Everything You Need to Actually Meet Your Deadlines

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A workplace with constant access to the internet can be a knife in the face of productivity, and a total nuclear disaster for any actual deadlines. Here are a few tools to help you stay on track and on time.

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Illustration for article titled Everything You Need to Actually Meet Your Deadlines

Think (Productivity App)

You're very easily distracted by pretty much everything on your computer. That's not a terrible thing most times—it's on there because you enjoy interacting with it, after all—but it's trouble when you're on deadline. A free app called Think can help with that by blacking out (or dimming) every app but the one you're working in. That way you can keep an organized virtual workspace without being distracted by what's happening in this window over here. Free

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V-Moda Faders

If you work in a noisy office, you probably need to block out your surroundings. But if you're also not the type of person who can work efficiently while listening to music, you're a little screwed. Earplugs are a good solution, but it can look a little rude using the big industrial orange ones; they're basically a huge flashing sign that everyone around you is too annoying. You can use a big pair of on- or over-ear headphones to block the noise without actually listening to anything, or you can get a pair of ear plugs that look like headphones, like these V-Moda Faders, but are actually just shutting your dumb coworkers up for you. $15

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Writer (Word Processing App)

If you have something to write, you're probably working in Word or a Google Doc or some other similarly and counterproductively distracting application. That's why I love Writer for its no-nonsense, barely-customizable text editing. Anything that needs to be formatted can either be done after a paste or manually coded if that's more your fancy. There are similar apps for Windows, or others for Mac, but there is something to be said for not worrying about how big your fonts are or if this word should be italicized and just writing the words you're trying to write. $3

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Anti-Social/StayFocused (Productivity Apps)

This is the single hardest part of working in front of a computer all day: You have a infinite distractions in front of you, and it's up to you to control yourself. Especially if your firewall is relatively lax. One solution is to employ an app like Anti-Social to stop you from visiting those troublesome websites during work, be it Twitter or Facebook or ESPN or whatever (BUT SERIOUSLY, NOT GIZMODO). Another is to get an app to just limit your time on them, like StayFocused. Because self-control is for suckers. $15 (Anti-Social)/Free (StayFocused)

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Freedom (Productivity App)

If your job doesn't require you to be online to communicate or access assets, you should probably just ditch the whole damn internet until you're done with your project. You can use Freedom or similar apps to turn off your computer's networking capabilities for blocks ranging from a few minutes to 8 hours. $10

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Seamless

You shouldn't be eating delivery every day, but when you're on a tight deadline, the 20 minutes it takes you to run to the kitchen to whip something up to keep yourself going matter more than the few extra dollars or calories. Seamless delivery is fast, easy, and available via smartphone app in case you locked yourself out of your internet connection. $10-$15 minimum

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Mark 1 Economy Stopwatch

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This one's courtesy our friends over at Lifejacker. A good trick is to set up a stopwatch with a very rough estimate of how long something should take you. By the time the timer goes off, you should be close to done. Take a few extra minutes (if you need them) to finish, and you'll be able to speed through the rest of your project since your brain is in "this is alllllmost done" mode. $9

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Lead image credit: Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock

DISCUSSION

methylsulfonylmethane
Methylsulfonylmethane

Everything that I have ever written well has started with this image.

The suggestion that you should not do your first draft in a full-featured document editor like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer is a VERY good one. I learned this trick years ago and never looked back. All of my first drafts are done in notepad with dictionary.com open in the other window. No text size, fonts, spellcheck, italics or anything. Then I'll paste the raw text into Wordpad. Here I do my first read-through and revision. I select fonts, sizing, italics/bold, and the initial formatting. STILL no spellcheck at this point. Only after I'm ready for my second or third read-through do I paste the text into OpenOffice Writer to check for spelling errors and do final formatting.

This process has a LOT of benefits. It actually dramatically improved my spelling. With the first read-through done in Wordpad there is still no spelling assistance. You'll find yourself catching a lot of the mistakes on the first revision without the aid of those squiggly red lines. When you do this you tend to remember the corrections and eventually just start spelling it right the first time. I also tend to be way too wordy. Pasting the text from one app to another is a good opportunity to trim fat and keep your text concise. You'll just find yourself thinking about the meaning you are trying to get across much more than the specifics of the words themselves. Its a fantastic process, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who writes frequently in an all-digital format.