When you think of productivity, to-do list apps and fancy planners probably come to your mind. But what if you could use a tool we usually see as a distraction machine to boost your productivity? I want to show you how I use my web browser of choice, Google Chrome, to stay organized and on point with the things on my to-do list.
Open Your Most Used Sites Automatically
To resist the temptation of clicking over to Pinterest or lolcats.com as soon as you open your browser, set Chrome up so it opens the sites and apps that make you most productive.
To do this, go to Settings and under On Startup, choose Open a specific page or set of pages. You can add which pages you’d like to open by clicking Set pages.
I have mine set to open my calendar, an extension called Momentum (which we’ll get to next), Asana for my daily to-do list, and my favorite background noise generator (more about that later, too).
Use A Start Page
Chrome is a powerful browser, but if we’re being honest the new tab page is a borefest. I like to use an extension called Momentum instead of the default new tab page.
Momentum shows you a nice photo, the current weather, an inspirational quote, and it calls you by name.
Also, you can search the web from Momentum and add your favorite links. There’s even an option for a simple to-do list and cross-device syncing.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes the urge to check Twitter or reddit will creep up on you while you’re trying to work. To keep the time suck from distracting websites at a minimum, check out Productivity Owl.
Set up your free hours in this extension and when it’s time to work, the owl will give you a certain number of seconds at a no-no site before it closes the tab on you.
Productivity Owl comes with a lot of customization options and even a page saver so you can go back to the article or cute cat picture you were trying to look at when the owl scolded you.
Has anyone ever sent you a link that’s way more interesting than whatever you’re trying to get done at the time? With the Pocket extension, you can save those links to read later.
From your pocket account, you can view your saved links on any device. It even comes with tagging and sharing options so you can find and share content.
Keep your web browsing and working experience clutter and distraction free with this ad blocking extension. uBlock makes it easy to block and unblock sites and it isn’t a huge resource user like some of the other ad blocking programs available.
Do you have 102 tabs open at any given time? Does it make you feel lost and overwhelmed?
Use the OneTab extension to wrangle your tabs and still keep them accessible. When you click the OneTab button, it condenses all of your open tabs into a less distracting and more organized list.
Clean Up The Bookmarks Bar
Chrome has a helpful bookmarks bar on the main interface so you can access your favorite bookmarks quickly, but it can get cluttered and confusing if you’ve got a lot of sites on it.
One way you can clean up your bookmarks bar is by removing the site titles. You can remove titles by right-clicking each bookmark and choosing edit or by opening the bookmarks manager in the settings menu.
You can also create folders in your bookmarks bar by right clicking on the bar and choosing Add Folder. Move your bookmarks into the folders and enjoy a more organized web browsing experience.
Set The Mood And Implement The Structure
I love music, but there are times when it can distract me rather than help me get work done. That’s why instead of Spotify or Pandora, I ask Chrome to open Noisli and start playing my favorite saved sounds automatically each morning.
To create a favorite in Noisli, click on the icons for the sounds you’d like to hear. Then click the star icon on the left-hand menu. Click Save Combo and you can name it anything you’d like.
To make your favorite sounds play when you open your browser, click the share arrow on the right side of your favorites. Choose get combo by link and add the link to your Chrome startup pages.
This app gives you a Pomodoro-like timer that allows you to break your work time into manageable chunks. Unlike some other timers, TimeDoser is nice to look at and doesn’t get in your way.
TimeDoser allows you to customize your work and break times to intervals that work best for you and the work you’re doing. I use it not only to keep me on task, but also to remind me to get up and walk away from my desk once in a while.
While I use Google Chrome for my work on the web, many of the things I mentioned above are available for other browsers as well. I hope this post gave you some ideas for tools and extensions you can work into your current routine. Thanks for reading!
I’m a Tucson, Arizona-based web developer. I’ve been blogging since the mid-1990s and I’m knowledgeable in all aspects of maintaining an online presence from design to code to SEO and content creation. I live in an RV with my husband and in my spare time I enjoy photography, hiking, drawing, and playing video games.