an actual hourly job. Stayfocud is not compatible with apple products and they recommend Freedom instead.
RescueTime works on most computers and phones. You can use it to block certain sites, but the tool does much more than that. This app tells you where and when you’re the most productive, and how long you spend browsing on specific sites. It’s almost like a map of how you spend your time when you aren’t thinking about it. If you’re trying to work the kinks out of your routine, RescueTime will give you the insights you need. No more subconsciously wasting your time. Here’s a great review of Rescue Time from Time Doctor
4. A Typewriter
If you’re one of those people who is so easily distracted that you’d need to block the entire internet to finish anything on time, you’re not the only one. Some people go off on intellectual journeys when they’re feeling creative, and they’re better off not being anywhere near a computer. Typewriters and portable word processors are making a comeback. If it’s easier for you to stay focused when you’re away from a computer entirely, you always have that option.
Freedom is a blocking multitool that you can use on all of your devices. Sync your phone or tablet with Freedom, and you’ll be able to block selectively or block everything. The block time works in sessions, so if you know you need an hour or two of uninterrupted focus time, Freedom will allow you to do just that.
TomatoTimer uses a time management system called the Pomodoro technique (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato). Things get blocked for short periods of time for intense concentration, and then they’re unblocked for short breaks. The idea is that it’s easier to get through the hard stuff when you’re taking lots of short breaks. If you really need that distraction every now and then, the app accommodates that.
This is the lax option. KeepMeOut works through your bookmarks. Instead of visiting a website like you regularly would, you visit through a KeepMeOut bookmark. KeepMeOut reminds you that you’ve been browsing somewhere a little too long and asks you to second guess yourself. This is the perfect tool for people who only need a gentle reminder to get back on track.
Remember that no tool is a complete replacement for natural focus. If you have a hard time focusing, you might need to de-stress before you can give a project all you have to give. Make sure you’re taking care of your mental health if you want to perform your best.
About the author:
With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges