- Self Control
Are there any distracting websites that you end up reading when you know you should be working? For me, I get sucked into reading sports news. I get addicted to the rumor mill of who’s going to be traded to which team and end up scrolling through swathes of comments from ‘experts’ who, truth be told, know about as much as I do about who’ll be changing colors next season.
Self Control allows you to pick certain sites and enter them into a ‘block’ list. You then enter a length of time of your choosing and begin the timer. No matter what you do during this time – including restarting your computer or even deleting the app – you will not be able to access the sites on your ‘block’ list until the time is over – freeing up your attention to focus on what you really need to do.
This app is only for Macs. However, a number of Windows-compatible equivalents are available, including Cold Turkey, Freedom and Anti-Social (the latter is specifically designed for blocking social media sites).
Toggl allows you to record how long you spend on tasks throughout the day, so you can better keep track of your time. You need to click a timer when you start working on a certain job and click again when you stop. Toggl will remind you when no time is being tracked (in case you forget to start the timer) and can also recognize idle time (in case you forget to stop it).
The app can also track across devices, so you could start the timer on your phone and stop it on your laptop.
A version is available for law firms, which helps lawyers charge clients accurately, or work out how much time lawyers are spending on admin tasks.
The purpose of Forest is to help you reduce the time you spend on your phone. Once you start the app, a ‘tree’ will grow on your screen. Activating your phone to browse the internet or check your messages will cause the tree to wither and die. Many people have found this motivates them not to touch their device so as to maintain their virtual garden!
In addition, Forest is partnered with the Maryland non-profit Trees For The Future, which has planted almost 800,000 trees across several African countries. Earn virtual coins in the app by maintaining your willpower, and spend them on planting real trees – what more motivation could you need?
Do you find that music helps you work? If so, you might appreciate Brain.fm, which is a music player that has four modes: ‘focus’, ‘relax’, ‘sleep’ or ‘meditate’. The app allows you to easily launch a music session that allows you to create the ambiance you need to block out distractions and keep concentrating. Noting here: you’ll have to pay to use it beyond the first five sessions.
Games are extremely absorbing – after all, that’s why they are such powerful distractions. Habitica harnesses the power of games, allowing you to use it to your advantage.
The app works by getting you to add tasks you want to achieve to a list. You have a character who ‘levels up’ when you successfully complete these tasks, or suffers damage when you don’t. Like a video game, you earn rewards as you go, which you can ‘spend’ on, for example, snacks or breaks. It’s a lighthearted way to add some additional motivation which game fans out there might just find makes a difference!
Whether you're working remotely or looking forward to your next legal positions - these apps will help you focus.