Tips and Apps for Focusing on What Matters


Finding focus in a demanding job and with many distractions at hand is a challenge. I find sometimes it’s easy to be tempted to visit a social media site. Or, I might ignore a pressing matter to spend time on something that’s not a priority.

However, with the right approach to your workday and a few low-cost tools, you might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish.

Use Distraction-Free Software

Apps for the Windows, Mac OS, and all major smartphone platforms are available that can help you clear out user interface clutter.

  • Cluttercloak and Isolator: These desktop software apps for Windows and Mac help you eliminate distractions by darkening your screen except the window you’re currently working on.
  • DarkRoom and WriteRoom: Available for Windows and Mac, these two word processing programs take over your entire screen, feature no buttons and offer very few text formatting options. Use them to focus exclusively on writing.
  • Browser Plugins: StayFocused for Chrome, LeechBlock for Firefox and Mindful Browsing for Safari enable you to specify websites to be blocked. Once installed, you might be surprised how often you encounter their website-blocking prompts.

Don’t Let E-Mail Rule Your Day

As vital as it is to just about anyone’s job, spending needless time on e-mail can distract you from more pressing matters or interrupt the pace of your workflow.

  • Only Check Your E-Mail Periodically: Unless your work truly does center around e-mail, turn off all e-mail desktop alerts and don’t peek into your inbox at random. Instead, wait for intervals of 30 minutes or longer.
  • Designate a Time to Act on E-Mail: When I do check my inbox and I find e-mails that don’t demand an immediate response, I often leave them there. I won’t respond to them, add any Gmail labels, or archive them. Instead, I use a designated time each morning to take all appropriate actions for these messages.
  • Turn Off Social Media E-Mails: Don’t let new follower/friend requests interrupt your day and tempt you to waste time on social media sites. Instead, sign up for the free service NutShellMail, which will send you a daily digest of all your social media account activity.

Maintain a Task List or Other System

Use a system of one kind or another to keep track of your daily and long-term obligations and goals. Even if that system is not as complicated as Getting Things Done, for instance, you can still achieve focus by knowing what you need to do and what you should be focusing on at any moment.

  • Wunderlist: This free task management system is easy to use and remarkably effective. I use its web-based interface on my home and work PCs. Plus, its smartphone app is available for iOS and Android, so you can stay up-to-date whether you’re using an iPhone or a  T-Mobile best smartphone option.

Share Your Thoughts

We would like to know your ideas & tips on how you focus while working. Share the same in the comments below.

Guest Post by Ashlee

Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for ApronAddicts.com, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology and self-improvement.

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