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10 Most Practical Apps for Focus and Productivity

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Lifehack's Editors Hand Picking the Best Products to Improve Your Life
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One area that many people currently struggle with is staying focused while working. There are so many distractions that it can be difficult to keep your attention on the task at hand. Social media and other online pursuits can make it even harder to finish your tasks and do a great job. Fortunately, there are many apps for focus that can help.

10 Best Apps for Focus

Here are 10 apps that will help you to improve your mental focus and be productive.

1. StayFocusd


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    The StayFocusd online app is available for Chrome users and can be installed as a Chrome extension. When you do, you will select the websites that are your biggest time wasters and set the amount of time you are allowed on these sites during the day. Once you use up your time allotment, those sites will be blocked so you can concentrate on working.

    Price: Free

    2. Lumosity

    If you feel like your attention span is shrinking and that you do not have the memory that you used to, you should consider signing up for online brain games that are designed to help you improve your mental focus. Lumosity is one game that is designed to help you improve your brain function as you play every day and acts like a personal trainer for your brain.

    Price: Free for limited access, $15/month for full access

    3. Self Control

    Image result for self control chrome extension

      This free Chrome extension is a great way to really focus on the task at hand. Self Control blocks access to set websites that you feel you spend too much time one. Its distraction-free mode prevents you from removing block patterns from the app for a fixed amount of time, which is great if you have a tight deadline or you need something to help you resist the urge to wander away from your work.

      Price: Free

      4. Serene

      Image result for serene app

        This macOS app is one of the best apps for focus, as, beyond allowing you to block distracting sites for a certain amount of time, Serene asks you to set a goal each day. You can also choose to play optional concentration music to help you focus even more.

        This app is really a productivity system and seeks to promote deep work to help you get more done.

        Price: $4/month

        5. Forest

        Forest is an app for focus that is generally used on smartphones, but you can also access it as a Chrome extension. When you use Forest, you will plant a tree seed that, over the next 30 minutes, will grow into a beautiful tree. However, your tree will wither away if you give into temptation and begin to browse any of the websites on your Blocklist.

        This app offers a sense of achievement and visual reinforcement in the form of a forest that continues to grow the more you focus on what’s in front of you.

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        Price: Free

        6. Freedom

        Many of the apps on this list are somewhat limited as they only work on the device you’re using at a given time. Freedom is different as it allows you to block distractions—both websites and apps—on all of your devices, simultaneously. This helps you resist the urge to jump over to your phone if you really want to check Facebook but it’s blocked on your computer.

        With Freedom, you can also set up as many blocklists as you want, then start or schedule a session for a certain period of time. There’s also a lockdown mode, which makes it impossible to edit your blocklists while a session is active. All of these features make for great productivity sessions, where you will actually get things done.

        Price: Premium starts at $6.99/month

        7. Cold Turkey

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          If you need an app for Windows or macOS that is extra strict and will keep you on task, no matter how many times you say “please,” Cold Turkey is for you. It comes with a default distraction list of distracting apps and websites, or you can customize your own; you can even block the entire internet if you want! 

          To keep yourself from caving to urges, you can lock your block with a password, between a time range everyday, until a restart, during scheduled blocks, or after typing in a customizable amount of random text.

          Because this is a system-wide tool and not just a browser extension, you can’t work around it by changing browsers. There’s even a special setting that blocks your computer entirely, which is great if you promised your family a work-free weekend!

          Price: Free for Basic Plan, $39 Pro plan with unlimited blocking and scheduling

          8. Remember the Milk

          Image result for remember the milk app

            Remember the Milk is a to-do list app for focus that helps you remember what you need to get done and when. The app makes defining new tasks and subtasks easy, allowing you to enter your task’s properties in one line, including due date, priority, repeat, tags, and more. You can choose to receive reminders via email, text, IM, Twitter, and mobile apps, meaning you’ll never overlook another task.

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            If you often lose focus and forget what you should be working on, Remember the Milk is a great way to get back on the path to productivity.

            Price: Free

            9. RescueTime

            Image result for rescue time app

              RescueTime at its core is a productivity tracker, but it includes features that also allow you to “turn off” distracting websites. Even with a free lite plan, you’ll receive productivity reports that show how much time you spend on productive tasks and how much time you’ve devoted to sites you label as distractions.

              When you’re able to see exactly how much time you are spending on certain sites, you’ll be more likely to challenge yourself to lower that time and focus on what really matters, which is what makes this app so valuable.

              Price: Free for Lite, $12/month for Premium

              10. Noisli

              Noisli is one of the best apps for focus if you work at home, but it can also work for those who are in an office environment if you have headphones handy. Noisli allows you to mix different sounds to create a sound environment that helps you stay focused. Whether you like the sound of a thunderstorm or the gentle hum of the forest, Noisli has it.

              This is especially useful if your natural environment includes annoying sounds, such as traffic, screaming neighborhood children, or chatty coworkers.

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              Price: Free for Basic (16 sounds), $10/month (28 sounds, 1 user), $24/month (28 sounds, 2 users)

              Bottom Line

              Whether you need a to-do list app to help you with task management, a website blocker to help you resist the urge to let your mind wander, or a sound app to create an ideal work environment for focus, each of the featured apps for focus can help.

              Identify what is causing you to get distracted each day and choose the app that is most likely to help. You’ll be amazed and how much more you get done each day.

              Featured photo credit: Surface via unsplash.com

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