Free yourself from distractions with Concentrate

If you’re a Mac user and often find yourself tempted to goof off when you should be working, I want to introduce you to Concentrate.

Here’s how Concentrate works:
Name an activity you complete at your computer that requires focus. This activity might be something like creating presentations, reading PDFs for class, or laying out a newsletter. Once you’ve identified the activity, you can edit the specifics of how you want your computer to function. Determine what applications you’ll use and which ones you definitely won’t, specific websites or documents you’ll need and ones you won’t, your online status, which spaces to use (if you use the multi-desktop program), customize your desktop image, and even launch scripts. You can also set a timer to help keep you focused for a specific period, with sounds and recorded messages that can cheer you on along the way. You can set your preferences to have an icon automatically appear at start up so turning on the activity environment only takes one-click.

You can get 60 hours for free to try the service, and $29 if you choose to purchase it. My favorite part of the program is its incredibly simple user interface. Setting up the preferences takes very little time and effort, and turning on the activity is even easier. A program that is a breeze to use increases the likelihood that I’ll actually use it. And, I’m using Concentrate as I write this.

25 Comments for “Free yourself from distractions with Concentrate”

  1. posted by Paolo on

    It look really useful, I’d love to use it, but there isn’t a windows version? or do you know some windows equivalent?

  2. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    I could definately use something like this! I tend to multitask TOO much when I’m online, but should really be concentrating on one thing, like witing for my blog. But instead, I’m here. SEE? πŸ™‚ I don’t have a Mac either, though.

  3. posted by Shalin on

    I’ve been looking for something like this for a while!
    I not sure it’ll do the trick at the office, but I’m gonna give it a shot at home at least.


  4. posted by Maura on

    Pure genius.
    Perfect for the college student learning to manage time, and who is easily distracted by social networking. If only turning off the text feature of a cell phone were an option too — then some serious studying might get done!

  5. posted by Ronda Levine on

    This looks really cool. I’m forwarding it to my husband at Stanimation Productions ( since he has a Mac. Does anyone know about anything like this for Windows?

  6. posted by Claycat on

    I need something that will make me concentrate on physical tasks like uncluttering. LOL!

  7. posted by susanna on

    I used to use a program called “Temptation Blocker” on my PC- I downloaded it free a few years ago. Basically I used it to block the internet for given periods of time so that I would stay on task with my writing. The system was simple but buggy and kept crashing and causing problems. It never seems to have been significantly updated or improved. I’ve been looking for a replacement program for my PC. I’ll try the Concentrate on my Mac, though. It looks promising.

  8. posted by Kylie on

    You’re the best, Erin. I was just thinking yesterday that it would be great if there were a program like this πŸ˜€ Can’t wait to start using it.

  9. posted by Martin on

    You know, it occurred to me, this being Unitasker Wednesday, that this could qualify in a round about way. What this is doing is essentially turning your multitasking computer INTO a unitasker.

    Funky little trick… if Unclutterer wrote this software, they could’ve called it The Unitaskerizer. πŸ™‚

  10. posted by PrutsPrinses on

    Oooooh Erin, thank you for bringing this to our attention!
    Exams are almost over though, I could have used it!
    But I’ll test it out by the next round…

  11. posted by Karyn on

    @Maura – You can turn off the text feature of your cell phone by powering it off. πŸ˜‰ Alternatively, you can just “silence all” and sit the phone somewhere away from your workspace so it doesn’t distract you visually. I find that helps when I don’t want to be interrupted by calls or texts!

  12. posted by deb on

    There are a couple similar free applications for the mac:
    spirited away

    They aren’t as complete a solution, but may be right for someone.

  13. posted by Abeline on

    Free version: a loved one with a baseball bat. :p

  14. posted by Wellington Grey on

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was about to go on a big google search for applications to save me from myself. You probably just saved me an afternoon’s research. Thank you!

  15. posted by Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists on

    Very, very intriguing. Downloading now!

  16. posted by Malcolm on

    OK, I’ve checked the date – it is not April 1st – what’s going on? This CANNOT be real. It must be a joke, right? For example, Karyn could surely turn her phone OFF? My computer is only a humble PC but it still has a red cross in the top right hand corner of each screen enabling me to CLOSE a program I am not using. Is this too hard to do?

  17. posted by Donna on

    I can see this being helpful to keep my daughter from using the internet when she’s supposed to be using the word processor.

  18. posted by Maura on

    @Karyn – yes, of course a cell phone could be turned off, or set to silent, etc. And, as pointed out by Malcolm, you can CLOSE web sites and other apps that are a “distraction”. The concept of Concentration, I think, is voluntary forced discipline. Some people need this nudge to stay on task — as they don’t feel intrinsically capable of self-discipline. Sad, but true. I was somewhat kidding about my cell phone comment, but try telling your response to my two kids (high school and college). I don’t think they know there IS an off button — just that the battery occasionally needs to be recharged πŸ™‚

  19. posted by Karyn on

    @Maura – In case you got a different impression, I wasn’t being flippant; I was honestly telling you what works for me. The difference between the cell phone and the computer is that the cell phone is not an intrinsic element of a workspace, hence it can be silenced and/or turned off and put somewhere out of sight so you’re not looking to see if the signal light is flashing. (Yes, I do know how distraction works… lol.) As someone who works mostly overnights, I very much appreciate the fact that cell phones, unlike the landline phones of the past, at least, allow me this kind of control. No more being awakened by a ringing phone–and this naturally evolved into “no more being DISTRACTED” by a ringing phone while I’m working at my desk, doing yoga, etc.

    Hey, that’s why Goddess invented voice mail. πŸ˜‰ And text messages will, like e-mail, still be there to be read when I’m ready to read them.

    Anyway, I mentioned it because, as you said, a lot of people, especially young people, seem to be unaware of the power in their hands. πŸ˜€ And I didn’t know your age, so I thought you were the student in question.

    As far as the computer application goes, I completely understand the point of it and have no quibbles with it. I prefer to modify my behavior rather than my computer, but whatever works for someone and isn’t hurting anyone, and all that.

  20. posted by Karyn on

    @Malcolm – Maura was the one who raised the original cell phone question, tongue in cheek, as it turns out. I was the one advocating turning the cell phone off. As I said in my reply to Maura, I do just that, often and cheerfully. πŸ˜€

  21. posted by Richard | on

    I think that is a little overkill. Just start to exercise your personal power and forget about all these silly programs. I hear that whenever you find a new productivity tool you should put it down stop salivating and take some action! Good post.

  22. posted by Maura on

    @Karyn. Thanks for your reply. I didn’t get the impression of flippant. No worries. And I hope you didn’t get “defensive” from me. I wholeheartedly agree with all that you said.

    And you, too, @Richard πŸ™‚

    Perhaps it is partly due to age (40-something, btw), but I definitely have issues with “technology”. As my daughter’s 8th grade science teacher told them on the first day of school:

    “Technology Giveth, and Technology Taketh Away”


  23. posted by Jill on

    Heh, I multitask all of the time when I’m on the computer…luckily the SIX math classes I’ll have to be taking to finish my Bachelor’s (plus like only one Psych class left) won’t have me NEEDING to use the computer but I’ll want to play instead of do math! Too bad there’s nothing like that you can use offline. πŸ˜›

  24. posted by Danae on

    I was just thinking there should be suck a program for PCs. I’m struggling to write my thesis and Mozilla Firefox is my big enemy, I get easily distracted to check emails, my facebook, etc…

  25. posted by 03/02/2010 : Personal Development Day | My Daily Top RSS Selection on

    […] Free yourself from distractions with Apple Mac Concentrate If you’re a Mac user and often find yourself tempted to goof off when you should be working, I want to introduce you to Concentrate. […]

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