Productivity Apps and Websites

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Focusing can be hard sometimes, especially if it’s a project that you really don’t want to be working on. There are lots of productivity apps and websites out there, but many of them require purchases (and I personally don’t have the money to spend on productivity apps). Still, I’ve been able to find several ways to help me focus when I desperately need to- hopefully these ways will help you, too!

1. FocusWriter
When you open FocusWriter, you can’t access anything but the app. There are ways to trick it (but I won’t tell you how). There is a section that you can scroll over at the bottom that shows word count, the percentage of your daily goal (that can be edited), and a clock that you can use to set timers and alarms to keep track of when you need to stop working. If you mouse over the left side you can click on an arrow to search through your writing- mousing over the right side shows the scrollbar. Scrolling over the top of the screen, you get a bunch of the standard files and setting tabs- although very slimmed down and condensed. It is a very barebones approach that eliminates most the nonessentials, but it’s not that helpful when you need to use the internet to find and cite sources. There are a lot of different themes, and it’s highly customizable and pretty, and can be helpful when you just need to write!

2. Cold Turkey- Blocker and Writing
The Blocker lets you block websites you choose to the exact time (within 5 minutes) to block. If you attempt to open these websites it won’t load. It comes with a premade list of common timewasting websites that you can edit to fit your specifications. There is a paid version that supposedly lets you refine it further, both time wise and website wise, as well as allows you to block applications, but the free version works just fine.
The writing app has no extra features. All you can do is write- you can’t even save until it unblocks you. You can either set it to block you for a certain amount of time or a certain amount of words (or not at all, but that kind of defeats the purpose) and as far as I can tell there is NO WAY to exit the application. This is a hardcore “I need to study and write” application. All you can do is write- in the free version at least. The pro version seems to have a few additional features.

3. FocusNow
FocusNow is a free iPhone app that uses growing a plant as motivation to keep you from using the other apps on your phone. The premise is simple- you set a timer and while the app is open and the timer is running, the plant grows. If you leave or close the app the plant is killed. This may not work for everyone, but I find it helps me keep from checking my social media for the millionth time in five minutes- I really don’t want to kill those plants. Unfortunately, I don’t know if this app is available for Android phones.

4. Podcasts
This may just be me, but I personally love listening to something while I work. It’s very peaceful and relaxing to me. If it’s silent I tend to let my mind wander- and this gives me an outlet. There’s a podcast out there for everyone- give a few a try! (If you ever want suggestions, I have plenty- I’ll happily help!)

5. Noisli
If you don’t like podcasts, or if having someone speaking will distract you but you still need some noise to focus, Noisli is a nice, simple website to make and listen to background music- mostly nature themed, and highly customizable.

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