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If you think about it, we have the same amount of hours that our grandparents had. But Grandpa Sam probably got more done in a day than we do today – even when everything is a button away for us! We are in an epidemic of distractions. Whatsapp alone is used to send 30 billion messages a day. Our habits haven’t mastered the devices we use. We remain slaves to temptation.

When self-control is hobbling on crutches, these five tools among many, can give us a leg to stand on. They help us focus and maybe just get some actual work done.

Forestapp

Focus with Forest

No, this app is not the solution to the planet’s ecological problems. But it can help you plant seeds of productivity in your daily life. The charming little app wants to wean away your phone addiction Addiction, Quantified: How I Measured My Smartphone Usage For A Week Addiction, Quantified: How I Measured My Smartphone Usage For A Week For one week, I installed apps and set up counters to measure my smartphone usage. What did I find out about my own smartphone addiction? Read More by using empathy. Stay away from your phone, plant trees, and get work done.

Plant a “seed” in the app. The app starts a timer for the 30 minutes it takes the virtual seed to grow into a tree. If you lose focus and pick up the phone to do something before the minutes are up, the sapling withers and dies. Concentrate on your work for half an hour and you can add your tree to a field, which becomes a little grove if you work more, and then — a forest.

Download: iOS ($0.99) | Android ($0.99) | Windows ($0.99)

Digital Detach

Digital Detach

What’s the best way to get away from all the distractions owning a smartphone brings? Never buy one. What’s the second best way? Either switch it off or turn it into a dumb phone.

Digital Detach is an Android app that  temporarily turns your smartphone into a dumb phone and limits everything except calls or texts for a period of time that you choose. No Words With Friends or Snapchat to tempt you to the dark side. Select how long you want to disconnect. Start the detach, and stay away from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit etc.

At the same time, it doesn’t cut you off totally from the world. The only things allowed are – calling, messaging, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, and the default camera. If you trust your self-control, you can save yourself $1.99. If you don’t, then those could be two dollars well-spent.

Download: Android ($1.99) 

Strict Workflow

Strict Workflow

How great is Pomodoro for productivity Cut Through Procrastination With These Pomodoro Technique Apps & Software Cut Through Procrastination With These Pomodoro Technique Apps & Software Procrastination is a malady that pervades students and workers in all corners of the world and it infects amateurs and professionals alike. As a writer, I suffer from procrastination on a daily basis. Some people... Read More ? Focus and productivity come with the side benefit of getting up to limber up after every 25 minutes. If you don’t have a standing desk 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long & How To Avoid Them 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long & How To Avoid Them When you work at any job that requires long hours sitting at a computer - programming, accounting, writing - it is very easy to stay in that one position for eight to nine working hours... Read More , try a Pomodoro timer for a healthier life.

Strict Workflow is a Chrome extension like the popular StayFocusd. It follows the Pomodoro method but adds the site blocking feature to the timer. Distracting websites are blocked for a span of 25 minutes and then a 5-minute window is opened for relaxation. The extension is pre-configured to block popular distracting websites and you can also add your own. Try accessing the blocked sites and the tomato stares you in the face.

Kill News Feed

Kill News Feed

If there’s a team-up of digital villains for The Suicide Squad, Facebook will be the ringleader. Kill News Feed is designed to cancel out one of the most distracting elements of the social site and perhaps make it a little more “productive”.

The Chrome extension – as the name implies — kills the main source of distraction, the news feed. A message warns you not to get distracted.  Check messages and notifications, post status updates, and do anything except interact with the news feed posts. With the news feed blocked, you are less likely to meander off down a digital rabbit hole.

Goodnight Chrome

Late nights and cat videos are the curse of our digital existence. Spending time with loved ones often gets overlooked. Goodnight for Chrome wants to help us press pause on the business and get a full night’s sleep without the distraction of the Internet. Plus, it is gorgeously designed.

Install the extension and choose when you want the Internet to go to sleep and wake up again. You’ll be prevented from accessing the Internet during these times, allowing you to get the sleep you need and more time to be around the people who matter the most in your life.

The battle for better productivity and a distraction free existence cannot be won by self-control alone. Apps and tools are riding to the rescue. Which tool holds your productivity together? Name it in the comments. It could be just the thing some of our readers need.

Image Credit: Focus on What Matters via Shutterstock

  1. Honey B
    September 20, 2016 at 9:40 am

    HI please help me. My mac wont turn on but the fan is working and all and it's charging. I already did the shift+control+option+power button but it wont work :(

  2. Sangeeta Squires
    September 16, 2016 at 10:37 am

    My Mac lived! A combination of options above let me get into my Mac to back up my files. It still wasn't booting normally after a restart though. The file consistency check fixed it enough to make the boot up work to key me in with a few dodgy screen artefacts along the way. I then used recovery mode to repair the disk and disk permissions. Now it boots every time. Saved my Mac! Especially relieved as the Genius Bar have no appointments available!

  3. Anonymous
    March 2, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Is there a kill news feed mobile alternative?

    • Saikat
      March 3, 2015 at 5:35 am

      Can't find one. Maybe, you can ask our readers on Answers.

  4. Erich
    March 1, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    http://www.publicspace.net/Vitamin-R/

    This one togehter with my Garmin Vivo Smart Watch are the productivity team for me. Setting a goal i want to work on is done in Vitamin-R and Garmin is taking me back to my goal because of vibrating after some minutes, if i drift away from my goal.

    • Saikat
      March 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Vitamin-R looks gorgeous. Damn, it's Mac only. It looks like a Pomodoro-like tool, but with a few more shots of steroids. Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. kamal
    March 1, 2015 at 9:24 am

    goodnight chrome!

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