Best Apps to Help You Focus and Block (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)

Best Apps to Help You Focus and Block (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)
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What is the best app blocker?

When I'm watching movies, going to theme parks, or hanging out with my pals, it's difficult for me to get work done. So, what makes me think I'll be able to get stuff done online?

Yes, the internet is a place where work gets done, but there are always distractions only a click away. You could argue that it's a matter of discipline, and you'd be correct, but the chances are stacked against you. At this point, the internet is a dopamine slot machine. Our generation's brightest minds are working nonstop to "improve engagement," which is a tech euphemism for "doing everything possible to persuade you to spend every waking hour browsing and like stuff." Using willpower alone to combat this is like taking a water cannon to a nuclear war.

This is why it's perfectly OK to use tools to aid in the development of the discipline. Distraction-blocking software shines in this situation. When you use these attention apps, you won't be able to open anything distracting because it won't operate. Instead, you'll see a reminder that you set the software to block apps, along with an encouragement to get back to work. It feels strangely liberated.

Best Apps to Help You Focus and Block (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)


What is a focus app, exactly?

How do we assess and test apps?

All of our top app roundups are produced by people who have spent a significant amount of time using, evaluating, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, putting them through their paces, and rating them against the category's criteria. We never accept payment for app placement or referrals to other websites in our articles because we respect the faith our users place in us to provide honest assessments of the categories and applications we evaluate. Read the complete rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog for more information on our methodology.

Website blocker apps aren't the same as parental control software, so don't mix them up. No, these tools are for you, and they should aid in the development of improved habits. We conducted a thorough study in this category and considered dozens of possibilities before evaluating them against our criteria. The finest distraction blocking apps, in our opinion, should be able to achieve the following:

A list of websites and/or apps can be blocked (determined by you)

Allow you to establish a timer and/or a schedule.

Disablement would be inconvenient (at the very least).

Encourage others.

Furthermore, because we're thinking about work, we only looked for apps that operate on computers—no mobile-only apps here. Here's what we think is the best focusing software.

The 15 best apps for focusing and avoiding distractions

SPY24 is an app that blocks distractions on all of your devices at the same time.

Serene is ideal for organizing and executing deep focus sessions.

Cold Turkey Blocker is a system-wide blocking tool that can be used on a regular basis.

LeechBlock NG is a free browser extension that blocks websites.

RescueTime is a time-tracking program with a built-in website filtering feature.

For getting you to put down your phone, there's a forest.

For a nuclear option, self-control is required.

The best distraction-blocking app for all of your devices at once

SPY24 is an acronym for "Special Purpose (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android,)

The majority of distraction blockers only operate on the device you're now using. SPY24 can block distractions on all of your devices at the same time, including webpages and apps. No more banning Instagram on your PC only to open it on your phone seconds later. When you start a session, all of your distractions are blocked.

Create as many blocklists as you'd like before starting or scheduling a session. There's a lockdown mode that prevents you from editing your blocklists while a session is running—keep that in mind if you're prone to sabotaging your own good intentions. There are also focus sounds available as an option, which are essentially ambient background noise from coffee shops or nature.

The disadvantage is that there is no long-term free version; instead, there is a limited trial that allows you to run six distraction-free sessions. However, it should be ample time to see if it will work for you.

SPY24 pricing: Premium starts at zero dollars. The best focus software for planning and executing deep focus sessions.

Download App Blocker

Which Devices Are Compatible With SPY24 App Blocker ?

SPY24 Android App Blocker is compatible with all Android smartphones running Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 or higher; nonetheless, to avoid any inconsistencies, we recommend that you check our Compatibility Page.

How Do I Disable Unwanted Apps?

With SPY24, blocking undesirable apps is simple. To block an app, log in to your SPY24 account and access the "installed apps" tab on the SPY24 Dashboard page. You can see all of the apps that are installed on the monitored device there. To block an app, click the "Block" button next to its name.

How Do I Unblock the Apps That Have Been Blocked?

You may use the same button to unblock an app once it has been blocked (once an app is blocked, only then you can see the option for unblocking it).

With SPY24, which apps can I block?

All stock and third-party apps can be blocked with SPY24. However, we recommend that you contact our customer service team for further information.

Is it possible for my child to find out that I have blocked apps on their phone?

Yes, SPY24 sends a popup command to the monitored user alerting them that their guardian has prohibited a specific program. To avoid any dissonance, make sure you communicate to your youngster about app banning ahead of time.

Y-PRODUCTIVE

Y-PRODUCTIVE is more than just a website and app blocker; it's a full-featured productivity program that measures how much time you spend working, what's preventing you from getting things done, and helps you to block out distractions.

We are distracted at least 40 times per day, according to Y-PRODUCTIVE, but research suggests that this figure is substantially greater in the digital age. Y-PRODUCTIVE promises to help you become more productive in a matter of days by identifying and eliminating distractions from your working day.

Features:

Y-PRODUCTIVE registers your web and desktop activities as "Productive" or "Unproductive," which tracks the amount of time you spend on webpages or apps and counts the number of distractions you encounter.

Focus Mode: On Safari, Firefox, or Chrome, use the built-in automated website filter to block distracting websites.

Categorization of Activities: Create a unique working environment that meets your specific requirements.

Projects: Assign your assignments to the appropriate projects and see a summary of your progress.

Productivity Reports: Get a summary of your performance and time spent on tasks or projects over the course of a day, week, or month.

Pricing: €59 one-time price, €6-€7 per month, with a free trial option.

What do Y-PRODUCTIVE users have to say about it?

ZERO RESISTANCE

ZERO WILLPOWER is a website filtering program that is as simple as it gets. You can only use the Safari browser on iOS, and you can't block apps, but this could provide further blocking in addition to one of the solutions we've looked at that only works on laptops and desktops.

Features:

Website blocking: Use the iOS Safari browser to ban websites.

$1.99 for a one-time payment

What do Self Control users have to say about it?

On iTunes, ZERO WILLPOWER has a 4.3/5 rating based on 51 reviews, with the majority of the criticism being on the fact that it is only available for the Safari browser.

“Mmmm… I'm a little disappointed. I have Chrome on my phone and was hoping to have the website list banned, but I didn't notice the warning at the bottom of the app description stating that this software also works with Safari. Because it works well with Safari, the software receives three stars. However, because I paid $2 for this, it was docked a score for not blocking sites on the superior web browser software." — Ursalarose, user of ZERO WILLPOWER

"The Most Effective and Unique Blocking Technique!" So far, we've learned that the programme can block websites for 1 to 24 hours, which is similar to how many other website blocks work. The clever element is that the websites are blocked even after the timer has expired. The trick is that you don't have the choice to unblock websites while the timer is running, but you can after it has finished. It's astonishing how many distractions you can avoid just blocking websites by default!" - User with ZERO WILLPOWER

Browsing with Intention

Mindful Browsing is a free, open-source Chrome plugin that attempts to help you manage your online time and be more productive. It doesn't actually prohibit you from visiting any websites; instead, it asks if you're sure you want to visit the ones you've selected.

You may also make a list of tasks you'd rather be doing with your time, and the extension will remind you to finish that project or learn that language you promised yourself you'd learn.

Then it's up to you to decide whether to stay away by clicking "Actually, Nah" or "Yes, for 10 minutes" to proceed. If you visit one of your recommended websites, Mindful Browsing will remind you after 10 minutes that you should be doing something else.

It's a basic piece of software, but it can provide you with just the right amount of self-control to keep you away from those time-wasting websites without completely keeping them out.

Or maybe not.

Features:

Interruptions from websites: A page asks whether you're sure you want to visit the websites you've marked as potential time-wasters.

Reminders: After 10 minutes on a list of websites, Mindful Browsing will prompt you to return to the work at hand.

Mindful Browsing does not keep track of your internet activities.

Source code is freely available online. You have complete control over the code, so you can be sure you're not being followed.

Free of charge

What do consumers of Mindful Browsing have to say?

On the Chome Web Store, Mindful Browsing has a 4.6/5 rating based on 29 reviews, and the extension has received a lot of positive feedback. Although there are some feature requests, users like the extension's simplicity and open-source nature. Simplicity is often a difficult balance to strike.

"Does exactly what it says... and gives you that shove to do something different... like go for a walk or drink a glass of water instead of staring at the laptop.." — Joyce Nkambi, a user of Mindful Browsing

"It was exactly what I needed!" This add-on motivates you to do activities you enjoy rather than browsing, which depletes your happiness over time. So the next time you try to "Like" your friend's dull images on Facebook, you'll have a second chance to sketch, play an instrument, learn a language, or write a book." — A Google user who practices Mindful Browsing

There are plenty more Mindful Browsing reviews on its Chrome Web Store website, and it's completely free to test it out.

StayFocused

StayFocused is a free Chrome plugin that has some impressive blocking features. You can't ban apps, and you're limited to the Chrome browser, but you can block websites across devices if you're signed in to Chrome and have the extension enabled.

You can restrict access to the entire internet, select websites, or specific pages. If you wish to utilize a limited number of sites while blocking everything else, you can block the entire web and build a list of exceptions.

The time restriction function allows you to spend a specified amount of time on prohibited sites (for example, 10 minutes), but you can also set it to "0" to totally block out all of your listed sites - it all depends on how rigorous you want to be with yourself.

Features:

Block the entire internet, all websites except those on your exceptions list, or only the sites on your Blocked Sites list.

Block entire websites, specific sorts of material, or individual pages with URL blocking.

Setting a timer to limit the amount of time you spend on prohibited sites is a good idea.

Block sites immediately after your time limitations have been reached, or arrange a specified time for them to be blocked.

Pricing: On the Chrome Web Store, StayFocused is rated 4.5/5 based on 7,028 reviews. Some people want more functionality, while others like the relative simplicity - you must decide for yourself.

1Focus

1Focus makes blocking websites and programs on Mac devices simple, and it blends in flawlessly with the OS. Unfortunately, there is no iPhone version at this time, so you won't have the cross-device capability, but it's still a capable blocker.

There's a free version with all of the basic functions, and a paid version with the option to block sites by category, schedule recurrent blocks, and/or block all sites and apps that aren't on your list of exceptions for only $0.99/month.

Features:

In Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera , you can block specific websites.

Block apps that are interfering with your jobs, such as web browsers and games.

Allow access to banned websites and apps for a limited period of time.

Pause: When you truly need to utilize a prohibited site or app, you can use the optional pause function.

Website categories: Filter webpages based on their category (pro version only).

Blocks that recur: To gain more control, set up recurring blocks — for example, Monday through Friday (pro version only).

Exceptions: Only allow access to the websites and apps you designate (pro version only).

Versions are available for free and for a fee. $0.99/month

What do 1Focus users have to say about it?

1Focus presently has a 3.6/5 rating on iTunes, with the majority of the feedback being positive, while some users appear to be perplexed by the functionality. However, it appears that much of this is due to user error.

tranquillity (macOS, Windows "coming soon")

Serene is a productivity system built around periods of profound focus, not just a distraction blocker. When it's time to buckle down and get some work done, users create a list of websites and apps that they find distracting, then block them. But there's more to this place than that.

The software is designed to help you arrange your day. Make a list of how many projects you want to work on and how long each one will take. Then, when you're ready to work, press the Go Serene button to begin a timer. Every time you try to open a site that you shouldn't, all of your distractions will be blocked, optional concentration music will play, and you'll be informed that it's time to focus and displayed your countdown timer. These parts complement each other nicely, as you're not just avoiding distractions but also reminding yourself of your goals.

Serene's Zapier integrations, which can create focus sessions from programs like Trello, Asana, Todoist, and any other task management app you can think of, can help you streamline your concentration sessions even more.

The cost of serenity is $4 per month. The free trial period is restricted to ten hours of deep work.

The best focus app for system-wide blocking on a timetable

Blocker for Cold Turkey (Windows, macOS)

In a nutshell, Cold Turkey Blocker is adaptable. Install this site-blocking app, and you'll be able to build lists of websites and desktop apps to block, as well as set a blocking schedule. During the workday, you could, for example, restrict social media and video sites. When the workday is done, you might also blockwork apps like Slack. It's all up to you. You can also manually toggle the block on and off if you wish. There's even an option called Frozen Turkey that stops you from using your computer at all: switch it on, and you'll see a blank screen until the scheduled outage ends.

You can't get around it by switching browsers because this is a system-wide utility, not just a browser plugin. But it goes much further—there are a variety of variables that prevent future versions of yourself from achieving your current goals.

You can disable the Time & Language settings, preventing you from working around a planned interruption by altering the time on your computer. You can prevent yourself from using the Chromium Task Manager, which you could use to disable the blocking extension in principle. You can even prevent Cold Turkey Blocker from being uninstalled until your scheduled blocking is complete. I could go on, but the point is that you have the ability to stop yourself from working around your obstacle. If you're prone to self-sabotage, give this a shot.

Pricing is $39 for the Pro package, which includes unlimited blocking, scheduling, and the ability to block both desktop apps and websites.

The best free website blocker for your browser

LeechBlock NG is a new version of LeechBlock (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera)

LeechBlock NG (NG stands for "next-generation") is a free distraction-blocking tool that works with most major browsers and provides a variety of options. You can create lists of sites to ban and then restrict access to them in various ways.

You can block apps altogether at specific periods, which is quite simple to do. Alternatively, you can set restrictions to limit your time spent on distracting apps. For example, you may set aside 20 minutes each day for YouTube or four minutes every hour for Twitter. If you want to be even more particular, combine time limits with a schedule—for example, five minutes of Instagram every hour between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can also set a one-time "lockdown" schedule if you don't want to fool with schedules.

It's a powerful tool, especially for a free one, and you can even lock down the settings during block sessions. The only drawback is that because this is a browser extension rather than an app, you can get around it by simply switching browsers. LeechBlock, on the other hand, should function beautifully if you can avoid that temptation.

LeechBlock is available for free.

The best time tracking software with a built-in website blocking RescueTime

It's Time to Recover (Windows, macOS, Android)

RescueTime is one of the best time tracking tools, not just a distraction buster. It does, however, have a distraction-blocking function called FocusTime, which uses your time tracking history to block distractions.

This combines with the information you've already given RescueTime, allowing you to label apps and webpages as productive, distracting, or extremely distracting. You can choose to prohibit distracting apps or anything else that hasn't been labeled as productive in FocusTime. It's a terrific approach to block distractions without having to create a separate block list, especially if you're already looking for a time tracker.

Using RescueTime's Zapier connectors, you can block distractions automatically and do things like arranging a daily FocusTime session.

RescueTime costs $12 per month. Distraction blocking is not available in the RescueTime free version.

The best focus app for getting you to put your phone down.

The woods (Android, iOS, Chrome)

Your phone is a time machine, but not in the sense that you may think. It's far too easy to pick it up and then realize it's been a couple of hours. Forest is a cute software that can help you with that.

The concept is straightforward: you launch the app and tell it you want to plant a tree. Then you put your phone on the table. Your tree will die if you pick up your phone and switch to another app. Your tree will live if you give it another 25 minutes. You'll eventually develop a forest of trees as a memento of all the time you spent getting things done rather than scrolling around Twitter. Additionally, if you pay for the app, your attention time may be used to help fund real trees through a partnership with Trees for the Future.

Forest is also available as a Chrome plugin, allowing you to grow trees on your computer. This software functions similarly to the others on this list, with the addition of the ability to load distracting websites if desired. Overriding the block has one drawback: you'll have to deal with a deliciously warped replica. You're cautioned, "This will kill your cute, little tree." It gets worse: if you try to gaze at something else, you'll be told that "your tree is dead." Sure, it's manipulative, but it's manipulating you into using your time wisely. It's preferable to the reasons why most apps manipulate you.

Forest is available for free on Chrome and Android, and for $1.99 on iPhone. The Android Pro edition is a one-time fee of $1.99 that includes device sync and more tree varieties.

For Mac users, the best focus software is a nuclear choice.

Self-discipline is a skill that (Mac)

SelfControl appears to be simple: there's a blocklist, a dial for adjusting the length of your block time, and a start button. That is all there is to it. But there's one thing that sets it apart: it's impossible to undo.

This app is quite difficult to use. Even if you close the app, all of your distractions remain blocked. Neither deleting the software nor restarting your computer will solve the problem. Once you've set the timer, the only way to turn off blocking is to completely reinstall macOS (which would delete all of your apps, settings, and documents).

None of the other apps on our list come close to this level of permanency when it comes to limiting distractions. This programme is for you if you're the type who starts blocking and eventually caves.

How effective are you really?

We looked at free and commercial tools that can block sites and apps across all of your devices, as well as programs that only function on desktop or mobile — for any budget. It may take some time to find the right tool/mix of tools for your workflow and preferences, but I'm confident that testing out the apps in this article will help you become a more productive person.

The only remaining question is how productive can you truly be when all distractions are removed?

Is it Possible to Block Apps at Specific Times?

I was in the zone the other day. I'd gotten a decent night's sleep, had my coffee, and was ready to take on the day. Then the alerts began to sound. A deluge of emails poured in. Updates on LinkedIn. In my fantasy football league, there has been a flurry of trades approved. My mojo had vanished. Smartphone alerts are frequently recognized as the most significant professional distraction, so I'm not alone. Is it possible to block apps at specific periods of the day?

Was it my fault that I became distracted?

I prefer to believe it wasn't since I always put my phone on silent. But, in my haste to get through the day, I completely forgot about it. I would not have this problem if there was a mechanism to disable these distracting apps at a certain time, such as when I need to focus on work.

This isn't simply wishful thinking, as it turns out. Apps can be blocked at specific times. And here's how you can go about doing it.

On Android, you may set time limits and block apps.

Digital Wellbeing, a time management function on the Big G, is quite useful. It's found in Settings and tracks how much time you spend on your phone. It will tell you how much time you spend on a particular app. You may even break down your screen time each day. For example, I was on my phone for over two hours this past Sunday! During the workweek, it was at least under an hour.

In any case, this function will not only track your smartphone activity but will also limit the amount of time you spend on specific apps. You could set it up such that you're only allowed to spend half an hour on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter if you wanted to cut down on your social media usage.

Go to your settings and scroll down to Digital wellbeing to perform this action. You'll get a pie chart of your screen time when you've selected this option. You'll see a list of the apps you use the most if you click it. You'll notice an option to set a timer for each of these apps next to them. Select the duration for which you want the app to be locked.

However, if you wish, there are some standard suggestions: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour. If none of those options work for you, you can go with the bespoke option. If you try to use the app during the time restriction you selected, a pop-up will display alerting you that the program is paused or unavailable because the timer has expired.

On iOS, use Screen Time to 'Lock' Apps.

Apple, like Android, includes a digital wellbeing component. It's known as Screen Time. It can also be used to examine your activities and set app limits, just like its Google counterpart.

Go to Settings, then to Screen Time. Then press continue and choose This Is My Phone. A graph of how you spend your time on your iPhone should be shown. You may also examine a more detailed report of a certain day within the last week or break it down by category.

A list of your most-used apps will appear if you scroll down. However, you'll want to go to the App Limits section. It's here that you can set daily limitations on the apps that most regularly disturb you.

Apple does something a little different here by categorising the apps. Rather than marking off each social media platform, you might choose social networking to set a restriction across all of your accounts. You may also modify days, which is a fantastic feature. So, perhaps you simply want restrictions Monday through Friday and not on weekends. It's no problem. You may make this as unique as you want.

If you try to use these apps after the limit has been reached, a pop-up will notify you that you've reached your limit, just like on Android. However, there is a five-minute warning before you surpass your daily limit. These app restrictions will sync across all of your iCloud devices if you've selected Share Across Devices.

The Best App Blockers (Nine in a Row)

I'm not a fan of Android or Apple's app limit options. It's no problem. There are a variety of other options that may be used to restrict apps at any time. SPY24

For Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome, SPY24 can block distracting websites and apps. Simply choose your device and set your timetable. SPY24 allows you to set up daily or weekly recurrent sessions. Last but not least, you selected your blocklists.

Monthly plans begin at zero dollars after a free trial. However, if you choose the yearly plan, it will cost you $2.42 each month.

Moment

Another function, the moment, allows you to monitor how much time you spend on your phone and which apps you use the most. It will then advise you on how to reduce your consumption by imposing daily limitations or sending you messages to urge you to do so. A "Moment Family" function tracks your family's phone usage and allows you to set limits, such as during supper.

The moment can be found on Google Play and the AppStore.

RescueTime

RescueTime is a program that runs in the background of your computer, tablet, or phone and shows you precisely how much time you spend online. It will also show you which apps and websites are the most distracting, as well as when you are most productive. You can then adjust your habits based on the information you've gathered. The premium edition, on the other hand, includes FocusTime, which blocks these distractions.

What's the nicest thing about RescueTime? It is compatible with all desktop, mobile, and web browser platforms.

OurPact

OurPact, which was created with parents in mind, allows you to schedule screen time according to your child's schedule. There are choices for creating bedtime, supper, and family game night schedules. You may ban applications, the internet, and even text messaging when you create these timetables, much to your children's chagrin.

You can sign up for OurPact for free if you're an Android user.

FocusMe

For Mac, Android, and Windows, FocusMe will restrict apps and websites. You can set apart times when you don't want to be bothered. However, there are a few more beneficial tools here that might help you work more efficiently. A Pomodoro timer and break reminders are among them.

The Android app is available for free download. Other users, on the other hand, can choose between a $2.50/month subscription or a $119.99 one-time purchase.

Flipd

When you lock particular apps on your phone for specific periods of time, they cannot be unlocked if you use Flipd to restart your phone. Flipd, on the other hand, can be used to bring your attention back to the current moment. There's also a wellness center where you may practice mindfulness or get better sleep.

Flipd is available for free on AppStore and Google Play.

AppBlock

AppBlock allows Android users to ban any app or notification temporarily without having to track their usage. Not only is this a simple tool to use, but you can also specify when and where you want these distracting apps to be blocked. You may, for example, set a daily limit of 20 minutes for any of your social media apps when engaged in deep work.

Offtime

This software, like Android and Apple's digital wellbeing services, shows you how much time you spend on your phone. It also allows you to take OFFTIME, which is the amount of time you wish to be free of distracting apps.

You may choose which apps you can't use for Work, Family, or Me Time, which is unique. It's completely free for Android users. However, you'll have to pay $2.99 for it on iOS.

The Basic plan is completely free, while the Pro plan will set you back $29.