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Focus management is an up-and-coming idea where you use tools and apps to focus more and have better productivity. And as a small business owner we can use all the focus help that we can get.
Am I right?!
In past articles I’ve talked about how I use Asana to manage client projects and deadlines. I’ve shared the exact details of how to eliminate distractions and be more productive when working from home.
And though, work-life balance is a noble goal, I want to build a future-proof business that’s centered around my life and evolves with me. Don’t you?
My goal with all of these resources are to help you focus on what matters and stop stressing about the stuff that doesn’t.
So, if you’re looking for simple task management software that’s also inexpensive, check out Focuster.
What is Focuster?
Focuster is a cool new web app that I’m currently obsessed with. Over the years of being a business blogger I’ve looked for ways to sync my task management system with Google Calendar.
Sadly, I’ve never found anything that really works (without using a third-party service like Zapier). That is until, Focuster!
Focuster is a focus management tool that turns your seemingly never-ending to-do list into a simplified schedule in your calendar. This allows you to take action and organize your day based on the tasks you need to get done.
(And how many times have you heard me talk about the importance of organizing your day by the type of tasks?!)
Seriously though, Focuster helps organize your to-dos based on available time slots in your calendar. If you have a task that you think will take 30 minutes to accomplish, Focuster will put that 30 minute task into the next available slot on your calendar.
Don’t have time to get it done today?
No worries, Focuster will move the task to the next day until you have a chance to complete it. It’s like magic for scheduling and productivity!
How to set up a Focuster account
To get started using Focuster, sign up for the free 14-day trial. There’s no catch and you can cancel anytime if you feel like Focuster isn’t right for you.
Step 1: Capture
The first thing to do to set up your Focuster account is to start capturing the tasks on your to-do list. You can install a browser extension to make this step super simple, or add them manually inside the app.
Next, estimate how long each task will take by writing out the time next to the task headline. So for example if you needed to reply to an email interview you’d create a task titled; “Reply to email interview 15m” indicating it will take you 15 minutes to complete.
The goal is to simplify your to-dos into smaller tasks so you have a better chance of organizing your day accurately as well as completing everything on time.
Step 2: Schedule
Focuster allows you to drag and drop your to-dos into the appropriate calendar day. This can be the current day or any day in the future for that week or month. Focuster will then optimize your task to fit in the next available slot time by syncing with your calendar.
You can then monitor and track activity by using the Activity Bar which showcases multiple colors. Various colors will show you how much time certain projects will take, the time you have left and your most optimal time slots available.
Step 3: Check
Finally, start checking things off your list as you complete them as this will free up more time in upcoming calendar days. This will allow you to continue being productive and move the next highest priority task up on the list.
As you check off your tasks they will be removed from your Google Calendar to make room for new ones.
How to use Focuster to get more done
Focuster has many awesome productivity and focus management features. But before I list all of these out I want to share some of my favorite features about the app.
Click here to install the Chrome browser extension for Focuster (it’s free!). Next, click the button to install the extension from the Chrome Web store. Make sure you allow Focuster access to your Google calendar (or whatever calendar you use to manage your day).
This extension is simple but allows you to write down to-dos and tasks as you think about them throughout the day. Just click the Focuster icon button in your Chrome bar and write down your task followed by the number of minutes you expect it to take to complete.
For example, I would write “Create outline for Focuster review 15m” into that section of the Focuster extension and click “save”.
Next time I log into my Focuster account this task will be pending on the left side of my screen under the “to do” section. Now I can drag-and-drop it onto the date I want to start working on it.
The best part of using an online task management system like Focuster is the ability to integrate with other apps and tools. Focuster syncs with over 750 other online tools and products, such as Gmail, Evernote, Trello, Slack and more.
To access your integrations you will have to create a free account with Zapier. To set up an integration, start by clicking on “Settings” and then scroll down to “Integrations”.
You can then access your account’s API key to use with hundreds of other apps.
Now you don’t have to switch back-and-forth between other apps and programs that you use to run your business. Everything is streamlined with Focuster, saving you precious time and mental space.
Focuster makes it easy to spend a little time planning your work day in the morning so you can start actually doing work.
You’ll receive Daily Planning emails from Focuster detailing how much time you have left to complete certain tasks as well as things you got done that day.
The app’s notifications will automatically remind you of the next task by syncing with your Google Calendar.
You can choose to get notifications on your phone, or have Google Calendar notifications set up on your desktop. This alert pop-up will provide a periodic reminder of your next most important task on the list.
You can easily determine the frequency by choosing from alerts every 4 hours all the way down to every 15 minutes. Basically, you’ll never forget to cross something off the list again!
Best features of the Focuster app
Now that you know my favorite features, here are some of the major ones that I think you’ll live too. Focuster has so many awesome features it’s hard to know where to begin, but essentially it’s best known for helping you organize your day better.
This focus management tool makes it easy to increase productivity while simplifying your life. And who doesn’t want that?
Here are the best features of Focuster:
- Focuster distractions calculator and focus reminders
- Optimize your calendar slots by maximizing every spare minute
- Automatically manage your schedule so you can focus on the next thing
- Consistently schedule a better more productive workday, everyday
- Sync Google Calendar with Focuster to manage tasks and appointments side-by-side
- Do more of what matter and less of what doesn’t
- Prioritize tasks based on importance and time needed to complete them
- See your to-dos at a glance with custom daily or weekly calendar views
- Quickly reschedule your priorities until they’re done — no more forgetting
- Thoughtful reminders keep you focused and eliminate distractions
- The ability to have separate sections for work and personal tasks
- Stress less and live more by saving you hours of time every week
How much does Focuster cost?
The great thing about Focuster is that you can test it out for free using their 14-day free trial. Two weeks is a good length of time to see how you’ll use the product and then you can decide if you want to invest money to upgrade.
- Basic – $9.99/month plan for automatic scheduling, unlimited single-day planning, and smart reminders
- Pro – $19.99/month plan for scheduling up to 2 weeks in advance
- Executive – $199.99/month plan for a monthly 1-on-1 coaching session and email check-ins
How does Focuster compare to Asana?
I already use (and love!) Asana for simple task management software. So how does Focuster compare to Asana? First off Focuster and Asana do have similar online task management features.
They each offer the ability to input tasks, include due dates and track various to-do lists. Asana also syncs with Google Calendar so you can schedule tasks on a daily basis.
The only thing is that Focuster will input these tasks into time slots onto your calendar automatically, while Asana lists them out at the top of your Google Calendar before the day begins.
Meaning, you have to create separate “events” manually in order to complete projects or assignments if you use Asana. And Focuster will create a focus-based workday that will make you most productive without you even lifting a finger.
Obviously, there are pros and cons to both Focuster and Asana. So how do you know which one is best for you?
If you’re someone who needs help creating the perfect workday based on how long tasks take you to complete, then Focuster is perfect for you. Focus management is the perfect solution for staying on track every day.
On the flip side, Focuster’s hands-off style may not be best for your workstyle if you like to schedule your day manually, or move things around as needed.
As you know, I’m basically the queen of automation and I still find that I prefer to use Asana and Focuster together, since each one brings a different set of productivity methods to the table.
What would make Focuster better?
Having to use Zapier to integrate all of the apps you use is a bit counter-intuitive. You’re trying to streamline the tools you use, not find new ones. But the good news is that creating a Zapier account is free and you get access to over 750+ integrations with Focuster.
At first I found Focuster’s notifications a bit annoying because it reminded me of how behind I was on my to-dos for the day. The default alerts will be buzz at you every hour as well as the calendar notifications on the app (so I was getting twice the alerts!).
But then I realized that you can change the notifications inside the Settings within your Focuster account.
After that I found Focuster to be very helpful in organizing my day and helping me be proactive with my to-do list. And, as you may already know, being proactive as a critical thinker is the number one way to be successful in life.
As of this writing, Focuster does not have a mobile app so you can manage your to-dos and calendar on the go. You can however, log into the web app on your phone and use it via the mobile layout.
As someone who is a location independent freelancer I find it helpful to have mobile apps that sync with the desktop versions of the productivity tools I use every day.
Based on my personal testing and use of this focus management software, I highly recommend using Focuster for your small business or freelance work.
If nothing else, test it out for free for two weeks and see how you like it. What have you got to lose? And in fact, you might actually save time and money!