Looking for more ways to stay focused when working online? If not, you most certainly should be. I write about productivity a lot because, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s one of the biggest downfalls for anyone working on the distracting Internet, without a boss or set hours to keep them in check.
Today I want to introduce a few cool online tools, all of them free to use, that you can leverage to keep yourself on track.
Source: flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
How exactly are you using your hours when you’re supposed to be working? Everyone begins with the best of intentions, but it can be easy to lose track of your wasted minutes.
Tracking them down to the last second can be a good way to figure out just where your time is going, and it creates accountability. Much like how dieters often get phenomenal results simply by tracking everything they eat for a while, being able to look at how your time is spent can create solid productivity results seemingly without trying.
RescueTime will automate the tracking process for you and then organizes them into statistics and graphs so you can instantly spot your most obvious inefficiencies.
2. Your Home Page
This one might sound simple but don’t let it fool you.
Did you know that you can set multiple home pages, so that more than one opens at once? Maybe it seems intuitive enough that it would be so but you just hadn’t really given it much consideration.
Well, it can be very handy to have your most important work pages open immediately when you go online.
For instance, as soon as I click on my Firefox icon, these pages all open for me: a spreadsheet tracking my daily habits; a list of my current projects and tasks, prioritized; a YouTube playlist I’ve put together with classical music, which helps get you in the zone and is less distracting then other music; and my SpeedDial page (see #3).
I could just open to SpeedDial, but I find having these pages actually open throws me right into the most important aspects of my online world so I’m ready to get to work. Even if you’re having a slacker day and go online for something else, your important websites will still open and sit there taunting you, reminding you that you’re not getting anything done.
It’s very effective.
This is actually a free add-on for my favorite web browser – Mozilla Firefox. SpeedDial creates a visual representation of your most visited sites so they are well-organized and easily clickable. You can set it to open every time you open a new tab and organize your favorite sites into handy little groups.
It’s hard to describe why this is so much more effective than a list of bookmarks until you’ve installed and tried it for yourself.
Are you losing the battle to social media? You’re not the only one…
It’s so easy to open up Facebook “just for a second” in another tab while waiting for a page to load. Or to pop into your favorite forum just to see if someone responded to a hot thread. And then suddenly hours have gone by with you completely sucked into online conversation, catching up and just waiting for new stuff to react to.
LeechBlock offers a nice solution. It’s another add-on for Mozilla Firefox that allows you to choose which sites you want blocked and when.
This is a cool website based on a productivity system used by Jerry Seinfeld (and oddly similar to the one discussed in “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” as well).
Seinfeld apparently hangs up a big calendar and writes a big red X for every day he completes his writing tasks. The goal is to not “break the chain,” which becomes a bit addicting once you see the line of Xs adding up.
The website version allows you to create chains for multiple habits and tasks you want to instill so they’re all available online.
Do you have online tools for keeping yourself productive? Let’s hear about it!