Supercharge Your Productivity With Focus At Will

Focus At Will is amazing.

Focus At Will changed the way I work.

Focus At Will “[email protected]” solves a problem that you may not even know you have. After reading through this you may be curious enough to try it out for yourself to see how it works (I recommend it). [email protected] is a web application, and also a mobile application (iPhone, iPad, Android), that uses musical science to improve your focus and reduce distractions.

Before using [email protected] my productivity levels struggled while listening to my favorite music. After awhile I had trouble concentrating and had to turn off the music – all music. My brain was overloaded and I couldn’t concentrate anymore. Trying to concentrate on the task at hand while my brain was subconsciously singing along to my favorite tunes proved to be too much sometimes. So, I tried to mix it up. I tried talk radio, which was a horrible choice. I tried listening to unfamiliar new music. There was a slight improvement but not much. I did start noticing improvements with instrumentals, mainly electronica artists like Pretty Lights and STS9, so I stuck to that for a long period of time. That all changed when I started using [email protected] I felt like a new world opened up to me.

Benefits to [email protected]

There are three main benefits to using this productivity tool:

  1. Lyric-less music to drown out background noise (the important part is no spoken lyrics)
  2. Music with the optimal beats per minute, intensity, musical key and more that is backed by scientific research to improve focus and reduce distractions
  3. Timed sessions to work within your ultradian rhythm (the timer defaults to 100 minutes, but it is adjustable)

The whole reason of how this works is best explained [email protected]’s science primer and how it works pages, but I have an excerpt below:

The [email protected] system makes it easier for you to get into the concentration flow, and then keeps you there. It works in the background by subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that is always on the lookout for danger, food, sex or shiny things.

We’ve learned that people working or studying tend to take about 20 minutes to acclimate to their environment enough to really focus on the task at hand. It takes time for your brain to get used to a stimulus and start “tuning it out” in a process called “habituation”.

Each piece of music phase sequenced by [email protected] has a specific role in influencing how your brain habituates, enhancing your focus and reducing distractions. Characteristics such as musical key, intensity, arrangement, speed, emotional values, recording style, and much more determine what is played where and when.

They have it down to a science, literally.

The App

The application itself is very simple. A timer, a play button, the ability to go to the next track and a way to choose different styles of music, with three different intensity levels. After a session is over you can rate how productive you were. It tracks your ratings over time, but it is unclear whether that feature is there as a feature for the user or if the system learns to optimize its musical selection based on your session feedback.

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It’s Good, But There’s Room For Improvement

While I strongly feel [email protected] is an amazing tool there are some areas I see a need for improvement. Mostly this lies in the user experience of the product. The web browser version is simple and straightforward but the timer setting is a little wonky and took awhile to figure out. When you click and hold the timer button it will popup with box to enter a custom time. It’s not a deal breaker, though.

Focus@will mobile application (iOS)

[email protected] mobile application (iOS)

The mobile app, however, needs more improvement. It is currently available on the iTunes and the Google Play stores for free. Though my experience with the iOS app only, I feel it is a little buggy and doesn’t offer the experience I expected. There is a slight delay when hitting stop that is just long enough to make you think it didn’t register your tap. Because of the way the app is built it doesn’t hook into the native iOS controls from the lock screen (or swipe up control in iOS 7). So if you need to stop the service for some reason you have to unlock the phone, open the app, then hit the stop button (and then wonder if you actually hit stop because of the delay). You can’t just hit pause on the lock screen because the option isn’t available and the music won’t stop if you pull your headphones out of the headphone jack.

It is important to note that this is a streaming service so a network connection is required to use it. There isn’t a local storage feature on mobile devices like Rdio or Spotify since this is a different kind of service. 99% of the time network connectivity isn’t an issue for me but I can see how some people might have concerns about it.

Summary

It’s important to note that this app will be most beneficial for anyone who works on solo tasks, typically in front of a computer. Writers, programmers, scientists, researchers, and occasionally someone who wants to just tune out background noise and read a book. Other situations might not get much benefit from this product.

Despite some of the downsides, mainly on the mobile experience, I can’t go back to working without [email protected] I’m willing to let the annoyances slide especially since this service is still a startup company trying to figure things out. There are three levels of service to choose from, which you can compare here. You can try the app for free (limited to 60 minutes) and the premium version of the app is only $3.99 per month which unlocks everything. It’s well worth the cost.

 

Post Notes

Focus At Will

iPhone App

iPad App

Android App

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