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Staying focused while on the job isn’t always easy. The modern office environment presents innumerable distractions. The fact that we’re always connected to the internet is a big one; it can be hard to resist the siren call of cat videos and top ten lists.

Fortunately, there are numerous software apps designed specifically to help avoid distraction and to stay focused while at work. Here are three of the best that we’ve found, for that purpose.


Stay Focused with StayFocusd

StayFocusd is an app which is available through Google’s Chrome Web Store. It’s free, although it is supported by donations. Unlike many popular apps, this one is desktop-friendly, and thousands of user ratings provide StayFocusd with an almost perfect five-star status.

The app’s function is simple: you add websites to a blacklist—but it doesn’t make you quit cold turkey. Instead, you get a set amount of time to spend on blacklisted websites each day. It’s simple, straightforward, and flexible; you can blacklist entire websites, specific subdomains, individual pages, or even individual elements (such as movies or flash games) on a page that you otherwise wish to retain access to once your time is up.

It isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a handy productivity booster that works well in combination with other tips to help keep yourself focused at work. If it turns out that StayFocusd isn’t for you, it’s as easy to deactivate and remove as any other Chrome extension.


TrackTime, a Productivity Monitor

Moving on from the productivity enforcement of StayFocusd, the next item on our list is TrackTime, which can be found in the iTunes App Store. It’s available for both the Mac and the PC. A highly functional one-dollar app, TrackTime doesn’t manage your time for you directly. Instead, it shows you how good of a job you’re doing managing it on your own.

TrackTime tracks and monitors the amount of time you spend on various tasks throughout the day, such as eating, or working out. You choose the tasks it monitors; the app provides assistance here, as it remembers activities which you’ve entered for previous days. The results of TrackTime’s real-time monitoring can be easily exported as a spreadsheet. TrackTime continues to work in the background while other apps are running, making it useful for monitoring one’s time with regard to individual activities online.

For freelancers and office workers, TrackTime is useful for monitoring how long it takes to complete a project—or for keeping an eye on just how much time you’re spending on websites you really shouldn’t be putting valuable working hours into. TrackTime can give you some idea of where to start enhancing your own productivity, and show you where your personal distractions come from.


FocusWriter Directly Reduces Distraction

So far, we’ve looked at an app that reduces the amount of time you spend on distractions at work, as well as one that measures just how much time you spend working. FocusWriter is a tool that helps you get writing tasks done with a distraction-free interface. FocusWriter may be downloaded from Gott Code, and it works on a variety of platforms (including Linux, Windows, mobile Windows, and Mac). The download is free, but the team is supported by donations.

FocusWriter presents an old-fashioned, rich-text word processor interface, while concealing all potential distractions behind an opaque backdrop. Even the current date and time are covered, so there’s nothing left to do but get your work done. To view other apps and elements in your workspace, you need to actively move your mouse to the edge of the screen. This gives FocusWriter the very same “power of distraction” that usually works against office productivity.

FocusWriter is easily personalized for your needs; it includes timers and alarms, a daily goal function, an auto-save feature, and multi-document support. It is directly compatible with other rich text editors, including Microsoft Word and Open Office. FocusWriter also features customizable themes for your working background, optional spell-checking, and even the option for old-fashioned typewriter sounds.


Need More Help with Productivity?

Follow the Novel Coworking Blog for more ongoing tips about maintaining workplace productivity. In the meantime, here are a few quick and easy tips for reducing the impact that distraction has on your daily productivity goals.