Whether you need to study for the big exam or hammer out that TPS report, we could all use a little help when getting down to business. Unfortunately, some of the most effective tools for getting the job done are also some of our biggest distractions. Technology like our phones and computers can be portals to procrastination, no matter what age you are. Luckily, we can use that same technology in order to curb our basic instincts. There are a number of mobile apps available to help you get off social media and back to business.
1. Forest: Stay Focused
If resorting to blocking websites or shutting down your access to the Web seems like a bridge too far, but you still want to keep your wandering eyes in check, try Forest: Stay Focused (Android, iOS). This app takes a somewhat novel approach to keeping you on task by guilt-tripping you into it. Forest: Stay Focused is kind of like a Tamagotchi for getting things done. For those of you who are scratching your heads wondering what the heck a Tamagotchi is, basically, they were little virtual pets that you had to take of. Your neglect would cause them to die.
Forest: Stay Focused operates on a similar premise. The app starts users off with a tiny tree sapling that grows the longer you stay away from your phone. Sneak a peek at Facebook or scroll through your Instagram feed, and your tree will start to wither away. Users can whitelist sites to prevent their trees from dying when they legitimately need to use their phones. The best part is that the app is partnered with the organization “Trees for the future” to plant real trees based on user interaction. Forest helps you curb your phone addiction and is good for the environment!
If you are a follower of the Pomodoro Technique, then the Pomodone App (Android, iOS) is the one for you. Pomodone is an easy-to-configure productivity app that takes its cues from the Pomodoro technique. Users compile a to-do list and use the built-in timer to complete their tasks.
In addition to the timer, Pomodone features integration with a variety of services, including Evernote, Todoist, and more. This allows users to import tasks and to-do lists straight into the Pomodone app, letting them stay on top of their work, study, and life in general.
If you’re truly disciplined (or looking to be), using an app that controls every aspect of your interaction with the digital world is the way to go. That’s precisely where Freedom (Android, iOS) comes into play, providing a comprehensive solution for any digital platform.
Freedom works by letting you set up study sessions and associate all kinds of rules that activate automatically. You can block websites, apps, and on some platforms, you can even block the entire Internet. On top of that, you can access coffee shop sounds for focus, schedule your sessions in advance, add annotations for your sessions, and even lock up your device. Many of those features come free of charge, but you’ll need a subscription to unlock them all (starting at $2.42 per month, if you subscribe yearly).
Listening to soothing sounds while working or studying goes a long way toward maximizing your focus and productivity, and many apps promise to deliver just that. However, Noisli is one of the best options if you want a comprehensive system that produces soothing sounds. Noisli brings 28 high-quality sounds that you can mix and match. You can also customize the ringtones’ individual volume and create unique combinations.
Noisli goes beyond giving you access to soothing sounds. You can access curated playlists for different types of vibes and atmosphere, use oscillation to keep you focused while amplifying certain sounds, set up timers, and more. It even offers a minimalistic text editor that supports the Markdown syntax. You can get started for free, but to unlock everything Noisli has to offer, you’ll need to pay $10 per month (for annual subscriptions).
5. Self Control
Do you find yourself settling in to do some work only to end up watching cat videos or trawling through a social media feed? If so, you might say you were lacking a bit of self-control. Appropriately named, Self Control (iOS) is an inexpensive app for iOS that allows users to block pretty much anything on the Internet. Users can block specific websites, services, even mail servers, preventing access for a predetermined period of time.
Using SelfControl is super simple. Users add websites to their blacklist and set a duration of time. SelfControl will block access to those websites until the timer runs out. Only then will the app reinstate access to those sites, ensuring you stay focused on the task at hand. Unfortunately, Self Control is only available for iOS.