Stay Focused: 7 Best Productivity Apps for Freelance Writers


7 Best Apps for Freelance Writers -- Makealivingwriting.comAs a freelance writer, my livelihood relies solely on my ability to keep a clear head and stay on task.

But each day is the same: I sit down to work – and I’m bombarded with distractions.

The dog needs to go out. I need a snack. Oh, I have to listen to Dave Ramsey’s new podcast right this minute. The dog needs to go out again. Kim Kardashian just had a baby named what? Gee whiz, dog, will you just do your thing already? And the list goes on.

Sound familiar?

“Just one more site,” I tell myself. “One more page won’t hurt.”

But the truth is, it does hurt.

My time is valuable. Spending precious hours on unnecessary tasks is simply not good for my business.

In an effort to retrain myself to concentrate, I set out to find some of the best productivity apps for freelance writers to help me cut back on wasted time and get that high-value work done.

Here’s my list of the best productivity apps — plus tips on similar apps to try, if you don’t happen to like my favorite:

Block distractions

1. Anti-Social

Anti-Social blocks over 30 social networking sites, including Reddit, Flickr, YouTube, Hulu, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. This app will block your temptations whenever you’re trying to get down to business.

Similar apps: FocusWriter, WriteRoom

2. Focus

If you’re doing social media management for a client and you absolutely need to access social platforms, Focus allows you to select which sites and applications are allowed based on the tasks you’re doing while blocking others that could be distracting. You can also use the timer to break your work into small intervals or schedule whole blocks of productivity when you know you’ll be typing away.

Similar apps: Cold Turkey, BrowseControl

Set your timer

3. Focus Booster

Focus Booster is an online timer designed for anyone who is using the Pomodoro Technique to get things done.

Unlike other similar apps, Focus Booster is free and available for all devices, so there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. You simply set 25-minute work periods and allow yourself 5-minute rest periods — perfect if you’re the type of person who tends to plug away for hours until your eyes become blurry.

Taking breaks is okay, and you never know, you might even feel more productive when you sit back down to work.

Similar apps: Time Out, Tomighty

4. SelfControl

SelfControl is unlike any other app available right now. If you want focus, this is as hardcore as discipline goes. You set the timer for however long you need to work, and your browser will act as though it’s offline for the full time.

What sets this app apart from other timers is that it won’t allow you to exit this pre-determined session — and no amount of computer reboots or browser restarts will stop it. Rather than completely disabling the web, you can selectively choose which sites are okay or not okay to visit while you’re writing.

Similar apps: Freedom, FocusMe

Create an ambiance

5. focus@will

Different from most other productivity programs, focus@will is a neuroscience-based music app that its developers claim will boost your brain power and attention span by 400 percent. You can listen to multiple music channels scientifically created and optimized to increase productivity and concentration and customize the intensity of the music sessions based on your mood and cognitive type.

The app even includes an automated productivity tracker so you know exactly what types of energy level settings and music keep you most focused.

6. Coffitivity

If you just can’t afford to take a Starbucks run, Coffitivity plays coffee shop sounds, murmurs, and conversations from the comfort of your own home.

The free version of the app includes three categories of ambient sounds: Morning Murmur, Lunchtime Lounge, and University Undertones. Or, for just $9, you can get access to Paris Paradise, Texas Teahouse, and Brazil Bistro for one full year.

Similar apps: Soundrown, Ambiance

Indulge yourself

7. StayFocusd

StayFocusd is a little different from the other productivity apps for freelance writers on this list. Instead of being an app, this extension is designed for users of Google’s Chrome browser. It works in the reverse manner to SelfControl or Anti-Social. Instead of restricting your Internet usage, it allows you to set a certain period of time to indulge yourself in time-wasting websites.

Similar apps: LeechBlock

As freelancers, we have the difficult task of managing all of our work expenditures, activities, and productivity. Try out one or two of these best productivity apps for freelance writers and see if your concentration, focus, and performance improve.

Have you used any productivity apps to help you write? Tell us about your favorite in the comments below.

Mallory Hall, also known as That Copywriter Girl, is a freelance writer, SEO copywriter, and blogger in the heart of Lancaster County, PA.


  1. Kimsea Sok

    I found really useful here, they are almost awesome apps.

    I love anti-social because I always switch to social media while I was trying to write the blog post.

    Also, other apps were impressed me. I’ll take a trail some of them..


    • Mallory Hall

      Yes, social media can be a serious time-waster if you’re not careful. I’m glad you found my post useful!

  2. Holly Bowne

    Fun post, Mallory! Like you and Lauren, I love Focus@will. I was always jealous of people who could listen to music while they worked because I never could before I found it. Think I’ll have to give Coffitivity a try. Ha, ha!

    • Mallory Hall

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you love focus@will, give Coffitivity a try. It’s a little different, but pretty relaxing once you get into it. Oh, and another benefit? You don’t have to pay $5 for a cup of coffee to get the “coffee shop” atmosphere!

  3. Lauren Steinheimer

    I love focus@will! The music really helps me block out distracting conversations and focus on my writing.

    • Mallory Hall

      Hi, Lauren!

      Yes, that’s one of my favorites. I also really enjoy Coffitivity, although my husband does poke fun at me for using that one. I like audio distractions that I can’t sing along with, and focus@will and Coffitivity certainly fit the bill!

    • Carol Tice

      I found focus@will for my ADHD son, and I wish he would use it more! I like it as well.

    • Mallory Hall

      Great point, Carol. That’s another reason why I love these particular apps. They are also useful for kids to help them stay focused on tasks like homework, which is always a positive in my book!

  4. Kenneth Witt

    These are excellent resources! I use the Forest: Stay focused app myself. I can choose how long I want to set the timer and upon completion it plants a tree in my virtual garden. It’s silly, but works as an incentive.

    • Mallory Hall

      Hi, Kenneth!

      Thanks for your input. Regardless of how silly an app or incentive might be, what’s important is that it works for YOU and helps you to succeed!

  5. Lindsay Pevny

    Oh YES, Mallory.

    Straightening up and getting to work always seems so painful, but once I get started, I realize, “Hey, I’m a badass writer. This isn’t hard. My client will love this.” And those hours of working end up being so much more fulfilling than the hours drained on distractions.I love Stayfocsd for Chrome too. Great post!

    • Mallory Hall

      Hi, Lindsay!

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Yes, I’ve found that getting started is half the battle, and once I get going, it really isn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

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