Timers to Boost Your Focus


It’s always a treat to get together with Stefania, my beautiful, interesting, big-hearted friend who founded the Blue Heron Foundation to help Romania’s abandoned children (and now those of the Republic of Moldova) attend university.

Our conversation always ranges widely across our full lives, including our creative endeavors. Months ago, stuck, I mentioned having a hard time either finding the time for, or getting back into, writing flow. Stefania encouraged me with a strategy she was using to translate her book into English: “Take just 30 minutes to work on it daily. 30 minutes on the clock.” Of course. 30 minutes is short enough so that it’s not overwhelming, and almost anyone can find that much time. Yet 30 minutes daily, over time, will advance many an important project.

Though I could have used my phone or a clock, sometime around then, I saw a mention of Focus Booster. The app has fancy bells and whistles to help with productivity tracking. For a monthly fee, you can create labels, clients, timesheets, reports. Or you could download the Starter plan for free.

I chose the latter, and used Focus Booster’s default on-screen countdown timer: 25 minutes on, 5 minutes off, with a ticking sound that starts each session (you could choose to have ticking throughout, and adjust the length of the working/break sessions, etc., even with the Starter plan). When I’d see the green background that starts off each session (the colors change as time ticks away), my brain indeed went into focus mode. Oftentimes, I started second, third, or even more sessions, as my focused brain now wanted to keep writing.

Recently, Focus Booster has changed its free plan to allow only 20 sessions a month. This limiting, and the new requirement for users to login, is sending me back to my phone timer. Still, I’m grateful to them for that green screen that so often had taken me into “the zone.” And even more grateful to Stefania for her small, doable, effective suggestion.

So what tool(s) do you use to keep yourself focused when you write?