By Michael Quoc
Staying on task and being productive – especially in a work setting – is becoming increasingly difficult in the online age. Between emails, push notifications, and the ever-inviting temptation of the web itself; it can be difficult to stay focused.
These extensions plug right into your Chrome browser and follow you around the internet to help you efficiently complete various tasks. There are thousands of extensions available, including everything from games, to live news updates, to an extension that replaces each “new tab” page with animated cartoon cats. And you can browse them all on the Chrome Web Store.
Or, in the pursuit of glorious, streamlined, productivity (which is what we’re all here for, isn’t it?): just check out these five Google Chrome extensions that are sure to get you back on track.
Stay focused by rewarding each work session with a small break
Strict Workflow enforces distraction-free work and rewards you with small break intervals – every 25 minutes of uninterrupted work is followed by 5 minutes of down time. Based on the principle known as “The Pomodoro Technique,” which emphasizes periods of work broken up by short breaks, Strict Workflow takes things one step further by literally blocking out distractions.
The extension comes preconfigured with a list of common distracting websites (Facebook, Reddit, Hulu, etc.) blacklisted while the 25-minute work timer is ticking. Clicking the tomato in the toolbar starts the timer, and an alarm alerts the user when the timer has expired. The tomato then turns green to indicate a break has started.
Any website can be blacklisted by Strict Workflow, so there’s no reason (excuse) to be wasting time on the web. On the other hand, for you social media gurus out there, you can also whitelist just the websites you need while you work.
Procrastinators beware: once the 25-minute timer starts, there’s no way to stop it without disabling the extension in Chrome settings or closing your browser. Strict Workflow is free to install and has a 4/5 star rating in the Chrome store.
Gamify your productivity – grow a virtual tree by staying off distracting sites
With Forest, a budding sapling depends on your self-motivation to grow into a big, beautiful tree. Every time you start working, the productivity app plants a virtual tree. It takes 30 minutes of uninterrupted work for the tree to grow full size.
If you last the entire half hour, you plant your tree in a field and eventually grow a forest. Beware though, if you wind up on one of your blacklisted sites during that time, the tree dies.
It is easy to customize which websites you want to blacklist or whitelist. You can also adjust the timer for a shorter or longer work period. Working off the principles of gamification, Forest encourages you to be productive by rewarding you for staying on task.
However, if a virtual forest isn’t enough of an incentive, Forest partners with Trees for the Future to plant real trees on Earth. All the more reason to get plugged in and get down to business.
This extension gives us serious Farmville vibes, and reviewers agree that cultivating a forest and unlocking various tree species is pretty cool. Forest is a free Chrome extension. Get it here and start growing productivity today.
Maximize productivity with Toggl’s 85+ project management integrations
Toggl works with your favorite productivity tools, tracking the amount of time spent on projects by a team or individual. It’s integrated with popular project management platforms like Drupal, Salesforce, Slack, Basecamp, and more.
A start timer button appears inside supported tools. There’s also a desktop dashboard that syncs with the Chrome extension for advanced features.
If the website you’re visiting does not integrate with Toggl, you can still start a timer by highlighting a piece of text and right-clicking it.
Toggl offers other features that increase productivity, like a Pomodoro timer which reminds you to take a short break after a period of work. It also has idle detection, which alerts you of a period of inactivity while the timer was ticking.
Toggl has a 4.5/5 star rating in the Chrome web store. Install it now to start efficiently managing your time spent across projects.
Eliminate wasted time with StayFocusd
Instead of blacklisting time-wasting websites right out of the gate, use StayFocusd to allot a small amount of time to spend browsing the web. Once that time is used up, blocked sites become inaccessible for the remainder of the day.
Before you shake your head, StayFocused IS the most customizable Chrome extension on this list. Users can blacklist or whitelist entire sites or drill down to certain subdomains, pages, and even in-page content. And yes, users can block websites for any duration of time – one hour, 2 days, three weeks. Plus, it remembers your preferences to avoid constant rekeying.
There is also a feature called the nuclear option that overrides your presets for a designated amount of time.
StayFocusd is totally free and Chrome web store users gave it a 4.5/5 star rating.
Add websites to Block Site and totally remove temptation
If timers or trees just aren’t cutting it, completely eliminate distractions with Block Site. When you type in a blocked URL, this Chrome extension automatically redirects you to a special landing page or a defined redirect page.
Block Site also filters by keywords. Anytime a predetermined keyword appears in the URL, you get a visit from Mr. Wips, their mascot. You can also determine active hours, like during the workday or school day, to increase productivity.
Block Site has a 4.5/5 rating. You can download it free and get basic features, or pay $4.99 for a pro version.
In this crazy online world of social media, email, and notifications as far as the eye can see, sometimes you need a little something to keep you on track. Any of the Chrome extensions on this list offer a great way to tune out the distractions and keep your productivity on track.