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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 August 16, 2018

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

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

                      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”.

                      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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                      The power of habit

                      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 six 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.

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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