You know how it is. You sit down at your computer at the beginning of the work day, open up Chrome and eight hours later, you get ready to go home, having done a fraction of the work you intended to. How does it happen? Every day you swear you won’t allow yourself to get sucked into the vortex of Buzzfeed listicles, YouTube videos and “must-see” tweets. Every day you swear you’ll become more organised and get your priorities right.
Don’t worry though, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. And there are tools out there to help you become a more efficient, productive
drone person. What’s even better is that a whole heap of those tools come in the form of extensions on the very browser that seems to suck up so much of your day.
We’ve cycled through our some of our favourite Chrome extensions and highlighted the ones we think will best help you in your quest for productivity.
There are plenty of sites that you shouldn’t visit when you’re trying to get stuff done; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all have the potential to be massive time sucks. That’s where an app like Strict Workflow comes in. You set the amount of time you need to work for, followed by the amount of time you’d like to take a break for. It’s not just a timer though, you can also set up a list — the app provides a few defaults — of sites you’re not allowed to visit during the time you’ve set up for productivity. Once the tomato goes from red to green, signalling a break, you can access the site again.
Pro tip: you can also use the breaks to stand up for a few minutes and mitigate the risks associated with sitting for eight hours a day.
2. White Noise
White Noise isn’t just great for blocking out the sounds of the city at night and helping you sleep. It can also help you block out the sounds of your office and the street to help you get in the zone. Personally, I prefer grey noise, which seems a little less jarring than plain white noise but still blocks out a wide spectrum of distracting noises.
What’s there to say about Evernote that hasn’t already been said? It’s probably the world’s most popular productivity app and occupies that space for a reason. Use Evernote to save your ideas, experiences and inspirations, then access them across any number of devices.
It’s also unlikely that you’ll ever have to worry about Evernote disappearing either. After all, if founder Phil Libin has his way, Evernote will be a 100-year company.
Some people just think and perform better when they’re working with visuals and that’s where LucidChart comes in. The app allows you to, among other things, draw flowcharts, mockups, UML, and mind maps. It also claims that it allows you to work together in real-time with your team and clients.
Yes, there are plenty of cloud-based apps that allow you to access your files on the go, but they don’t always have enough space for you to keep everything you need and transferring everything over to those apps can be a faff. That’s where apps like LegMeIn come in.
LogMeIn gives you remote computer access from your devices over the web. That means if you’ve got your tablet with you at a meeting, for instance, you don’t have to wait until it’s over to forward that contact or document your fellow meeting attendees are asking for.
6. Google Keep
Google Keep is a little like Evernote in that it allows you to save what’s on your mind and add a text note, photo, or type up a quick list. One of Keep’s coolest features though is that it transcribes voice memos for you automatically. With the Keep Chrome web app, any notes you create while you’re offline are also synced back to the web and your other devices when your connection returns.
You know all those Buzzfeed listicles we referred to in the introduction? Well Pocket saves you from having to read them right away. Install the extension and you’ll be able to save articles from your browser or from apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse and Zite. From there, you can read it later on your smartphone, tablets or home computer.
8. Task Timer
One way of making sure you make the most of your time is to set aside periods of time for specific tasks. That’s where apps like Task Timer come in. The app allows you to create a list of tasks with time goals in hours, and keep track of the amount of time that you spend in each task.
When you go shopping, you make a list. When you pack your car, you make a list. It makes sense therefore that you’d make a list when you’re trying to organise your day. Over 4.5-million people use Wunderlist to manage tasks, to-do lists, and to get things done. One of those people is our managing editor Michelle Atagana, who swears by it.
Okay, this one is matter of shaving off seconds at a time. But if you need to get somewhere quickly and want access to something you’ve downloaded, it makes sense to download it straight to your Dropbox account.
If you’re big on sharing, then it’s likely you’ll have looked into ways to schedule your shares. Social media management tools like Hootsuite allow you to do that, but require a fair amount of effort. Buffer on the other hand allows you to set your schedule. Then, whenever you want to share something, just press the share button and you’ll have the option to push it into your Buffer schedule.
This one is designed to save you space on your browser. It allows you to choose from 175+ Google services to show up as buttons in a popup. That means you can reach services like Gmail, Google Reader, Google Maps, Google Calendar, in a couple clicks from your browser. Anyone who’s company’s switched to Google+ will appreciate this extension.
Look, if you’re online there’s no way you’re going to get away without having to use loads of passwords. LastPass is a free password manager and form filler, which aims to make that process easier. Given the proliferation of attacks on major social sites in recent times, having a password manager will also help with security.