Apps and Tools
What are some apps and websites to help me minimize distractions?
When it comes to online learning, finding a work environment free of distractions can be difficult. Although we do not endorse any particular app or company, our students have compiled the following list of free and low-cost apps designed to promote focus, organization, and motivation.
Apps and websites for preserving focus
- BeeLine Reader: This browser plugin helps you stay focused when reading on screen. It’s especially useful for long texts or late-night reading sessions. You can access Stanford’s campus-wide BeeLine license here and learn more about how the technology works on BeeLine's website.
- Forest: This mobile app prevents you from using your phone by growing a tree on your screen. If you navigate away from the app, the tree dies and you must start over.
- SelfControl: This application for macOS allows you to block distracting websites for a designated period of time and display the amount of blocked time remaining on your screen. Alternatively, you can select specific websites to whitelist and block everything else.
- StayFocusd: This extension for Google Chrome browsers lets you pick how much time you’re allowed to spend on a website before it’s automatically blocked. There is also a “nuclear” option that allows you to block the same websites (or alternatively, only allow whitelisted websites) for a certain amount of time.
App and websites for managing tasks and lists
- Google Keep: This Google Account app lets you write, record, and search notes, and stores them on the side of your browser window for easy access.
- Todoist: This list-based app and website help you keep your to-do lists in order. You can organize your lists by category (for instance, you might have a to-do list for each class) and even create recurring tasks.
Apps and websites for writing focus
- Fighter’s Block: This website asks you to type in a word count goal for a piece of writing and then select one of three “fighter” characters to defeat a designated antagonist. Once you’re on the writing screen, you must continue to write, or your character’s health will decrease and the game will end.
- Squibler’s The Most Dangerous Writing App: This website is designed to turn off the internal editor and encourage text generation. You must type for the set number of minutes you select, and if you stop typing for 5 seconds, your words will start to fade and you won’t be allowed to continue (although you can easily download what you have already written). If you use the “hardcore” feature, you won’t be able to see what you are typing.