Music has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. But for years I had the hardest time finding music that enabled me to focus on my work.
I spent hours carefully curating playlists on iTunes. I tried dozens of Pandora stations. And, of course, I tried the old standby — classical music.
Nothing ever worked consistently.
And then in 2013 I discovered Focus@Will, an online service that plays music that's scientifically designed to improve and sustain your focus.
After an hour of sampling their free trial, I was hooked. And I've been a loyal customer since then.
I don't normally do shows about paid products or services. But I'm such a believer in this service that I felt compelled to share it with you.
And to explain what its, why it works and what's behind the technology, I've brought on Will Henshall, Focus@Will's Founder and CEO, to the show.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
What is Focus@Will?
Focus@Will is an audio service that helps you concentrate when working or studying. It uses music and sounds to quiet parts of the brain that are easily distracted. It affects the mechanism that makes it hard for us to stay focused: the fight or flight mechanism.
Focus@Will works well for studying and creative work. Anyone who has to sit at a computer and create may benefit from it.
It works equally well for men and women. On average, it works for two out of every three people.
How did the idea for Focus@Will come about?
Will Henshall is an inventor with a particular interest in how the brain works. In a previous career, he was a musician and songwriter for the group London Beat. He knows how to create music people want to listen to.
"Regular" music demands your attention. Music is traditionally built around a hook that's designed to engage you. If you try to listen to this music while working, it's distracting. It's hard to find music that's not engaging because that's what people want to listen to.
How are the music and sounds of Focus@Will different?
We all have a conscious brain and a subconscious brain. The subconscious brain is home of the fight or flight mechanism. This mechanism has the subconscious brain constantly on alert, listening for sounds as a signal of danger. When you sit down to create something at work, this mechanism is still active. Every 20 minutes or so, even if you haven’t heard anything unusual, it will want to check in with the conscious brain, making us pause and lose our focus.
The music and sounds of Focus@Will are designed to keep our subconscious brain busy so it will stop bugging you. It engages the part of the mind that distracts you and sustains it beyond these 20-minute intervals.
Each piece of music in Focus@Will is custom designed for this purpose. It has no vocals or vocal-like instruments (such as saxophones or oboes) because they prompt your brain to check for danger.
What do people get when they subscribe?
Today, Focus@Will has 18 channels, plus some beta channels. Different channels have different intensity levels. All sounds are unique to Focus@Will. Every file has been remixed and re-mastered to help keep you focused beyond the typical 20-minute interval. The playlist sequence is also designed for this purpose.
How does one determine the best station and intensity level to use?
Everyone's brain works differently. Some of us are hyper; some of us are chill. The music that works best for you will depend on where you are on that scale. The more hyper you are, the more energy you need in the music stream and vice versa.
Start by finding the channel that works for you then fine tune the intensity level. You want to get the point where you don't even notice the tracks anymore. You may find you need a greater or lesser intensity level at different parts of the day.
Do we need headphones to use Focus@Will?
The audio service works with either headphones or speakers. For the very best experience, use noise-cancelling headphones.
How much does the service cost?
Subscriptions are $49.99 for one year, $69.99 for two years and, for a limited time, $199.99 for a lifetime subscription.
You can also sign up for a free 30-day trial to try out the service. If you like it and you decide to sign up for a one-year subscription, you'll get an automatic 20% off your subscription.
There's nothing to do. No discount code to enter. Just sign up via this link and you'll discount will be applied if you decide to move from the free trial to the one-year paid subscription.
NOTE: This is NOT an affiliate link. It's just a special perk for listeners of my show. I earn nothing from your Focus@Will subscriptions.