Increase Your Productivity with focus booster

The last two weeks have been a frenzy of hectic activity at the Bowler household. When a family of six (two adults, three children and one dog) change residences, chaos will ensue. You do your best to make it an organized chaos, but it’s chaos nonetheless.

And although I count myself blessed to work from myself from home, there were many moments in the past two weeks where I sat down at the computer, blankly looked at the screen and thought, “Where do I even start?” Lucky for me, I had been planning to take a look at focus booster and see what it was about.

Thankfully, it turned out to be quite an aid.

Okay, to start off, it’s actually not focus booster that was the big help, but rather the underlying principle it was designed to be used for. Built on the concepts of the Pomodoro Technique, focus booster is a nicely designed tool to use this productivity framework.

A nicely designed site and application.

A nicely designed site and application.

The Foundation

There was a time when I was really into the whole sub-cult of personal productivity. But over time, I realized that I had succumbed to the trap that many were falling into — I was tinkering with my tools more than getting things done. So I started to take the entire subject with a grain of salt.

Over the past few months, I had heard a bit about the Pomodoro technique, but hadn’t paid much attention. But as I wanted to take a closer look at focus booster — and since our move had caused my work related tasks to accumulate at a rate which left me in a daze — I thought perhaps it was a good chance to try out this technique.

Overall, the concept is simple. Common sense tells you that when you face an overwhelming number of tasks, large and small, that you simply choose one and get started. Pomodoro is similar but applies some rules. The layout is basically this:

flow

You pick a task on your list and work on that — and only that — for 25 minutes. When that session is complete, you take a short break. Then you do another 25 minute session and so on, grouping your sessions in four’s.

And at the end of the fourth session, you take a longer break.

Simple, yet effective.

Where focus booster Comes In

Like GTD, the tools should not be the focus, but rather the process. Any old egg timer or stopwatch will enable you to practice the Pomodoro technique.

But if you prefer to use a digital tool, focus booster is an attractive option. It’s designed exactly for the Pomodoro technique, which becomes obvious in using the app.

focus booster includes some smart touches.

focus booster includes some smart touches.

The interface is a simple timer — click the play button to start your session. Then forget about it and get to work. And although a simple stop watch will do the trick, there are a few nice touches included with focus booster that make it a bit more of a joy to use:

  • Colour coded: as the time in a session runs down, the color of the bar in the timer changes. It starts green, slowly moves to the yellow-ish color seen above and eventually moves to red as your time comes to an end.
  • Session numbers: the session number is listed under the time, so you never lose track of how many work sessions you’ve completed or how many you have left until you take your longer break.
  • Short breaks included: once a work session is completed and you take your short break, it should be timed as well. You can’t be productive if your 5 minute break turns into a 35 minute feed reading session. And so focus booster times your short breaks as well, with a cool blue timer counting down in the opposite direction of the session timer.
  • Cut it short: lastly, if you’re in the flow and don’t feel like taking the break, you can simply press the stop button and cancel the remainder. Your next session is then ready to start.

Performance

One thing I always review when I’m testing out an AIR app is the resources it uses. As I’ve mentioned before, AIR apps typically use a lot of memory. The good news with focus booster is that is was decent in this area.

Instead of hogging memory, focus booster eats up CPU cycles.

Instead of hogging memory, focus booster eats up CPU cycles.

The bad news is that it was a drain on the CPU. Consistent monitoring showed that it was always using more than 10% of my CPU cycles. Room for improvement indeed.

The Verdict

CPU usage aside, I would not hesitate to recommend this app to anyone. Even more so, the Pomodoro technique can be an asset to the easily distracted.

If you do have trouble focusing, give this app a look.


  • http://svenlito.com sven

    I’ve just installed this over here: https://www.rescuetime.com

  • http://www.BryanWatson.ca Bryan Watson

    This seems like a beefy version of Time Out.

    Time Out is essentially the same concept without hogging the CPU or memory. Allows you to customize the timers (both Macro and Normal), and actually overlays your screen so you are forced to take a break.

    It’s great for staying focused, and making sure that you take sort breaks often to reduce eye strain.

    http://www.dejal.com/

  • LeMerlot

    Interesting approach – I would have given it a try for sure if it hadn’t been an AIR app which I don’t like at all – also here focus on lean (app) solutions…

    • http://www.nouveller.com/ Benjamin Reid

      What’s wrong with AIR? If you want a Mac app, try Concentrate. Nice look into focus booster. Definitely going to check it out.

  • http://phil.electricweekend.com Phil Bowell

    I’ve been trying this this morning, thanks to your post. Working well. I’m normally put off by AIR apps but this one doesn’t seem to be bothering me too much.

  • http://www.rescuetime.com Tony Wright

    Cool stuff. I’ve been loving the Pomodoro Technique. Would love to see and before/after stats… Did you spend the same amount of total time with distractions and just reclaim a bit of focus? Or did the technique actually increase the time you spent on productive stuff? (shameless plug) RescueTime allows for this sort of timed/voluntary blocking and also tracks the time. Oh, and the CPU usage is a bit more friendly: http://skitch.com/webwright/ngbxa/activity-monitor

  • http://facebook.com/mrtunes mr. tunes

    i am giving this a shot. looks like a great concept so far. i have tried things like rescuetime, toggl and slife in the past, but they simply didn’t work for me.

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  • nathan

    great! simple is better. too much functionality like the others (rescuetime, slife etc.) can distract you more than they are worth. Focus Booster looks like it really can deliver an easy way to time yourself and get the results from just ‘focussing’.

  • bakhtier
  • http://believethelies.net Paul Odtaa

    I’m finding focus booster really useful.

    Already it’s improving my writing. I now write more words a day. It also reminds me to take breaks.

    It’s also useful in that I use it to stop my general browsing.

    Also by clicking the i (information) symbol you can modify the session length up to 40 minutes and adjust the break length as well. You do this by dragging the mouse left and right across the figures.

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