We have to admit, most new apps cause a lot of distraction, rather than helping us focus. Even if you’re not actively looking for that new game or app, it will find you. Friends will invite you for a new addictive game, or give you a baffled look when you respond you’ve never heard of ‘instabuzzchat’ before.
All this pulling for your attention can have a negative effect on your happiness. A recent study from Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that the more our minds wander, the less happy we are.
Fortunately, there are many useful apps and online tools as well.
The following selection will help you to focus, concentrate and get into your flow.
Plus, they’re all free to try!
Calm is a meditation app. If you’re wondering why meditation is important and how it can improve your health, we wrote about it here. This beautiful, easy-to-use app offers guided and unguided meditation. There’s also a range of background scenes and sounds to choose from.
The collection of guided programs varies from calming anxiety, managing stress, and deep concentration. The app saves every meditation session, which is a huge benefit in making meditation a habit.
Headspace is another popular meditation app that might ring a bell. While I’ve used both, I prefer Calm. The option for shorter sessions and being able to change the topic whenever you want provides more freedom in your practice.
I will admit, the fancy ambient in the background also helps.
Brain.fm offers music compositions that will improve focus, relaxation, and sleep. The creators state that the app is built upon 180 research studies in the field of neuroscience.
“Classical music, white noise or binaural beats is the old way, Brain.fm is the new, intelligent way.”
All compositions are AI-generated, and probably unlike anything you’ve heard before. If you’re open to innovative, or even futuristic products, definitely give it a try.
There are seven free sessions included, and you should start to notice results within 15 minutes.
I actually listened to an ‘intense focus’ composition while writing this article!
Like brain.fm, this is an online tool that will help you improve focus, but with a more simple and minimal approach.
Noisli exists out of ambient noise, which you can preset for productivity or relaxation. You can also mix your own noises to create the perfect composition for your focus. A few examples of noises are waves, campfire, thunder or a coffee shop.
The Chrome extension has a built-in timer which makes it easy to use while you’re working online.
After you’ve created your free account, you’ll notice they even have a neat distraction-free writing feature!
Are you familiar with the Pomodoro Technique?
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method using a timer to break down work into intervals 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. The method is based on the idea that frequent brakes can improve mental agility.
Focus booster makes using the Pomodoro Technique a breeze. It will track all your work sessions and gives you insight into your weekly productivity.
Focus booster is not the only tool using a Pomodoro technique. Here you can find a detailed comparison of 12 different Pomodoro timers.
Checking your Facebook newsfeed, email or YouTube videos every 30 minutes will get in the way of your productivity. If you recognize this behavior, Freedom is the tool to use. Freedom blocks all your online distractions. You can use it to block certain websites, apps, or even the entire internet. You also have the possibility to schedule ‘freedom sessions’ to build new, productive habits.
An excellent alternative is focus. When you block a website, you can set a motivational quote instead. Reminding you why you blocked these websites in the first place. It also has a hardcore mode, giving you no chance to stop or alter your session.
As you might have noticed by now, I love simplicity. Ommwriter is the best distraction-less writing tool out there. It can be used for every kind of writing, especially getting your thoughts on (digital) paper.
There are three things that make this app so great. One, the minimal backgrounds to set the mood. Two, ambient tunes (which evoked some kind of euphoric mood). And three, hold tight… keystroke sounds. If you’re not careful you will get carried away, and believe you’re the new Hemingway.
A noteworthy mention for Zenpen.io, a writing tool that works directly in your browser. It does it’s name justice because it’s indeed a zen-like experience. Just open the full-screen mode, and type away.
The main goal of the previous tools is keeping you on your task.
The Time Out app does the exact opposite. It’s perfect if you’re a person that (purposely) forget to take regular breaks.
For optimal focus, we actually need to take regular time-outs to relax and rebuild our energy. Time Out is a simple application that runs in the background while you work. At set intervals, it fades in and reminds you to take a 5-10 minute break. You can also use it to remind you to take 1-minute micro breaks to avoid eye strain from staring at your screen for hours at a time.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s a selection of the tools that proved beneficial for me and others around me.
If you have an app or tool to add to this list, please do! Leave a comment and help others get peace of mind.