Those of us that like to work at our own pace know how easy to can be to get distracted. There’s been whole conferences and collections of book materials dedicated to helping freelancers and the self-employed stay on track during a work day.

Thanks to an awesome iPhone app, it’s never been easier to get Phocused.

The key to any effective work day is timing. How you time your breaks and your work periods can make or break your productivity. It’s really easy to get distracted while sitting at a desk all day, many find that they hardly ever accomplish much of anything — trust me, I do all the time.

Phocus is a very interesting app that aims to help you retake control of your productivity. Instead of giving you a checklist to create, Phocus lets you work in units of “work time” and “break time.” It’s really that simple.

One of the first things you’ll notice about Phocus is that it’s beautifully designed. It’s incredibly important to have a good looking app, especially if you’re going to be looking at it all day. Phocus is also very easy to control.

“With its prominent timer and color-coded progress bar, Phocus acts as a constant reminder, encouraging you to concentrate and letting you know when it’s okay to goof around for a bit.”

Now there is a bit of a learning curve with Phocus, but the developer has done something very helpful and included a handy manual to get you on your feet in the app.

Basically, in Phocus, you create your own work schedule for the day with different time increments. Say that you want to work for 20 minutes on a certain project for a client, followed up a 10 minute Youtube break, and then have 25 more minutes of work time. You can easily set all of that up in Phocus and let the app guide you through your work day.

Once you have your time increments suited to your liking, start Phocus and let it run on your iPhone. It would be optimal to have your iPhone docked on your desk so that you can easily check the display, but work with whatever you have — Phocus will run when the iPhone is locked.

Phocus is meant to help you get more done, and studies have shown that people tend to be more productive when they work in cycled increments. If you know in advance that you’re going to get to check Twitter and Facebook for five minutes after you work for 20 minutes, then you’ll be more inclined to push through your work done and stay… well.. Phocused.

Each unit of time is color coded, and, as you work, the timer fills each progress bar — this gives you an easy visual representation of how long you have left before you can finally pick up your iPad and play Angry Birds again.

Phocus uses push notifications to alert you when phases have ended, and the app’s settings feature plenty of tweaking capabilities for alarms, sound effects, and even ticking noises. A really neat feature of Phocus is the ability to track your stats, meaning that you can see how well you’ve actually done adhering to the app’s work/break/reward methodology.

This app’s designer and developer, Marshall Bock, did an absolute fantastic job with Phocus. My only complaint is that there isn’t an iPad or Mac menubar app yet.

You can download Phocus for iPhone now for only $1.99 in the App Store.

We hope you like Phocus, because Marshall has been nice enough to give us 5 free copies of the app for a giveaway!

To win your copy of Phocus, comment on this article and tell us why you need Phocus in your life. We’ll contact the 5 winners by email in the next couple days.

UPDATE: Winners have been selected and contacted.

  • I need it because this is the first comment! 🙂

  • Fojam

    Im immensly adhd and get distracted from schoolwork all of the time. This will help a lot

  • naveen

    I am studying for the SAT and this will help quite a bit. When taking practice tests you have to time yourself and i just get distracted. Maybe this will be my solution.

  • This app looks fantastic, I would love to win a free copy! I’m heading off to University next month so it would be great to have an app that allows me to balance my social life and academic targets, particularly since I ALWAYS have my iPhone with me. I also run a small online business, which I think I can dedicate time more efficiently to with this app.

    Hope to win the app! 🙂

  • NIco

    I’ve got so much to get planned, going on a vacation tomorrow, this will help me! Thanks!

  • JT

    Interesing first sentence.

  • Harry T

    Pocus is a great implementation of structured GTD (get things done) systems. I occasionally try to use the work/ rest system with the timer but forget to rest after breaks. I think this Pocus is going to help me get things done!

  • @pololinguistic

    I have tried so many different productivity apps in an effort to get more done during my work day. This should fill the gap left by Task, Due & OmniFocus.

    With Outlook at work I like having the “meat” of a task and projects in my iOS devices: Time.

    I would love to see a “real world” review on this app of about 1-2 weeks of usage. This description and breakdown is great.

    I look forward to either reading an update in te days to come or authoring my own should I get a copy 😉

    Polo

  • Yaniv

    I need It because i Stress myself a lot on my work this can be helpfull to me to organize my working periods.

    I hope to win a copy 🙂

  • Peter

    I almost never get my homework done because I have an extreme case of procrastination. If I had an app telling me when it was okay to procrastinate then I would actually Get stuff done.

  • Ricardo Vidal

    I need it because I’m constantly getting distracted with Facebook, Tweeter and of course iDownloadblog 🙂

  • I would totally use this! The system seems effective and simple, but the app looks beautiful!

  • Jordan

    This seems like a great app to keep me on track. I work from home and without having somebody staring over my shoulder, it is easy to get distracted. This app seems perfect to keep me on track yet allows me to have my ‘free’ time in a structured way.

  • Something that is simple to use is a great addition to my hectic lifestyle. Working at home with 4 active boys and my wife as a travel agent, my life can get full-on nutty. Most productivity/scheduler apps take more work to setup than I even have time for. This looks so much more simple to use and would make for a great time tracking solution for my clients to get the best of my efforts in the most productive way. Bring it on!

  • Paul Hall

    I need Phocus because I always procrastinate.

  • Colton

    I need Phocus because I am a procrastinator when it comes to school work. Phocus would be extremely helpful app for me, because I could have better time management between different day to day tasks. I would be able to manage my social life and my academic life much easier.

  • I need this cuz i work hard on deaf website 🙂 And I never won!

  • Luis Jimenez

    I need it cuz I get easily distracted at work and I always take more lunch time that I’m supposed to.

  • Mike

    I need it because I do TONS of different projects every day and need it to keep track!

  • Sam

    I already rely on my iPhone at work; why not let it help me with my work from home? This actually does look incredibly helpful.

  • Vince Speelman

    I feel like it’d help me focus on one task at a time, as I tend to get distracted and

  • I need this because Fall semester is rapidly approaching and this would help *dearly* in managing study and assignment completion time.

  • Yaron

    I love well designed application and i need it to my collection

  • Julian Born

    i need Phocus because my girlfriend is pregnant and I have to finish my studies so Phocus would help me organizing my time

  • Lasse Karlsson

    I really got inspired from reading the review of Phocus. Being a heavy procrastinator, I too have been searching for a tool…or should I say someone whipping me into steady working schedules, instead of always doing the work at the latest possible date/time.

  • Tonka

    You spelled “copes” instead of “copies”. I need Phocus because while at work, I read your blog all day long and Phocus would help me to focus on my work a little more. Thank you.

  • Ben

    Oh, this app looks like something I should have on my iPhone, something that could save me so much time! Just to organise my time, schedule my routines and stop wasting so much time on unnecessary things (and actually TRACK the time), well, this app is the answer!

  • Álvaro

    I know I need Phocus because I am going to pay for it if I do not win the free copy! 🙂

  • IndiePhoenix

    I desperately need Phocus because I procrastinate while lusting at it’s superb design… 😐

  • KC

    I need it because school is about to start!

  • Samuel Cortez

    I really need it because I always need to know the Schedule for school like What kind of homework I have.

  • Aalanv

    I think i need one because I’m very disorganized when it comes to time! I’m always loose track if it !

  • Tony

    This will definitely work with my studies for the CPA 😀

  • tgb

    i totally need this app bc im not PHOCUSED!!!! once i get it i will!!!

  • This would be fantastic to have since i only work on my computer! 🙂 i always forget to take brakes

  • I’m in college, and my lack of Phocus (couldn’t resist) is so bad, you could say I’m majoring in procrastination!

  • Hey, awesome! I was going to *write* an app to do this, after sifting through every ‘timer’ app I could find, and not finding any that were sufficient. The method works very well for me, so an app to aid it is one less thing to distract me!