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Computers

5 Chrome extensions to block out distractions and stay focused

Because the Internet has its share of distractions.

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The Internet is the best for work. The Internet is the worst for work. It makes research a thousand times easier than in the dark days before Google, and web tools like Slack and Google Drive can certainly help streamline your workday. But then there's Twitter, Reddit and the wormhole that is Wikipedia among the multitude of sites that distract you from the task at hand. Here are five Chrome extensions that can help you stay focused and on the ball.

StayFocused

With StayFocused, you can set time limits for the sites you waste too much time on. I like it because it allows you a bit of wiggle room; instead of just blocking sites outright, you can give yourself a few minutes over lunch to scroll through Twitter and Reddit before getting back to work. Sure, you can always go into the extension's settings and remove a site from your blocked list, but maybe you'll feel just guilty enough about making such a move to stay on the straight and narrow with StayFocused.

OneTab

There comes a point nearly every afternoon where I find myself drowning in a sea of open tabs, sometimes in two or three separate windows. With OneTab, I can take all of the open tabs in a Chrome window and smush them into a single tab. All of my previously open tabs are listed on this magical single tab as links, which I can click to reopen individual tabs or click another link to restore all of the tabs on the list. OneTab saves me from cluttering my bookmarks by adding pages I may need to return to only once. And it helps reduce the drain Chrome has on my laptop's memory.

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Minimal New Tab Clock

Chrome's default new tab page is fairly minimal and not all that distracting, but I never use the Google search bar or the shortcuts to my frequently visited pages it offers me. I prefer to use Chrome's URL bar and my bookmarks bar at the top of the window. To make Chrome's new tab page blank as blank can be, you can turn to the Blank New Tab Page extension but I like the Minimal New Tab Clock better -- not because of the analog clock at its center but because its default black background is easy on the eyes.

Just Read

Chrome lacks a reader mode. The Just Read extension adds one. Click the little button that Just Read adds to the top-right corner of Chrome to remove a page's ads, formatting, comments and other bright and shiny objects in favor of a clean, text-heavy layout to keep you reading and on task.

Todoist

I won't use any sort of list app unless it's dead simple (I still use pen and paper for my grocery list). Todoist makes the cut as my to-do list for the workday. It doesn't try to do or be too much, giving you a simple and clean interface that lets you quickly add items and check them off when completed. In addition to the Chrome extension, Todoist also has apps for iOS and Android.