When you’re hard at work – and especially when you’re your own boss – distractions can be a killer. In a world where everyone is expected to reply to text messages, social media IMs, and emails moments after they’re sent, keeping your mind focused on work can be very tricky.
There are a lot of productivity apps and software out there that can help you focus on your work; however, they tend to be locked to specific operating systems which makes it annoying to find tools you can actually use. Online websites, however, can operate on a wide variety of computers, making them highly useful regardless of what device you’re using.
Here are five websites that will help you shake off the distractions and focus on your goals.
The Magic Work Cycle
To start with, a little something to keep your workflow in check. The Magic Work Cycle works on a simple principle – that people work better and more efficiently if they go for thirty minutes of work followed by thirty minutes of play. You work for half an hour solid without allowing non-critical distractions to stop you, then spend another half an hour doing zero work whatsoever. This gives you time to reply to emails and texts, check social media, or even fit in a small game.
The Magic Work Cycle website allows you to time these thirty-minute bursts automatically. When one cycle is over, a sound plays, and the next cycle begins immediately afterward. I enjoy using Magic Work Cycle either to focus on the work I need to complete or to ensure I am taking proper breaks to avoid burnout. If you disagree with the idea of a 30-30 cycle or if it doesn’t fit your workflow, you can change the times for each cycle using the sliders. You can change them to a custom time between one minute and two hours.
Coffitivity uses an intriguing way to keep your mind on your work. It was built based on the results of a study by the University of Chicago. It states that subtle ambience noise can help boost productivity. In light of this, the website comes with three long audio tracks recorded from within a cafe: a softer morning tone, a more bustling lunchtime rush, and the “scholarly sounds” of a University campus cafe. Should the research prove true, you can put one of these tracks on, and it’ll help you focus on your work.
If you’re particularly enjoying the sounds, Coffitivity also comes with a premium plan at $9 a year. This unlocks three more cafe audio scenes: Paris, Brazil, and Texas.
Are you the kind of person who enjoys doing endless quests and jobs in videogames, but the moment you have to get real work done your videogame productivity fails you? Perhaps the solution is to turn the projects you have in the real world into a game. This is the goal of Habitica (once called HabitRPG), where performing real-world tasks and habits helps you earn in-game rewards.
The idea is that you tell Habitica what you’d like to get done. Perhaps it’s something you’d like to do every day (draw a picture) or something with a set deadline (finish an assignment due in two weeks). Habitica then keeps track of which tasks you’ve set for what timeframes. If you complete a challenge that you’ve set for yourself, you can log on and tick the box to tell Habitica you did it. Habitica then rewards you with money and experience to help improve your character. If the deadline passes, and you didn’t tick the box, your character takes damage. Of course, you can always lie and say you did your tasks, but you’re only cheating yourself!
Probably the best features of Habitica are the groups. Like-minded people with a common goal in mind, from fiction writers to fitness enthusiasts, can band together in a group. People can cheer one another on, make friends and chat, and even set goals for the entire community to try to complete individually.
If none of the above encourages you to work, try putting your own finances at stake! stickK has a very simple premise: You first tell it what goal you’d like to achieve. Then, you have the option of assigning a trusted referee, such as a friend or family member, to make sure you’re achieving the goal. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you can tell stickK to take money from your bank account and donate it to charity if you fail. This can either go to a randomly assigned charity or a charity that supports a cause you’re against, such as a rival political party. They claim that assigning a monetary penalty for failing a task increases its success rate by three times; if you’re really desperate to get yourself going, this might be just what you need!
To top it all off, perhaps you’d like a word processor that blocks out all other distractions on your screen. If this sounds like something you’d like, then give ZenPen a try. At first glance it looks like a simple word processor, but when you click the fullscreen button on the left, ZenPen covers the entire screen with the page. This means you can type away without looking at browser tabs or apps calling for your attention.
As well as masking out all other visual distractions, ZenPen also has a few handy features. There’s a word counter if you’re trying to hit a goal, an option to invert the colours for a black page with white text, and the ability to save what you typed to your computer.
Sticking to It
With distractions coming at us from all angles, there’s a multitude of different ways to keep your eyes on the goal. Do you use any of these websites in your daily routine? Are there any you’d recommend? Or do you forsake apps and websites and go at it with self-drive alone? Let us know below.