If you find yourself strapped for time to fit in all of your studies and homework, one way to gain back some time is to limit distractions like social media and other time-sucking websites. Here are seven great tools to help you minimize those time-wasters and get more done:
RescueTime: It’s easy to think that a few minutes checking Twitter, Facebook, and your favorite comedy site throughout the day is no big deal, but if you add up those minutes of downtime, it’s a lot more than you realize. RescueTime runs in the background on your computer and mobile devices, tracks the time you spend on applications and websites, and gives you detailed reports about your activity. You can block distracting websites for set periods of “focus” time and set goals each day. RescueTime can even alert you when you linger on a website or activity for too long.
- RescueTime Lite Free, RescueTime Premium $9/month or $72/year || Mac, PC, Android and Linux
Anti-Social: Anti-Social is simple but effective. It allows you to block sites that you find distracting—you choose the list—for the amount of time you specify. If you need to get back online before the time is up, reboot your computer to unblock. The same company also offers Freedom, which blocks you from accessing the Internet at all for up to eight hours at a time.
- Anti-Social $15, Anti-Social and Freedom Bundle $20 || Mac OS X, Windows
Focus: Mac users might like Focus, a Mac menu-bar app wherein you can block distracting websites on all browsers as well as all of your Mac applications (such as Skype or Twitter). You can use the timer function to schedule blocks of productivity, and enable “hardcore mode” to enforce any schedules and timers (and make sure you can’t stop them, even with a computer restart).
- Single license $19.99, License for three Macs $29.99, License for five Macs $39.99 || Mac
SelfControl: Similar to Anti-Social and Freedom, SelfControl allows you to blacklist certain websites for a set amount of time (up to 24 hours). No cheating, no rebooting—it’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s free (but only available to Macs).
- Free! || Mac
WasteNoTime: If you are fairly self-disciplined but still want to keep tabs on how much time you spend online, WasteNoTime is worth checking out. It’s a Safari extension that tracks the amount of time you spend on sites on your “block list” and allows you to set the amount of time you are allowed to access certain sites each day. It doesn’t keep a record of your browsing history or offer any sort of data analysis.
- Free! || Safari browser users
NetSanity: Designed for parents of iPhone and iPad users trying to protect their children from the dangers of the Internet, NetSanity also is great for those who want to limit their own time spent goofing around on Hay Day or Instagram. Just download, and block selected apps from all of your Apple devices.
- Monthly price varies depending on number of devices || Apple Devices
FocusLock: FocusLock works on your Android smartphone or tablet, saving you from losing minutes and hours to your games and apps. Perfect for finals week or project deadlines when you need to buckle down and turn off the distractions, it works simply: You choose work times and break times, select the apps you want to block, and get to work.
- Free || Android devices
Tools to help you minimize online distractions can make an enormous difference in your productivity, but remember that taking periodic mental breaks is perfectly fine—and even beneficial. You might consider exploring helpful tools like Focus Booster, designed to help you maintain focus, manage distractions, and work in short bursts (followed by short breaks).
Now get back to work—and make 2016 your best year yet!