We’re not going to tell you how hard it is to focus on your writing some days, because we know you know. On days when you just can’t get in the zone even the smallest distraction will take its toll on productivity. It can take as much as 15 minutes to find your focus again after even the smallest distraction.
Too many distractions can affect motivation and move you further away from hitting your writing goals. So, if you have tried all the tricks, planned your blocks of writing the night before, scheduled in your writing and rest times, shut yourself in a quiet room with a lock on the door, and you still haven’t got anywhere, what next?
We have picked out five apps and browser extensions to help you focus on your writing and on your way to productivity. Choose one and try it, or hey – try them all – after all you can never be too productive. Be warned these apps and extensions do block all internet and network activity, and can be very difficult to disable whilst a block is on – probably for the best if you are needing some serious concentration time, but not great for you if you aren’t fully committed (oh and might have an emergency email or Whatsapp message to send all of a sudden).
Ideal for Google Chrome users, this Chrome browser extension limits the amount of time you spend on selected websites and blocks others with highly customisable settings. You can block entire sites or specific pages or you can allocate how much time you want to allow yourself on certain sites. If you think you need half an hour to get some research done allocate that much. This extension will alert you if you have left one of your blocked windows open but inactive – you don’t want to use up your time after all!
StayFocusd: Free Extension
When you visit Freedom’s website you will be confronted with the statement that time is your most valuable resource – and how right they are. Freedom allows you to manage your distractions by blocking all distracting websites and apps on not only your computer, but also your phone and your tablet. In fact, it even goes so far as to block the entire internet when you really need it. You can block for a few hours or a whole day. Different devices tend to mean different distractions and Freedom has that covered letting you create block lists for each of your devices.
Freedom: Free trial then starts at $2.42 a month.
We are big fans of focus@will. Not only does it help you discover the kind of music that helps you focus the best – after all everyone is wired differently – but it bases its choices on some solid research into personality types and focus. It is said to 4x your focus and optimise your productivity. We love it and it certainly helps you get lots done when you are working in a busy office. Once you have filled out a personality quiz you are evaluated and given the choice of 12 channels of different types of music – all tailored towards your personality type. The channels include things like baroque piano, ambient, up tempo, chill and even water. We would definitely recommend giving this one a try.
Focus@Will: $8.33/mo when billed annually – FREE trial for two weeks.
Cold Turkey is a fantastic tool for blocking both websites and applications. If you know you are most distracted for example when you hit a mid-afternoon slump, then you can schedule your time blocks to kick in then and which sites you want to block. If you are one of those people who spends your time on your computer at night when really you should be sleeping, then Cold Turkey will go ‘Frozen Turkey’ on you and kick you out altogether. If you feel you work better with short breaks through your ‘black out’ period, then Cold Turkey will schedule in short breaks for you.
Cold Turkey: Free to download or go Pro from $19.
This app sits nicely in your menu bar and helps you create an ideal work environment around you. It will block any specified websites across all browsers and other Mac applications such as Twitter, Skype or Mail. When you do attempt to go to the blocked sites, it will give you a motivational quote and send you on your way. You can schedule your website blocking or use the timer to help you organise blocks of work if you work better with shorter intervals and breaks. If you are feeling like you need an extra bout of concentration you can switch to ‘Hardcore’ mode – but be warned you really won’t be able to stop this once it has started.
Focus: Free Trial then $19.99.
If these all sound a bit dramatic and you don’t feel as though you want to go as far as installing blocks on your computer, how about listening to the bustling sounds of a coffee shop at Coffitivity or mix up your own atmosphere with the options at Noisli. Right now, thanks to Noisli we are sitting by a fire on a stormy night in a forest with the occasional train passing by and productivity has rocketed through the roof.
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