Tell me if this sounds familiar: you wake up in the morning, scarf down a bagel, then make a cup of coffee and head over to your computer.
“They day is young,” you tell yourself. “I have so many hours, I’m going to be so productive today! But first, let me check my Facebook for about five minutes…”
Then the next thing you know it’s 11:30, your stomach is rumbling for you to have some lunch, and you look at your Word document and see you’ve only added 500 words.
I know I’m guilty of this pretty much all the time if I don’t have my organization down pat. Here are a bunch of productivity apps that I use to make sure I don’t spend the whole day looking at cat videos on youtube, or at least to make sure I don’t do that too often. These are all for Chrome since that’s the browser I use, but if you’re using FireFox or whatever I’m sure you can really easily find extensions that do the same thing for that browser as well.
This is hands down the most important tool for any author, or really anyone who works at a computer, as far as I’m concerned. Pomodoros (the Italian word for tomato) work in a really simple way: they’re timers. They (generally) work in a 25 minutes on/5 minutes off fashion. So when you click your pomodoro to start the day, it blocks everything on your browser for 25 minutes. Then, when those 25 minutes are up, the app or extension makes a sound to let you know that the 25 minutes are finished, and that you can start your five minute break.
I always try to do 4 pomodoros in the morning, and 3 in the afternoon. That’s almost 3.5 hours of pure, solid, distraction-free work. I get so much more done using pomodoros than I do just by using my own willpower, it’s crazy. The one I use is called Strict Workflow. It works really well for me, and is a pretty basic app, but there are tons of options out there for everyone. A lot offer customization, such as only blocking specific sites (good if you want to do research online, but don’t want the temptation of Facebook or YouTube) or allow you to customize your workflow times, so if you wanted to do 40 minutes on, 10 minutes break, you can do that as well.
Either way, I strongly recommend giving a pomodoro tool of some sort a try. You’ll be hooked!
Momentum is an amazing start page app that allows you to make to-do lists. While there are better individual to-do lists out there, I use momentum for this reason alone: it pops up every time you open a new tab.
See, I’m really good at burying my head in the sand. If I have a to-do list, but I have to click on something to see it, it’s pretty easy for me to ignore it and decide that literally anything else is a better idea. But if whenever I open a new tab I’m confronted with my to-do list, well, eventually I get pretty good at realizing I should get on that.
Plus every day the background changes to a different amazing scene from somewhere in the world, and that’s way nicer to look at than just a blank screen.
I have also heard really good things about a similar extension called Limitless, but I haven’t tested it so don’t know for sure how awesome it is.
So you know when you’re in the middle of writing, or doing some other kind of important work, and then you come across a link to an article or something that you absolutely, definitely want to read? But you don’t have time to do it now, and you don’t really want to leave the tab open because you’re working and you know if you leave the tab open you’ll either read the article anyway, or accidentally close it while trying to navigate to a different tab. Believe me, I’ve done that one only about a million times.
WELL PROBLEM SOLVED
Save to pocket basically lets you one-click save any link anywhere on the internet to read later. So while you’re going through things you can save link after link to your pocket, then when you’ve finished writing or whatever you were doing, you can go back and read everything you saved. Simple, beautiful and so useful.
Noteboard is the extension I use to keep track of all my writing projects. I add a new note for every project, and keep myself updated on its status: am I in the middle of writing it? If yes, when is my deadline? Has it been sent off to the editor? When am I expecting to get it back? Have I made a cover for it yet? All this and more, and it all fits on a handy e-corkboard. Way easier than trying to deal with that stuff on a real board.
Now, if you live in an environment where noise is a problem (I’m looking at you, parents who work from home!) Noisli is the perfect extension for you. It basically allows to create nice background sounds that you can listen to in order to drown out the hum of distracting noises in your every day environment.
Ok, so Dropbox isn’t technically an extension. It’s a cloud service, so it stores all your files that are in your Dropbox folder on your computer in the cloud.
Now, you might be thinking “why would I want to store all my work in the cloud?”
Believe me, the day your computer crashes and you lose absolutely everything, you will be so, so happy that you can get all the original files to your books back. This happened to me once, and it was absolutely no problem to get my books (and my other important files like pictures) back onto my new computer when I bought one.
If you only want to use it for a few files it’s free, it’s $50 a year or so for a lot more storage, which is the plan I use.
Plus – and this has absolutely nothing to do with publishing – I find it’s super easy to use Dropbox to sync the photos I take with my phone to my computer.
So there you have it! My whole productivity collection. Now go forth, and write more words than you’ve ever written before…