You try to finish that assignment, business report, or another task that needs your attention, but looking in on Facebook or checking your emails is just too tempting. Next thing you know, the whole day is gone and you still haven’t started that task you need to do. It happens to everyone. Staying focused is never an easy task, especially when there are a thousand and one ways you can get distracted on your computer, laptop or tablet, and all are (most likely) more interesting than what you need to do.
There are a lot of different browsers out there, but in this article we’re going to look at the two big ones, Chrome and Firefox. Both of these browsers have some excellent web extensions that you can use to help you stop the procrastination and keep focused.
It’s always difficult finding the time right there and then to read a good article or watch a video. The Pocket extension allows you to save content from the web so you can view it offline or in aeroplane mode from any device when you do get the chance. To help keep it organised, you can filter your view to display only articles, videos, images or specific tags you have provided. Available for both Chrome and Firefox.
A similar extension is Diigo, which in addition to saving content, also lets you highlight web pages and PDF’s, add sticky notes, and organise the links into a personal library, which you can then share.
Similar to spellcheck but constantly running in the background, Grammarly checks your spelling and grammar as you type, no matter where on the web you are writing. Updating your LinkedIn page? Sending out an email? No problem, Grammarly has your back and will make sure you use the correct spelling whether you are using American and British spelling.
It’s available for both Chrome and Firefox, but you can also get it for MS Office, so it’s great if you are typing up your work in Microsoft Word. While not currently compatible with Google Docs, you can upload and check the document in the online editor or try ProWritingAid as an alternative.
Particularly useful for students with subjects that demand a high number of references, Mendeley makes creating a bibliography and inputting the proper citations a lot easier to manage, not to mention a lot more efficiently. Automatically pulls all the reference information you need such as the author’s names and year of publication. Save references and PDFs from the web to an online library which is accessible from the web, your desktop or mobile device. Available for both Chrome and Firefox.
- Checker Plus for Google Calendar
Save time and stay on top of your commitments and appointments with Checker Plus for Google Calendar. This handy little web extension allows you to open a preview Google Calendar and quickly see what appointments you have ahead of you for the day, week or month without changing tabs. Add appointments, change dates, create reminders, or edit multiple calendars all from the web extension. Additional features are available (such as inserting a custom background image, adjusting font size, greying out earlier dates…etc) but these do come at a price. Available for Chrome and Firefox.
- Last Pass
It’s not uncommon to struggle to remember all of your different passwords and usernames. It can all be a little overwhelming and waste your time typing in the wrong details, hoping that it’s one of the passwords you vaguely remember. LastPass for either Chrome or Firefox saves all your passwords, automatically logs you on to websites and automatically fills out forms. Organise your password and login details into separate folders with specific notes in your password vault. All you have to do is remember the one master password to access the secure database.
- Be Limitless
Keep track of your to-dos and find out how productive you’ve been for the day with BeLimitess. This complete self-improvement tool allows you to create goals and reminders, set a countdown, and provides a detailed analysis of how you are spending your time online. Every new tab you open in your browser starts with an inspiring image, motivational quote and an overview of just how much time you are spending on particular websites. A notepad is available for you to quickly jot down any ideas or thoughts you have in the moment.
A nice alternative is Momentum which offers some similar features to BeLimitless (inspiring background images, motivational quotes, to do list) but includes an area for you to type a single goal you want to focus on for the day.
The closest equivalent for Firefox users is PageAddict which follows what websites you are spending the majority of your time on and then creates an easy to read graph.
Similar to only allowing yourself to eat 2 pieces of chocolate instead of the whole block, Stay Focusd lets you indulge a little but limits the time you spend on distracting websites such as Facebook and YouTube. It’s great for overcoming procrastination and improving productivity. It also allows you to track tasks, organise your daily to-dos and shows you how you spend your time. This is especially great for when you have a particular task you just keep procrastinating and need to cut yourself off from distracting websites for a while.
If you’re looking for a Firefox alternative, try LeechBlock.
A nice and simple extension, but one that can help you clear the clutter and concentrate on your work. If you’re the type of person that always has dozens of tabs open, reduce the clutter with OneTab. This handy tool consolidates all your tabs into a list format in just one tab. By reducing the number of open tabs, it saves up to 95% of memory, so it’s great if you find your computer or laptop is running a bit slow. Available for both Chrome and Firefox.
If you’ve ever come to the end of the day and wondered where all your time has gone, you can use RescueTime to provide you with some pretty detailed analytics. This Chrome and Firefox extension tracks just how much time you spend on active tabs or windows, so you can build a clear picture of what you have done all day. For accuracy, you can pause or stop Rescue Time from monitoring your productivity if you need to step away from the computer for a meeting, phone call or a bite to eat. With some similarities to #7 on our list, Stay Focusd, you also have the ability to block distracting sites.
- Note Board
Somewhat similar to Pinterest, Note Board gives you access to a virtual board on your computer (Chrome or Firefox) or mobile device (Android or Ios). Organise your virtual sticky notes, save web pages to look at later (only available for Chrome or Firefox), create multiple boards for different topics or subjects, and share your boards with co-workers or other students. Particularly useful for jotting down that quick idea, quickly saving an image, link, or selection of text, with a visual reminder to use it later. Use this tool for study or research, it’s up to your imagination.
Central College Online is a part of the Group Colleges of Australia organisation which has been established for over thirty years and offers online courses in more than forty subjects to thousands of students.