Stay on Top of Your Own Work Schedule With Phocus [Review and Giveaway] [Winners Announced]

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.