3 Chrome Extensions to Improve your Focus at Work and School

If you struggle with Adult ADHD then you probably have a love/hate relationship with the internet. On one hand, the internet is a fantastic vehicle for productivity.  Technology has made certain aspects of life easier than ever. Computers are integral to much of modern life, we rely on them for everything from sending emails to grocery shopping! 

On the other hand, the internet is a powerful vehicle for distraction. For a group of people with impulse control problems, this poses serious problems. Just as the internet can make us more productive, it can also derail us if we are not careful. It is easier than ever to check social media, watch youtube, and make random spur-of-the moment purchases. 

The problem is that we lack impulse control: the mental brakes that allow us to filter out bad ideas and urges. As a result, we can experience urges and impulses as absolutely overpowering. We might succeed at denying ourselves some of the time, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and even when we exhibit self-control we pay the price of rapid willpower depletion.

Chrome vs Other Browsers

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in the world, and for good reason. It is fast, reliable, and—most importantly for our purposes—includes an extensive selection of extensions on their web store that allow users to customize the behaviour of their browser. 

For ADHDers the internet presents too many tempting options, and they are far too accessible. As mentioned above, we lack the requisite impulse control to succeed, we can’t say no. In other words, we are set up to fail by default. 

Marketing to Adults with ADHD must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

The problem: our mental brakes are too weak.
The solution: add an extra set of brakes. 

Fortunately, if we take the time to set up our browsers properly, we can level the playing field. We are going to use Chrome Extensions to help our brains out. In essence we are bolstering our self-discipline by externalizing some of the process. 

I like to think that we are outsourcing our executive functions. “Outsourcing” is one of the easiest strategies for managing your ADHD. Here are a few of my favourite chrome extensions that help with staying focused at work and school.

1. Delayed Gratification

Get it for free on the Chrome Web Store

The Delayed Gratification extension helps you put the brakes on by introducing a waiting period. Sure, you can go to that distracting site, but first you must endure 20 seconds of dead air (or however long you choose). This small difference can have a profound effect. Suddenly that youtube video won’t seem quite as tempting. It turns out that instant gratification needs to be, well… instant. ADHDers are said to have “delay aversion” when compared to neurotypical subjects. That is to say, we just don’t like to wait. 

The Delayed Gratification chrome extension turns our delay aversion into a strength. A short waiting period might do more than you suspect to help fight temptation. Simply click on the extension icon to customize the waiting period, how frequently the delay occurs, and which sites the extension controls.

My Setup:

What happens when I go to a “Bad Website”:

2. Unhook Youtube

Get it for free on the Chrome Web Store

Oh Youtube… you can be so genuinely useful sometimes. There are some seriously hardcore internet blockers out there, but I don’t always want to lose access to Youtube completely. The problem is that Youtube can be a genuinely useful tool, but it is also a black hole of distraction. What if we could remove just the “distracting part” of Youtube? This sounds impossible, but Unhook Youtube comes pretty darn close. 

The Unhook Youtube extension puts a new spin on the old maxim, “out of sight, out of mind.” You simply select which parts of youtube you don’t want to see. The nice thing about this extension is that I am almost never tempted to turn it off. Why would I be? I can still search for and watch useful videos, but that is where it ends. I never see any related or recommended videos, I don’t see any comments, I simply get what I came for and get off. 

My Setup:

Correspondingly, when I go to youtube, here is what the homepage looks like:

What it looks like while watching a video:

3. xTab

Get it for free on the Chrome Web Store

Say goodbye to opening tab after tab only to realize that you forgot to finish the email you started two hours ago. The xTab extension is simple yet powerful. It works by limiting the number of tabs you are allowed to have open at any one moment. It gives you a booster shot of mindfulness. Suddenly you have a choice to make: “Hmm… should I start reading another article, or wait until I finish the first one?” 

You choose the maximum number of tabs as well as what action the extension will take if (when!) you exceed the limit. This wakes you up to the fact that you are doing something impulsive. It really forces you to prioritize when you need to sacrifice an old tab every time you want to open a new one.

My Setup:

Here’s what happens when I open too many tabs. (Note that I see this xTab screen for 5 seconds before it is automatically closed):

Install Instructions:

To use any of the above extensions, follow these steps:

  1. First ensure that you are using Google Chrome as your browser.
  2. Navigate to the relevant extension page on the Chrome Web Store.
  3. Click “Add to Chrome”

Tip: To enable/disable, manage, or pin your extensions, click on the puzzle icon in the top right corner of your Google Chrome browser.

Want more help?

As an ADHD Coach I regularly help clients set up their computers to optimize their productivity. If you are curious to find out how ADHD Coaching can help you manage your ADHD then feel free to book a free consult or contact me for more information.

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