10 apps for finding more focus time

What is focus time?

Focus time is time when you can work or complete a task without interruption. Unfortunately, finding focus time at work is harder than ever. The shift to remote and hybrid work means much of our day-to-day work and communication is done online in the digital office (eg Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace) and across an ever-increasing stack of workplace tools. With this comes a lack of presence and awareness about teammates' availability — and that results in workers having constant distractions in the form of notifications (knock knock brush), calls, and alerts. Workers are reporting having less time finding focus time each day.

Below are 10 of today’s best applications and tools to help you find more time to focus. They’re broken down into real-time status control, time management tools and reporting, and calendar solutions for focusing.

Focus time via status

#1. Pulse Automatic Status for Slack

Description: Pulse automatically updates your digital workplace status (eg Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace) in real-time based on your preferences, level of⚡️ focus, calendar, and the apps you use so you’ll enjoy more control of your day, fewer distractions, and more focus time. Pulse was recognized as a winner of the 2022 Slack Slackathon for enabling more focus time!

Pulse takes a different approach to helping workers protect their focus time by utilizing users' Slack status to automatically display when a user enters a state of focused work. The app is backed by the concept that focus work periods ebb and flow throughout the day and are not only confined to manually set hour blocks of time, but rather are spontaneous. Enter Pulse’s smart focus detection model which utilizes AI to determine when it thinks you’ve gone into focus. It then displays “⚡ focusing”

You can also use Pulse with your calendar to smartly block and display via your Slack status that you’re having focus time; including the ability to create a custom message and accompanying emoji to display during your calendared focus event.

Try Pulse free: https://getpulse.team

#2. Zapier Slack Integration

Description: Zapier lets you connect your digital workplace (eg Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace) with thousands of the most popular apps, so you can automate your work and have more time to focus. For Slack, Zapier lets users create workflows for each application they would like to automate into their Slack status. For example, you could create a Zapier rule, known as a Zap, that updates your Slack status to "FocusTime" when your calendar contains an event that has the word "Focus" in its title. Unfortunately, Zapier is not real-time unless you're on their paid plan, and so your status may not update for some minutes.

Try Zapier free: https://zapier.com/

Focus time via time blocking

#3. Clockwise

Description: Clockwise is a smart calendar assistant that streamlines your work calendar events, automatically resolves conflicts, manages time zones, and maximizes Focus Time for you and your team. Clockwise is a free Chrome extension that works in the background with your Google Calendar. Recently Clockwise has introduced the Clockwise Links feature to schedule meetings with anyone outside of your company to help you find the best time to meet to minimize distractions. This way you can optimize your scheduled meeting to preserve your Focus Time.

Try Clockwise free: https://getclockwise.com/

#4. Reclaim.ai

Description: Reclaim is based on the idea of time blocking. Time blocking is a way to allocate specific time into your daily schedule (eg calendar) that is dedicated to focused work. Instead of filling your calendar with events that quickly get interrupted, Reclaim adapts to changes in your agenda and shifts events from Free to Busy as you get busier: so you stay flexible, but not too flexible.

Try Reclaim free: https://reclaim.ai/

#5. Pulse Automatic Status for Slack

Description: Pulse makes another appearance here for it's time blocking solution which lets users create digital workplace statuses based on their own defined calendar rules. Users' rules are based on the keywords that they commonly use as calendar event titles. Example calendar rule: Set my status to display "🎧 heads down" and snooze my notification when any event I join has the keyword "focus" in the title. Beyond just focus time, users can set various custom rules from their calendar into their digital workplace status to reduce interruptions.

Try Pulse free: https://getpulse.team

Focus time via better scheduling

#6. Calendly

Description: Calendly is a smart scheduling tool that eases the process of scheduling meetings with your team and with external parties. In doing so, Calendly aligns, syncs, and integrates everything around your meetings to add time and focus back to your workday. You can define rules as to when others can schedule meetings with you. You can set this up in such a way to have a designated meeting day or designated meeting times to optimize for more focus time.

Try Calendly free: https://calendly.com/

#7. Google Calendar

Description: Google calendar is included here for some of its focus-oriented offerings including easing the time-consuming process of scheduling. In Google Calendar, you can create an event type called "Focus" that you can then sync into digital office tools (eg Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace). Google Calendar has a Slack integration that can update users' Slack status when they are in a calendar event to help inform coworkers about availability.

Try Google Calendar free: https://myaccount.google.com/

Focus time via time management

#8. RescueTime

Description: RescueTime is a web-based time management tool that keeps track of what you do and for how long when you are on your computer. Users download a desktop application from RescueTime that does all the tracking work.

Once installed, when you get distracted or caught in a spiral of multi-tasking, an alert from the RescueTime assistant suggests ways to reclaim your time and get back on track. At the end of the day, the assistant gives you a daily report that includes a breakdown of your computer time and how well you’ve focused. \There is no data entry needed from the user's perspective. The application keeps track of which window is "in focus" when you are on your computer, and logs what activity you are doing and for how long you are doing it. The application also has an idle timer so if you step away from your computer RescueTime does not inflate the amount of time you spent on a given activity.

Try RescueTime free: https://rescuetime.com/

Focus time via meditation

#9. Headspace

Description: Headspace is a meditation tool to improve your stress, lack of focus, health, and more. The promise: Use this app for 10 minutes a day, and your brain will literally change, reshaping itself to become more focused, creative, and generally happier. If you’re brand new to meditation there is a 10-day guided series that will help you get used to the new habit. You can also try different sessions built around specific goals like: patience, stress, anxiety, and balance. If you’ve been curious about meditation but too intimidated to try it, Headspace takes the guesswork out of the process and actually makes meditation fun.

Try Headspace's 14-day free trial: https://headspace.com/

Focus time via pomodoro technique

#10. FocusTime

Description: The FocusTime app is a universal app that works on all iOS devices and helps track your Pomodoro sessions. The Pomodoro technique is a time management concept used by millions of people every day. The concept is based on alternating between timed 25-minute focused work sessions and frequent short breaks. The technique helps to promote sustained concentration and stave off mental fatigue. Note: there are similar Pomodoro apps that work on Windows.

You can try FocusTime free: https://focustimeapp.com/