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Online Resources To Help You Stay Highly Focused At Work

Online Resources To Help You Stay Highly Focused At Work
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Technology provides access to just about everything we can imagine — but that instant gratification is a double-edged sword. When it comes time to buckle down and get to work, it can be difficult to stay distraction-free and keep our minds from wandering.

According to one study, our minds wander 47 percent of the time. Combine this with noise and other distractions around the office, and it should come as no surprise that the average office worker is disrupted every 11 minutes.

Luckily, there are several online resources that can help you silence the chatter, eliminate distractions, boost productivity, and stay focused at work.

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Start the Day off Right with 7-Minute Workout

Exercise is good not only for your physical health, but also for your memory and ability to focus. For many of us, hitting the gym in the morning before work isn’t possible. With the 7-Minute Workout app for iPhone and iPad, you can get your heart pumping in just a few minutes, track your activity, and set goals. The basic version of the app is free to download, but you can pay to upgrade and access various other features, including alternate workouts.

    Avoid Internet Browsing with SelfControl

    Whether it’s Facebook, a blog, or email, we all have our online Kryptonite that distracts us from getting any work done. SelfControl, a free, open-source OS X app, can fix this. With SelfControl, you can set a timer and block selected websites and mail servers, which is great for when you are on a deadline. Set a timer for four hours and you won’t be able to access your “blacklisted” sites — even if you restart your computer.

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    Focus Booster

      Master the Pomodoro Technique with Focus Booster

      The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that breaks down work into intervals of 25 minutes, followed by five-minute breaks. This is believed to improve concentration and mental agility. The Focus Booster app is based on this technique, helping you manage your time and dedicate specific time increments to projects. After a free 15-day trial, Focus Booster costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year.

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        Write Without Distractions with FocusWriter

        When you are on a deadline and falling prey to writer’s block, even the battery icon and clock on your toolbar can prevent you from focusing on the page. FocusWriter is like a full-screen Microsoft Word, eliminating all distractions. You can look at only the page on which you are working. Available for both Windows and Mac, FocusWriter is free to download.

          Relax to Ambient Sounds with Soundrown

          Silence isn’t always conducive to productivity. While breakroom chatter or a silent office may work for some, others require the fine balance between sound and noise. With Soundrown, you can choose the type of ambient sound that best helps you focus and boost your productivity. Currently, the free-to-use website offers 10 different options that range from Coffee Shop to White Noise.

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            Find Your Center with Mental Workout

            Sometimes, we need to embrace our inner hippie and meditate. Meditation can increase your ability to concentrate by helping you relax, de-stress, and clear your mind. For new practitioners, meditation can be harder than it looks. The Mental Workout app, which was designed by a meditation teacher and psychotherapist, offers an eight-week guided meditation program for beginners. It also has more advanced options for experienced practitioners. Along with inspirational talks and body scans, the app is well worth the $1.99 download fee.

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              Conclusion

              Beyond using apps that help you focus, set yourself up for success by using the right tools. Make sure your computer is running efficiently and that you are regularly backing up your files. You may also consider investing in a good set of headphones when you need to drown out office noise. Lastly, don’t forget to ensure that your Internet connection is fast enough for your productivity needs. Videos that take too long to buffer and delayed website load times can quickly distract you from the task at hand.

              By staying focused at work and using apps to boost your productivity, you can get more accomplished in less time. Start by trying some of these tools at your place of employment to see which ones work best for you.

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              Last Updated on July 21, 2021

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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              No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

              Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

              Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

              A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

              Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

              In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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              From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

              A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

              For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

              This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

              The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

              That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

              Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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              The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

              Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

              But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

              The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

              The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

              A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

              For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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              But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

              If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

              For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

              These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

              For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

              How to Make a Reminder Works for You

              Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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              Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

              Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

              My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

              Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

              I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

              More on Building Habits

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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              Reference

              [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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