Focus Time App

Helping people optimize the way they work

3 phones


Focus Time helps people make better use of their time by helping them stay focused. It's important because focused work boosts our creativity and the ability to learn.

Tools Used

InVision, Sketch, draw.ui, Principle

Key Activities

  • Secondary research
  • Primary research
  • Prototyping
  • Usability testing
  • Interaction design
  • Interface design
  • Branding

Problem space

Researchers often refer to the ability to concentrate as a muscle that needs to be exercised to be developed. Yet, the environment in which knowledge workers find themselves atrophies their concentration muscle. Notifications, social media, direct messages, and open office layouts all make it harder to focus.

“It’s tempting to let yourself be distracted when you are working on something hard.”

Interview quote

Phase 1

In this phase I observed and engaged with people to get a better idea of their experience and motivations.

Focus App Screen2



1. understand the strategies people currently use to stay focused
2. identify opportunities to improve upon and extend these strategies


  • literature review
  • competitive analysis
  • diary study
  • in-person interviews

Literature Review

Obstacles that make it hard to do focused work:

Notifications (social media, messaging, and email)
They remain distractive even if the subject turns off the notifications.

Distractive work culture.
It encourages quick reply times, which are not conductive of focus.

Our brains craving distractions.
When we get used to working in a distracted state, we have a hard time working in an uninterrupted environment.

Ways of dealing with obstacles:

Tracking time spent working
People tend to be more motivated to stay focused when they are tracking their focused work.

Planning helps people make better decisions about their time. Some people plan both their work time and their spare time.

Shutting off
Turning off all notifications helps people improve their focus.

Focus App Screen3

Competitive analysis

I analyzed applications that may have similar goals or features to Focus Time. I reviewed: timers, list making apps, and habit building apps.

The existing landscape of products does not address the needs of target users.

- Pomodoro type timers do not offer tracking
- Habit tracking apps either do not have a timer or the timer is distracting

“Sometimes I have this urge to pick up my phone and look at social media. It’s like a social media habit.”

Interview quote

Diary Studies

I recruited and conducted primary research with 13 participants. I asked them to pick one work task and a time that it would take them to complete it. I wanted to find out what strategies they used to stay on track with their tasks.


I conducted interviews with five of the diary study participants. I used three different inquiry methods. I conducted semi-structured interviews, a drawing activity, and a word association.


Phase 2

In this phase I analyzed and synthesized the information I gathered in the empathize phase.

Key Insights

1. Internal distractions are hard to avoid.

The participants can avoid external distractions by planning their work and organizing their workspace. The internal distractions are more difficult to avoid.

2. Being accountable is motivating.

It is helpful to have external constraints when they are working.

3. Finding place to work.

All participants report searching for places, usually cafes, when they need to concentrate.

User Persona

Focus Persona

Phase 3

In this phase I explored the problem space and brainstormed different ways of solving the problem.

"It’s easy to be distracted from a task. To start one task and get distracted because another one pops up."

Interview quote

The solution

Focus Time is a mobile app that helps people stay focused on a task. It tracks the time people spend focused and collects information about their location, time, distractions, effectiveness, and tasks.

Focus Time helps people practice focus. It creates a habit of mindfulness. It combines location data with data entered by the user to generate individualized focus trends and tips on how to improve focus.

Focus App Screen3

User Flow

Focus Time App User Flow

Phase 4

In this phase I experimented with different solutions for the problems I identified in the previous stages. I implemented the solutions in a paper prototype, which allowed me to improve and re-examine my ideas quickly. After that, I moved on to creating a prototype in Sketch.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Once I had the user flow, I started working on low fidelity wireframes on paper. I then created a low-fidelity sketch mockup, which I imported to InVision.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Focus Time App Wireframes

Phase 5

InVision Prototype

I used this InVision prototype to test my design.


The participants validated the concept of the app.
The participants said the app was visually appealing.The flow of the app was working well.
The participants had a hard time understanding the statistics page

Final Design

Focus Time Screen1 Verical


When the user opens the app they can immediately start tracking their work by tapping anywhere on the screen. They can drag over the circle to change the length of the work session (it can also be changed in settings).


The summary page gives users immediate feedback after completing their work session. It displays statistics, trends, and tips that improve future performance and self-awarness.

Focus Time Screen1
Focus Time Screen1

Habit building

In Focus Time a habit cue a small pleasant vibration at the beginning of the work session. The summary page is the "reward page." There the user can see the total time they spent working, daily work log, and how many days in the row they have worked.

You are picking up your phone

During interviews, I have learned that people get distracted by their phones. Focus Time has a feature that prevents it by bringing to their awareness that they have picked up their phone.

Focus Time Screen1

Next steps

1. Creating the statistics page was challenging. I wish I had more time to research what kind of information would be helpful. Also I'd love to test the UI design of the statistic page.

2. The app needs an on-boarding element, login screens, and setting screens.