I had originally intended to write this blog to kick off 2016! Twelve months & an epic number of distractions later, I’ve finally compiled my list of simple apps that I hope will help you focus as they have me. As a Master Procrastinator I’ve been on the lookout for tools that are rewarding (who doesn’t love an incentive?) and super easy to use. The last thing I need is another excuse not to be getting sh*t done.
Without further fluff and in no particular order – here are my top 5:
Ok I lied about the order. Forest is first because it is by far my favourite. It ticks all the boxes – it rewards, it is simple and it’s ridiculously good looking! The premise? Every time you want to focus, you pop into the mobile app to plant a [virtual] tree. The tree only grows if you can stop yourself from exiting the app within a predetermined [by you] time frame. Stay focused, you grow a tree. The tree gets added to your grove and the grove eventually expands into a forest. Get distracted and check Facebook – your tree dies. Or to be more accurate, YOU KILL IT. It’s the tamagotchi for focus and it’s got me captivated. The bit that really has me hooked though is that you also earn virtual coins for every time you focus and these coins can be used to plant real trees via Forest’s not-for-profit partner ‘Trees for the Future’.
Peak Mental Performance
What would your life be like if you were more motivated, your thinking were sharper, your attention more focused, and you had endless mental energy to burn?
The right cognitive supplement can do that. And that means you can go longer, get more done, and achieve your goals.
We’re very careful about anything we recommend. It must be effective, evidence-based, and safe.
The team behind Freedom recognise that time is your most valuable resource and have created a dashboard that works across all your devices (laptop, phone, ipad, etc). Using the dashboard, you set up a list of websites and apps that you tend to get distracted (your ‘blocklist’) and schedule ‘freedom sessions’ that take willpower out of the equation. At a predetermined [by you] time each day, Freedom will kick in and block you from all the sites and apps that get you distracted. I have to be honest, I’m not sure on the name though – ‘Freedom’ implies our distractions (namely the internet) have us enslaved… I’m not convinced that is the right representation but perhaps I’m nitpicking 😉
Ambient noises are known to help some people drown out any distractions, creating just the right atmosphere to focus and get creative. With that in mind, Noisli offers the opportunity to mix different sounds (such as fan, seaside & bonfire) to help create your ideal distraction-free atmosphere. Taking it a step further than other ambient noise apps, Noisli has also included a pomodoro-inspired timer to clock in and out of focused working blocks and incorporates some of the benefits of chromotherapy via a background colour generator.
Clutter creates distractions so Hocus Focus offers a simple solution. The tool will determine which windows have been inactive for period of time and automatically hide them – only leaving the apps you’re actually using visible. Apparently when you get distracted from a task you’re working on (an email from example) – it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus! In hiding useless potential distractions, this app will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
A desire to improve focus is most commonly pursued when looking to improve performance in a work environment but it is just as important to extend that focus to the things that matter outside of the office. Balanced was created to help you track the things you wish you did more often and motivate you to keep doing them. Through the use of iconography and simple charts that help users track their progress and work towards creating habits that make them healthier and happier, Balanced aims to inspire users to lead more fulfilling lives. This is my kind of mindfulness!
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