Google’s Chrome browser comes packed with thousands of extensions that can simplify your life. Similar to apps on your smartphone, these extensions range in functionality from social media to productivity and security. With a few quick downloads, your browser could be doing more for you. Here are some of my favorites for a productive new year:
StayFocusd: Have you ever taken a break from writing a blog post or working on a business plan to jump on Pinterest — then look at the clock a bit later and realize you’ve wasted an hour of your life looking at cheesy butter biscuit recipes? I know I’ve been there. Luckily, there’s an extension to cut down the minutes (or hours) you spend on your most time-sucking sites. You can set the amount of time you will allow yourself to spend on certain websites every day. Then, StayFocusd will block your access to that site for the rest of your day.
Need to make some sales calls? Set StayFocusd to “nuclear.” This will block you from using your browser for a set amount of time so you can focus on your offline tasks.
Pocket: Pocket is a place to store articles to be read at a later time. If you see something that looks interesting but you don’t have time to read it, just “put it in your Pocket” (get it?). There’s an iPhone, iPad and Android app that can be integrated with the Web browser, which means you can save something on your iPhone between appointments, then read it on your laptop another day. It’s a handy way of keeping track of inspiration and ideas for content on days when you’re suffering from a case of writer’s block.
Buffer: The social media management app simplifies an already user-friendly experience to make sharing a two-click process, no matter where you are on the Web. Simply click the extension icon and you’ll see a pop-up box where you can post your finding to social media or schedule it for later. If you’re sharing relevant content from different websites (and you should be), this app automatically pulls in the title of the article and shortens the link. Simply click “share now” if you want to post it right away, or select “schedule post” to pick a later time to share. If you set aside an hour on Sunday to browse articles to share, you’ll be able to easily schedule out your posts with a few clicks.
Wunderlist: If you’ve got sticky notes all over your desktop monitor as you’re reading this right now, let me introduce you to your new best friend. Wunderlist is your grocery list, your work to-do list, your cleaning house task list and more, all with one simple interface. You can add notes, dates and reminders to your tasks to stay on top of things. Notifications can be sent over your browser, desktop or through your phone or tablet when you also download the app. There’s also a pro version for $4.99 per month that could be particularly useful if you use Wunderlist frequently for business. With the Pro version, you can attach an unlimited number of files to tasks on your list and also assign tasks to other users.
TimeDoser: Whether you’re prone to distraction or to working for hours without getting up, you can benefit from TimeDoser. This extension works on the Pomodoro method, which involves working in 25-minute chunks with a five-minute break in between. The small breaks help you avoid procrastination by giving you a small break to look forward to, and also reminds you to get up and move around if you’re prone to gluing yourself to your computer at times. The extension functions as a small timer window that you can move around your screen, and you can also use it offline. I’ve found that my writing is more productive when I know I’ll have a short break coming up soon, and I work more efficiently after getting up and moving around for a few minutes.
Grammarly: If your New Year’s resolution is to write more, this handy tool can help you out. Think of Grammarly as your own personal editor, looking for spelling and grammar mistakes wherever you type. Whether you’re writing a blog post, social media post or email, Grammarly will mark mistakes it finds with an underscore. If you hover over the word, Grammarly will give you suggestions that you can click to apply the change in the text. It checks your content as you write, in real time, saving you some editing time. The extension is free, but there is also a premium plan that integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Word and performs more advanced grammar checks. As real estate marketing shifts to a more inbound approach, content will continue to be king. This extension will give your writing a boost and help you avoid simple mistakes.
These extensions can help you make the most of your time online and boost your productivity in the new year. What are your online goals for the new year? Waste less time, write more, post to social media more frequently? I’d love to hear your goals and what tools you’ll use to achieve them!