It can be hard to stay on task at work, especially if you don't have an office door you can close. Nearby conversations and errant sounds can make it hard to concentrate. Even if you work somewhere quiet, the chatter inside your head or a barrage of incoming messages can get in the way of starting or finishing your next project.
Brain.fm has a remedy for these distractions. The app teams composers with scientists to create music designed to help you focus and get work done. It does more than block out noise; Brain.fm's engineered music helps you stay on task throughout your workday.
Brain.fm, which is available on both iPhone and Android, offers five focus sessions for free. After that, you'll need to pay either $6.95 a month or $47.40 a year to keep going. Subscribing gets you unlimited focus sessions and offline access.
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How Brain.fm works
Brain.fm uses an algorithm that takes musical compositions and rearranges them to interact with your brain to keep it in focus. The creators of Brain.fm collaborated with neuroscientists, and ran experiments to test and prove their technology. They even received a grant from the National Science Foundation for their work.
The app uses music featuring rhythmic modulation to keep you from being either distracted or soothed by the music. It creates a state of neural phase locking, which helps your neurons work together to stay in focus.
Brain.fm's website has more information about the science behind the app, including white papers for those of you who want to geek out. But you don't have to understand how it works to enjoy the clarity and focus you can get by using Brain.fm.
How to set up Brain.fm
Brain.fm offers five free sessions to give you a chance to try it out for yourself. It's easy to get started.
1. Download Brain.fm from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
2. Tap the "Start 5 Sessions Free" button.
3. Choose "Focus" on the Welcome screen.
4. On the Improve Focus screen, you're faced with three choices: "More Work Done," "Less Distractions," or "Less Procrastination." If you're not sure which one to choose, don't worry. All three choices take you to the same place. Your choice will help the app choose your first soundscape, but you won't be stuck with that. You can change to a different channel if you want.
5. One of the things that Brain.fm can help you with is creating good work habits. The next screen you'll see is the Create a Habit screen. You can set an alert to remind you to turn on the app at a certain time each day. The default is a 90 minute session starting at 9:00 am. Once you tap the "Continue" button, your reminder is set. If you don't want to use this feature, tap "Skip Creating a Habit" at the bottom of the screen.
6. The next screen is Save Your Settings. To use your free test sessions or create an account, sign in with Facebook or create an account with your email.
7. After you sign up, the app will launch you into a 90-minute session.
8. You can pause and resume your session whenever you like. You can also tap the "Explore" icon at the bottom right of your screen to try out different sounds capes.
How to use the Brain.fm app to help you focus
Brain.fm suggests using headphones to get the most benefit from the sound modulation that helps your brain focus. You can also customize your experience in a few different ways.
1. Tap the menu in the top-right of your screen to make changes to your account. Tap "Reminders" in this menu, and you can make changes to the daily reminder you set up earlier on the My Habits screen.
2. Tap the "My Library" icon in the bottom center of your screen to see which soundscapes you've recently played. You can mark your favorites with a heart.
3. When you start a new session, you can choose how long you want it to play for, or ask for nonstop play ("Infinity"). Choosing a 30- or 60-minute session can be a great way to remind yourself to take regular breaks when you're doing intense work.
4. You can also tell the app what type of work you'll be doing during your focus session. The app will then select a soundscape that's conducive to your level of concentration and creativity. Of course, you can always choose your own soundscape if you like another one better.
The Brain.fm app can do more than help you work. The app also has soundscapes built to help your brain relax, lull you to sleep, and get you into the right groove for meditation.