Ryan Schuetzler

Researcher and techie extraordinaire

Apps I Love - Focus@Will Edition

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I spend a lot of time at my computer. As a student, I write papers and do programming assignments. As a researcher, I read papers, write more, and try to keep on top of what’s going on in the world and especially in my field. As a nerd, I play League of Legends. For all of those besides the last one, I often need to be able to block out distractions and focus on the work at hand. And working either at home with two kids or in an office with 12 other guys can be distracting.

Enter focus@will, my favorite website for providing non-distracting music for reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic (or programming). Focus@will was created by a group of researchers at UCLA and designed specifically to help listeners achieve maximum productivity. The playlists created are designed around 100 minute cycles, shown to be the most productive way to organize work.

The biggest advantage focus@will has over competitors like Pandora and Spotify is that it has been designed to require little to no user input. Preselected categories of music are available, and that’s it. If you hear a song that’s too distracting just skip it and you’ll never hear it again. I had to do this with Stuff We Did from Pixar’s Up. Very good song, but I ended up thinking more about the song than the work, so it had to go. Also, at least for now, there are no ads.

If focus@will doesn’t fit your taste, you can also try musicForProgramming();. I found their tracks just a bit too distracting, but for others it might just fit the bill.

What do you listen to while you work?