Perhaps my biggest productivity hindrance is time management. If I’m able to set aside time to focus on a task without distraction and stick with it to completion, my productivity levels exponentiate. Getting to that point, however, can be difficult and requires an incredible amount of self control. Focus is an app I picked recently that helps to both manage time and concentrate on the task at hand. It’s compatible with iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and, soon, Mac as well, and I have a full review below.
In actuality, Focus performs a very simple task of segmenting your time into basic allotments for working and taking breaks. By default, a task is carried out for 25 minutes before a 5-minute break is taken. This can be changed to better suit your preference, and exceptions can be easily made by pausing the timer or extending it by a few minutes when your creativity streak can’t be interrupted. Tasks can be added in a checklist-like manner and removed as they are completed, and swiping right on any task will start a timer.
Focus is crafted to help users concentrate on tasks and get them done quickly while still remembering to take breaks for resting eyes, stretching legs, grabbing some water, or refilling a coffee cup. While many of us tend to dismiss the idea of needing an app for that, I’ve personally found it nearly impossible to consistently take regular breaks without being reminded by technology to do so.
The four tabs in Focus display a task list, the current session timer, an overview of your past session activity, and various app settings. Your current sessions and task list are synced between devices using iCloud, so you can begin a session on your iPad and pause or extend it from your Apple Watch. Once the Mac app is debuted, it will integrate with the iOS app in the same way, creating seamless experience among Apple devices.
The user interface of Focus’s iOS app is minimalistic on all three of its currently supported devices, which makes initiating a session effortless. The app is beautifully designed and incredibly easy to use, which is vital in an app purposes to help users work more efficiently. Focus does an excellent job of displaying what’s important while still allowing numbers people to view statistics from previous sessions to get an idea of how Focus has increased their productivity over time.
On Apple Watch, the app remains easily glanceable, showing the current session timer and the number of sessions and tasks completed in the current day. Tapping on the session timer will pause and resume sessions, and firmly pressing brings up the options to reset, skip, and add 5 minutes to the current session. The entire UI is based on circles, which keeps the design consistent and attractive while still getting the information across.
Additionally, Focus has a utilitarian Notification Center widget that enables quite a bit of control without needing to open the app. It, too, is simple and straightforward, allowing users to get in and get out with no fuss, and its footprint takes very little room from Notification Center’s Today view.
I’ve tried several apps that serve a similar purpose, and Focus is the best time management app I’ve found so far. Its clean, straightforward design empowers users in a way that few apps do by leaving out unnecessary, cluttering elements and getting straight to the point in an elegant way.
Once a focus session has begun, the app simply counts down silently while you work, sending an alert when it’s time for a break. Notifications are interactive, so some actions can be executed without opening the app, and Apple Watch notifications display even more options.
Essentially, Focus is geared toward enabling users to concentrate on the task at hand while still making time for short breaks to clear the mind and stimulate creativity for when it’s time to continue working. It’s a task manager and a time manager in one app, integrating the two in a way that makes clearing your to-do list a breeze, and it’s a must-have for anyone who finds themselves easily getting distracted or forgetting to take occasional breaks. Focus is priced at $4.99 in the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, with a Mac app coming soon.