With the increase in Web-based apps and utilities, people are using browsers as their primary production software. They act as text editors, research tools, and even communication systems. Unfortunately, they can also be an enemy to productivity.
Browsers give you access to the world. This world includes everything from news and information to business documents and communication. They also come with a side-effect of being inherently distracting. The same software you use to edit that spreadsheet gives you access to YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit.
Chrome has become a dominant browser in the desktop market in recent years, overtaking Internet Explorer and Firefox according to popular trackers including: StatCounter, W3Counter, and Wikimedia which frequently publishes traffic analysis to the public.
One of the reasons for Chrome's success is its extensive library of extensions which includes a multitude of tools to help users with anything from productivity to social interaction.
We have written about Chrome extensions before, focusing on apps that are available offline as well as on. In this article, we will take a look at some incredibly useful Chrome extensions that can enhance your productivity.
A slow browser can be detrimental to productivity. This is especially true when you have multiple tabs running at the same time. Some pages require more resources than others, and there are times when you want to have the tab available, but you don't necessarily want it hogging up valuable CPU when you're not using it.
Enter The Great Suspender an extension that enables you to suspend tabs that you don't need without losing them. You can reload the suspended tabs with a click, and a list of suspended tabs is kept, complete with favicon and the page title.
The Great Suspender can also be found on GitHub if you want to take a look at the source code, and/or contribute to the project.
NOTE: Modern versions of Chrome may already put inactive tabs in a sleep state, freeing up system resources for active tabs.
A good password manager can be a great asset to anyone's productivity. It saves you the time of having to enter passwords and other important sensitive information while making it easier to create and deploy complex passwords that keep your data safe.
LastPass is one of the few password managers that not only works as a browser extension for Chrome (as well as Firefox, Opera, Safari, and IE) but also runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
It's also free to use with the option of a premium account that enables mobile functionality at $1/month.
Looking for an alternative? We have actually listed several excellent password managers in a previous blog post.
Having trouble staying focused throughout the day? With so many distracting websites out there, you might find yourself drifting off task without something in place to keep you focused.
Enter StayFocusd, a Chrome extension that enables you to block distracting sites for a set period of time.
When distraction sets in, you need but to hit the NUKE 'EM! button to put those cat videos out of reach so you can get back to what is important.
It helps to know how you are spending time on the Web, especially if you are trying to improve personal efficiency. Are you spending 20 minutes per day on Facebook, or 2 hours? Did you take three hours to bang out that Google doc?
Web Timer is a free Chrome extension made to keep track of how much time you spend on specific sites, so you don't have to.
If you do a lot of your work from Web apps like Google Drive, this can be a lifesaver when you need to account for time spent on a project.
Web Timer is also available via GitHub.
One of the key components to pretty much any productivity strategy is task management. Finding out what you need to get done, and being able to tick those items off the list makes it a lot easier to ensure that you don't miss that important assignment.
Wunderlist is an incredibly detailed productivity powerhouse that makes it easy to build to-do lists across multiple areas of your life (work, home, etc.) and access them from pretty much anywhere.
These days it is common to have multiple cloud storage accounts. Clients, friends, and even family might ask to share files with you through services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, etc. How do you keep up with which files you have where?
This is where Synata comes in. With a Synata account, you can link your various cloud storage accounts and access them from one single location.
No longer will you have to search each account independently. All of your files are searchable and accessible in one place. This can be a huge timesaver.
URL shorteners are used all the time. They are used by brands to keep track of how many people are clicking a link, social media users to keep character counts down, and by malicious entities that want to trick you into going somewhere you wouldn't otherwise want to be.
Enter View Thru, a simple Chrome extension that lets you see where a link will take you by moving your mouse cursor over it.
This might not inherently increase efficiency, but it can certainly come in handy if you work in an environment where using shortened URLs is part of the job.
Pocket is a one-stop shop for clipping and keeping interesting links, videos, and other content that you just don't have time to look at while you're working.
Throughout the day, just about everyone can seem like they are on a mission to distract you from your task. A cat video here, a tear-jerking personal triumph story there... There is no telling how much of this stuff gets shared in IM windows at offices around the world.
Pocket gives you the ability to save this nonsense and go back to it when you have the time to do so.
After all, what's the fun of being more productive if it doesn't give you time to go back and enjoy a YouTube video (or twenty) when the work is done?