Focus To-Do makes time management easy and recreational

Jiayu Zhan, Staff Writer

Focus To-Do is a planning app that greatly increases the efficiency of work; it is an app that every procrastinator needs.  

The main feature of the app is a Pomodoro timer, which separates work time into 25-minute intervals with short breaks in between each one and long breaks after a certain number of intervals. Since it means “tomato” in Italian, the overall look of the app has a warm, red-orange feeling to it. Each tomato seed represents a minute on the countdown clock. 

Additional to the timer, the app also incorporates a task organizer, provides long term reports on time usage and offers a social feature.

The app itself is free, but an in-app purchase is available for premium features, which allow for Cloud backup and synchronizing data with other devices. Premium is $2.99 every three months and $17.99 for a lifetime.

The app is incredibly small, taking less than 25 MB of space. As it opens, a countdown timer is shown. A quick tutorial is played, and the user is exposed to a minimalistic main menu. 

Users can add plans freely as well as long-term projects. For each plan, the user must set up an estimated number of pomodoros, that it, the number of 25-minute intervals that is needed. The plans are then arranged in a checklist. Users can either check it off for the day or move it to another day if needed.

As the clock starts, a list of white noises is provided, including “wind with crickets,” “ocean shore,” “rain” and numerous others. Although buying premium allows for a wider range of white noises and alarms sounds, for me, the ones provided are enough for daily uses.

What I really liked about the app is how it can block other apps. As I clicked into settings, I was able to set up a white list (a list of apps that I need for studying) and block all others while the timer is on. As a procrastinator myself, I check social media apps regularly even if there are no notifications. Every time I do that, I get sidetracked and cannot start learning again until twenty minutes after. Because this app blocks other apps, I was able to concentrate for an entire Pomodoro interval before checking social media again during breaks.

Furthermore, the app provides a full out report of the amount of time spent concentrating per day, week, and month, as well as the number of tasks completed. It provides feedback on project time distribution and task curves. 

Besides the timer itself, the recreational aspect of the app really caught my eye. As I signed up with my email address, I was able to use the forest feature, where the amount of concentration time I spend converts to sunlight, which can be collected and used to grow little saplings. The size of your sapling is ranked along with the saplings of your group members, if you join any, or other users of the app in general. 

Moreover, the app’s group feature allow users to find motivated friends to chat with. For those who are competitive, it also provides ranking for the amount of focus time and the size of the tree.

One minor flaw of the clock is that it is somewhat confusing for first-time users. Besides the planning, most other features are embedded in other subgroups that are not labeled with words but instead with little icons. This means that first-time users have to do a lot of guessing and checking. Even the usage guidance itself is incorporated into settings, which I could only access through clicking my username.

Nevertheless, this app stands out compared to other Pomodoro timers. Most other apps either cost money to download or lack features, especially for socializing and time management feedback. Additionally, from the top 10 apps that are shown when I searched up Pomodoro on Google Play, it is the only one that is also available for IOS users, as well as for Mac and Windows systems. 

Dougherty students generally take a lot of advanced classes, which would result in countless homework assignments. It is not only difficult, but also extremely boring to sit in front of a laptop and concentrate on these assignments for hours every day. Thus, it becomes harder and harder to focus, so the amount of time needed to complete these assignments increase significantly. As a result, students suffer from high stress levels and sleep deprivation. This app solves some of these problems by planning out our work time and rest time logically, which assists us in increasing our efficiency.

Overall, the app is incredibly helpful in time management. Excluding the confusion at the beginning, the warm tone of the app, the pomodoro timer and the social aspects all worked together to make concentrating easier and more amusing. This app is perfect for those who are trying to rectify their habit of procrastination and those who cannot strictly follow their written plans.