5 browser tools to boost your efficiency and focus

Woman working at laptop

5 browser tools to boost your efficiency and focus

One of the most impressive things about digital technology is the speed at which it can transform from friend to foe. It often seems that no sooner do you acquire the laptop, phone, or tablet of your dreams, than you have to create byzantine rules to boost your efficiency and focus.

Luckily, in this case technology both giveth and taketh away. If you’re eager to free yourself from a self-made thicket of digital distractions, these tools are equally eager to give you a hand.

1. Kill News Feed

Even if it wasn’t playing uncomfortably loose with your personal data, Facebook would still earn a spot on our collective “enemies list” by sucking away a huge amount of otherwise-productive time. On average, Americans spend about an hour on Facebook per day, often lured in by the social network’s infinitely replenishing news feed.

If you can’t delete your Facebook account because you still need it for work or socializing, consider installing the Kill News Feed browser extension for Firefox and Google Chrome. This plugin allows you to keep visiting Facebook, but hides the news feed so that you can get in, get your work done, and get out without falling victim to distraction.

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Youtube distraction free

2. Distraction Free YouTube 

Google has spent millions making sure that once you start watching videos on YouTube, it becomes incredibly hard to stop. While watching one video:

  • The next video will autoplay,
  • You receive a list of custom-tailored videos on a sidebar to encourage further viewing, and
  • The platform serves you ads based on data it has harvested about your preferences.

These features have become so invasive that even tech employees themselves are turning to Distraction Free YouTube to discourage themselves from falling into a video hole. Turn on this browser extension to ensure that YouTube works for you, rather than the other way around.

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3. Block Site

Do you find yourself “distraction snacking” on certain websites when you should be working? The Block Site browser extension for Google Chrome (and the mobile app for Android phones) provides a great way to keep your business browsing and your pleasure browsing separate.

Simply choose the sites you want to block and the hours during which you want to block them, and Block Site takes care of the rest. This way you can still visit your guilty pleasures, without allowing them to carve a chunk out of your workday.

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Forest

4. Forest

Available as a Google Chrome extension, iOS app, and Android app, Forest turns focus into a pleasant game.

Tell the app how long you want to remain undistracted by your phone or computer, and the app will grow a “tree” that takes over your device’s home screen for that amount of time. All the trees you’ve grown in a single day are then viewable in a small, digital garden.

If you want to cheat and look at your phone before the tree has grown, the tree dies, and your garden is marred by a withered shrub. For such a simple, apparently low-stakes game, Forest can be surprisingly effective at making sure that you keep your hands off your device.

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5. Webmail Ad Blocker

Responding to emails can take up an embarrassing amount of your day as is, and the presence of distracting sidebar ads only makes matters worse. Webmail Ad Blocker can help streamline the communications process by getting rid of the ads in your email client of choice — be it Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or Outlook.

Say goodbye to distraction and hello to communication.

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Sarah Williams

Founder & director of 816 New York and passionate about all things strategy and unity.

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