Woman sitting at a computer

Stand-up comics and grandparents might decry the Internet as an infinite distraction. They might be right, but for many jobs, an Internet connection is as essential as getting to work in the first place. And just as you improve your commute, finding the fastest and easiest way rather than walking uphill in the rain (both ways), you should streamline your web surfing tools, too.

Chrome is Google’s browser, and since they seem to run the Internet these days, it’s pretty good. A big part of that is extensions — third-party programs you can install to customize your Chrome experience. We’ve found the five best for the workplace.

1. AdBlock

This is the absolutely essential add–on for anyone in the workplace. Going online without AdBlock is like attending an angry bear and chainsaw convention without protection — very foolish, and it’ll soon become impossible to concentrate on work.

Adblock Filter List

The most common adservers can be automatically blocked

AdBlock (and its animation-killing cousin FlashBlock) don’t just tidy up pages — they cut out downloads of those annoying images at the root, so the entire page loads faster and doesn’t leave you uselessly twiddling your thumbs for that horrible thirty seconds as everything appears. You can also easily add new image definitions to the filter by right-clicking on what you don’t want. While we’d never recommend such underhanded behaviour, by blocking enough images, you can make almost any site look boring and work-related.

2. Remember The Milk for Gmail

Remember the Milk for Gmail is two of the smartest, sharpest life-organization programs combining their powers just for you. RTM is a fantastic task management system, able to organize the most complicated workflow among multiple people with minimum hassle, or sort fifteen sides of a single soul’s life into something survivable. Gmail also offers great assistance — by organizing your entire life through one account, you’ll never miss another urgent issue because “I didn’t check that e-mail address today.”

Remember The Milk Sidebar

Organize everything, anywhere, online. Sounds like a sales pitch but IT'S FREE!

Together, they’re unstoppable. RTM for Gmail uses both to search for relevant terms and unobtrusively reminds you of relevant tasks in a sidebar. You can also add new tasks from emails with a single click (no more yellow stickies!) and all of a sudden, you’re spending less time organizing tasks than doing them. You know, the way it should be.

Bonus effect: Because it’s right beside your email, you’ll never forget to check RTM. Nowadays we check our email with more urgency than we check our ability to breathe, after all.

DOUBLE BONUS: With ChromeMilk you can add RTM right in Chrome’s toolbar!

Remember The Milk For Chrome Toolbar

You can even build it into the browser

The whole point of having an organizing service is that you use it everywhere. Otherwise, you have more than one organizing strategy. Then you have to organize your organizers…and then you explode in an overcomplicated shower of irony.

3. Lazarus

Lazarus isn’t just an add-on; it’s an essential — an actual electronic antidote to inevitable pain and suffering. It’s an especial must-have for anyone who works with an online database, submitting information and orders via HTML. Lazarus automatically saves forms as you fill them out, so that you don’t lose everything if there’s an error. And don’t worry, it’s encrypted so your information is secure.

Lazarus

Resurrect it all, without sorcery or troublesome lightning!

Right now, you’re either installing it, having felt the rage and annoyance of having to resubmit an entire page of info because some idiots couldn’t run their server properly, or you still have that to look forward to. Either way, install Lazarus.

4. StayFocusd

Okay, we’ve pretended the program was the problem for a whole three entries. Now it’s time to work on the human factor. Even if the Internet is essential for your job (as opposed to being a side-effect of email access), working with an open Internet browser is like practicing kung fu while balancing over a pit of quicksand; it might be cool, but eventually you’re going to slip up and it’ll be hours before you get out again.

StayFocusd

Quick, you've only got 27 minutes to do nothing useful!

StayFocusd is a silicon substitute for the self-control, which might go “missing in action.” (That “action” possibly ending up hip-deep in a Wikipedia page about the history of Knight Rider villains.) Simply assign yourself a length of time when you start surfing, then come back to work before you drown in irrelevant rubbish.

5. Smooth Gestures

A huge part of a Smartlife is streamlining your tools and customizing your controls. Eliminating a single keypress doesn’t seem like much, but if it’s something you do forty times a day, it’ll add up. The smoother interaction also makes you feel cooler, summoning and dismissing entire sections of the Internet with expert actions.

Smooth Gestures

You could also set it to go to a blank page with a flick of your wrist. Which might be useful in a work environment.

Or put it another way: If we’re going to spend half our lives plugged into machines, we might as well make the plugging as comfortable as possible! Smooth Gestures streamlines mouse movement, so you can perform common actions instantly instead of aiming at a tiny button on a huge screen.

Image credit: Silvrshootr / iStockphoto

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