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. Eve Davidson

    I have a terrible time focusing sometimes which is why I have created rituals for myself in the morning to get started on the right foot. I read articles about many different topics on how to successfully achieve whatever I may be doing so that I can try it out myself. But this is good stuff that you have provided Carol and I will definitely try it out! One thing that I have been having trouble with though is how to truly get started into freelance writing for better pay. I have a few clippings but none of them have been paid because I’ve been trying to get my feet wet. How can I aim higher?

    • Paul Maplesden

      Eve, in my experience, it relies on three things:

      1. Understanding your goals – Specifically stating what you want to achieve on a particular day. First thing in the morning, write down the one thing you want to get done, above all others. Dedicate 50% of your time to achieving that one thing, and make sure you complete it before moving on to something else.

      2. Building the right habits – This is something that you need to start small. The best way to do this is to block out small amounts of time, 10-20 minutes to begin with, when you focus on one thing, and that one thing only. The Pomodoro technique is *incredibly* useful for this.FocusBooster, mentioned in the article, is free and easy to use.

      3. Using the right tools – Writing down everything that you need to do is a great way to get the mental load out of your mind and onto paper or into an app. Personally, I use Trello, as I like the easy, visual way that it lets me enter and group tasks, so I can immediately see what I need to do. There are lots of other good task management apps out there.

      Carol will certainly have some good advice on finding freelance gigs, and getting into the right, productive mindset will help you to delight your clients and get repeat work.

      Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Getting discipline is one of the toughest parts of freelancing, and it’s natural for people to procrastinate.

    • Carol Tice

      I have a friend who loooves Trello, Paul. 😉

    • Paul Maplesden

      The best thing about it is that it’s very adaptable – It’s great for tracking work, writing calendars, and collaborating with teams.

  2. Lori Ferguson

    Another voice of assent for focus@will. Love the program and I use it so much that I’ve found just launching the program gets my mind in ‘work mode.’ Will definitely have to check out some of these other apps, too. Thanks for the ideas, Mallory!

  3. MMairaj

    Hi Mallory,

    Amazing post indeed, you have shared with us some excellent apps for freelance writers which make it easy for writers to go through.

    Thanks for fantastic share 🙂



    • Mallory Hall

      You’re quite welcome. Thanks for reading!

  4. Lailanie Fronda

    This is a gem! Just when I need it most! 😀

    I can multitask and I love juggling work, but I’m easily distracted. I can’t resist the alluring social media haha!

    Thanks a lot for this awesome article and helpful apps list!
    I’ll try focus@will coz it works for me to have music on. 🙂 Focus Booster & Stay Focused sound awesome too!

    • Mallory Hall

      Hi, Lailanie!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, I’m the same way. I worked in the restaurant industry for years, so multitasking comes naturally to me. I can do 43 things at once, but when it comes time to focus, I pull away so fast, and my work suffers. It’s time to put a stop to that!

  5. Arjun

    Thanks Mallory, It’s really helpful.

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