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Writing is a highly creative job to handle, which also means it's very hard to organize.

Creativity and productivity are often impossible to combine but this is something we, as professional writers, have to do to earn our living and still have some life.

Writing productivity is tough because writing so much depends on inspiration… especially if you are a freelance writer having the full control over time which means so much temptation daily to get distracted…

Let me tell you what I genuinely used to do when I would open up my browser.

First, I would look at my to-do list for the day. Oh wow! Look at all those tasks! Life sure is going to be busy, I should get right into my work for the day, so I can stay on schedule.

But wait… look at Twitter little grid box sitting there on my homepage. A quick little check wouldn't hurt. And there is Facebook, too. Reddit probably has something interesting. Maybe a tiny peek at my Feedly, just to keep up on the day's news…

While I wish this was an exaggeration, it isn't. My day would start like this every morning, and before I knew it I would have blasted through an hour or two through sheer procrastination.

As someone who works remotely, and so had only myself to keep my work on task, it was productivity poison.

Samsung has designed the "Road to Ultimate Productivity Infographic." Before I show you how to optimize your Google Chrome Experience, enjoy this visual contnet:

Samsung_Ultimate_Productivity_Infographic

 

Optimize Your Google Chrome New Tab for Maximum Productivity

The problem is not what many people claim, that there is an overload of information. It is that there is an overload of entertainment. We have so many different websites, apps and devices fighting for our attention now that staying on task can seem impossible.

Just opening your browser is a temptation. It badly impacts our focus, our workday, and our overall schedule.

Wouldn't it be nice to get past that hurdle and into real productivity?

It can be done, I know from personal experience. These are the browser new tab hacks that can help you become a more productive writer:

[I present several options here because we all have different approaches to productivity, so whichever you stick to depends on what your daily priorities, types of work you perform and what makes YOU more productive. Because you actually have only one default new tab / new tab, you’ll have to choose ONE option below]

 

Turn Your Browser New Tab into Your Work Dashboard

Option #1: Cyfe

Note: To make Cyfe your default new tab, you'll need to install this little extension. Then provide your favorite Cyfe dashboard URL in its settings.

Cyfe is what I personally use to see everything I did, plan to do and want to keep an eye on within one page. Cyfe dashboard consists of widgets which you can customize and rearrange the way that suits. For example, my widgets are:

  • My to-do list I create daily
  • My Google Calendar with upcoming events
  • Google Analytics conversions stats for my main website
  • Current day and time
  • Twitter mentions

 

Cyfe

 

Cyfe combines productivity with minimalism which is why I love it!

Option #2: Home – New Tab Page (Google Chrome Extension)

This is a bit more cluttered version of Cyfe but it has some fun features many people would appreciate like setting a beautiful background.

 

Home - New Tab Page

 

Using this app you can:

  • See "Notifications" (new emails and upcoming calendar events)
  • Access your to-do list
  • See the current day and time
  • Add "Quick links" for sites you access daily.

I removed most of the default quick links keeping Gmail and Google Spreadsheets. Plus I added Google AnalyticsSiteGeek and SpyFu which are the sites I work daily with.

If you have web tools you are using on a regular basis, this is a good place to add all of them. Here's a good list of blogging tools in case you need to extend your collection.

 

Turn Your New Browser Tab into Your To-Do List

Option #3: Dayboard (Google Chrome Extension)

 

Dayboard

What tasks are the most important on your to-do list today?

This tool replaces your usual new tab or start page with a list of all those tasks, as set by you. There will be five tasks, which you can strike off as you complete.

This makes it simple to just jump right into what you need to do. After all, the reminder is staring you in the face. You can also access your task history to see your productivity rate, a great push to keep focused and do what you need to.

 

Option #4: ToDoIs

 

ToDoist

Note: To make ToDoIst your default new tab, you'll need to install this little extension. Then provide your favorite Cyfe dashboard URL in its settings.

I have to be honest and say that this is the to-do list I use myself. It allows you to create projects with tasks, set or remove deadlines, set alerts and reminders, link others to tasks, or set webpages as tasks.

I have found that just having my most important tasks set in bright red as my primary priorities helps me to complete them in a timely manner. And with this tool, I can keep track of everything from professional to life tasks without a problem.

Last year, I found out that I was in the top 1% of users in finishing listed tasks. So apparently, it is doing something to keep me productive.

 

Option #5: Prioritab (Google Chrome Extension)

 

Prioritab

This is an excellent start page alternative. It shows you the top priorities for the day, the week and the month.

Then it counts down how much of the day there is to complete, how much of the month, and how much of the year – which is remarkably motivating, especially if you have tasks you keep putting off to later in the week or month.

Every time you open a tab you will be given this breakdown. So you won't be able to escape the reminder.

Tip: Both Cyfe and ToDoIst can also be used as your browser start-up page. It's a great start of a work day: Seeing your most important widgets and to-do lists is highly motivated.

To make either (or both) your startup page, navigate to Google Chrome Preferences and choose "Open a specific page or set of pages" and then click "Set pages" to give the URLs of your productivity helpers:

browser start-up page

 

Bonus Google Chrome Productivity Hacks

Bonus Productivity Hack #1: Limit Distractions

Productivity can be difficult to maintain, especially when so much work is now done online. How can you be expected to remain focused when there are so many distractions, delightful and otherwise, surrounding us at every turn?

Willpower might work for some, but everyone has days where concentration is just too difficult to come by. Having a few tools that allow you to distance yourself from those productivity killers is always a good idea.

StayFocusd

StayFocusd

Sometimes you just need to remove the temptation.

Set this Chrome tool to block websites of your choosing automatically on set days. So if you have trouble staying off of social media, you can tell it not to allow access from 8 – 5 PM, Monday through Friday, or whatever schedule you may need.

In addition to this, you can set a nuclear option that blocks access for a certain number of hours. Select the box that stops you from accessing the settings page and changing your options.

Cross-Browser Alternative: Cold Turkey. Have multiple browsers? This tool will block websites in the same way as the other two, but across all browsers.

 

Bonus Productivity Hack #1: Avoid Tab Abuse

This is my big one, and a hard habit to break. It is so easy to pin a tab for use later, especially while you are working on something else. The problem is that they add up quick, or can break your concentration if you accidentally click on the wrong tab.

First, you need to limit yourself to the tabs you have at any given time. The amount that you will need for things like work or study will depend on you, so customize it with a reasonable amount for your situation.

My own limit for pins is now five. That allows me to have my email, a music source, and three work related tabs. I will then have active, unpinned tabs open in whatever amounts I need, since those will be closed immediately after use.

For those tabs you want to save for later, all you need is one of the many tools available for the task.

  1. Evernote: Probably the most well known content aggregator on the list, Evernote allows you to collect “scraps” from websites. Gather links,  bits of content, whole blog posts, and more. Easily organize it and sync it with all devices. It creates a whole workspace for your use.
  1. Instapaper: Save, highlight any important points, and read content from anywhere. This is a very simple tool that doesn’t do a whole lot. So it is is perfect for anyone who just wants a standard set of features without the frills.
  1. Read Later Fast: Chrome users can enjoy this extension that is built right into the browser. You save with a single button, then open up the list when you choose. The list is similar to bookmarks, and can be edited.
  1. Pocket: Once called Read It Later, Pocket is connected to Instapaper. This is a version for Mac that is a bit more thorough. There will be no more updates, but Apple users can really get a lot from this app.
  1. Pinterest: Pinterest is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it is great for creating organized lists of content of all kinds, including straight text. On the other, it is too easy to get lost down the rabbit hole when you visit your page and see the updated images on the front page. Watch out for productivity drains!

 

Conclusion

Of course, we have so many options for browsing the web now that distractions can still happen.

That will be a matter of willpower. Turn off your phone, put your tablet in another room… do whatever it takes to stay on task.

Ultimately, it becomes a matter of making the decision to be more productive. These tools can help you along the way, reminding you of what needs to be done, or just blocking you from distractions. But you are your own best productivity coach.