Lancaster, PA-based entrepreneur Charlie Crystle recently released the initial beta for his product code-named Focus. It’s a product that has grown out of Charlie’s self-described “ADD” tendencies when using the computer (I and many others share these tendencies). Such as: constant switching back and forth between computer tasks, absorption in non-work-related tasks when you should be getting work done (curse you, Facebook!), etc.
Focus is a PC-resident product that installs a daemon process to monitor which programs, web sites, etc., you access and for how long. Its user interface app then presents this information in a series of graphs and allows you to tag and score activities. The program also calculates a productivity score – to give you something to shoot for. As you can see here, my score, 41, can use improving.
This screen shows how my computer use is spread across various applications – and how my productivity shifts based on which app I’m using. Not surprisingly, “iexplore” has a lower productivity score than Excel.
This screen shows other stats, in this case how often I switched applications per day.
The tool is really easy to use – at a glance, on the main screen, you get a snapshot of what you’re doing. The more granularly you tag, the more useful the score is. I created separate tags for Work-Client (score: 100), Work-Administrative (40), Networking (35), etc.
If you want to probe how you work on the computer more deeply, you can spend some (productive) time analyzing the charts Focus provides, and deciding how you want to change your computer work habits. It’s a fascinating tool, and I haven’t seen anything like it before (if you have, please leave a comment).
The New Tech Meetup of Central PA played a role in Focus’ development. Last fall, Charlie demonstrated an early prototype of the product at a meetup, with a lot of interesting discussion about platforms, functions, etc. It was fascinating to see a good idea at such an early stage, and fascinating too to see it evolved into an actual product. Charlie also demoed the beta version just before its release. If you’re near Central PA developing a tech product and would like to get feedback from a group of fellow travelers, I’d encourage you to join the Meetup and come to our monthly sessions. We’re always looking for interesting new products to showcase.
If you’d like to try the Focus beta, you can visit Charlie’s site to sign up.
[Disclosure: I am the organizer of the New Tech Meetup of Central PA]