Mac users are a multi-purpose focus group. We use Macs for work and play. For email and browsing. For Skype, and Word, and Photoshop, and photos, and movies, and getting things done.
Our Macs are multi-purpose because we need to accomplish multiple things. But multiple tools and objectives also mean many distractions. What we need is a way to concentrate while doing multiple tasks. Is there an app that does that?
Concentrate To Get More Done
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from parenthood, it’s that there’s never enough time to do it all. Of course, I can do some things now that I never dreamed of 10 years ago.
Like, you know, find a lost and full diaper somewhere in the house.
By using my sense of smell and my feet.
Not necessarily in that order. That newly developed skill doesn’t help me get things done, but it’s important to find a sense of pride in your work, no matter how menial, trivial, or unsanitary.
My App of the Week to help me focus on the here and now is Concentrate. You know, like focus. Like avoiding distractions.
Not Mommy’s To Do List
This is not your mother’s to-do list app for a Mac. It’s modern. It’s interactive. Concentrate is a cleverly done, attractive, highly usable task and activity management app. It starts with activities. Things you need to do, lists of what needs to get done.
Start by creating a new activity. Whatever it is that’s going to take some time and concentration.
That’s easy enough. It can be whatever you want, but should be something non-trivial, something worthy of effort and focus. Then, use Concentrate to add specific actions to each of your activities.
Easy so far, right? This is where the fun begins.
Concentrate lets you concentrate on the assigned activity by eliminating distractions. If you plan to write something and need to focus, Concentrate will launch the writing app of your choice.
But, it also quits other apps that could be distracting—Twitter, Facebook, Skype, even browsing.
You can set a default time to concentrate on your activities using a handy slider bar.
Concentrate not only launches apps you need, and quits apps you don’t, it will open specific web sites you may need, while blocking others, or open specific documents you’ve been working on.
It can set your iChat or Skype status so you won’t be bothered. At the end of each activity or during an activity, Concentrate can play a sound, run an AppleScript, or speak a message using the Mac’s built-in text-to-speech.
Here’s The Deal
I like what Concentrate tries to do because it forces you to view specific activities and their related actions and how your Mac can help or hinder what you do.
Could you do all that Concentrate does by yourself, and save a few bucks? Yes. That would take more concentration, more discipline, and more effort, of course. I view this app as the beginning of a future class of apps that help us manage activities and actions, but don’t actually take part in the work.
For example, you’ll still need Photoshop to do images, or Word to write, but Concentrate becomes a helpful addition to your activity routine by making you focus on the actions, and reducing the influence of distractions. If they’d add a diaper-changing or child-chasing function, I’d pay extra and buy the family pack version.