A workplace with constant access to the internet can be a knife in the face of productivity, and a total nuclear disaster for any actual deadlines. Here are a few tools to help you stay on track and on time.
You’re very easily distracted by pretty much everything on your computer. That’s not a terrible thing most times — it’s on there because you enjoy interacting with it, after all — but it’s trouble when you’re on deadline. A free app called Think can help with that by blacking out (or dimming) every app but the one you’re working in. That way you can keep an organised virtual workspace without being distracted by what’s happening in this window over here. Free
If you work in a noisy office, you probably need to block out your surroundings. But if you’re also not the type of person who can work efficiently while listening to music, you’re a little screwed. Earplugs are a good solution, but it can look a little rude using the big industrial orange ones; they’re basically a huge flashing sign that everyone around you is too annoying.
You can use a big pair of on or over-ear headphones to block the noise without actually listening to anything, or you can get a pair of ear plugs that look like headphones, like these V-Moda Faders, but are actually just shutting your dumb co-workers up for you. $US15
If you have something to write, you’re probably working in Word or a Google Doc or some other similarly and counterproductively distracting application. That’s why I love Writer for its no-nonsense, barely-customisable text editing. Anything that needs to be formatted can either be done after a paste or manually coded if that’s more your fancy. There are similar apps for Windows, or others for Mac, but there is something to be said for not worrying about how big your fonts are or if this word should be italicised and just writing the words you’re trying to write. $US3
Anti-Social/StayFocused (Productivity Apps)
This is the single hardest part of working in front of a computer all day: You have a infinite distractions in front of you, and it’s up to you to control yourself. Especially if your firewall is relatively lax. One solution is to employ an app like Anti-Social to stop you from visiting those troublesome websites during work, be it Twitter or Facebook or ESPN or whatever (BUT SERIOUSLY, NOT GIZMODO). Another is to get an app to just limit your time on them, like StayFocused. Because self-control is for suckers. $US15 (Anti-Social)/Free (StayFocused)
If your job doesn’t require you to be online to communicate or access assets, you should probably just ditch the whole damn internet until you’re done with your project. You can use Freedom or similar apps to turn off your computer’s networking capabilities for blocks ranging from a few minutes to eight hours. $US10
This one’s courtesy our friends over at Lifehacker. A good trick is to set up a stopwatch with a very rough estimate of how long something should take you. By the time the timer goes off, you should be close to done. Take a few extra minutes (if you need them) to finish, and you’ll be able to speed through the rest of your project as your brain is in “this is almost done” mode. $US9
Top image: Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.