Increase Productivity in the Background

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We all respond to two different types of motivation according to an old saying: the carrot and the
stick. But that old adage is a little dated. Sure, the easy way is to make good or bad consequences for
finishing or not finishing your work, but there’s another way to guide your efforts away from pictures
of cats and towards the good stuff: ignorance. Here are a few applications that, for the most part, run
in the background and can help you get things done more efficiently:

Write or Die

Available for the iPad or your regular old machine, Write or Die puts the “prod” in productivity,
according to the website. I’m partial to this nasty little app because it does a great job of encouraging
writing by discouraging the time you spend not writing. See, if you spend a certain amount of time
not writing, then WoD will give you a reminder, ranging from a gently-worded pop-up to actually
deleting what you wrote before. Of course, it’s not for editing or hardcore word processing, but
rather a utility that will get you to pump out material. You can pick it up here for $4.99.


Formerly a Mac-exclusive, Dropcloth is a nifty little app that overlays a solid color window over the
desktop, which I’ve used to much success for clearing the screen for webcasts and to even more
success for blacking out distractions. It’s a huge help if you need to focus on one application, and best
of all, it’s free! You can pick up a copy through lifehacker for Windows and iOS.


There’s something about staring into the warm glow of my computer that, for some reason, makes
me hate the thought of a reasonable bed time. Well, that’s because, according to the makers of f.lux,
computer screens look great because they are designed to mimic natural light, which you probably
shouldn’t get too much of at midnight. f.lux automatically adjusts the color temperature of your
screen depending on time of day, making it easier on your eyes and better for your sleep cycle. This
may be more of a lifestyle app than a productivity one, but I usually do my best work after a decent
night’s sleep. Pick it up free here.


Sometimes, just sometimes, we need a little extra help to stay away from time wasters like Facebook
or whatever it is you like to do. StayFocused is a Google Chrome app that blocks a customizable list
of websites for a certain amount of time, and can be fiddled with to allow those sites for a certain
amount of time. I’m not saying that it’s the most pleasant approach to getting things done, but I’d be
lying if I said it wasn’t effective. You can pick it up for free in the Google Chrome store.

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