Hiring and Growth

10 Browser Extensions That Will Help Entrepreneurs Be Less Distracted

Nir Eyal Bestselling author of Hooked and Indistractable 
Nir Eyal's Favorite Productivity Extensions for Distracted Entrepreneurs

As a business owner, you probably need constant access to the internet to successfully run your company. If we could simply turn off our WiFi and get back to work, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Simple time tracking that syncs with payroll.

However, this isn’t realistic for most of us. 

While staying available to clients, customers, and employees is important, we also need to clear out time to focus. We need time to think to come up with creative solutions to our business challenges. We need time to put down our phones and reflect, rather than constantly reacting to every ping. 

We need to learn to become indistractable. 

There are four steps to becoming indistractable, one of which is blocking out the distractions in the first place. And if you’re an entrepreneur who spends a lot of time on the web, browser extensions can be an easy way to help you stay focused.

Below, I’ve outlined 10 of the most useful browser extensions for fighting distractions as a business owner.

What are browser extensions?

Browser extensions live within your favorite internet browser (e.g., Chrome, Safari, Firefox) with extra features that help improve your internet experience. They are easy to install and generally very easy to use, often requiring just a single click to embed in your browser.

Many productivity extensions offer features that can help you work more effectively. If you find yourself constantly fighting the urge to check email or thumb through Instagram instead of focusing on a big project at work, you might want to check out this list.

10 helpful productivity tools for busy entrepreneurs

1. Pocket

This tool is for you if… You constantly find yourself getting sidetracked by interesting and potentially useful articles, videos, and other internet links.

Staying on top of relevant industry news is crucial for any business owners. But if you frequently fire up your laptop only to find yourself several pages—and maybe even several hours—away from actually working, you might be a serial clicker.

It happens to me all the time; a headline catches my eye, and that story had an interesting link to another news article, and then that article linked to a study that I found fascinating.

Before I know it, I’ve spent an hour chasing links.

The Pocket browser extension is available on both Chrome and Safari, and gives you a handy way to earmark content for later. This is especially useful for business owners on the go, since you can save and read articles without an internet connection. As a bonus, you can have the articles you save read to you by Pocket’s text-to-speech capabilities so you can listen while you drive to a client meeting or your office.

Download Pocket here

2. StayFocusd

This tool is for you if… Your frequent visits to time-wasting websites are impeding your ability to get things done.

This browser extension for Google Chrome is a lifesaver if you unintentionally spend large amounts of time on websites that monopolize your time, but don’t help you build your business.

StayFocusd allows you to block pages that prevent you from being productive. Its value lies in its customizability; you can block entire sites, specific subdomains and pages, or even specific types of content within a webpage (like videos or games). For instance, if you’re trying to fulfill a time-sensitive order, and you can’t stop checking Reddit, StayFocusd will make it impossible not to fulfill that order.

If blocking an entire website sounds too extreme, you can configure the extension to only block a page once you have spent a certain amount of time browsing. For example, you could set a time limit of 15 minutes for Facebook. This would allow you to do a quick scan of your business’ Facebook page or post an interesting article, but stop you before you get too off track.

Download StayFocusd here

3. FocalFilter

This tool is for you if… You constantly find yourself getting sidetracked by things on the internet.

Like StayFocusd, this browser extension gives you the power to temporarily block websites that draw you away from your to-do list.

Unlike StayFocusd, this extension blocks the websites you specify right away, and only for a particular amount of time. It also covers a wider range than StayFocusd, as it works on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

FocalFilter can also act as a stricter taskmaster by blocking you from its own controls when activated. Terminating the process and/or uninstalling the tool won’t stop it—only restarting your device will free you of the restrictions you placed.

Download FocalFilter here

4. Freedom

This tool is for you if… You want customizability in how long a website is blocked, when to begin blocking, and on which devices.

The Freedom extension allows you to restrict access to certain websites or take a drastic measure—block the entire internet. It also gives you control over how long to block your list of distracting websites or apps and when to start blocking.

Perhaps its most useful feature is the ability to restrict your access to certain time-wasting websites across multiple devices. 

Download Freedom here

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5. OneTab

This tool is for you if… Your browser window is a jungle of tabs that impacts your device’s performance.

This is a different kind of extension than the ones described above. Instead of limiting your access to certain sites, it helps you clean up your workspace and focus on one thing at a time. It can also significantly reduce your device’s memory usage, allowing you to use your device at full speed.

OneTab allows you to convert your browser window into a single tab containing a list of your previous tabs. You can direct your attention to the task at hand without being distracted by tantalizing content just one tab over.

When you’ve finished your work session and want to get back to comparing eight different hiking backpacks on Amazon (guilty!), you can restore your old tabs with one click (or you can restore one at a time).

Download OneTab here

6. WasteNoTime

This tool is for you if… You want a multifunctional tool that allows you to block distractions and track your internet usage.

This productivity extension is a three-for-one tool that consolidates the features from a few apps above. It has three features:

  1. Time Tracker
  2. Instant Lockdown
  3. Time Quota

As you probably guessed, the Time Tracker shows you what sites you visit and how long you spend on them, allowing you to review and revise your browsing habits.

Instant Lockdown is similar to the first few extensions listed above, as it allows you to limit your access to websites that draw you away from your primary task.

The Time Quota feature gives you the ability to set a limit on how much time you spend browsing certain websites each day.

All three features are valuable on their own, but together they offer an all-in-one productivity booster that you can use to minimize distractions.

Download WasteNoTime for Chrome here or for Safari here.

7. Just Read

This tool is for you if… You want to read articles but don’t want to get distracted by extra features on the article page.

This Google Chrome extension is a smart hack for people who need internet access to get their work done but find themselves caught up in ads, popups, links, and comment sections.

Just Read will give you control over what you read, allowing you to remove all of these distractions and reformat the page into one that is straightforward and easy to read.

Download Just Read here

8. Mindful Browsing

This tool is for you if… You want to focus on your business goals, don’t want to completely cut off your access to certain websites.

If you find yourself losing track of your business goals, this extension might be for you. Instead of blocking you from accessing sites that can act as distractions, it only does three things:

  1. Asks you if you are sure you want to visit one of these sites (that you specify).
  2. Provides a list of things you would rather be doing or should be doing instead, like prepping for a new hire or reading your P&L statement (optional).
  3. Checks in with you 10 minutes later if you do decide to visit the specified site.

The Mindful Browsing extension is not a strict control on your behavior; rather, it acts as a gentle reminder of your business goals and prompts you to consider whether you are working toward them. 

Download Mindful Browsing here

9. News Feed Eradicator

This tool is for you if… You often find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed.

This is a good option for those who have a Facebook business page, yet struggle with the endless scroll of social media. Instead of completely cutting you off from Facebook, it allows you to check in without getting distracted by unimportant posts.

When you activate this extension, you will no longer be faced with a never-ending wall of images, memes, and status updates. Instead, all of this will be replaced with an inspirational quote.

Download News Feed Eradicator for Chrome here

10. DF Tube

This tool is for you if… You love watching (or creating!) YouTube videos, but you frequently get distracted by ads, comments, and suggested videos.

This handy tool allows you to take control of your YouTube viewing habits. Like the News Feed Eradicator, it gives you a way to browse and watch the way you want while also minimizing the chances that you’ll get distracted.

When you turn on DF Tube, you’ll see a minimalist page with only the video you want to watch and key information about the video. It removes ads, the suggested video sidebar, and the list of related videos. 

Download DF Tube for Chrome here

Takeaway

If you’re struggling to fight distraction as an entrepreneur, don’t give up hope! There are tons of apps, tools, and browser extensions available to help you stay focused and on-task without having to permanently block the websites you enjoy spending time on. 

Remember, however, that blocking out distractions is only one of four critical steps to becoming indistractable. Give one (or more) of these tools a spin so you can start reclaiming the most valuable part of your life as a business owner: Your time.


Courtney Ackerman is a researcher, consultant, and author. Nir Eyal is the author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. For more tools for managing distraction and living your best life, visit NirAndFar.com/Indistractable.

Updated: November 1, 2019

Nir Eyal
Nir Eyal Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. He has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology, and business, appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today.

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