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When I was finishing college, the “lofi hip-hop beats to study/chill to” meme was all the rage. But on campus, it wasn’t just a meme, so many students were convinced when they listened to this playlist they were more productive, focused on their work, and less bothered by distractions. Throughout the library, you’d see students with noise-canceling headphones on, slowly bobbing their book-buried heads.
And this idea seems to be what Focus@Will latched onto. But it isn’t new by any means. People have been claiming binaural beats help them focus since the early 2010’s. Even before then, ideas about the interaction between productivity and music can even be dated as far back as the days of psychologist B.F. Skinner and his ideas about the effects of the environment on behavior.
But does Focus@Will actually help me get work done? I’d say yes. Or, I would at least say that I feel more productive when they’re playing, and that seems to be the general consensus on using this program. Most Focus@will users (which consist of both entrepreneurs & employees) tend to agree that they at least feel more productive while using it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a surefire system for measuring productivity vs efficiency. Of course, I can always look at how many projects I completed in a given day or week, but not every project takes me the same amount of time, nor are they equally difficult across the board. So I can’t say using Focus at Will made me more productive with any definitive data, but what I can say is that when using it I got much more work done with seemingly less effort input.
But, it’s also important to note that I have a whole work routine to help get myself into work mode. I work around the same time every day, in similar locations, usually with a cup of coffee. All these things are paired with my work schedule, and I am conditioned to produce maximum work output in this kind of environment. Therefore, adding Focus@will is only a supplement to my whole regime.
Since that’s the case, I can’t make any claims about it, making me productive when I am not feeling productive. All I can say is that it seemed like my productivity increased while using it.
In writing this Focus at will review, I looked at some of their websites’ claims regarding how well the music works and checked to see if it matched up with independent research. But before we get to that, let’s go over their claims and the research they conducted first.
The result of a seven-year research and development process, Focus@will claim to be backed by neuroscience. They argue that humans are only able to focus intensely on something for an average of about 20 minutes. By slightly changing the music intervals as time goes on, the continued change in sound keeps users focused for up to 100 minutes. Believe it or not, this claim is backed by Cornell researchers.
Their study showed that Focus@will users were up to 400% more productive than a control group. What’s more, is that users of the music program were more consistently productive across the board. In contrast, non-users tended to be much more sporadic with their measured rates of productivity.
Based on my continued research, it doesn’t seem that Focus@will just cherry-picked a study to fit their narrative. When compared to a study from Cambridge, some positive effects were documented when looking at music and memory recall tasks, but they did find that the positive results are very much dependent on the tempo and the volume of the music.
Some experts at Northcentral University argue for the benefits of certain kinds of music on focus, but they are convinced classical music provides the most benefits. Like the previously mentioned Cambridge study, the experts at Northcentral argue that the tempo and volume are some of the most critical factors in increasing productivity.
They also vouch for the importance of using curated study playlists instead of just picking some songs you think may help you study. So maybe Focus@will is on to something. Considering the amount of scientific backing their software has paired with my anecdotal evidence, I think it’s safe to say that this program really can increase your productivity. The effect likely isn’t just a placebo.
Also Read: 5 Ways How I Stay Focused
My experience overall with Focus@will has been a pretty good one, but it has its shortcomings. So let’s break down the pros and cons that I noticed while using the program.
Like I already mentioned, I don’t think this program will get you motivated, or pull you out of a funk if that’s what you’re looking for. But I do think it could be a great supplement to your work routine, especially if music in the background has proved beneficial to your work routine before.
The real question here is, does it work better than the productivity playlists on Spotify, Amazon Music, or whatever music streaming service you are probably already subscribed to? I’d hesitate to say yes because I get more music that I like to listen to through a lofi hip-hop beat playlist.
But for someone interested in maximizing their productivity, this program is worth a shot, especially considering that there is a free trial available. And after that, the program is less than three dollars a month if you get the annual plan. If the program is working for you, then it should pay for itself in no time.
Focus@Will´s music typically starts to work within 20 minutes the first time you use it. Once you have used the app for a while, you automatically click into focus mode and do so almost immediately.
Once that happens, most people can easily maintain their focus for an hour, some up to 200 minutes. Much better than the 20 minutes that studies show most people can manage to focus before becoming distracted.
The part of the mind that is used to memorize things is stimulated by music. When you listen to music you like, you become more relaxed and the music muffles distracting noises. Both of which make it easier for you to focus and learn.
The developers have used scientific research to decide when to change the tempo. Preventing you from becoming habituated to the music, so that you do not become distracted and lose focus.
Plus, the tempo and pitch of the Focus@Will music helps you to get into a rhythm, which improves workflow, which is why many people find that they can get more done in less time.
You can listen to Focus@Will on any Android or Apple device that has the ability to stream music. There is also a desktop version available for both Mac and Windows. Currently, you cannot use the app while offline, but that feature is in development.
The free trial is worth it for everyone. Being able to focus and work faster means that you soon more than cover the cost of the app.
How soon that happens depends on how much you make per hour and how much more productive you are when using the app. But, most people find that the app pays for itself within a few weeks.
There is also a lifetime plan available. It is priced at just over 4 times the cost of the annual plan, which makes it great value for money.
Yes. Before the app was developed and launched, research had proved that music could be used to improve concentration.
You can read what Cornell University has to say on the subject, by clicking here. Studies also showed that the brain seeks stimulation or distractions every 20 minutes. So, the change in tempo provided by the app at the relevant time points fits in with the research.
The app’s creators have also carried out further research. To date, they have asked 4 sets of users to independently assess the impact using Focus at Will has had on their ability to concentrate and on their productivity.
Yes, in a way they do. There are several music channels for you to choose between, which makes it easy for you to find one that works for you. Each channel can be edited to remove any tracks that you do not like. You can also change the energy levels.
To help you to find the right one for you, complete their quiz. Then try each of the channels they recommend for you until you find the one that works best.