The world of desktop applications have seem to be saturated with apps that promote better organization of all the things you need to get done (Things, Daylight, OmniFocus). But how many have you seen that can successfully keep you focused on these items cluttering your queue? Concentrate has taken a good stab at this with its flexible and simple form to keep you on track.
[This review was written by Dan Auer. Dan is a graphic designer from North Carolina (US) who had past experience working with the music and social networking industry.He design for print, web, identity and mobile. He’s currently the creative director for Pathos Ethos, a consultancy that provides anything from design to programming for whatever needs to get done. You can head over his website or reach him on Twitter as @danauer.]
Quite honestly, there’s a lot of other apps and social networks that seems to make me stray away from projects I’m currently working on, including the less exciting ones. Concentrate works well because you assign activities to match what you’re doing with anything you should and shouldn’t be doing during said activity. Take, for example, designing. Start concentrating on a Design activity could open up whatever Adobe weapon of choice you may frequent but could also close other enticing apps such as Tweetie. You can even block particular websites like Facebook or YouTube to make sure that a logo comp doesn’t magically transform into watching the latest Internet meme.
￼The general layout of the app is incredibly simple. What’s displayed are the current activities you’ve already created and three buttons: to create, edit, and delete activities. While the user-defined icons make the recognition of things much easier, I do wish there was an option to adjust the size of the type.
The button to Concentrate also seems a bit off compared to the rest of the interface. Regardless, everything works smoothly and easily.
￼Creating a new activity is incredibly simple. It’s a series of drag/drop options (quite similar to Automator) that even allows to drag and drop the hierarchy for when things are done.
The actions themselves are as well thought out as one would hope.
￼This option is great for those who like to keep themselves on a strict schedule. Have multiple clients you need to take care of? This single option could very well help you stay focused on a project until the timer’s up. Then, you move onto the next task and stay fresh with the former.
As with the Concentrate buttons in the main window, I would like to see the Done button handled a bit differently.
￼A great (and arguably important) feature of Concentrate is the menu item in the menubar. Currently in an activity? It shows you the remaining time in minutes and hours and what the task is that you should be doing. Not running an activity? The icon sits there patiently waiting to be used. Clicking the icon shows you the activity options also found in the main window, as well as the options to close the app.
Real World Example
Imagine needing to alot time for invoicing. Many freelancers hate doing it, but concentrating on it (ah, see what I did there?) can make it less painful and even quicker to do. Start up an activity that closes distracting apps and blocks tempting websites while opening a specific invoice template in Pages. There, you can quickly plug in all the necessary information, package it up, and send it to the client via email.
Overall, I consider this a successful app. The main disclaimer is that the app runs mostly on the composure of the user. Anyone could simply just stop the activity and close the app but invites the user to simply say, “No, I really need to work on this.” The app doesn’t cure attention disorders nor forces one to work on the activity they’ve committed to or the documents they’ve opened with it. So, this app becomes crucial to those who have an honest will to work and cut out any other item that may get in the way.
One feature I would heavily request is a timer which clocks how long you’ve worked within an activity and keep a log of past entries. That way, you can get a statistical evaluation of how long you should set the specific timer for to keep yourself on track. Regardless I love the app where it’s currently at enough to use it writing this.
Go download. (60 hours free trial, $29 for the unlocked version)