Derail Distractions with These 5 Apps

March 26, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

Use these five apps to track your productivity and block the websites and apps that distract you most.

Take a moment to think about how many minor distractions pop up throughout your day. Answering a quick question from a veterinary technician, mindlessly checking your personal Facebook page for notifications, thinking about what you’ll make for dinner. Have you ever considered how these distractions affect your productivity, patient care or business profit?

In his book, Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization, Jonathan Spira estimated that interruptions and information overload eat up 28 billion wasted hours every year; and that was in 2011, way before Instagram and Candy Crush reached peak popularity.

But that’s not all. People are considerably less happy when their minds are wandering than when they’re not, regardless of what they’re doing. This is according to Matt Killingsworth, PhD, creator of trackyourhappiness.org — a scientific research project that uses smartphones to study happiness — who determined that while at work, your mind is wandering at least 50 percent of the time.

With documented evidence that we’re constantly distracted, and that distractions and daydreaming contribute to unhappiness, the question becomes: How can you break the cycle and regain control of your day? It may seem counterintuitive given that most distractions derive from technology, but there is a multitude of apps and programs to help you construct boundaries around your valuable time.

Here are five to get you started.

Focus Booster

Based on the Pomodoro Technique — breaking down work into intervals — Focus Booster uses a built-in timer to monitor and record designated sessions. Once the allotted time expires, which is typically 25 minutes, an alarm will let you know that it’s time for a brief break.

The free version allows up to 20 timed sessions per month. Paid versions are also available that offer 200 or unlimited sessions.Freedom

According to the company, Freedom users gain more than two hours of productive time each day by utilizing website, app and social media blockers to participate in what the company calls “freedom sessions.” The program allows you to start these sessions manually or schedule reoccurring blocks of time.

Freedom is available for Mac, Windows, iPhone and iPad, and for $2.50 per month, you can enable the program across all your devices. A free version is also available that covers a single device.Moment

Though only currently available for iOS, Moment automatically tracks how often you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you think you’re using your devices too frequently, Moment allows you to set daily limits and notifies you when you exceed them.

In addition to the main service, Moment Family lets you manage your family’s screen time from your smartphone and set up time for your entire family to be screen-free. An Android version of the app is currently in development.OffTime

OffTime was created around the premise that information overload is as unhealthy as junk food. The company’s goal is to provide users with tools needed to spend less time interacting with screens and more time engaging with people. Sound like something you might benefit from?

Available for iOs and Android (though the latter is more advanced), OffTime provides personalized analytics on your phone usage, enabling you to identify habits and set up filters to block specific, productivity-delaying apps.RescueTime

A unique take on time management, RescueTime monitors the time you spend on your smartphone or computer and tracks which websites you visit most. Available across Mac, PC and Android devices, the free version of the app provides you with a weekly email report of your activities along with a productivity score so you can plan how to increase efficiency in the week ahead. RescueTime also lets you set goals to keep you on track throughout the day.

For $9 per month, you can upgrade to the premium version, which includes the ability to block distracting websites and track time spent away from your computer or phone.