As last season’s 5 FREE APPS TO MAKE YOU MORE PRODUCTIVE episode was so incredibly popular I thought that I’d continue with a couple of episodes this season on similar themes.
Today I will present 6 awesome FREE extensions for Google Chrome.
But before I get into that though, last week’s show looked at TOXIC PEOPLE and how their negatively charged behaviours can disrupt your life and work and ultimately destroy your productivity and your love for life. These toxic personality types included ENERGY VAMPIRES that suck the life force from you, CONTROL FREAKS that make your life a misery by trying to control what you say, what you do and even what you think. Then there are the manipulators who also try to control you but this time with underhand tactics and techniques like shaming, guilting and gaslighting. I highlighted what to watch out for with these sorts of people and ultimately how to deal with them.
Now please feel free to get in touch and let me know how you are getting on with the calls to action that I suggest at the end of each episode. Also if you have a moment, please go to the contact page and message me to let me know what you are struggling with in your own life and work. I’m very interested in what productivity techniques you are adopting or what matters you are struggling with as if I can get a grip on your real-life problems I can tailor future episodes to tackle them.
Remember that as a solo podcaster I have to come up with all the content that you hear here and your suggestions for futures shows, especially as I near the end of this season and am starting to think about the next would be most welcome.
And if you’ve missed any of the shows please also remember that every episode already released can be accessed directly via filmproproductivity.com or on any number of the free podcasting apps that are out there.
Some people say that they can run their business from their phone, and it’s undeniable that the power we have with cell phones or mobile phones as we call them here in the UK is significant, but as a regular organiser of film productions and as a filmmaker, a podcaster and producer I simply can’t operate without a computer.
I use computers every single day because without them I’d find it near impossible to create, communicate and coordinate.
And I have seen people successfully operate to a degree using Android Tablets or iPads but they take this to such a level with plugin keyboards etc that I will argue that they may as well use a laptop or a desktop machine anyway.
And everything I will be recommending today is a connected to Google Chrome. That browser is available COMPLETELY FREE for both Mac and PC and even has versions which work on Android, IOS and Linux. I recommend it over all the other web browsers for 5 GOOD reasons.
With one click, it loads web pages, multiple tabs, and applications with lightning speed as it is designed to be the fastest web browser available. It allows you to type both searches and web addresses in the address bar which Google calls The Omnibox. This in itself increases speed and efficiency.
It is clean and simple. The omnibox and multi-tabbed browsing make navigating the web very easy. Also when you close chrome, it will remember the tabs you had open so you can pick up right where you left off. Chrome also comes equipped with a built-in PDF viewer which you can use to print, resize, and save PDF’s.
Security and Privacy. Chrome keeps you safe and sound with its built-in malware and phishing protection. It has safe browsing technology and will show you a warning message before you visit a site that is suspicious. Chrome also automatically updates, so you always have the latest and most up-to-date version.
If you are sharing a computer with other people, you can add multiple users to keep your bookmarks, apps, and extensions separate. Anything you update on one device will instantly update everywhere else you sign in to Chrome browser. Once you sign in, you decide what you want to sync. It’s incredibly efficient and as someone that’s used many many browsers over the years, I can assure you that Google Chrome is simply incredible for your productivity.
The final reason - the reason I’m talking about it at all today is that Google Chrome is extremely customizable. Use the Chrome Webstore to add apps, extensions and themes. Apps and extensions give you the latest in productivity, games, education, etc. Themes allow you to bring your browser to life with colours and graphics and you can even create your own themes.
Google Chrome in itself is, of course, my first recommendation but that’s not what this episode is all about. Once you have chrome you have an option to personalise it with add-ons such as Google Chrome Extensions.
So as you know today I will be making recommendations for extensions to Google Chrome, but first things first:
What exactly are Google Extensions?
Well, EXTENSIONS are small software programs that customize the browsing experience. They enable users to tailor Chrome functionality and behaviour to their individual needs or preferences and as such an extension must fulfil a SINGLE PURPOSE that is narrowly defined and easy to understand. A single extension can include multiple components and a range of functionality, as long as everything contributes towards a common purpose.
All Google Chrome extensions are published to the Chrome Web Store and I will provide links to everything that I talk about here in the show notes. Alternatively, if you are using Chrome, just search for the CHROME WEB STORE and browse in the store itself.
New York Times Bestselling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices, Sharon Salzberg said Distraction wastes our energy, concentration restores it.
And the first extension that I will recommend is one which will kill all those distracting websites but only for 30 minutes and it’s called FOREST, the full name is actually Forest: stay focused, be present.
There’s a ton of these sort of anti-distraction extensions out there but this is the one I use, and it has never failed me. Like most of the others, it’s based on a time management system called The Pomodoro Technique which was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. That technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.
Forest uses that principle and provides an interesting solution to save you from Internet addiction.
Basically, you set it up by typing in the websites that most often distract you. For reference, my blacklisted sites are youtube, gumtree, ebay, twitter, facebook and reddit. Once you’ve set that up with your own custom list you are all set to go. It sits like all other extensions in your browser bar and when you feel you need to work without distractions you click it.
When that happens a pop up appears to indicate you have planted a virtual seed in the Forest app and over the next 30 minutes, that seed will gradually grow into a tree. During the next 30 minutes you will be blocked from visiting those sites and if you decide to override it, the little tree will start to wither away and die. With this interesting mechanism, your own sense of achievement and responsibility will drive you to stay away from the distractions with no pain.
It’s a self-motivated and interesting method to help you beat Internet addiction. It helps you to cultivate (literally) your personal pattern of time management by making good use of 30-minute chunks of time to fully concentrate on your work and finish it effectively. I’ve never actually done it but you can also share your trees with friends or colleague which I can see the benefits of.
Hans Hofmann said “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
Next on my list is an extension called JUST READ. This is an incredibly useful extension which does one thing and does it well. It simplifies web pages. It removes ads pictures and other distractions from whatever website you are on and just shows you the text, in an easy to read and well laid out format.
When you give it a click you remove distractions like the page's styling, ads, popups and comments and can read the article in a customizable, simplified format - like a read mode but better! No login required and it’s completely free!
Another thing that it does, which they don’t advertise though, is that it makes locked text on a website available to copy. As someone who likes to chuck in the occasional quotes and that means that I can copy and paste that text into my podcast notes.
“Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.” Said Austin Freeman and can easily repeat that here as I used JUST READ to simplify the page I stole it from.
It’s a really useful extension and that’s why its number 2 on my list here. This list btw is in no particular order.
Number 3 on my list, and I also rated it highly in my useful apps episode is the POCKET extension. I love Pocket in all its forms. It’s basically a way of bookmarking or saving your favourite articles, videos etc, for later reference.
It beats, hands down the other competitors for ease of use and it syncs across all devices – iPhone, iPad, Android and more. Basically when you find something in Chrome that you want to view later, put it in Pocket. That involves just clicking the pocket button on your browser bar. It then automatically syncs to your phone, tablet or other computers so you can view it at any time, even without an internet connection. You can add tags to it and pocket will even suggest recommended related content which if you are researching a podcast, for example, is really kinda useful! It’s completely free but you can upgrade anytime to Premium for a more powerful Pocket experience.
If you use pocket regularly you’ll likely need to put aside a bit of time each week to catch up on what you’ve stuffed in there along the way but don’t worry, unless you delete it you will be able to access your pocket saves indefinitely. One last thing is that when you click to view your pocket list, it gives you previews of everything you’ve saved, so unlike in a bookmarks folder, you can find what you are looking for very quickly. It’s a fast, efficient and totally awesome Google Chrome Extension.
NEXT UP is an extension called ONE TAB. Albert Einstein “Out of clutter, find simplicity.” and that’s EXACTLY what this extension will do for your browser.
If you’ve ever found yourself with too many open tabs, you just click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once. It's really useful if you are midway through researching something and want to ensure that it’s all there the next time in the same format.
The information about your tabs is never transmitted or disclosed to the OneTab developers, but the exception to this is if you intentionally click on the 'share as a web page' feature that allows you to upload your list of tabs into a web page in order to share them with others. Tabs are never shared unless you specifically use the 'share as a web page' button.
ONE TAB is one of those really functional, yet simple, add-ons that you never knew you needed. I love it.
Fifth on my list of recommended productivity extensions is MOMENT.
Following along with the theme of simplicity all this really does is give a clean and modern look to your default Chrome homepage. When you call up a new tab it comes up not as the default Google search page but as a simpler and more appealing page which you have customized.
With this app you can either turn an image of your own into a background for the new tabs or choose from a selection of hi-res photos and videos from its recommendations – This will become your default Google background image. It’s basically like a desktop background for your browser. I use a stream running through a forest video, which is nice and calming.
In the top right corner, it has a HUB icon that when pressed offers you the choice of reopening recent pages or bookmarks or sessions. You can also access via another tab any number of apps that you have chosen from a full list when you set it up. Finally, it offers a todo list which I don’t use as I already use another todo list app called to-doist, which is also one of my very regularly used Chrome Extensions. Lastly, it gives an option to use an onscreen note taking app which occasionally comes in handy.
The main reason I have this though is just for the calming image and simple customizable tabs which it offers. It might not make you that much more productive, in all honesty, but it will make you a little happier and a little bit calmer along the way -
as the Dalai Lama says “Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence - that's very important for good health.”
The 6th and final extension that I want to talk about m here – I have more but let’s not get carried away. The Sixth extension is, and if you’ve not been using it you should do, is Grammarly.
Grammarly offers a host of features that are incredibly helpful in editing any writing, whether it’s a social media post, a call sheet, a script or a novel and it’s FREE. It’s freeeeee!
Incidentally, it can be installed in any browsers, obviously Google Chrome, but also in Firefox, Safari, and Edge, and it will automatically check any writing. For example, it can mark mistakes on emails and forms as users write in the browser.
It scans the whole document for any mistake, including grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors.
Anyone can use it anywhere, but it does require users to be connected to the internet so that it can properly identify mistakes. It then informs the writer of the document what steps can be taken to improve the writing, and it's up to the user whether to heed the advice akin to a professional's.
Grammarly will make sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear, mistake-free, and impactful. Adding Grammarly to Chrome means that your spelling and grammar will be vetted on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, and nearly everywhere else you write on the web. Once you register your new account, you will start to receive weekly emails with personalized insights and performance stats which is useful too, and if it annoys you, you can just ask it to stop.
It’s a contextual spelling checker which detects correctly spelt words used in the wrong context.
It can fix hundreds of complex grammatical errors, including subject-verb agreement, article use, and modifier placement, to name just a few.
Grammarly adapts to your needs and writing style, giving you the confidence of mistake-free communication every time you write.
Forbes magazine says “Grammarly quickly and easily makes your writing better and makes you sound like a pro, or at least helps you avoid looking like a fool.”
The Harvard Business Review: “...good grammar is instrumental in conveying ideas with clarity professionalism, and precision...Good grammar is simply good business.”
Douglas Adams said, “We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
Well, the technology that I list here today does just work and I encourage you to try it. I could list another 5 or 6 Google Extensions off the top of my head, but that will have to do for now. If you find yourself very often working online like I do or working through a web browser where you access your working email etc then these extensions will make life easier and far more productive for you.
CALL TO ACTION
A link to every chrome extension that I’ve talked about here and a full transcript of this episode is available at filmproproductivity.com and may appear on your podcasting apps too. Please be aware though that some podcasting apps will remove links from the RSS feed. If you want to guarantee that they will be there go to the official website which I have full control of.
What I’d say for a call to action is load the extensions, one at a time, and them out and see how they work for you. They’re all free but some have some in-app purchases which can be used to expand their capabilities. I however only use the free versions. As with all technology you’ll have to spend a few minutes getting to know what it offers, so I’d strongly suggest that you try them one at a time – If they work for you then great but if they are not your cup of tea, it’s as easy as right-clicking them on your Chrome browser and tapping remove from chrome.
Next week’s episode, will be talking about why filmmakers should shoot with what they’ve got and why keeping up with the Jones’s or lusting after the next big thing, is a really bad habit to get into.
I’ll end today’s show with the words of Pablo Picasso who said - “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
Now, take control of your own destiny, keep on shootin’ and join me next time on Film Pro Productivity.
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You can view the show notes for this episode at filmproproductivity.comIf you’re struggling with something you think I can help with or would like to tell me how you are getting on then please get in touch via the contact page on the website. Alternately you can get me on Twitter @fight_director or follow the show @filmproprodpod
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Thanks: A Himitsu
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