If procrastination seems to be stealing your time, you’re not alone. As many as 20 percent of people procrastinate chronically and deliberately look for distractions, according to Psychology Today. This is especially true if you work or study online, where cat videos and memes can steal your attention away from what you should really be doing. Luckily, there are resources available to help you stay on track and complete your work. Here are the best desktop and mobile apps to help you build self-discipline and fight off procrastination.
SelfControl. SelfControl, a Mac OS X app, allows you to block your own access to websites, mail servers, or anything else on the internet. Simply set the timer for the period you want to block, and then add sites to your blacklist. Once you click the start button, you’ll be unable to access the blocked sites and programs – even if you reboot your computer or restart the program.
Procrastination Punisher. Procrastination Punisher also allows you to disable apps, websites and emails during certain periods, but it also lets you cheat now and then – for a price. If you decide to break the rules and check out a few YouTube videos or log on to another prohibited site, you will have to donate a predetermined amount of money to the charity of your choice.
Procraster. If you find yourself putting off urgent takes to accomplish lesser ones, you’re probably procrastinating, despite your productivity. The Procraster app is designed to help you overcome the procrastination mindset and refocus your energy. When you feel like procrastinating, open the app and select the mindset that matches your own. Examples include, “My task is too big,” “I don’t know where to start,” or “I have to be perfect.” Procraster will then offer advice to get you back on the productive track.
Squawk. Squawk is an Android-only mobile app that uses a reminder-based system to keep you on track as you go about your day. Create a to-do list in the morning, and Squawk will provide a pop-up box that displays your list every time you unlock your phone. Check off items as you complete them, or click ‘Snooze’ for a quick break from an in-progress list.
AppDetox.Can’t stop opening all those apps on your phone? AppDetox will help you resist. Simply create a ‘rule’ for each app you want to avoid, and then AppDetox will track your usage. Each time you violate one of your rules, the app will remind you to take a break, as well as track all of your violations in a log.
Forest. Whenever you want to concentrate, plant a virtual seed in the Forest app on your smartphone. If you can refrain from using your phone, the seed will gradually grow into a beautiful tree. If you cannot resist temptation and leave Forest to access other apps, the tree withers. In time, you can grow your very own Sherwood Forest – each living tree in the forest represents 30 uninterrupted minutes, whereas withered twigs depict those times your attention strayed.
Smartphones, tablets and computers have done wonders for learning, but they’ve also created plenty of temptations and potential distractions. Use these tools to help you minimize the noise and focus on the tasks in front of you.