The computer has become the center of much of our working lives. If you’ve started using Linux as your digital workspace, chances are you’re using the GNOME desktop interface.
In recent years, a number of useful apps have emerged to help you be more productive at whatever professional or creative task you are hard at work on. Here are eight options worth checking out.
Do you like to work in silence? Some people do that, and some don’t. Many find it easier to concentrate when there is a little ambient noise. Going to a library or coffee shop isn’t always an option, but Blanket lets you simulate the feeling.
Blanket is an ambient sound app that comes with different kinds of background sounds that you can mix and match so you don’t have to open your browser or music app looking for a chill and non-distracting playlist. That’s great, because opening a browser when you don’t need to is one of the easiest ways to lose track of what you’re doing.
to download: Blanket (Free)
2. Pause timer
Contrary to what may seem intuitive, hanging down and staring at the screen until a project is completed is not the best way to actually complete said project. It helps to take breaks, whether that be walking around, drinking water, or going outside. But even if you set the intent, it’s so easy to lose track of time and still spend hours staring at the screen.
Break Timer keeps track of time for you. The app distinguishes between short breaks, intended for your eyes and wrists, and long breaks, where you get up and move the rest of your body. You can keep the default settings or change how long you want your work periods and breaks to be.
to download: pause timer (Free)
3. Getting Things GNOME
Getting Things GNOME is a to-do list app based on the Getting Things Done method of creating and managing to-do lists. While Getting Things GNOME isn’t the only to-do list app for the GNOME desktop, it is by far the most powerful. It also provides an example of how to pack an app full of features without increasing its visual complexity.
Getting Stuff GNOME is far from a new app, with the original version being older than the GNOME 3 era itself. But the app stagnated for the better part of a decade, sticking to the old GNOME 2 design language. Fortunately, the app has been given a completely new design.
to download: Getting things GNOME (Free)
4. Quick Lookup
Years ago, it was not uncommon to think of a dictionary as an essential part of your work or study space. Now it’s probably more common to just look up the word online. But whether you turn to an online website or a search engine, you still face the same threat to your focus: opening a web browser.
With Quick Lookup, you have a small app that launches quickly and performs one task. So even if you’re working in a program that doesn’t have dictionary functionality baked in, you’ll have a fallback that’s still much less likely to get sidetracked.
to download: Quick lookup (Free)
Sometimes it’s not the definition of a word you’re looking for, but how you say or write the word in another language. In times like that, take a look at Dialect. You get all the benefits of Quick Lookup, but for translating words.
Dialect is capable enough to handle full sentences, paragraphs, and other blocks of text. Like many modern GNOME apps, it scales to smaller screen sizes. This means that if you have a Linux phone, such as the PinePhone or Librem 5, you can translate the text you come across while traveling.
to download: dialect (Free)
Wikipedia is an extremely valuable resource. Sure, it’s not the best quote for a paper, and some inaccuracies creep in, but overall it’s a free and informative way to learn about so many things. But let’s face it, getting sidetracked on Wikipedia is so easy that falling into the wiki hole is one thing.
Whether Wiki prevents or encourages that is quite a mixed bag. On the one hand, the fact that Wikipedia is presented in such a slick package may encourage you to spend more time on it. On the other hand, you can save pages and keep the information you need easily accessible. In any case, you avoid having to open a web browser and end up on a separate website altogether.
to download: Wiki (Free)
Apostrophe is technically a Markdown editor. If you’re not familiar with Markdown, this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to apply formatting to your writing without relying on using a particular app or format.
But Apostrophe is not mentioned here because it is a Markdown editor. Apostrophe is worth considering because it’s just a quick way to start writing without distractions. Most of the interface disappears out of the way when you start typing, and the word count at the bottom right keeps track of your progress. When you’re done, you can export the file to PDF, HTML, or ODT.
to download: Apostrophe (Free)
There are many reasons to keep track of how much time you spend on a task. You may need to know how long you’ve worked to accurately bill a customer. Maybe you have an employer that needs time tracking. Or maybe you’re feeling unproductive and want to keep an eye on what you’re actually spending time on.
Khronos does this for you, without having to jump back and forth between a clock app and an open document. Do all the tracking in Khronos and record the data elsewhere when you’re done.
to download: Khronos (Free)
Improving Productivity in Linux
Most Linux distributions come with the GNOME interface, so all the apps above will fit right in. But if GNOME isn’t your problem, these apps will still work in your favorite desktop environment, and there are many other productivity apps where they come from.
Many apps that run on Windows also run on Linux. Not only that, for those who have recently migrated from Windows to Linux, there are also several alternatives for Windows-only applications available for free.