Top Five Apps to Help Prevent Writing Distractions


Let’s face it: the lovely, weird world of the internet can be just as toxic as it is enlightening. Whether giggling subversively at hilarious memes comparing Donald Trump’s toupee to an ear of corn or scrolling through an endless sea of kitten-related gifs, it is sometimes a wonder that we can get any writing accomplished at all.



But never fear, as there are useful (and free) apps that exist to help you eliminate distractions that direct your focus away from your current writing endeavor! Let’s explore just a few of the myriad solutions that the internet has spawned to combat those distractions as you crank out that masterpiece and delve into the universe of academia and research.


1.) LeechBlock and Chrome Nanny

As we are all too aware, the internet is positively oozing with distractions and chaos. These site-blocker apps aim to help you save precious writing time by cutting down on sites that “leech” your time. LeechBlock for Firefox and Chrome Nanny for Google Chrome allow you to create “blacklists” where you can specify particular websites to block during any possible time slot or combination of time slots.

The advantage I’ve found with site-blocker apps is that they are highly individualized. For instance, you can block Facebook from 1-3am on Tuesdays only and Twitter from 2-4pm on Wednesdays. Whatever suits your fancy. You can also specify a URL that will automatically pop up whenever you try to access one your blocked websites during the timeslot you allotted. You can amuse or punish yourself with images such as:


However, these apps require a great deal of self-discipline in order to truly be able to maximize your writing time. If your writing motivation falters and you simply cannot resist the intoxicating allure of dank memes, these apps are fairly easy to disable.


2.) The Pomodoro Technique

This app is based on a time management strategy that involves writing or working for 20 minutes with the subsequent reward of a five-minute break. This app already comes programmed with a list of highly distracting websites that it will block as soon as you press the 20-minute timer.

The extremely structured and disciplined nature of this approach may not be suitable for everyone, as you may encounter a stroke of genius or have that glorious “a-ha” moment when you write that requires more than 20 minutes to entertain. Nevertheless, this app may be useful for those who prefer to take frequent, brief breaks in between periods of writing.

3.) Facebook Nanny

If your Facebook usage is costing you some precious writing time, this may be the app for you! Facebook Nanny only allows you to access Facebook to see new notifications or respond to any new messages. Of course, a fair amount of personal discipline is required in order for this app to work for you.

4.) Coffivity

I personally haven’t tried this app yet, but the premise sounds intriguing and promising. Coffivity emulates the sounds of a coffee shop, claiming to create a perfect “blend” of stimulation and chaos. This may be especially beneficial if you are an auditory learner.

5.) Write or Die

Write or Die is a diabolical little application that has helped me immensely throughout the years. You set up a word count goal and a timer and then the magic commences. Write or Die “punishes” you whenever you stop writing with either a gentle reminder, a repeated obnoxious sound, or something called “kamikaze mode,” in which your work unwrites itself; you choose the means. Its premise may sound rather insane at first and Write or Die’s brand of idiosyncrasy probably isn’t for everyone, but I suggest giving it a try if you are struggling with concentration issues or writer’s block, as it can be incredibly useful.


You may experience a fair amount of trial-and-error when experimenting with productivity apps such as the ones listed above, but keep trying until you find that app that helps you unlock and harness your writing potential.


-Sarah F., peer tutor