Trying to get work done on the computer can sometimes take longer than you think, and it’s not because of the workload – it’s because you’re constantly checking your Facebook, catching up with a friend on Gchat, and following your Twitter feed. In other words, you’re procrastinating. If that’s the case, there’s no judgment here. We know how easy it is to fall victim to the Sirens that lure you in with cute cat videos. If you’re a Chrome user, we come bearing potential solutions.
There are several free Chrome extensions you can use to boost your productivity throughout the day, and we rounded up eight of our favorite picks.
The very popular FastestChrome – Browse Faster does exactly what it promises: save you time. You can search faster, get quick definitions by highlighting a word, and rapidly determine how popular a link is on Facebook and Twitter. It loads the next page for you just before you reach the end so you don’t have to exert any extra effort. FastestChrome also shows you price comparisons from shopping search engines such as OneRiot and Amazon in real-time. The extension automatically turns text URLs into links and lets you select text and click on a search engine to search more selectively and conveniently. All features are configurable and it’s also available for Firefox. Fastest Chrome is a decisive winner with over 1 million users.
Are you addicted to Facebook and Twitter? How about Gmail? If you spend more time switching back and forth between your work window and your play windows, you may want to check out StayFocusd. Like a parent or a nanny, StayFocusd limits the amount of time you can spend on websites that are fun to visit but are harmful to your efficiency. Once you reach your time limit – BAM! – you’re banned for the rest of the day. Tough love works. You can customize it to your heart’s content by blocking or allowing entire sites or specific subdomains, as well as specific pages and even particular content on sites, such as videos and games.
Similar to StayFocusd, Procrastinator takes things one step further by allowing you to block websites during specific chunks of time. For example, if you want to stay away from Tumblr until you finish work at 5 p.m., at which time you’ll allow yourself to browse it for hours, all you have to do is enter a simple time code and Procrastinator does the rest.
Productivity Owl takes another approach: it doesn’t let you bum around Wikipedia or anywhere else for long. A judgmental owl stalks your every move from the lower right-hand corner of the page to make sure that you get in, get what you need, and get out of each website without becoming distracted. No longer will you open an IMDB page and emerge hours later, wondering how the sun went down without you noticing. You become an efficient researcher by necessity. You can tell your owl to let you browse search results for as long as you need, but to keep tabs on you when perusing recipes on Pinterest. Commit to “riding the owl” (keeping it enabled) and you’ll earn her respect – and get stuff done. Judgment isn’t always bad.
Do you often wonder what you’ve done all day? You started with goals and enthusiasm, and suddenly it’s 5 o’clock. Oops! RescueTime Dashboard helps by letting you see how you spend your time online. It can track and analyze your activity on your computer, smartphone, and tablet, offering you productivity charts and efficiency summaries so you can get back on track. Knowledge is power! Part of its beauty is that there’s no manual data entry required. It also works smoothly with the installable client available for OS X, Windows, Linux, Android devices, and ChromeOS.
The developers of RescueTime Dashboard have a new extension, RescueTime, which tracks which applications and websites you spend the most time using so you can see exactly how you’ve been spending your time. It gives you constant feedback that you can use to re-plan your day so you can get stuff done and stop feeling guilty. RescueTime ranks your productivity with particular sites and applications, blocks distracting sites, and – if you have an Android smartphone – syncs with the Android App to visualize your time spent on the phone. It also has a useful feature that lets you set reminders to help you snap out of daydreaming sessions and get back on track. A more advanced version is accessible for $6 to $9 per month.
If you thrive on time management techniques, this is the extension for you. Strict Pomodoro applies the Pomodoro technique: a timer that goes off every 25 minutes, at which time you take a 5-minute break before rinsing and repeating. This method will help you avoid burnout. Further, you’ll be more motivated to stay on task knowing you have a brief break coming up. This extension also allows you compose a list of the only sites you’re allowed to visit during your 25 minutes of work and it is pre-configured to lock you out of notoriously distracting websites.
Click on the Quickrr Productivity Kit icon and this extension will swiftly give you access to a translator, a dictionary, a calculator, tasks to-do, a notepad, a calendar, a world clock, a unit converter, a currency converter, a stopwatch/ timer, and search tools. The downside is that it doesn’t come with customization options, but the upside is that you can install this one extension instead of several separate ones, getting numerous little helpers ready to aid you at a click’s notice.
Now you have no excuse to stay distracted, so get back to work!