There’s a ton of productivity software out there today.
Most of them are generic, and you have to pay a monthly fee to use them.
I know you probably have nothing against paying for a good program or service, but let’s face it — some of the commercial programs out there have as equal or better free counterparts.
Here I present to you five completely free productivity apps for Mac that I personally use and think will be a tremendous help to your focus.
There are two simple requirements for the apps in this list:
- They must be completely free.
- They must be minimalistic with a clear interface and easy to use.
As a writer myself, I always try to find new software to help me with my writing.
Microsoft Word is a great tool for writing if you need editing options, or you need to add pictures and shapes to your document.
But often, when we are writing — we just want to write, nothing else.
For that reason, I think having as simple as possible writing interface is key to your concentration.
Focus Writer has an extremely minimalistic and clear interface, and in my opinion, a near-perfect fullscreen mode. Also, I haven’t yet crashed it which often happens with Word and even with Scrivener.
The Focus Writer app is not very feature-rich, but it has all the features that you need if you just want to write and keep track of your writing.
First, let’s take a look at the fullscreen interface that I customized for my liking:
As you can see, I’ve made the background black, and the text color white. The text color is not completely white (#FFF), rather it’s a little bit grayer.
You can configure a fullscreen like that and it can help with your eye strain.
Another thing I like about Focus Writer is that it offers three features that I find compelling:
You can input your daily goals to keep on track. Many people like to write a certain number of words per day, so you can add that, or make yourself a time limit.
I don’t use many shortcuts, but what I regularly use with this program is the shortcuts for headings, so that I can quickly change heading size with a shortcut without the need to touch my touchpad.
Built in timer
Yep, built in timer, so you don’t necessarily need a Pomodoro timer with this.
Self Control is a free and easy to use application which does one thing — it blocks websites you find distracting.
You launch the program, add in sites you want to block, and press start. It’s that easy.
The blacklist editing screen is simple, add in websites and you’re done. The app will block those websites.
If you want to go hardcore, you can use the whitelist option, which means that you are doing just the opposite — you are listing the websites that you allow access. After that, it will block ALL websites other than those in your whitelist.
After you’ve configured the app, the rest is easy. When you want relief from the distracting websites, you press start, and the specified countdown will start.
You can also use this countdown as a minimalistic Pomodoro timer, so in fact, if you have a hard time with distracting websites and want to use the Pomodoro technique, this program may be all you need.
After you press start, it will show you the countdown timer — and no, if you press the little X on the corner, the app won’t close, it will run in the background and continue blocking those distracting websites.
Reset your computer?
No way, the app still works.
If you’re like me, you have a million windows open at the same time, and everything gets cluttered fast.
Sure you could toggle windows pretty quickly by pressing F3 on the Mac, which shows all the windows in the background, but nevertheless, the clutter itself can be detrimental to your productivity.
Fortunately, I have a solution for you, called Hocus Focus. I love the name already.
The purpose of this program is simple. It hides windows that you don’t use for a given period. The default time is 30 seconds. So if you have windows in the background, and you don’t access them for 30 seconds, it hides them.
Notice that the program doesn’t close the windows or terminate the programs, it only hides them, so they are stored in the background, and you can see the programs from the Hocus Focus menu.
Or you can open them again from your dock.
Of course, you can modify this time period from the program settings, or create whole new profiles for your liking.
In Focus Mode, the time period for windows in the background is set to zero, so it hides inactive windows immediately.
Focus 45 is a small Chrome extension that acts as a soft website blocker.
What I mean by a soft blocker is that while it does block the websites that you want, it grants you access if you really need it. All you have to do is input a code seen on the screen and you can access the website for five minutes.
First, you configure the program, and set up websites that give you a hard time.
Now when you try to access one of those websites, you get the following screen.
You can configure the focusing period and the visiting time limit from the settings.
What I like about the extension is that often we are unconsciously trying to visit distracting websites and all it takes is a small reminder that we are departing from our path.
But if you really need to access Facebook because of your work, you can do so by writing the passcode and it gives you access for a limited time.
We all love Pomodoro timers. But what I look from a good Pomodoro timer is that it’s lightweight, easy to use, and let’s face it, most of us don’t want to pay for a small timer.
So far the perfect simple Pomodoro timer for my use has been Pomodoro Time from the App Store. It has a simple and clear interface, and it does it’s job marvelously.
You input a name for a task that you want to do and click the start button.
You can modify the timers and some other settings. I think these are pretty much all the settings that I could want from a Pomodoro timer.
It even offers you a simple statistics panel.
What productivity apps do you use? Are they free or paid? Tell me in the comments.