Tools to Reduce Online Distractions

By Tracey Dowdy

Should I ever catch a leprechaun – because, you know, it could happen – my first wish would be to get back all the time I’ve lost on mindless Internet wandering.

You know how it is. You start out with a simple Google search for best Thai restaurants in your neighborhood, and 45 minutes later you’re watching a video of a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig. (Yes, that’s a thing…and yes I’ve watched it more than once!)

If, however, you don’t want to get pulled into the Internet vortex, these apps can help you eliminate distractions and boost your focus:

Freedom

Freedom is based on the premise that “Your time is your most valuable resource” and blocks distracting websites and apps on the following devices and platforms: Mac OS X 10.8 – 10.12, Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 and iOS 9+ (iPad, iPhone). Users can create unlimited lists of sites and apps you want to temporarily block and the app allows you to schedule the blocked lists or choose to block the entire Internet if you really need to cut off the outside world.

Freedom is a fee-based subscription service, but if you’ve got some bad habits you need to break, it’s money well spent. The monthly subscription rate is $6.99; $2.42 a month if you sign up for a year; or $119.99 if you want to purchase the app and have unlimited access “forever”. There is a limited time offer of 40% off by using the code “FOCUS” as part of a Black Friday promotion.

Focus

Focus is a Chrome extension that will change the way you work online. Once you’ve downloaded the extension, go to the Options page and create a list of your special vices – Facebook, Twitter, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Cheese.com, Wine.com…wait, that got personal. Anyway, once you’ve created your list, get to work.

Should you get distracted and try to open a blocked page, a beautiful image with an inspirational quote will appear – something like, “It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” Benjamin Franklin. Along with the quote is an equally inspiring motivational suggestion based on what you’ve listed as your “epic dream”, like “It’s time to focus on starting a business.”  As a Google Chrome extension, there is no cost involved.

Focus Booster

Focus Booster reminds us “Even superheroes need a sidekick.” Using the Pomodoro Technique – a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo back in the 80’s – Focus Booster is designed to help you maintain your focus and manage distractions effectively. Instead of working against the clock, you work with it, using scheduled breaks to keep you fresh and increase your productivity.

Compatible with PC or iOS operating systems, you can download the desktop timer to your device or sign in and use it online. For a full breakdown of pricing or to take advantage of their free, 30 day trial offer, click here.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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