STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU PRODUCTIVELY FOCUS
The tools below will help you improve focus, minimize distractions, and create good time-saving habits.
BLOCK DISTRACTING WEBSITES
These apps will help you restrict access to distracting apps, websites, and other temptations so that you can get your work done faster -- and then have time for fun!
Cold Turkey is an app you can use to block your access to any app or website that you choose for the amount of time that you set (including windows of time that you can schedule in advance). It works on all computer browsers (though not phones) and the basic mode is free. (It’s $25 a year for the pro setting).
Freedom works with all devices (Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Chrome). Although focused times can’t be scheduled in advance, users can block their choice of distracting apps and webpages on all devices at once. It comes pre-equipped with a blacklist of blockable sites (which you can edit), including Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, etc., as well as all standard web email platforms. ($6.99/month)
INCENTIVIZE AVOIDANCE OF DISTRACTING PHONE APPS
Forest is an app that inspires you to stay off your phone by growing digital seedlings into trees. If you stay off of your phone's distracting apps for the time you set, then the tree will flourish; if you don't, it'll die. You can team up with your friends to set challenges for each other, and if you make enough progress, an in-app garden will bloom for you and you can support the actual planting of trees in developing nations. (Free for Android, $1.99 for iOS.)
REMOVE SCREEN DISTRACTIONS WHEN WRITING
With FocusWriter, you can reduce the distractions on your computer screen that can make writing difficult by converting your screen to just a blank writing page and simple background. To see how it works, here’s a basic review of FocusWriter.
Cold Turkey Writer, as explained in this video review, lets you set an amount of time or number of words that you need to write and it won't let you access anything else on your computer until you've accomplished that.
ELIMINATE ADS AND POP-UPS
To convert webpages and articles to show only the text (and not a bunch of distracting ads on the side or popping up) you can download an ad blocker or you can enable any browser’s “Reader Mode." Here’s how on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge.
FORM GOOD HABITS TO REACH YOUR GOALS
The best way to maximize your productivity is by developing smart habitual routines. Like brushing your teeth before going to bed, the more something becomes a habit, the less you have to worry about remembering to do it. Here's a good sampling of some of the many Great Apps to Help Build New Habits that you can use to reach the goals you set.
You'll find more habit-making apps on the Study Skills and Strategies page. Got an app you love that's not here? Tell us about it!