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How to Stay Focused Using Technology When Technology is Keeping You Unfocused

Jumping off Colin's Open Item earlier today about Tracker — a Chrome extension developed by a former EY employee that allows you to better understand what you spend your time doing — we came across a few browser extensions you all might find useful in this, the most non-joyful time of year where every minute counts.

If you are anything like me, a regular workday can easily become a 12 hour one between screwing around on Facebook, trolling the Daily Mail and clicking that stupid "You Won't Believe What Happens Next…" link your uncle posted, sending you into an endless vortex of predictable "viral" content for half the day. Even if you think you're only taking a minute or two to avert your eyes from your spreadsheets to check in on the Internet, two minutes can easily become 20 and we all know what happens from there.

In reading 7 Habits Of Insanely Productive People, we find three useful extensions to get control of your wandering eye. StayFocusd (Chrome), LeechBlock (Firefox), and WasteNoTime (Safari/Chrome) all basically do the same thing, which is put up a big barrier between you and the rest of the Internet. Helpful for those of us with both attention issues and very little self control.

You could also try RescueTime (Firefox), which answers the age old question "where the hell did today go?!" by tracking how long you spend in your active tab. It also tracks your total time so that might get a little depressing when you're working long hours but if your productivity score comes in low, you might realize you could have gotten a lot more done in less time had you stayed focused (ha, yeah right). RescueTime is also available as a desktop app and on mobile.

Another useful tool — if you absolutely cannot resist the urge to poke around on the Internet a little — is Read it Later (Firefox and iOS). With this, you can sneak 5 minutes on the Daily Mail (or, you know, whatever your guilty pleasure is, like Going Concern) and mark what you want to read later instead of getting into a two hour flame war with trolls. Because no one has time for that.

Anyone have any other go to tools for staying focused? You know what to do. Wait a second… why are you here if you're so busy? Oh well.