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The Internet can be a double-edged sword – a window to the world’s knowledge at one end, and at the other a window to the world’s favorite cat pictures. And since on the web all sites are treated equally (save for the “deep” web, I guess) if we don’t have a strong, lasting motivation to get work done it can prove all too easy to get distracted browsing places that aren’t a valuable use of our time. While that lasting motivation must come from within, there are certain tricks and tools you can try that may just give you the boost you need to power through that next email or essay. The one I’d like to share with you today is an extension for Chrome called Momentum.

Momentum quite simply replaces the default New Tab page of Chrome with a “personal dashboard,” as the developer calls it, like the one you see above. For reference, here’s the New Tab page:

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Seems fine, right? Well, maybe. It’s certainly not as pretty as Momentum, for sure, but the bigger concern is all the frequently visited sites sitting down there calling out for my attention. Maybe I’ll check Facebook one more time before I get back to that Excel spreadsheet I need to finish, just really quickly to see if I have any notifications. Or maybe seeing YouTube right there will lead me to convincing myself that I’ve earned a quick break to watch a BuzzFeed video or two.

The kicker, though, is that these opportunities for distraction show up every time you open a new tab to do something new. For some then, the New Tab page may pose more harm than good and kill your – wait for it – momentum!

The extension isn’t revolutionary by any technical standard, but I’ve been using it for several months now and can attest to its positive reinforcement of the goals I’ve set for myself as I work throughout the day, keeping what really matters in focus and providing a brief escape to take in a beautiful landscape or inspiring quote to push me over the finish line.

Aside from rotating quotes and full-bleed images sourced from around the web, Momentum also provides a couple small utilities – a place to note your main focus for the day (which resets every 24 hours) as well as a todo checklist and a search field powered by Google so you don’t lose that switching from the New Tab page, but you can customize all of this easily to choose what you do or don’t want to see.

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Our browsers should be aligned with our interests even if we aren’t consciously aware of what those interests are at the time. If we need to get work done, our browsers should be smart and help us do so. While Google is working hard to get our phones to a point where they proactively assist us as we navigate the world, their desktop browser isn’t quite there yet. Momentum, however, is one simple, lightweight extension that has made a small but notable difference in my life. It’s subtle, not life-changing by any measure, but I know that my browsing experience is more pleasurable because of it. And it’s free, so how can you beat that?

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