9 Apps That Reduce Distractions and Increase Productivity at Work

Posted on 10/4/18 2:59 PM by Elizabeth Simoneau

Staying focused at work is a challenge that stares us in the face every day. This is especially true if your role is growing at your workplace or your company is growing and expanding the team. Distractions are everywhere but, luckily, there are some magical online apps that can help make sure your day-to-day stays on track at all times.

Discover the best apps to help you stay productive at work, all day long:

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Regardless of what business strategies you and your co-workers use on a daily basis, it's getting tougher and tougher to block out distractions and focus on completing tasks, especially if they require a ton of concentration. If you feel like your at-desk or in-office momentum keeps screeching to a halt every few minutes, you're definitely not alone.

According to a 2018 study, nearly 3 out of every 4 professionals say they're at least slightly distracted at work. In fact, 16% of those surveyed said they're "almost always" distracted, The lack of an environment that allows for consistent focus could be costing your company (and others in the industry) millions of dollars each year, which is why many managers and employees alike are taking steps to improve their ability to stay locked in on their everyday tasks.

I'll admit it - I'm someone who's more predisposed to getting distracted than your average person. Sometimes, when my concentration gets broken, it's tough for me to get back into a solid rhythm. That's why I decided to test several online applications and tech tools that could help increase my productivity while reducing distractions. After four weeks of downloading, implementing and testing various options, I found a bunch of great apps that are either free or will cost you a very small amount to get started.

Let's dive into things and walk you through all of my favorite apps for cutting out distractions and upping the amount of work you can get done in a work day.

 

Momentum

The first thing most of us do when we start work every morning, whether you're in an office space or telecommuting, is open our internet browser and begin to check out our favorite websites or apps. This process is second nature to most people but fraught with the temptation to get off-track before you even truly begin your day.

Enter Momentum, the Chrome extension that serves as a homepage of sorts for each new tab that you open. Besides presenting you with a beautiful picture and clock overlay, you have the opportunity to type out what your main task is for the day, as well as make a to-do list of smaller tasks that need accomplishing.

I love how customizable this app feels, right down to a handy section for links in the top left-hand corner and advanced settings that can help you eliminate any other nagging distractions that an unfiltered internet connection can dangle in front of you. Momentum has definitely helped up my productivity in a short period of time.

Trello

Post-it notes can be a handy way to leave yourself reminders or map out larger tasks throughout your day but they can also be a visual pollutant in your work environment (nevermind trying to read indecipherable scribbles when you need that crucial bit of information). Enter the world of digital post-its with Trello.

An ever-popular online software that's easy to use, this is one of my personal favorites when it comes to apps that allow me to collaborate with colleagues and even outside forces working remotely. You can attach documents or links, create checklists with due dates and even add or subtract team members from specific cards - that way, everyone who needs to be in the loop on a certain project is organized and up-to-date at all times.

I use Trello every single day along with the rest of my Amilia teammates and it definitely keeps the clutter out of your inbox or messaging system and allows everyone to focus on what they need to bring to different projects. To check out Trello's interface and to discover more about the app, take a look at their Trello 101 starter guide.

 

RescueTime

Are you a frequent multitasker? Feel like you're constantly juggling more than a few tasks and operating against tight deadlines? It can be useful to know how long it takes you to complete certain items on your to-do list and prioritize them accordingly throughout your day. To put an accurate time on those tasks, you need RescueTime's app.

By closely monitoring how you spend your time while on the job, RescueTime scores your daily habits, gives you some honest insight and even lets you set goals to increase productivity over time. You only have so many hours in a day and dividing that precious time up properly can be the difference between feeling fulfilled and accomplished or frustrated at the lack of work you're able to get done.

 

Toggl

Toggl takes the same basic time tracking premise that RescueTime introduced in the last section and applies it to the collaborative environments that surround many successful companies these days. Especially if you've got a combination of in-office and remote staff members, this app works well as a tool to keep everyone synchronized.

The throughline with all the apps on this list is how simple and intuitive they are from a design standpoint and Toggl is no different. Tracking project progress, real-time data and performance metrics, detailed breakdowns of how well (or not) your team is doing compared to your productivity goals - it's all there in the software and easily accessible from desktop or mobile. There's a free trial option to get you started, after which you can upgrade based on your organization's needs and budget.

Freedom

Freedom is an app that delivers emancipation by using restriction. Essentially, it's an app that allows you to block certain websites for a set amount of time. This is great for short work blitzes, giving you the space and stripped-down workstation you need to polish off that project you keep pushing back.

While this program might not be necessary for everyone (it's not free and it's just as simple to block specific URLs using your browser, if you know what you're doing that is), but I really like the simplistic user interface and the quick setup time it affords you as well. If you're into the idea of going outside the realm of strictly free software, Freedom is definitely worth the extra expense.

 

Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

You know what the best remedy for an unproductive stint at work is for me sometimes? Pausing whatever I'm working on and doing nothing. That's right - absolutely nothing. For a whole two minutes in fact!

In all seriousness, this site is great for forcing you to spend an unbroken 120 seconds listening to the rush of the waves in its built-in soundtrack and not jumping to the next task or distraction before the timer runs out. It's pretty strict about that time limit too - one slight move of the mouse or a keyboard stroke will reset the countdown at two minutes, forcing you to start all over again.

If you allow yourself breaks throughout the work day (a practice that I consider to be vital to your mental and physical health), then you may not need this app. However, if you're a workaholic type that has trouble giving in to the urge to take a short break, then you need to start frequenting this site at least once per workday.

 

Pocket

Whether you're browsing social media or doing research for an upcoming project, we're bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of blog articles, videos and other educational content every day. It's hard to set aside time to digest all of them in one workday (or even several) and it's also frustrating when you scan an interesting piece but then, because you didn't save the link anywhere, you're unable to re-engage with it when you want to. Thankfully, Pocket helps you store those digital highlights and makes it easy to come back to them later on.

By simply installing the browser extension, you're one click away from saving those valuable link and aggregating them in one easy-to-use environment. You can even get the app on your Apple or Android device and take your must-read material on the go with you. After only a few adds, the software is able to offer you recommendations, streamlining the research or learning process and giving you the freedom to optimize your reading or watching schedule.

 

StayFocused

The amount of time many of us (yes, even me) waste in short spurts on entertainment or social media sites is pretty astounding when you look at the big picture. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest - the list goes on and on. When you're stuck for an idea or what to do next, it can be easy to fall down the internet's rabbit hole of random distractors, a problem that StayFocused provides a solution for.

It's another simple premise that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day; instead of blocking websites altogether, you're restricted to a certain amount of time per day, with adjustable start and end times giving you the opportunity to separate your work life from your personal life. You enter a restricted site, the countdown starts; exit that tab and the timer will stop and carry over to the next time. If you're not careful, you'll be shocked at how quickly that time allowance will evaporate.

Again, if your willpower is strong enough to avoid those kinds of temptations, you may not need help from this app. However, if you're concerned about how much time you're not spending on your work every day, StayFocused can help you change those habits in a flash.

 

FocusWriter

 

Finally, we have a productivity app strictly aimed at the writing process. Whether you're a blogger, copywriter or someone who just needs to sit down and bang out a document that's long that your average email or social media post, FocusWriter should definitely be on your download list.

With a full-screen view that covers up any other open programs and forces you to zone in on just the writing process at hand, this piece of software is definitely more "in your face" than Microsoft Word or your word processor of choice. Historically, this app was targeting creative writers and other full-time scribes and wasn't necessarily entrenched in the business world; however, several colleagues I know have used FocusWriter to great effect, so it could pay off for you as well.

 

No matter what kind of job you have or what company you work for, we all deal with distractions on the regular and, if it gets out of hand, can easily have our productivity at work dip as a result. There are plenty of app options available for free or a small fee online but the ones in this blog post have made a difference in my life so far - I hope they can do the same for you!

Want even more insight into the best software tools out there today? Check out our blog post about the top marketing-related tech you need to start using now!

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