9 Essential Focus Apps for Your Most Important Tasks

Focusing on your work tasks can sometimes become a challenge in the modern workplace, whether it’s remote, hybrid, or distributed. Finding focus time — uninterrupted periods of time in which you can concentrate on your most important work — is not easy. That’s where our list of focus apps come in.

What is Focus Time?

Before diving into some great focus apps, let’s review what ‘focus time’ is. Focus time is the act of creating space to provide an opportunity to achieve deep work also known as flow state, so that you can get your tasks done. Focus time is necessary for concentration while also helping mental health by reducing burnout.

The list of focus apps below help you protect your focus time by blocking distractions, so you can focus on getting your tasks done.

How Do Focus Apps Work

Focus apps preserve your focus time in several ways. Here’s how:

  • They block specific websites and apps you don’t want to see while you’re trying to focus.
  • They let you set a schedule or timer to allot time for focus work and other tasks.
  • They train you to get better and better at focusing on your work.
  • They snooze notifications to reduce unwanted interruptions.
  • Use of focus apps ultimately boost productivity and allow you to enter a flow state.

9 Essential Focus Apps

Forest

Forest is available as a Chrome extension for your computer and an app for your phone. It works like this. First, you must slot a certain amount of time as your focus time. When your focus time starts, you click on ‘Plant,’ and a ‘virtual tree’ grows during that period.

Forest lets you see the results of your focus time in the form of an image of that growing tree. Starting from a seedling, you’ll see your focus time blossom into a forest, giving you a visual idea of how long you spent focusing.

It also helps you focus by reminding you to put down your phone and blacklisting websites and apps you don’t need for work. The Chrome extension is free, while the mobile app costs $2.

A screenshot of the Forest focus app.

Freedom

Available as a mobile app and a web-based browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera, Freedom is a great way to block the endless distraction of social media and websites. If you want to work offline, you can block individual sites and even shut out your entire internet. You can make a custom list of websites that you want to block, or use the app’s preloaded list so that you don’t have to make the decision.

Freedom will block your chosen sites across all your devices at once. Also, the Lock Mode can stop you from quitting in the middle of a session. 

Freedom comes with a seven-session free trial, and a lifetime package at $79.99.

A screenshot showing the Freedom app blocking websites on a mobile device.

Focusmate

This app says 95.5% of its users report an increase in productivity after using it. The app connects you with a “Focus Mate” whenever you want. It will basically be another person using the app who also wants to block distractions and slot focus time. 

The app works in 50-minute sessions, and the presence of another stranger over a Zoom or Google Meet helps keep both of you accountable. 

You can participate in three 50-minute sessions every week for free. If you want more than that, this app will cost you $5 per month.

RescueTime

RescueTime doesn’t block applications and websites but rather works as a reporting tool, letting you know where you spend your time. 

Available for iOS, Android, and as a Chrome extension, the app is a great way to begin guarding your focus time by understanding how you spend most of your time, helping you figure out what’s interfering with your work.

There’s a 30-day free trial, while premium plans start at $6.50 per month.

A screenshot of the RescueTime app displaying how much time is spent on individual websites.

Focus – Time Management

This app is based on the well-known Pomodoro technique that breaks the working day down into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks. 

You can change the duration of your intervals and your breaks to fit your needs, making it a versatile and useful focus app to boost your productivity. A free trial apart, subscriptions start at $7.99 per month.

Mindful Browsing

This easy-to-use free app takes a gentle approach to preserve focus time. It doesn’t block websites but instead, it asks you to type in the names of websites that you want to track your usage of and asks  you to enter what you’d rather be doing. After that, whenever you visit the websites you flagged, the Mindful Browsing program will gently remind you that you should be doing something else!

A screenshot showing Mindful Browsing reminding a user to avoid a website.

Focus Keeper

This is another app based on the Pomodoro technique, which breaks up your time into 25-minute time slots. Focus Keeper tracks your time to keep you informed about how productive you’ve been, and it gets you into the habit of concentrating for set periods by discouraging breaks.

The app’s basic version is free to use, and pro plans start at $1.99.

Pulse

We would be remiss to not mention Pulse. Pulse works to improve your focus time through status. Pulse uses AI to determine when you’re doing deep work and then it automatically updates your Slack status to snooze your notifications and indicate to your coworkers that you’re not to be disturbed. 

In addition to automatic focus detection, Pulse can connect with your calendar to let your coworkers know what you’re busy. 

Pulse, winner of the 2022 Slack Slackathon is also listed here as one of the best Slack apps for remote teams. It is free to use for the first five users in your Slack workspace.

SelfControl

If you struggle with self-control and discipline, this may be  the right app for you. Available as a free Chrome extension, it blocks access to websites you ask it to. Its distraction-free mode will stop you from lifting those access blocks for a fixed period of time. That way, even if you lose your willpower, the app simply won’t let you in!

The Bottom Line: It’s All About Mental Health and Productivity

The modern workplace is full of distractions. Among emails, Slack messages, and other notifications, these focus apps can make a real difference. 

A study done at UC Irvine found that once distracted, it takes around 25 minutes to regain focus.