Originally posted on journalstar.
If you work from home, a distraction-free environment can make or break your work day. These four free apps can help improve your remote-work setup.
Block video noise with Krisp
You’re on a Zoom call. The dog is barking. The baby is crying. Your anxiety level is nearing a fever pitch. In the words of every late-night infomercial ever produced: There has to be a better way!
Enter Krisp, an app that essentially acts as a bridge between your microphone and your communications apps — it works with more than 800 of them — and uses artificial intelligence to isolate your voice while blocking out pets, people, keyboard clacks and more.
While some apps, like Zoom, have built-in background noise suppression, often the higher you crank it up, the more muddled your actual voice sounds. Not so with Krisp, which somehow manages to block everything out while keeping you sounding like you.
Stay on task with Forest
Sometimes it’s challenging to stay focused while working from home — and the combination of having your phone within arm’s reach at all times and no prying eyes to catch you slacking off can make for a precarious productivity predicament. And while there’s no shortage of forced-focus apps out there, Forest offers a unique spin on the category.
Fire up the smartphone app and tap the “Plant Tree” button to start growing a little virtual tree. As long as you stay off your phone for the duration of the in-app timer — the default time is 25 minutes — the tree will grow. If you exit the app to mess around on your phone, the tree dies.
Get several focus sessions per day under your belt, and you’ll have yourself an adorable little forest full of productivity trees.
Better yet, unlock the pro version of the app for a one-time $2 purchase, and as you amass virtual trees, you earn in-app coins that you can use to plant real-life trees via the app’s partnership with the Trees for the Future organization.
Take breaks with Stretchly
It’s tempting to plop yourself in your chair and power through the workday until everything’s done. Stretchly forces you to take 20-second breaks every 15 minutes and 3-minute breaks every hour — by placing a big, unmovable window over the top of everything you’re working on onscreen.
The short breaks involve things like refocusing your eyes on something far away, doing neck swirls or repositioning the back support on your chair. The longer breaks will direct you to tidy up your workspace, step away from your desk for a bit or even squeeze in a quick workout.
Dial up ambience with myNoise
MyNoise has more than 200 sound generators to choose from, and they’re categorized by need, such as “I need to focus,” “I need to calm down,” “It’s too quiet” or “I need inspiration so I can write.”
You can play myNoise from your browser, and there are smartphone apps available, too.
Each sound features 10 tweakable audio sliders to finesse for the perfect mix.