You’re probably reading this article in a browser. If you’re on a Mac or iPhone, you may be using the default Safari browser. If you’re on a PC, you may be using Internet Explorer. Either way, you should be using Chrome.
If you’re already using Chrome, great—you’re going to love this article. If you’re not, go download Chrome and come back, because you’re going to want see for yourself how much more productive you can be with Chrome as your browser.
What’s so great about Chrome, you ask? Most importantly, it offers a vast library of free extensions in the Chrome Web Store that allow you to customize your browsing experience to be more productive. Customizing your browser experience is a big deal, because you use your browser more than any other application on your computer.
Think about it: Almost everything you do on your computer is done from your browser. Take a look at all the other tabs and windows open in your browser at this moment—I bet you have a lot more going on than just this article. In other tabs and windows, you might have your email inbox, your Facebook news feed, your shopping cart on Amazon, your favorite news site, your calendar… you name it, all waiting for your attention.
It’s easy for our browser to get so cluttered because it’s our gateway to connecting, collaborating, learning and getting things done on the Internet. And, because of this, it’s where it’s hardest to stay focused and work efficiently. That’s why the support of a few productivity-boosting Chrome extensions can go a long way in helping you stay efficient and on task while working in your browser.
I’d like to share with you five of my favorite Chrome Extensions that help me focus and get more done. I never want to browse without them again and, if you give them a try, I bet you won’t either.
I’ve tried a lot of new tab replacements over the years, and Momentum is the only one that I’ve stuck with for longer than a few months. I like it because it’s functional and beautiful and helps keep me on task. With Momentum, my new tab screen is an inspirational dashboard that reminds me, every time I open a new tab, what’s most important to get done that day. It combines beautiful photography with motivational quotes and productivity tools like a to-do list with a single focus item for the day, a Google search box, a place to add quick links and more. It’s customizable, so you can pick and choose which features you want to display and make it your own. Momentum makes every new tab I open an opportunity to pause, be inspired and be reminded of what the No. 1 task and priority for the day is.
OneTab helps you deal with your multiple open tabs and windows problem. You know about this problem, when, at some point during the day, you stop to take a break and realize you have multiple windows and dozens of tabs open in your browser. It happens to the best of us and, although we know on some level that having too many tabs and windows open isn’t great for our focus and browser speed, we still need whatever’s inside those pesky tabs.
This is where OneTab comes in. Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once. You can also create a web page from your list of tabs, so that you can easily share your tabs with other people, other computers, or with your smartphone or tablet.
There are two problems with reading articles, like this one, in your browser. First, everything we want to read ends up being the biggest contributor to the tab problem mentioned above, and second, there’s a lot trying to distract us in and around the article we’re trying to read. Readability takes care of both of these problems. First, it removes everything but the article from the page, turning it into a clean, comfortable and easy-to-read view. Second, it allows you to save it to read later inside Readability or send it to your Kindle. You can tag everything to keep it organized and configure your text font, size and colors to your preference.
One level up from Readability is Squirt.io. It takes the text of articles on a page, or the text that you’ve highlighted, and helps you speed read it by showing you one word at a time. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it works! If you want to read something really fast, Squirt.io can help you read articles more than 200 percent faster than your normal best-reading speed. If you’re pressed for time or are struggling to stay focused long enough to get through something you have to read, Squirt.io makes reading fast easy.
Finally, when all else fails, use StayFocusd to block and control how much time you can spend on distracting and time-wasting websites. You can set which sites you’d like to block and for how long and the extension will make those sites inaccessible to you for that period of time. You can also set a limit on the amount of time you’re allowed to spend on specific sites, and once your allotted time has been used up, they will be blocked and inaccessible to you for the rest of the day. The nice thing about StayFocusd is it’s highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages, even specific in-page content (videos, games, images, forms, etc.).
StayFocusd is an extreme, but highly effective way to break bad browsing habits and avoid temptation when you really need to get your work done.
Keep in mind these are just the Chrome extensions that work best for the way that I work, and you might find that your must-have extensions look completely different.
Take some time to explore the Chrome web store, and let us know your favorite extensions!