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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

6 Apps Perfect for People Who Are Easily Distracted (a.k.a., Anyone in an Open Office)

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How often do you feel distracted at work? All the time, right? I bet those distractions keep you from getting a lot of stuff accomplished on a regular basis.

In a 2013 study, nearly 50% of surveyed workers in open office settings cited the lack of sound privacy as a significant problem from day to day. Luckily, technology’s made it easier than ever to block out those distractions, manage your schedule more efficiently, and re-focus your priorities.

If that all sounds like Heaven to you, here’s what you need to download.

1. Isolator

This one helps minimizes distractions by keeping your focus on your active window. Based on the settings you choose, Isolator completely hides windows other that your active window, blurs the windows behind your active window, hides your dock bar, and more.

Unfortunately, this one’s only for Mac, but Le Dimmer is an equally effective option for Windows users.

2. Calendly

Web-based scheduling app Calendly helps you make sure you’re only booking things when you have openings. All you need to do is enter the times you’re available for calls, meetings, or lunches, and send your schedule off to your co-workers and clients. When they need to schedule something, they visit your page, choose a time, and click submit. Then, Calendly automatically adds the event to your calendar.

This app is useful because it functions as a gatekeeper. You won’t stop each time you get a scheduling request because Calendly takes care of the potential distraction for you, letting you stay engaged in whatever project you’re working on at the moment.

3. Todoist

If you’re disorganized or even just very busy, it’s easy to get bogged down trying to figure out what’s important and what can wait. Todoist helps you solve that problem. Available on the web—and as an app on 15 other platforms—Todoist helps you organize your task list, collaborate with co-workers on shared tasks, and prioritize your items so you don’t have to guess what needs to be done first.

In my experience, staying focused is simpler when you have Todoist. Since you build your lists and set your priorities, you’ll always know which task you should be focusing on now, and which tasks can wait. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to view, edit, and cross tasks off your list.

4. Calm

Need a break? No matter how much you enjoy your job, a day in an open office workspace can be exhausting. Calm gives you seven free, guided meditation sessions that range from two to 20 minutes, so you always have a way to recharge. Additionally, it offers a seven-day introductory course on mindfulness and 50 more premium guided meditation sessions.

When you’re constantly switching from one task to the next, your mind has a tendency to tire, making it difficult to stay sharp and focused when distractions occur. Taking time to recharge can help you minimize distractions by keep you feeling fresh and focused. So, put on your headphones, choose one of 10 immersive nature scenes with sound (or one of 16 meditation music tracks), and re-focus your energy during your break.

5. Focus Booster

No matter what your personality type, battling distractions comes down to being disciplined and having focus. That’s where Focus Booster comes in. Based on the Pomodoro technique, which encourages short breaks (three to five minutes) between longer (usually 25-minute) working periods, this digital timer helps you stay on task, but it also ensures you take breaks to increase your long-term productivity.

Just define your work and break lengths and get started. The timer does not allow you to pause, so you’re forced to work—and break—for the designated blocks.

6. Anti-Social

OK, so this one isn’t an app, but it’s too valuable for people who can’t ignore the siren call of the internet. Anti-Social is a browser plugin for Mac or Windows that helps you cut down on social media and web-browsing distractions when you really need to get work done. It allows you to schedule productivity blocks in increments from 15 minutes to eight hours that keep you from checking social media, getting notifications, and avoiding that project’s deadline any longer.