Sounds to increase focus

I like to work from various locations. Sometimes that is easy. Other times I’m rather distracted. Too quiet, too loud, a single dominating voice, or my son drumming can all make focusing hard. Over the years I’ve played with various ideas to help me focus. I used to listed to a lot of music while working. That was tricky at times, because the music can suck me in and draw my attention. I end up listening to some great tunes, but the work suffers.

There are tools to help me with that. These tools provide sound to drown out other sounds or specifically to help you focus. The following tools help me with both.

  • focus@will is what I use most of the time. I paid for the subscription and every time I used it, I am left baffled by how well it works. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s just a placebo effect or not, but it produces great results for me.
  • Noisli is free and offers a lot of nature sounds and white noise you can mix up for yourself. There are also some pre-mixed selections for “focus” versus “relax” and a timer. It also has text editor for focused writing. I’ve used all of them on more than one occasion, when I just needed to get some content out of my head and it worked very well.
  • is quite similar to focus@will, but has some different modes of relaxation versus focus, etc. I enjoyed using it a few times for longer sessions, but right now I don’t want to pay for another tool and since the mobile version is iOS only, it’s not much of a draw for me.
  • Coffitivity pretty much brings the coffee shop noises to you.
  • The same song on repeat. This works well when I want something different. For a full discussion on this see Ryan Holiday’s the guilty, crazy secret that helps me write. Yeah, it works and in my case there are some tracks that are a bit embarrassing. It’s mostly light, upbeat stuff.

Also, you can combine some of these background sounds as mentioned at the end of this article. It’s an interesting idea I’ve played with, but most often I just go with focus@will or the same song on repeat.

There are a lot of other choices such as Spotify playlists and so on. In the end, it’s about whatever works for you.