Tech Tip: 4 Apps that limit your online distractions at work

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Almost everyone struggles with succumbing to all sorts of online distractions, whether we admit it or not. Someone famously once said that you use the Internet to either save time (think online banking) or waste time – from our favourite blogs to social networking sites, we always find a way to waste our time away in front of our screens.

In the latest social media report released by Sensis, they confirmed what we all knew all along – Aussies spend 32% of their accessing social networking sites during work. If you find that you are becoming increasingly distracted at work, it‘s time to take some action! 

We’ve found some useful Apps that will increase your productivity by limiting the time you spend on these online traps: 

1. Take a Five. This is a simple tool developed by an engineer named Cole McCollum. It’s basically a self-destructing tab that will help everyone get the real job done!

Here’s how the application works: Go to their website. Set your preferred time limit for non-work related browsing. You may use their preset time (1 min, 5 min, and 10 min) or provide your own custom time.

Centrix - Take A Five

A new tab will then open where you can do your browsing. As soon as the timer stops, your tab will close so you can go back to work. The downside to this app is that it doesn’t support multiple browsing.

2. StayFocusd. This is a Google Chrome extension that sets timers on your time-sucking sites, then blocks them when the time is used up.

StayFocusd is also capable of blocking a site completely. To set up which sites to block, simply navigate to your favourite site, then click the StayFocusd button in your Chrome toolbar. A drop-down dialog appears with a link to Block this entire site. It will then be inaccessible for the rest of the day.

The app is highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc).

Centrix - Stayfocusd

What’s great about this tool is that it won’t allow you to remove a site from your block list once your time for the day has expired, nor will it allow you to change your allotted time for the day once it has expired. And, you can’t turn the extension off for the current day of the week.

StayFocusd also has a challenge feature which will require you to perform perfectly on a typing test before you can adjust any settings.

3. SelfControl. This is for Mac OS X users only. Just like the two previous apps, this free and open-source app blocks access to distracting websites, your mail servers, and anything you can access on the Internet. Specify the sites you want to block, set the timer slider to your preferred time, and click Start. As soon as the timer is set, the block will remain in place until the set time has elapsed even if you remove the app or restart your computer. 

Centrix - SelfControl

4. Freedom. This is one of the famous productivity apps used by well-known organisations like The Guardian, Time, and the Oprah Magazine, and high-profile personalities like Seth Godin today. Freedom will save you from the most distracting apps and websites. Whether you use Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android, or a combination, Freedom works on all your devices. You may avail of their basic plan which is free, or get their premium plans. What it does is it shuts down your Internet access for a specified length of time. If you’re done with your deadlines, you can reboot your computer or device to get back online.

Centrix - Freedom App

Sometimes all we need is some motivation and a little challenge to break a bad habit. With these internet blocking applications, you can ensure that your team stays focussed and will be more productive throughout the day.