77% More Focus!
I don’t know what it is, but I really love finding a good piece of software. I browse MacUpdate and One Thing Well reguarly, checking out what’s new, downloading interesting finds and taking them for test drives.
I found a little gem.
It’s called Concentrate. The idea is that when you’re ready to work, you can automate the actions required to create an ideal environment for focusing on the task at hand. A set of Actions is called an Activity, and you can create multiple Activities (Coding, Research, YouTube Hunting … ). So, when I’m about to create an AppleScript and need to focus, I can create an Activity which changes my chat status with a custom message (and also updates my chat status when I’m done), opens scripting reference documents I use, quits Mail so I’m not interrupted, and launches AppleScript Editor.
Below is a screenshot of an Activity (click to enlarge). On the left are actions and on the right is list of chosen actions. You can drag actions from the left pane to the right or double-click on them to add them to the right pane. Collapse or expand actions as needed. In the screenshot, once you begin Concentrating, chat status will change to away, with a custom message appearing to anyone who sends you a message and the desktop picture will change. When you’re done (you can set the length of your focusing session using the slider at the bottom of the sheet), the computer will say what you want it to.
There are many actions available. I think the developer thought of everything you might want to do when setting up your computer to eliminate distractions. I’m not going to review all of the options, but I do want to point out some really terrific features:
- Drag the same action over to the right pane multiple times. Play a Sound, for instance, only lets you play one sound. But you can drag the Play a Sound action over more than once to play as many sounds as you want. You can also play one sound when beginning to Concentrate, then drag another action over to play another sound when done Concentrating.
- Play a Sound at regular intervals while Concentrating, for example, every 10 minutes.
- Growl a Message will work whether or not you have Growl installed (Yay!), and you have the option of being growled at during regular intervals. (I like “Are we there yet?” every 2 minutes.)
- Open Websites lets you choose which websites to open in which browser. Drag one action for the sites to open in OmniWeb and another action to open other sites in Safari. There’s even an option to let you open the sites in tabs.
- Block Websites. ‘Nuf said? Nope. It also lets you block domains and domain groups. It has some pre-defined groups of domains (such as General Distractions, Social Networks, and Video Sites), and you can create and add your own groups.
- Quit Applications doesn’t just quit applications when you’re ready to focus, but gives you the option of relaunching those applications when you’re done Concentrating. (And you are able to quit application groups too.)
- Launch Applications’ options include hiding all other applications when launching, quitting applications when done, and activating applications if they’re already running. You can also launch application groups.
- You can set the default Concentration time from 5 minutes to indefinite.
- Run existing or embedded shell scripts or AppleScripts at the onset or the end of a Concentrating session.
- Concentrate can appear in the menubar and/or Dock.
The interface is well done. It’s easy to navigate and to create Actitivities which will help you focus on your task. I can’t think of anything I’d like to see added to the list of actions.
If that’s not enough to make you buy, for a limited time only, this $29.00 application is currently … free. Why? Well, when you click on the Buy Now button at the Concentrate website, you’re greeted with the message “Hi, until we’re able to give Concentrate some needed love, 1.0 is free to use with the following information”. (I think it’s alredy well loved, but I’m not going to argue with the discount at all.) Underneath that message, you’ll find a username and serial number.
Run. Go tell everyone.