We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us with information, updates, news, and other pieces of distracting content with machine-gun fire rapidity. Sometimes, all of this information can overwhelm us and we get distracted or lose focus on that critical task. Even a fraction of what is pushed our way on mobile and social media these days can cause a serious drop in productivity. Thankfully, there are tools that we can use to self-regulate the amount of time we allow these distractions to keep us from completing our tasks. Let’s have a look at some apps that are designed to block distractions and improve our focus.

Stay off your phone and plant a virtual tree

Forest is an app that takes the job of staying focused and turns it into a bit of a game. By setting a timer on your phone during which you aren’t allowed to change the screen focus away from the Forest app, you’re adding a virtual tree to your virtual forest. The length of the timer will dictate the type and size of tree you can plant. The objective here is to stop us from reaching for our phone every time we get a notification or a friend sends us a message. This ensures we can get on with our more important tasks. The gamification method is not new and research has proven its effectiveness.

Block the temptation and stay focused

Another use of restricting access to information and temptations comes in the form of an app called BlockSite, a stay focused app that puts the control right into your hands, down to every detail. It comes in app form, browser extension form, and the free version comes with many useful features, like the ability to specify which sites the app should block, as well as providing a work mode, keyword blocking and uninstall protection. The premium version even allows blocking by category (why not easily block all social media sites from eating away at your precious time?) Because it works cross-platform, you set it up once for all your devices and it’s ready to serve wherever you are.

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Use science to stay on task

Brain.fm tries to tackle focus from a different angle. It uses artificial intelligence to generate music in the form of productivity and focus-orientated playlists that work to improve many areas of your life. It claims to be able to improve focus, relaxation, and even sleep. In their words, Brain.fm “converts auditory neuroscience into personal brainwave training programs.” This may sound like a lot of big science words, but in simple terms, it uses sound to assist your brain in a number of different tasks – most noticeably to just calm it down and let it get on with any tasks you might have at hand.

Dim the lights on distractions

HazeOver for Apple macOS takes the business of distraction and turns off the lights, literally, on the things that are causing you to lose focus. By hazing over the windows that are not the one you’re working in, with a configurable amount of haze – from lightly blurred to full blackout – you have no excuse to lose focus on the job you’re currently in the middle of. HazeOver only works with macOS, but if you’re a macOS user, it’s worth a look.

Staying on point can be tough when everything in the digital and online universe is nagging for your attention. With so much effort being put into the design of the social media services and products to make you spend as much time as possible using them, sometimes we need a helping hand to stay focused – that’s what these apps will help you do.

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