When you’re given an assignment, do you tackle it right away?
Or are you the type to think about it for a few minutes and then . . . Wait! It’s time to check Facebook, then Twitter, because you’ve fallen behind on your feed. Oh, and that tweet was too funny not to share. Hours later, you wonder, what was that project again?
Depending on how serious you are about focusing on your work instead of the latest viral video, there are many apps for your computer, smartphone, or tablet that can help prevent virtual whiplash.
These apps help you find patterns in the way you tackle your work and provide you with new, more efficient strategies.
What it does: If you’re feeling stuck, this is the app for you. Unstuck asks targeted questions to help you figure out what kind of rut you’re in (lacking motivation is different from feeling indecisive). Once you have your diagnosis, the app provides you with action-oriented tools and advice to get you moving forward. The best part is that these tools can be applied toward any big life decisions, not just work.
Why it’s cool: This app is like having your own virtual psychologist, for free.
Details: Free. Available for Android and iOS 6.0 or later.
What it does: This app runs securely in the background on your computer and mobile devices. It tracks the time you spend on applications and websites, and gives you detailed reports and data based on your activity. You can receive alerts when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on a site, block distracting websites, and log highlights about accomplishments.
Why it’s cool: By better understanding your daily habits, this app improves your productivity and work-life balance.
Details: Free to acquire, but it costs $9/month or $72/year (four months free) to unlock premium features like blocking, tracking time away from the computer, and alerts. Available for Android.
From interactive to-do lists to Internet blockers, these apps keep you focused on what you need to get done.
What it does: This app locks you away from the Internet for up to eight hours at a time. To get back online while the app is running, you’ll need to reboot your phone or computer.
Why it’s cool: Even though the deterrent is easy to get around, users claim it works because of the hassle of rebooting. The app is reportedly used by some pretty successful folks, like Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers.
Details: $10 for Mac and Windows, $18 for both, $10 for Android.
What it does: If you want something like the Freedom app, but are intimidated by its “all-or-nothing" ethos, check out Concentrate. Customize the setting you want according to the activity you will engage in. For example, when you create settings for “Research Paper," you may want to allow the use of your library’s website, but not Facebook. The app allows you to block or allow specific websites and apps, play encouraging messages and warning sounds, and set a timer.
Why it’s cool: Not all distractions need to be treated equally for every task. This app allows you to customize and experiment to find limits that make sense for you.
Details: $29, but you can try a 60-hour free trial first. Available for Mac.
What it does: Makes it easier to complete tasks by sorting your reminders into simple, fun categories, including “Today," “Tomorrow," and “Someday." The app uses four different types of swipe gestures, and a clever design makes it easy to use. You can also set repeating alerts for recurring tasks.
Why it’s cool: Face it, if picturing your mom yelling isn’t a good motivator, nothing is. For that reason alone, the name of this app wins all the prizes. Ironically, while you can pick alert types, like a referee’s whistle, a yelling mom isn’t an option.
Details: $0.99. Available for iOS 5.0 or later.
What it does: This app allows you to create a list of tasks that can be synced on all your devices and easily managed. Just as with Unstuck, if you’re having trouble with an item, Procraster lets you pick from a list of challenges (“I don’t know where to start" or “I need to be perfect"), and then gives you corresponding advice. You can add tags, timers, and rewards to different tasks, and take a look at stats to keep track of your progress.
Why it’s cool: It brings your to-do list to life with incentives and advice.
Details: $1.99. Available for iOS 7.0 or later.
What it does: This app takes account of how you naturally think and gets in your face when you need it, stays out of the way when you don’t, and keeps you focused on completing important tasks. You sort goals into short-, mid-, and long-term timeframes, instead of assigning a specific due date. As you progress, the app sets reminders, but if you ignore them it will continue to bother you until you mark it complete.
Why it’s cool: Built by two teenagers and the winner of a 2013 Apple Design award, the app is trying out a new revenue model. Instead of offering the app for $0.99, it will be available for free with extra paid features, such as time limits and extra tasks.
Details: The cost is free with additional features for purchase. Available for iOS 7.0 or later.
What it does: If you’re having trouble focusing on your work, try this app. It plays ambient environmental sounds that help reduce stress.
Why it’s cool: You can choose to listen to beach waves, a rainstorm, or an Amazon jungle. Whichever choice you select will play in the background while you use other apps. Additional sounds are available for free at the White Noise Market, or you can create your own.
Details: $1.99, or get the free version of White Noise Lite. Available for Android and iOS 5.0 or later.
What it does: This task manager breaks tasks down into smaller, more manageable parts. The app has an unlimited number of sub-lists. You can send reminders to others and be notified when the task is completed, deleted, or reopened.
Why it’s cool: Instead of endlessly pushing classmates, friends, or family to follow through on their projects and responsibilities, you can delegate tasks and then keep track of each other’s progress. The app is enhanced by shared task lists, gestures, and animations.
Details: $0.99. Available for Android and iOS 6.0 or later.
Ansaldo, Michael. (2014, Feb. 7). Read this now: 7 clever mobile apps to conquer procrastination. PC World.com. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from PCWorld.
Crook, Jordan. (2014, Mar. 1). Finish, the Anti-Procrastination App, Goes Freemium. TechCrunch. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from TechCrunch.
Sharova, Anastasia. (2013, Dec. 19). Top Anti-Procrastination Apps or How to Fight Procrastination Using Digital Tools. Inomics Blog. Retrieved May 5, 2014 from Inomics Blog.