Every time I have Google’d productivity tools, I get a mixture of stuff that are not really what I am looking for, stuff like oh you can use a Photo app to save all your photos for easy reference.
That’s all well and good but I was looking at a more base level of productivity, what are the tools you can use to reduce distractions to your creative work? What are the tools that remind you to get you back to work or remind you of how much time you have spent on work? etc.
I didn’t want stuff like Team Project Management or Communication Teams, I wanted stuff that are at base level of your own work ethic.
I have found 3 tools that have helped in the way that I wanted them to.
Cold Turkey is a application that blocks websites, you are unable to access them unless you turn the block off. Each block you see up there has different sites blocked according to their category.
You can block your social media (You can even try the ‘one device for one purpose’ rule, look at social media only on your phone and keep your phone far from your workspace for example to prevent distractions, reaching over to your phone one too many times), block your favourite time waster websites and this application wont let you open them, redirecting you to a blocked screen.
The catch is what is keeping you from just turning the block off whenever you want? The app has various ways of keeping you from doing that, such as locking the function to stop the block for a certain time period.
For me, social media is blocked from 9am to 6p.m and the ability to unblock my social media is locked for that time period no matter what.
The block being unblocked only upon restart of your computer, you might already be working on too many things/too many tabs are opened already, to make restarting your computer to unblock websites be too much of a chore.
Forcing you to type a string of random letters and numbers that will take 1 minute just to unlock your websites will also make you think twice before bothering to do so.
All these features are to make the unblocking as undesirable, annoying, complicated and as tedious as possible to make you focus on your work more.
Making a bad habit undesirable and inconvenient to do will prevent you from doing it again.
I have found myself naturally trying to open a site to waste time scrolling, even if there are is no new content on the site, to find it blocked and that blocking reminds me that :
“Hey you are not supposed to be randomly opening news sites, social media, you are supposed to be working”
The pro version is just a one-time payment (I haven’t paid for it yet) and it goes further by blocking applications like perhaps your games as well if you are distracted by games easily and more features like automatic scheduled blocks, etc.
Having your statistics there for how long you blocked your time wasting stuff for is a good motivator as well.
#2: Neil Cicierega’s Work App – Work Accountability Stopwatch
Neil Cicierega, Creator Of The Potter Pals which you may know of, created this rather guilt tripping work accountability stopwatch.
The moment you click off your active window the stopwatch/time stops and it has a BACK TO WORK message and a red background to remind you that you are not currently working.
When its blue it means you are working and it will keep counting with a rather aggressive KEEP WORKING message.
You can set the programs as what active windows the stopwatch recognizes, as you can see I set one to Photoshop.
I actually use this app in a less aggressively encouraging way, when I see that I have put time into working, it encourages me to continue going a bit more.
I don’t let it push me too far though especially if I am just getting back into working creatively from a long hiatus and need to ease myself back into it. I don’t push myself till I see the 5 hours on it and then subsequently burn out.
1 push-up a day is better than 0, 2-5 minutes of drawing a day is better than 0. I am working on consistency and small improvements each day.
0 pushups a day for a week is 0, 1 pushup a day for a week means 7 pushups, this is a very nothing number for perhaps everyone but it is still progress.
Similarly, 5 minutes of drawing every day at least forms a consistent habit that can be pushed further along on and its 35 minutes in a week compared to 0 minutes in a week.
I use the app in this way rather than in guilt tripping way but its up to you how to best use this app for your productivity.
The TomatoTimer is a timer that has the Pomodoro Technique as its theme.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo for a more productive way to work and study.
It has the following basic steps to use the timer accordingly to:
- Decide on the task you need to do.
- Start the timer, the techniques states its 25 minutes. A “Pomodoro” is 25 minutes by default.
- Work on the task until the timer expires; put all your focus on the task. Record with an X on the website or on a piece of paper that you have done 1 Pomodoro
- Take a Short Break which is also on a tab on the website, a short break is 5 minutes
- And finally with every 4 “pomodoros” or Xs, take a Long Break of 10 minutes
And then repeat, till the task is finished. The Pomodoro technique has its relevance that even the Cold Turkey app mentioned above has Pomodoro style timers related to the blocking of the websites.
The Pomodoro technique allows you to put all your effort and focus into one thing, allowing you adequate timed breaks in-between each focused session that lets you take a break accordingly to how much work you have done.
These are 3 productivity tools that are aimed at the very act of creating/working rather than further along like project/team management/scheduling.
They can help artists achieve proper systems of focusing on their work/practice to achieve their creative goals.