10 Apps To Eliminate Distraction And Become Focus Driven

“Distraction destroys action. If it’s not moving you towards your purpose, leave it alone” ~Jermaine Riley

Whenever we work we often find ourselves battling one of our greatest enemies, distraction. It is that obstacle that keeps you from writing that essay, finishing that long-term project, or just stopping you from getting things done. It becomes even more difficult when we are living in an age where distractions are just a click away.

Despite how valuable the internet has become the endless cat videos and memes have made it far easier for us to procrastinate. Luckily, there are tools out there that work to combat against these distractions. Below are my picks for the top tools to make you the focus-driven worker you set out to be.

StayFocused

What Does It Do: Blocks Websites
Supported Software: Chrome

StayFocused has held it’s reign as one of the top contenders for website blocking, and for good reason. StayFocused is highly configurable, allowing you to block any websites in a domain or just specific sub-domains. You set the time for how long you want to block it when you want to block it. If you don’t want go cold turkey quite yet StayFocused also has the option to set how many times a day you can access a webpage before it blocks it.

Price: Free

BlockSite

What Does It Do: Blocks Websites
Supported Software: Chrome

BlockSite is the plug-in I am currently using to block distracting websites. While it may not be as configurable as StayFocused this plug-in is just as excellent for getting the job done. BlockSite allows you to create a blacklist of sites and provides a quick-add option to any site you wish to block.

One of the reasons I love this tool is the built-in search filter. Back when I was at the pinnacle of internet distraction I would go as far as Googling proxies to access my blacklisted sites. BlockList was just powerhouse tool I needed to help fully eliminate my distractions

Price: Free

LeechBlock

What Does It Do: Blocks Websites
Supported Software: Firefox

If you are a FireFox user, LeechBlock will be just the software you need to stay focus. This Firefox Add-On is quick and easy to install and takes seconds to set-up. Similar to StayFocused, this tool is very configurable, allowing you to set the times and days to block certain websites or redirect them to another site.

LeechBlock also features several customizable tabs to categorize how you want to block certain sites. If you want to go more hardcore you can change some of the advanced settings to make it impossible to unblock certain sites without reinstalling FireFox all together.

Price: Free

Focus Booster

What Does It Do: Blocks Apps, Distraction Websites
Supported Software: Mac, Windows

Focus Booster takes from the famous Promodoro Technique by allowing you to block applications for 25 minutes then gives you 5 minute breaks. Users will be able to set different types of tasks they want to focus on and what will need to be blocked during that time. Along with being able to block software, Focus Booster also allows you to track your sessions to see how you progress.

Price: Free for first 20 sessions, then costs $3-5/month

Self-Control

What Does It Do: Blocks Apps, E-mails, Distracting Websites
Supported Software: Mac

SelfControl is one of the more powerful software tools featured on this list. Mac users can download this program and set a timer to block E-mail Servers, Applications, and Websites. Once the software’s timer starts the blocker will not stop until time is up, even if you restart your machine.

Price: Free

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Time-Out

What Does It Do: Reminds You To Take Breaks
Supported Software: Mac

Unlike our previously software on the list, Time-Out doesn’t block distracting software. Users can set a time for how long they want to work on a task. Then, when the timer counts to 0, the screen will dim and a pop up notification will show up reminding you to take a break.During this break time, Time-Out users can type out anything on their mind while a progress bar appears below telling them how long the break will last. Time-Out’s break times can be configured to occur only on certain applications or during certain times.

Price: Free

FocusMe

What Does It Do: Blocks App, Distracting Websites
Supported Software:
Windows

FocusMe is an application similar to Self-Control. Users are able to make a list of different website and software they wish to block. A timer is then set making any of the listed items blocked until the timer reaches 0.

Price: 30-day free trial, Prices vary

Focus Lock

What Does It Do: Blocks Mobile Applications
Supported Software: Android

Focus Lock follows similar mechanics as Focus Booster. Once enabled, Focus Lock will block any applications for 25 minutes then provide 5 minute breaks. All you need is to add your applications to the black list and set your working times. If you try to open up the application during the block time you will see a App Locked screen.

Price: Free

Forest: Stay Focused

What Does It Do: Prevents You Using Your Phone
Supported Software: Android, iPhone

Recently release to the iTunes store, Forest: Stay Focused, has been an amazing game to help mobile users stay focused. The game’s mechanics are simple, you plant a seed and must wait 30 minutes for the seed to grow. Once the 30 minutes are up the plant will grow into a tree and can be planted in a plot of land. However, if you leave the app before the timer runs out the tree will wither away. A clever way to prevent users from touching their phones to check Facebook or play Games.

Price: Free

White Noise Free

What Does It Do: Provides White Noise
Supported Software: Android, iPhone

A lot of these items on the list have been software that is used to blocked distracting websites and software. White Noise Free works to block another distraction: A noisy workplace environment. This mobile app has over 40 different sounds that help mask any noises around you to create a quiet space. To get the best effect I would recommend using this application with headphones.

Price: Free

Have a favorite tool that wasn’t featured? Let me know in the comments!

Run From Zombies With Zombies Run!

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I’ll be the first to admit that my motivation for many of my runs was not simply to stay in shape but to assure I’m in top physical condition for the Zombie Apocalypse. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that there is an App out there that places you in the midst of a Zombie Outbreak where you complete missions by running.

Zombies Run! is a Six To Start application that has garnered a lot of popularity among the running community. The app relies on gamification, using game playing elements to other areas of activity, for players to experience a simulated zombie environment to collect items, complete missions, and build towns to protect themselves against the zombie horde. I touched a bit upon my experience with Zombies Run! in my marathon training and mentioned just how enjoyable it was to be immersed in a fictitious story while jogging
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So what’s the story? You start off as a runner who just survived a helicopter crash. You are given the name, “Runner 5”, and must jog around to gather supplies and do rescue missions for the town of Abel. Listening to the mission’s dialog is pretty entertaining. Typically there are two narrators who guide you on your journey to both motivate and entertain you throughout the mission. The Radio Mode gives you two other wise-cracking narrators who play the DJ roles while making light about the apocalypse. You must venture to restore what’s left of humanity, defend yourself against enemies, and try to survive the endless swarm of zombies that surround you.

One of QuickMemo+_2016-01-22-15-42-23the great parts about this application is its ability to divide up your music’s playlist with the application’s audio. When you are not listening to any dialog throughout your run you are able to listen to music on a software music application, such as Pandora, or load songs directly from your playlist. Throughout your missions the story will pause the music to provide a narrative

When you aren’t running there’s a second half of the game to keep you busy. Whatever supplies you gather from your missions can be used to fortify the town of Abel to better withstand the horde. The more supplies you collect the more you can level up your town.

My favorite part of the application though is the Application’s GPS trackingQuickMemo+_2016-01-26-14-28-15 system. Unlike many running apps out there, this application will provide you markers for each mile ran. This became a great way for me to track my pace as it provided me total time ran each mile I hit. However, don’t rely on this application too heavily. On a cloudy day the GPS tracking can get pretty fuzzy and may tell you you hit your first mile in the impossible time of two minutes. For the most part, the GPS tracking provides a really accurate report of your run. Zombies Run! also logs all your runs from the beginning so you can look back at your progress.

If you really want to push yourself you can enable Chase mode where you’ll need to pick up the pace to avoid being taken away by zombies. In the chase mode a runner will need to sprint at least 20% their average pace for a solid minute to evade being zombie chow. A great option for those who wish to work interval training. For the individuals who are new to running, the Six to Start also has a Couch to 5k version that trains you up from novice to 5k runner.

Speaking of 5k Runs, if you are interested in competing in a race, Six to Start is hosting a Virtual 5k Race in late March. Thousands of runners will get exclusive running gear, such as a sweet Runner 5 Tee, and a Finisher’s medal. Come join many other runners on a quest to battle against Zombies.

Gamify Your Life With HabitRPG

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Back in April I talked about this fun little tool called Habitica, formerly known as HabitRPG, which I used to aid me in my marathon training. Midway through my training I found that while I was running for hours each week it felt ungratifying to see very little progression. I wished there was some way to track my work as stats to see how much I progressed.

This is where Habitica came to help. This application allowed me to log my tasks into a To-Do list. When I complete a task I gain experience(EXP) and gold. When enough EXP  is gained I leveled up and earned treasures and equipment along the way. This caused me to push myself to work on my To-Do’s a lot more to earn EXP. This idea of gamifying my life expanded to a lot more tasks that increased productivity. Not only was I getting more things done, but now it felt like doing work was helping me get better at the game.

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The basic mechanics of this game allows you to turn dallies, habits, and To-Dos into a skill-like system. You’re allowed to set the difficulty of each tasks to influence how much EXP and gold will be given to you when completing it. In the dallies column you will cross off tasks you would do on a daily basis. Your To-Do’s are tasks you can set to complete on a certain time limit. Your habits can be set as either positive or negative occurrences. If you do a positive habit you will earn gold, EXP, and Mana. If you complete a negative habit, you will lose health.

Pets2The game is set up so you can adjust to the mechanics before moving onto doing the more complicated features. The one that I really love doing is collecting items. As you progress through the game you will find that each completed habit will drop something such as potions and pet eggs. When you hatch an egg you will gain a pet to accompany you in your Habitica journey. Certain pets can also be unlocked through Quest which also reward you with EXP, gold, and equipment.

If wish to partner up with some buddies, Habitica allows you to take work Bosson your quests  in a party. Together you can work with other Habitcans to fight bosses, collect items, and work on your habits together. If you want to socialize with other like minded people you can join a Guild that have people interested in a range of activities such as exercising, programming, and video games. Guilds also offer challenges for a chance to collect Gems and unlock exclusive perks.

Habitica has definitely been a positive influence on my life. The ability to customize your work load to gain immediate rewards has made even the most daunting tasks far more enjoyable. If you’re looking on how to turn some of your more tedious routines into the game I would recommend checking out Thomas Frank’s article , from CollegeInfoGeek, where he applies Habitica to help build his workouts at the gym.

Whether you are trying to get into the habit of doing your projects, or just want to make your tasks feel more rewarding, Habitica can help you make it feel a lot more enjoyable.