Between researching and writing this article, I’ve checked Facebook at least five times, Instagram ten times, and Snapchat too many times to count. No joke. My urge to see what the rest of the world is up to served as a constant distraction and broke my concentration. Plus, it took me way longer to write this article than necessary. But, alas I somehow still (barely) made my deadline.
What I really could have used was an application that blocks social media from both my phone and computer. Luckily, some geniuses out there have developed a handful of apps that do just that. It’s clear that I’m not alone in getting sucked into the deep black hole of procrastination and social media. If you’re anything like me, it might do you some good to turn on one of these apps to stop using, well, other apps for at least an hour or two.
This app hones in on mindfulness by allowing you to block what distracts you most: social media, games, and even text messages. You can also break down what you can and can't access for specific times like Work, Family, or Me Time, making it even easier to separate work and play. The app even shows you how much you use your phone and specific apps, which might be a huge, much-needed wake-up call.
Moment tracks how much you use your phone or tablet each day, and the results can be alarming. Once you know how much you're using certain apps, you can set daily limits and get a notification or force yourself to stop procrastinating with a flood of notifications. It’s annoying but it does work. There’s even a “Moment Family” option, which allows you to track your family's usage—and even set limits during dinner or homework time.
For those of us who need a huge push when it comes to cutting back on screen time, Flipd may be the right app for the job. Once you lock certain apps on your phone for a set period of time, there’s no going back. You might be able to disable other apps by restarting your phone, but not Flipd, making it the ultimate distraction stopper. It might sound intense, but once you get your work done, you’ll definitely be more appreciative of the time you spent distraction-free.
This app works for your phone, tablet, or computer, allowing you to block any distracting websites, apps, or even emails. Freedom uses a VPN to stop these apps from receiving new content and flooding you with notifications. According to the site, since the VPN never connects to a server, your browsing information will never leave your phone, making your data secure and private.
AppBlock allows Android users to temporarily block distracting applications on their phone, giving them more time to focus on things that actually need their attention. It’s one of the simpler apps we found and won’t track your usage. But you can still schedule specific times to lock yourself out of certain apps to prevent distractions before they happen.
Your computer is the greatest machine to get work done, but it's also the biggest source of distraction. SelfControl is an app for MacOS that allows you to block access to websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the internet. By creating a blacklist of sites and choosing a set amount of time to block, you’ll improve productivity until the time is up. Warning: During this time you will be unable to access what you blocked—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.
7. Cold Turkey
Personally, the only way I can actually stop a bad habit is by quitting cold turkey. That’s why the Cold Turkey browser extension is a great choice. You’re able to choose specific time limits to block web pages, the entire internet, or even your whole computer. There’s also a writer feature that forces you to finish your paper before you can do anything else, which is especially great for students and writers alike.
Like most other apps, FocusMe allows you to block certain websites and apps for a limited time—or forever, if you’re really trying to avoid something. To add even more productivity, FocusMe reminds you to take breaks every so often. Parents can also use the app to set a limit on their kids' gaming time as well as control what sites they’re allowed to visit.
Writers rejoice! For those of us who get distracted by all the options on your computer, WriteRoom may be the perfect alternative to a Word document. The app creates full-screen writing environment so you can better focus on getting words down. There’s also a variety of themes to choose from to create your ideal writing station.
Sometimes you need a little motivation to be productive. Focus is an app that blocks distracting websites such as Facebook and Reddit on all browsers for a certain amount of time. When you do try to visit these sites, a motivational quote appears instead—giving you that extra push to actually get your work done.
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