One of the most irritating things about my Auditory Integration Disorder is my complete inability to tune out background noises. Naturally, that wreaks havoc on focus.
Music in My Life
If a cat decides to knock things off a table in the middle of the night, the sound of whatever it is hitting the carpet will wake me. If a truck idles outside my house, I have the urge to hunt down whatever’s making that rumbling sound.
When I work, that means background noises are constant distractions. It’s something I’ve struggled with since childhood. I’ve discovered music is one of the only things that helps me.
My taste is pretty eclectic. I enjoy songs from all genres, from gospel to death metal, but I can’t listen to all types of music while I’m trying to work. Unless I already know the lyrics by heart, or if they’re in a foreign language, singers make word generation difficult. Instrumental is usually best for me.
Earlier this month, I came across the opportunity to review a service called Focus at Will. Since it was a potential solution to my ongoing problem with focus, I thought I’d see if it’d help. They offer a 15 day free trial, so I figured, why not?
This month has not been easy. I nearly cut the tip of one of my fingers off the first week, and I’ve been dealing with some minor nerve damage from a dental visit the week after. That said, I’ve been having a hard time doing much of anything.
With pain and discomfort levels being what they were, I know my dyslexia was going to be worse than usual, to say nothing of my concentration. That said, this player was incredibly helpful.
Had I not been in so much physical discomfort, I’m pretty sure my recorded productivity would have been much higher, but as it is, just over 75% is impressive.
I use other musical options, too: IHeartRadio, Pandora, YouTube playlists, the good ol’ radio and purchased music.
Free versions always have commercials, which distracted me whenever they came on. I understand, they need to make money, and so long as I was using them to take my mind off of the housework or exercise I was doing, that didn’t matter. The constant interruptions were terrible for writing, though. I also found myself getting bored with purchased songs after a while, regardless of how much I liked them.
This free trial had no ads, which was excellent. The layout is very well done, in that it’s intuitive to use. I also really liked the timer option, because I have such a hard time keeping track of my time.
You can set the music to play for up to two hours at a time. Once the time’s up, you’ll hear a gentle chime just before the music is finished, and you’ll have the option to rate your productivity level during the session.
That timer helped remind me to take stretch-breaks and to help me refocus if I felt my attention wandering off. There’s also the option to skip distracting songs, which is always handy. The program is a lot better at funneling out distracting music than players I’ve tried with similar features.
Although I didn’t utilize the productivity rating as much as I could have, I still found it interesting to see what I did record displayed on a bar graph. I don’t know why, but seeing that visual representation is strangely motivational.
Overall, it’s one of the easiest players I’ve used to date.
The first thing that stood out to me was the sheer variety of music/sound genres available. I tried a little bit of each genre, but discovered there were only two that worked the best for me personally – Classic and Cinematic.
You can also select energy level. I do best with the medium setting, but I’m sure the low and high helps others, depending on their needs. This particular player also offers non-music options for those who function better with background noise.
The cafe settings do sound like you’re sitting in a small restaurant, and the others are various forms of ambient noise or music. I’ve always found that sort of thing hopelessly distracting, so I didn’t listen to any of them for very long.
I think what impresses me the most about this service is the sheer sound variety available. It’s much easier to pick a genre from a list instead of typing it into a search field.
Finally, you’ll get helpful e-mails providing tips about how to best use the service.
The sign up for the free trial is very easy, and best of all, doesn’t require you to provide financial information right away. One thing that always turns me off to free trials is being required to enter a credit card number right from the beginning.
Once your free trial is over, you’ll be asked if you’d like to subscribe. If so, you don’t have to have a credit card for that, either, just PayPal. I’ve found the PayPal offer to be far more secure, especially after having data theft problems of my own.
If your problems focusing are anything like mine, this service is worth a try.