How to Use an App Blocker for Productivity

Posted on - in Software & Apps

Our lives are constantly connected, through computers and phones and tablets and even, in some cases, through our watches. We’re always getting notifications from social media, email and other sites that all demand our attention all day long.  Frankly, it’s exhausting and it’s damaging to your productivity, especially if you’re checking YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat notifications during your workday.

App blockers can be a fantastic tool to help you be more productive if you’re using them correctly.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help you adopt an app blocker or two to help improve your workday efficiency.

1. Realize You Have a Problem

The first step toward fixing the problem is realizing — and admitting — that you have a problem in the first place. How many notifications have come in since you started reading this article?  How many times have you stopped to check them?

You’re not alone. While smartphone addiction is not an official diagnosis in the DSM-V as of its latest update, people exhibit many of the symptoms of addiction when it comes to their devices. One study found that taking away someone’s phone for 24 hours leads to anxiety, confusion, and even withdrawal symptoms like increased heart rate and blood pressure.

2. Choose the Right App For You

Step two is to choose the app or program that will work best for you. If you work on your phone or computer during the day, it might be a good idea to choose a program like RescueTime that can be applied to your phone, your computer or even directly to your web browser to find out which websites are soaking up all your attention.  RescueTime will even send you weekly reports on how you’re using your workday.

Some apps monitor your use, while others cut off your access to problems apps entirely during your working hours.  It’s similar to putting your phone in airplane mode but you can still use it for work-related tasks without worrying about being interrupted by notifications that negatively impact your productivity.

3. Remember to Turn It On

This might seem like an obvious step, but these apps only work if you remember to turn them on. If you’ve got a static work schedule, you should only need to update them if a new website or app starts to distract you, but if your hours change during the week, you may need to update it daily or weekly to account for the hours that you’re on the clock.

These apps are only effective if they’re running.  Turn them on!

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4. Be Productive!

Step four is to enjoy your newfound distraction-free environment and be productive. You might be surprised how much more productive you can be if you don’t have social media or email notifications popping up every few minutes. Even keeping your phone on vibrate isn’t as effective as blocking the apps entirely.  There’s still that desire to check your phone if you hear it buzz or feel the vibration in your pocket.

5. No Cheating

No cheating during your workday.  Don’t shut off the apps so you can check social media while you’re the clock. Not only does that defeat the purpose of using the app blockers, but it will also take you even longer to get back on task.  Studies have shown that it takes the average person upwards of 25 minutes to return to their original task after a distraction.

That means that if you spend two 5-minute blocks of time checking social media or email notifications, you’ve effectively lost an hour of work, negatively impacting that productivity that you’ve been working so hard to obtain. No cheating!

Try It Out

Try out an app blocker or a program like RescueTime when you start your work this week.  You might be surprised by how much more you get done during the day!

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

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