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Be More Productive Online With 7 Google Chrome Start Page Extensions

Be More Productive Online With 7 Google Chrome Start Page Extensions

      What’s the first thing you do when you start up your web browser? If you’re like me, you’ll see a number of tabs from the last time you were browsing. Or perhaps a single homepage.  Many of us take the time to customize these options, because we have certain preferences for what we like to see when we first get down to browsing.

      Now let me ask you another question – what do you see when you open a new tab? Many people don’t customize this, and see the default that comes with their browser. The Google Chrome Default New Tab “Speed Dial” Page is nice, and I personally prefer it to having a blank new tab (which was what I had for a long time with Firefox).  However, I wasn’t completely satisfied with it – so I went looking for different options to customize it.

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      In this article, I’ll show you some different extensions to customize your new tab/start page – as well as reveal to you my personal favorite.

      Empty New Tab Page

          • What Does It Do? Replaces your chrome default new tab with a totally blank page.
          • Why Is It Cool? Don’t want everyone to see your speed dial page?  Constantly tempted with your  favorite websites when you’re working? Go back to the good old days of blank tabs.
          • Where Can I Get It? Check it out, Empty New Tab Page.

          New Tab With Google Tasks

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            • What Does It Do? Replaces your chrome default new tab with your Google Tasks.
            • Why Is It Cool? Need regular reminder for what you have to work on?  Check out this extension, and you’ll see your tasks all the time.
            • Where Can I Get It? Check it out here: New Tab To Tasks.

            New Tab With Clock

              • What Does It Do? Replaces your chrome default new tab with a page showing just the time, or the time and the current project you are working on.
              • Why Is It Cool? Never lose track of time mindlessly web browsing again! You’ll constantly be reminded what time it is.
              • Where Can I Get It? Comes in two varieties, the simple one you see above:  New Tab with Clock and New Tab With Clock and Current Project Entry (which includes a text box for a single task or project you are working on).

              New Tab Favorites

                • What does it do? New Tab Favorites replaces the chrome default new tab with a page listing your selection of websites.
                • Why Is It Cool? You can easily manage the list to fit it to your own needs.  You may be able to do this with the regular Google Chrome page, but some may prefer the interface of this extension.
                • Where Can I Get It? Check it out here: New Tab Favorites.

                Fav4 New Tab Page

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                  • What Does It Do? A beautiful, simple new tab that shows large icons for 4 sites that you specify.
                  • Why Is It Cool? Most of us visit the same websites over and over. This provides a simple way to navigate to those common websites, and you can even use keyboard shortcuts (1,2,3,4).  Did I mention it looks great?
                  • Where Can I Get It? Check it out here, Fav4 New Tab Page.

                  Incredible StartPage – Productive Start Page for Chrome

                    • What Does It Do? A beautifully designed, powerful start page featuring your bookmarks, recently closed tabs, and even a little area to leave yourself notes.
                    • Why Is It Cool? Contains the most options of any start page I’ve seen, and looks great to boot. Currently my favorite start page.
                    • Where Can I Get It? Check it out here, Incredible Start Page.

                    Things To Do

                      • What Does It Do? A simple extension that replaces the new tab page with a to do list. Add it and watch your productivity soar!
                      • Why Is It Cool? No fancy graphics or widgets to distract you, this intuitively designed start page helps keep you on task.  This is the start page I used for a long time, to help me keep track of short term tasks as I was browsing/researching.
                      • Where Can I Get It? Check it out here, Things To Do.

                      Customize Your New Tab to Any Page

                      There are a variety of start pages out there, and you may prefer to set your new tab page to something else entirely.  There are a number of different options for that, you can check some of these out to find one you like:

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                      What Do You Think?

                      What are your thoughts? Do you care about what your new tab shows? Any extensions or options you’d like to share?

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                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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