First Impressions is a new series of both blog posts and videos showing my first impressions with new software, web sites and services. I know that my first impressions with a new service can often deeply effect how I use it (or don't us it) in the future, so I want to start sharing these experiences with you so that you can see how I see how they might fit into your own work flow.
First Impressions 1: focus@will - music to work by
I first discovered this site via an article on Engadget and decided to check it out. Since i work from home, I find that my day-to-day work can be a bit scattered and my attention isn't always focused on the work at hand. focus@will is a web site that uses music to help you bring some focus back to your day when you need it most.
focus@will (and, yes, they do not capitalize the name) is basically a curated music collection and player. The player allows you to select from a short list of musical genres and then begins playing music of that type. The music, though, isn't just the hits that are playing on the radio, but rather music specially selected to help you focus.
On the focus@will web site they describe it like this:
"focus@will is a new music service that helps you focus and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading.
Here’s how it works. Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 100 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break to stretch, move about, maybe get a drink of water and so on before they resume for another session.
The system assists during a typical productivity cycle by gently getting you into the concentration flow and then keeping you there. It works in the background by subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that is always on the look out for danger, food, sex or shiny things.
Each piece of music sequenced during the 5 phases shown below has a specific role in enhancing your focus and reading enjoyment. Characteristics such as musical key, intensity, arrangement, speed, emotional values, recording style and many more factors determine what is played where and when."
I have been using focus@will over the last week -- mainly using the Jazz playlist -- and I have found it does seem to increase my focus, especially when writing. I am not the type of music listener that listens to particular artists or entire albums -- preferring a more "radio like" approach of being presented with a wide variety of music over time -- so focus@will works well for me. While I can skip particular songs, I find that I don't need to do that very often.
If you are looking for way to get a little more focus into your work day, focus@will might be one way to do it. I plan on using it more over the coming weeks as it does seem to help in my, admittedly anecdotal, experience so far.