Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Staying Focused: Six Tools Project Teams Can Use to Avoid Distractions

Staying Focused: Six Tools Project Teams Can Use to Avoid Distractions

For most professionals, struggling to stay focused is a challenge. According to a workplace distraction survey by Udemy, 70 percent of respondents revealed that they were distracted during the workday. Unfortunately, trying to stay on course throughout the day is the norm for many.

Avoiding distractions is especially crucial if you are trying to meet project goals. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue here. There are a variety of digital tools that can help you and your project team to prevent distractions.

What tools should you add to your “check out” list? Take a look at these six apps that can help you stay on course throughout the day.

Cold Turkey

When it comes to avoiding work-based distractions, it helps to have some extra help. Cold Turkey seeks to do what its name implies: helping workers quit distracting websites cold turkey. You can create customized website blocklists, or choose to block the entire internet. Cold Turkey even allows you to block specific or individual websites as well as search engine searches.

In addition to enabling you to block websites, Cold Turkey allows you to block applications. It is also an excellent tool for promoting work-life balance as you can schedule to lock yourself out of your computer so you can only access it when you are ready. If you need a comprehensive tool for preventing distractions that allows you to take control of the process, this is a good app check out.


Need to feel free of the distracting apps and websites that keep you from being productive? Freedom could be the answer. It does the usual:

  • Allows for the scheduling of time to block out websites or apps,
  • Enables you to schedule block times in advance, and
  • It makes it possible to block an unlimited number of websites.

Nevertheless, there are a few things that make Freedom stand apart. Users can sync blocks across all devices (including iOS and Android). Freedom also allows you to listen to ambient sounds as you work throughout the day. Additionally, if you use the Chrome extension, you can track work time and set daily limits.

Mindful Browsing

Maybe you don’t want something as invasive as an app that can block websites. You may also not want to spend the time listing out all the websites you wish to block or take time to set timers. Mindful Browsing strikes a delicate balance between keeping you on task and allowing you to take the lead on avoiding distractions.

The program asks you to list sites that you would like to be mindful of. From there, it will ask you about things you would rather be doing. When you visit a website on the list, the program will trigger a screen that causes you to pause to decide if you want to proceed to one of the websites on the mindful list. It will then gently remind you of what you could be doing if you weren’t on a distracting website.

The app uses soothing imagery and graphics to create a stress-free environment while working, which can put you in the headspace to stay focused. If you only need a slight nudge that helps you get back to work, this may be the app.


Serene is a macOS app that takes all the practical steps of website blocking from Cold Turkey and Freedom and adds another layer: stress-free planning. Serene encourages users to use the app to set one goal for the day, and then break the objective down into smaller and more manageable steps.

In addition to blocking website and application distractions, it also goes a step further by encouraging a holistic and focused work environment. Serene can silence your phone, control household lighting, and even update Slack. If you need an app that facilitates deep work for your projects, Serene could be worth your time.


Sometimes, you just want a simple website blocker, and you may not need all the bells and whistles of a Serene or Cold Turkey. StayFocusd makes it even easier to incorporate distraction avoidance into your daily routine, as using it is as simple as downloading a Chrome extension.

You can block websites and the entire internet, and include sites on a blocked or exceptions list. You can also set a timer for how long a website is blocked, and schedule blocked times in advance. Again, this one is not as comprehensive as other apps, and it only works with the Chrome browser. Nevertheless, it does offer many features, especially for a free tool.


What would happen if you combined Asana and StayFocusd? You would get Y-Productive. This tool doesn’t just block websites; it allows you to plan your day to maximize your productivity. Y-Productive works very much like a productivity tracker and to-do list app. You can set tasks and break projects down into smaller assignments.

From there, Y-Productive monitors your web surfing behavior. It can help you determine how productive you have been that day, block websites on Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, and categorize websites that are productive and unproductive. If you are trying to instill better productivity behaviors in yourself and your team, Y-Productive is worth a serious look.

Avoid Distractions Your Way

We live in a world where distractions are everywhere. From seeing that pile of dishes in the sink if you are working from home, or stopping to scroll through Instagram at the office, the distractions are endless.

Nevertheless, there is a way to keep technology from interfering with your workday. Ironically, the solution is using more technology. Today, apps like Serene, Cold Turkey, StayFocusd, and others prevent you from going down the rabbit hole, which is endless internet scrolling. Additionally, these apps can also benefit your pursuit of work-life balance.

Whether your vice is spending 15 minutes on Reddit each hour or sneaking in a look at YouTube, little distractions such as these can add up to throw you off your rhythm. The tools above—and other distraction apps— can help you add more structure to your day and your projects. Before you know it, distractions from Facebook, YouTube, and even Slack could be a thing of the past.