How To Stay Focused Online: Best Tools And Essential Tips
Last Updated on February 8, 2023 by Bert-Jan Schilthuis-Ihrig
Your time on the line, and your ability to stay focused online will swing the odds in your favor or knock you over the gushing falls to your doom.
That may sound dramatic, but that’s because this is a serious matter. Staying focused online influences how much money you make and how much time for the rest of your life you have.
Your mental health and happiness are hanging in the balance. The tone is *just* dramatic enough. It’s good you came here today.
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Intro To How To Stay Focused Online
First of all, let me just say: well done! I reckon you started Googling “staying focused online” immediately after failing to do so. You’ve done something productive with your lack of focus, and that shows a lot of self-awareness.
Focus is not out of your control. We’re all neurologically different, but you still have the ability to hone your focus, be more productive and have a healthier work routine.
It may feel difficult and elusive to stay focused online, but there are many tips and tools that will tangibly help you stay focused online and drastically improve your life (oh yeah, it’s that big).
3 Steps To Stay Focused Online
When I first started out as a Pinterest manager, honing my focus seemed like an impossible task. Every time Pinterest gave me troubles, I would disappear into a dark hole filled shiny reel, shorts and TikToks.
Over time, I learned that staying focused online is not overly complicated or beyond anyone’s reach. Follow these simple steps to find your mojo.
Step 1 To Staying Focused Online: Anchors Of Your Prize
What is the reward for the hard work you do? Is it taking care of your family? Finishing your online degree to have the career that you’d been dreaming of?
Or maybe you’re like me and an online business is your answer to everything: working from anywhere in the world on my time.
Whatever that thing is for you, it needs to be emotional and visible. I call these “anchors” because they should immediately center you around what you’re doing this for.
If you were in a sinking ship, you wouldn’t need to be worried about staying focused. The “why” would be omnipresent and motivating.
Your “why” needs to be as clear and in your sight. A few easy places for anchors are:
- A label or post-it note on your laptop screen
- A custom-printed planner cover
- Your phone background
- A photo on your desk
Step 2: Identify Your “I’m Bored” Dopamine Hit And Replace It
When we’re unfocused and we change tabs from what we’re working on, we do so looking for a dopamine hit in our brains.
Common forms of digital dopamine hits are checking emails and social media. A Harvard study discovered that notifications such as these send dopamine along a reward pathway, making us feel rewarded.
I’d bet you 5 beers (let’s just make a night of it) that you’ve opened a new tab and gone to one of your “I’m bored” sites on complete autopilot.
You were bored, and your subconscious mind routed you to the dopamine hit that it was craving.
Form a new habit response that will reinforce your focus instead of scrambling it.
When you feel yourself becoming distracted, instead of reaching for a new tab or your phone, try one of these responses:
- Take 5 deep breaths
- Straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back, stretch your neck and chest
- Pick up your water bottle and take a few sips
- Look at your anchors and let yourself emotionally react to them for a moment (that a dopamine release in itself)
You are not powerless against that feeling of boredom. Identify
Be honest with yourself for a minute: are you always bored at work? This could be a wider issue than just struggling to stay focused online. Maybe it’s time for a new job.
But I digress; back to the rehabilitation steps.
Step 3: Utilize Free Tools To Help You Stay Focused Online
Let’s be honest: your lack of focus has cost you money at some point. There doesn’t need to be any more outbound cash flow on the focus issue. Instead, utilize these very straightforward and effective tools to help you stay focused online.
This section is so meaty that it deserves it’s whole own section.
4 Free Tool To Help You Stay Focused Online
Tool 1: Delete Apps That Make It Difficult For You To Stayed Focused Online
I bet your fingertips are burning and you already know which apps I’m talking about for you.
What’s your poison? Tiktok? Facebook? The BBC app?
My personal productivity quick-sand app is Instagram. Curse you IG reels! Why are they so entertaining.
The solution? Delete it from your phone!
It’s not permanent; that app will be waiting for you to hit “restore” in the app store when your workday is over.
If only you could keep yourself from scrolling on your laptop so easily.. Oh, but ya can!
Tool 2: Use A Google Chrome Extension To Block Out Your Focus Pitfalls
The Google Chrome extension is called “GO FUCKING WORK,” and yes, the name is indeed in all caps! I would never voluntarily scream that at you.
Not only does it not let you visit hooligan websites, it actually redirects you to motivational messages when you type in blocked URLs.
You can block any website, and can even set timeframes. Add work hours if you’d like, or offer yourself a 5-minute pause from your block in the middle of the day.
If you’re hardcore enough, you can even take away the pause option so that you cannot access the site anymore while the extension is running.
Let me give you a quick 1-minute tour of this extension to help you stay focused online:
Tool 3: Get Rid Of Social Platform Newsfeeds
…while still having access to necessary features
Blocking out some websites completely will help immensely with staying focused online, but sometimes the sites that distract us are ones that we need to be on.
Take online business owners: for any of them, Facebook is a must. It’s very common to run and manage Facebook groups, or look for potential clients there. I have Facebook to thank for the majority of my Pinterest coaching clients.
You can still improve your focus while taking care of business with the News Feed Eradicator Google Chrome extension.
It’s a very straightforward extension that looks like this:
You select the news feed you’d like to eradicate and simply toggle it “on.” The plugin will replace the selected newsfeed with a motivational quote, while leaving you with the full capabilities of the platform itself.
In real-time, it looks like this:
This is my Facebook newsfeed with an eradicated newsfeed. You can see that I can still post, respond to messages, manage friend requests, access groups and do anything that I would normally do on the platform.
In lieu of a news feed, I simply see a motivational quote. What an improvement from the political content that makes me respect certain relatives less and less!
Tool 4: The Timer On Your Phone
When all else fails and you must get something done, use the time on your phone to help you stay focused online.
Decide that you will complete or progress on a task for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever. Challenge yourself to complete tasks in that time frame and race the clock.
This productivity tactic was life-changing for me. It used to take me so long to handle my Pinterest management daily client load, but then I discovered the timer hack.
Setting a timer and challenging yourself to beat it will make you laser-focused.
Staying Focused Online Final Thoughts
If your only takeaway from this blog post on stayed focused online, let it be this:
You are not too lazy, undisciplined or unmotivated to be focused online. Your lack of focus is not something you should feel bad about, but it is something you’re responsible for managing and navigating.
Social media, smartphones and the internet, in general, are all designed to be fast and catch our attention. Working online in that environment all day takes an immense amount of self-control to block the other noise out.
Use the tools at your disposal. If they don’t work, burn through tools until you find the ones that really stick and help you stay focused online.
A better life is waiting on the other side. It’s worth it.