How can you possibly keep up with the endless barrage of news, social media, emails, meetings, big projects, and day-to-day tasks?
Everywhere you turn, there’s something grasping for your attention, but you only have so much of it to spare. There’s always time for whatever’s most important to you—but that means actually knowing what matters most, and having the clarity to say no to everything else. Not an easy feat in today’s world.
Most of us can’t rid ourselves of distractions completely. However, we can seek out tools and build habits that will help us stay focused and do the best work we can every day.
On this list, you’ll find the best apps that’ve helped the Product Hunt community stay energized and productive. We hope something on this list inspires you to “drain the shallows,” as author Cal Newport would say, and get to the deep work that matters most.
Escape is a simple app that tracks how many times you open your email, a social network, or other distracting websites. Each day, you’ll get a report letting you know how many times your work was interrupted by a distracting site during the day, as well as how much time lapsed between each distraction. You can also see which apps are causing the most disturbance to your daily work flow, and adjust your usage accordingly.
This app will give you an accurate picture of how you spend your time. Some of their features include the ability to block distracting sites during certain parts of the day, track offline activity (like meetings and phone calls), and log your daily accomplishments. You can also set alerts (for example, when you’ve spent more than two hours on Facebook) and goals (for example, spending less time in your inbox).
The idea behind Proud is to take everything people love most about other productivity apps and merge them into one. You can use the app to store all of your ideas and to-dos, remember important moments, set up triggers to stick with your habit changes, and even remind yourself to take breaks throughout the day.
Whether you’re in the middle of drafting an email or writing a blog post, it can sometimes be a challenge getting into flow. Flowstate nudges you into that much-desired creative space by pushing you to write beyond discomfort.
The process is easy: Choose the amount of time you’d like to write for, and once your session begins, if you exit the program early or stop typing for more than five seconds, all of your progress will be lost. The only way to secure your work is by continuing to write until the full session is complete. Just don’t use it for an especially important project.
The One Big Thing app is super simple. Each day, just type in the one big thing you want to accomplish, and make that your focus. You can also add several secondary tasks if you happen to get your big task accomplished early.
Headspace is a meditation tool to improve your stress, lack of focus, health, and more. The promise: Use this app for 10 minutes a day, and your brain will literally change, reshaping itself to become more focused, creative, and generally happier. If you’ve been curious about meditation but too intimidated to try it, Headspace takes the guesswork out of the process and actually makes meditation fun.
This is a time tracking app, built to help you boost your accountability and productivity. Quickly add and organize all of your tasks, tap on any one of them to start a timer, and get recommendations to boost your effectiveness over time.
This easy-to-use app that will help you stay focused if you find yourself frequently distracted by social media and web browsing. Users of this app reportedly save an average of 2.5 hours of productive time each day, so we think this one is worth giving a try.
Let’s be honest: We all have a multiple tab problem these days. Just turn HazeOver on, and it’ll darken all of the other windows on your screen except for the application you’re currently using. This is an easy hack for staying focused in a sea of open tabs, emails, and chat messages.
This music library was created to dramatically improve the quality of your focus. Brain.fm “converts auditory neuroscience into personalized brainwave training programs.” In normal terms, that means turn this baby on and you’ll notice a difference within the first 15 to 30 minutes of using it.
The concept of Forest is simple: Whenever you want to focus for a chunk of time, you “plant a tree.” The tree will grow while you are working, but, if you leave the app, the tree dies. By the end of the week, you’ll have a visual “forest,” showing you how much focused time you had. You can use this in any scenario—whether you’re doing a work sprint, having dinner with friends, or making progress on a side project. Trust us—it works.
In search of other useful productivity and focus tools? Check out our full collection on Product Hunt.
This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of person on laptop courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images.