Being productive isn’t about the things you do. It’s about the things that you don’t do. By eliminating distracting tasks such as following people on social media or checking your email every five minutes, you’ll be able to accomplish more high-level tasks and move your business forward much faster.
However, this is often easier said than done. While you can resolve to swear off email or YouTube for the next hour, actually doing it may prove to be bit more difficult because those websites are just a few clicks away.
Fortunately, there are some online tools and mobile apps that can police your productivity and keep you on track.
There are lot of site blocking apps and plugins, but few are as solid as Cold Turkey. Similar to other site blockers, Cold Turkey prevents you from visiting specific websites for a given time period. What’s good about Cold Turkey is that, unlike other browser plugins or apps, this program enforces a computer-wide block so you won’t be able to get away with visiting forbidden websites simply by switching browsers. Cold Turkey also survives reboots and will continue running even if you restart your computer. This tool isn’t as easy to kill as the others either; you can’t stop it from your system tray or task manager.
Cold Turkey works at a “pay what you want” system where you decide how much you think the program is worth. Even better, a percentage of the cost will be sent to the Against Malaria Foundation. So on top of helping yourself be more productive, using this app will also help people in need.
If you want to go beyond blocking sites and are looking for analytics about time and productivity, then consider RescueTime.
Aside from providing tools such as site blocking, notifications, and activity tracking, RescueTime lets you generate activity summaries as well as detailed reports about the time you spent on applications and websites. These reports provide insights on how you can improve productivity and time management.
RescueTime has a free lite version with limited features. To take advantage of its full set of features, opt for the premium version that costs $9 per month or $72 per year.
Do you check email every few minutes? Then you may want to try AwayFind.
This tool doesn’t block off email completely. Instead, it re-routes and re-prioritizes your messages based on important senders and topics. For instance, if you’re expecting an urgent email from a customer or vendor, you can configure AwayFind to send an alert only when you receive a message from the person you specified.
Are you meeting with clients and need alerts for schedule changes? AwayFind comes with a calendar that notifies you of emails that relate to upcoming meetings or events.
AwayFind offers individual plans that start at $4.99 a month. For your entire business, choose one of the business plans that start at $10 per user per month.
Remember that taking breaks is also important when you want to stay productive. All work and no play leads to burnout and diminished focus. All work can be just as destructive as spending time on mindless and distracting activities. The key is to strike a healthy balance between serious work and down time. You must know when to stop typing or when to put your phone down and catch a break.
That’s where Coffee Break comes in. Available on the Mac App Store, this program lets you schedule your coffee break — and ensures that you take it. It’s a mechanism that simply refuses to do anything else until you rest your eyes and take a break.
Just schedule your day, set your break time and duration, then start the countdown. When your break arrives, your computer screen will go dark and will only light back up again once your recess is over.
The app is $2.99 on the Mac App Store.
Nozbe is a team productivity and organizational app that helps you and your team members stay on track. After all, distractions don’t just come in the form of cat videos or gossip. Sometimes people can get too caught up with simply organizing their tasks or focusing on non-urgent duties.
But thanks to Nozbe, you can organize your tasks into manageable projects and share them with the rest of your team so you can all work together. The program also lets you view tasks in a calendar, to know which ones to prioritize.
Nozbe starts $8 per month. Depending on your needs, you can opt for a Personal, Family, or Team plan.