18 Tools for Destroying Distraction

There is no question that a dilemma exists over the need for creative professionals to create time and space for working on amazing and high quality projects and the existence of an endless stream of distraction, both from the world around us and through the internet.

This article should provide you with a large resource of software tools to help you block out distractions and get more done.

“Man must shape his tools lest they shape him.”

Arthur Miller

Keep in mind that these suggestions are not necessarily the solution to your lack of focus, but tools to help you build momentum in blocking out various distractions that can affect the quality of your work.

Here are 18 tools for beating distraction:


Freedom: An extreme tool, but an effective one that disables your entire Internet connection for a time period set by you. Perfect when you really need to focus for an hour or three at a time.

SelfControl: Disable access to mail servers and websites that distract you. For example, you could block access to Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and your favorite blogs for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the web. Once started, you can’t undo it until the timer runs out.

Concentrate: Create an activity (design, study, write, etc) and choose actions (launch or block websites, quit applications, speak a message, and more) to run every time you concentrate. When ready, just click “concentrate.” All your distractions will disappear and a timer will appear to help you stay focused.

WriteRoom: One of the best, distraction-free text editors. Goes full screen so all you have is your text. No formatting, just writing text. Beautiful program, copied by many others.

OmmWriter: A beautiful app just for writing. Has a serene backdrop with background music, perfect for creating the distraction-free writing environment (especially if you use headphones).

Ulysses or Scrivener: Two great programs for writers, many more features than WriteRoom but great for longer works such as novels, screenplays, academic papers and more. Both feature full-screen text editors.

Megazoomer: A cool little app that allows you to put almost any Mac program into full-screen mode (ala WriteRoom) using a system-wide keyboard command or menu item. Requires you to install SIMBL — both programs are free.

Think: Little utility that will fade out everything but the app you’re working on at the moment. Allows you to focus on one document at a time, clearing the distractions.

Browser Plugins/Extensions

Leechblock (Firefox): Specify what sites you want to block in Firefox, and when to block them.

StayFocusd (Chrome): Choose certain sites to block, and you get 10 minutes total (by default) per day to go on those time-wasting sites. You can change the time allotted for time-wasting sites, and you can also “nuke” (block) all sites for a time you specify.

Readability (bookmarklet, Chrome extension): clears the clutter on any web article or blog post you want to read. Removes everything — ads, icons, widgets, and more — and just leaves the content in a nice, uncluttered, readable design. Quietube does the same for videos.


Dark Room: A WriteRoom clone for Windows.

CreaWriter: Distaction-free writing tool inspired by OmmWriter (above), with a peaceful background, full-screen writing, soothing ambient sound, and not much else.

Q10: Full-screen text editor with a timer for focused writing, typewriter sounds as you type if you want them. Freeware.

WriteMonkey: A new entry into the full-screen editor field. In the words of the makers: “Zenware for full screen distraction free creative writing. No whistles and bells, just empty screen, you and your words. WriteMonkey is light, fast, and perfectly handy for those who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter but live in modern times.”


Emacs: One of the classic text editors (vim is a good alternative and we won’t into which is better here), Emacs runs on all platforms (PC, Mac, Linux) and can hid the menu bar (M-x menu-bar-mode) and tool bar (M-x tool-bar-mode) in any operating system, and can hide also the window title bar in most Linux window managers.

Typewriter: A minimalist text editor that runs in Java (which can run on most operating systems – Mac, Windows, Linux). All you can do is type in one direction. You can’t delete, you can’t copy, you can’t paste. You can save and print. And you can switch between black text on white and green on black; full screen and window. Perfect for writing without stopping, and getting out that first draft.

Many thanks to ‘Focus‘ author, Leo Babauta for these resources.

Any other ideas or suggestions? Comment below!



  1. I’ve been happily using Q10 for quite some time but last earlier today, I opened up my last night’s work and … ACK! everything that was typed in Russian had been replaced by question marks.
    Thank God it was not a huge chunk of my work but it was still a nasty experience. I tried Dark Room and CreaWriter and neither saved the Russian characters correctly. It’s funny cause Greek were handled perfectly by all three of them.

    In any case, I just used the Monkey and I’m so happy. It works just like Q10 which I loved, and has so many more options as well. I can’t make the sounds play but that’s alright.

    Thanks for a wonderful post 🙂

    • Thanks for letting us know about Q10 – hopefully we’ll hear from some others who have used it and what their experience has been.


  2. Great post! Whenever I get a writer’s/design block, I tend to drift off and thought this helps sometimes, it is important to stay focused.

  3. Fantastic article Alex and seeing as I’m not disciplined enough – some of these will certainly help. THANKS for compiling this – great stufff!

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