Everyone has had a day where you just can’t focus. No matter how many things you need to get done that day, you find yourself on Facebook or staring out a window. These days can put a series crimp in your workload for the week – particularly if you have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in.
Every professional has experienced this, no matter how much you love your job. It’s part of being human. “Even the most dedicated and efficient workers get distracted,” says George Sink Jr., Attorney and Marketing Director at George Sink, P. A.
It’s a part of life. What sets an average worker apart from a great professional is the ability to minimize their time spent on distractions, and maximize their time spent on work. Sometimes, this means finding the right tool to help you focus, and eliminate your distractions. It isn’t cheating – it’s working smart.
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Luckily for those of you who are easily distracted but still want to work efficiently – there are plenty of tools and methods out there to help. A favorite method of many people who are frequently distracted by the internet is to use a website and application blocker. These are generally free – or have a limited free version that is still more than useable if you don’t want to pay the extra money.
Go cold turkey
A favorite of many Windows users, Cold Turkey is an application that can be downloaded directly onto your computer. The free version allows you to block a list of websites for set chunks of time. It also will not allow you to access these sites during the set time, no matter what you try. Even shutting down your computer and starting it back up again won’t reset Cold Turkey. So make sure you don’t block of the wrong things at the wrong time!
It also offers a Writer version, which allows you to lock your computer into just a text editor for a certain length of time – or amount of words. If you have a deadline and need to be distraction free, this can be very helpful.
The free version is a bit limited, but not so limited as to not be useful. The full-price version is affordable, and allows you to block applications on your computer, as well as schedule times where you can’t access certain sites and other functions.
Gain some self control
This application is only available for Mac computers. Self Control is pretty basic, but it’s completely free. You just need to download it, and you can easily make a blacklist of websites to block online for a set amount of time. The app doesn’t offer anything other than that, but most people don’t need much more than that to help their productivity.
Like Cold Turkey, there’s no way to get around blocking those specific websites. Even if you delete the application off your Mac, or restart it – you will still be locked out of those sites until the specified time is finished.
Be free from distractions
Easily the most extensive of all the applications on this list, Freedom offers unlimited blocking across any and all devices that you use. The free version is extremely limited – you can only use it seven times before you need to subscribe – but the subscriptions are quite affordable. So if you want to ensure your productivity across multiple devices, Freedom might be your best bet.
Unlike the other applications, it can also do things like block the entire internet, and schedule times when you can access the blocked sites again as breaks. This application is for the person who is serious about blocking their distractions and focusing on their work.
Make concentrating a priority
Unlike the other applications on this list, Focus Booster is not a blocking application, but an efficiency booster. It uses a timer technique to improve focus on projects, and tracks your time as you do it. The application will also give you a summary of time spent productively, and time spent unproductively, so that you can better use your time at work.
This application is good for the person who isn’t as easily distracted, but still wants a boost in productivity. The application sets a timer for you and encourages you to work steadily through that session, then take a break.
It also helps you create timesheets by tracking your time during the day.
If you’re having trouble focusing on your work, downloading one of these apps may help you use your time more efficiently – as long as you’re not the type of person to spend two hours trying to figure out how to beat the application instead of doing your work!
Keep in mind that stopping distraction is more than just downloading an application, it also requires you to actively focus on your work and try to get more done. Otherwise, you may end up staring out the window or doodling on a notepad instead of doing your work – and all of this will have been for nothing.