The online content that constantly pops up on our phones, emails, and social media channels can be the most challenging part of a productive workflow. These distractions can be hard to avoid, particularly when you’re putting off a challenging or dull task.
Here are my top four picks for apps that can manage these kinds of workflow distractions, on your own terms.
Available on PC, Mac or Android, RescueTime provides an accurate snapshot of how you spend your time each day, to help you become more productive. Its goal setting tools, detailed reports about which websites and applications you spent time on, and productivity scores, help me spot inefficiencies in my day and become better at managing my time. It even lets you block distracting sites and set an alarm to tell you when you have spent more than two hours on a particular website.
Google’s inbox app helps you manage emails, maintain a cleaner inbox, and get closer to achieving inbox zero. Features I find helpful are snoozing non-urgent emails to revisit later in the day or the week, and goal setting tools to ensure you make time in your working day for important things like exercising, doing your expenses or grabbing that regular coffee with a colleague. Gmail also recently added a new ‘save to inbox’ option for sending yourself links. If you spot an article or website you want to look at properly later, you can just tap on the share button and save it to your inbox — letting you revisit all of those things you intend to read later but never get back around to.
Exercising self control can be near impossible, and the beauty of the Freedom app is that it does all of the hard work for you. The aim of the app is to make it easier for you to switch off from the distractions around you and get tasks done. It achieves with software allowing you to schedule block out periods for websites and emails on your phone, tablet or computer, preventing the temptation of online distractions.
Getting out of the office for an hour or two to work from a coffee shop can be one of the best ways to escape distractions and motivate yourself to power through your work. Getting away from your desk unfortunately isn’t always an option, but the Coffitivity app and a pair of headphones can be almost as good! Coffitivity recreates the sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work more productively. Available on web browser and an app, Coffitivity has a library of different tracks such as ‘morning murmur’, ‘Paris paradise’, and ‘university undertones’.
Gary Turner, Co-founder and UK Managing Director of Xero