Best iPhone Apps: Focus Keeper

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The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method developed by a man named Francesco Cirillo in the 80s that divides work productivity into 25-minute bursts, with three to five minutes of rest time in-between. The idea behind the methodology is that mental fatigue and burnout can be avoided, and productivity increased, if the brain is worked incrementally.

Focus KeeperIt makes all the sense in the world and has developed it into something of a cottage industry, with Cirillo marketing tomato-shaped “kitchen timers” (pomodoro means tomato in Italian) that professionals can presumably set atop their desks to time their mental efforts. There’s also an official app in the works, but it appears the people at Limepresso have beat Cirillo to the punch by releasing their own, which accomplishes the dual purpose of timing productivity without looking like a silly desktop trinket.

Billed as “a timer that will track and increase your productivity without burnout,” Focus Keeper ($0.99) is more than a simple stopwatch app. In addition to allowing the user to set specific daily goals and productivity rounds, it also creates charts that display productivity. One chart shows productivity for the time frame of a week, the other for the past 30 days.

Using the app is relatively self-explanatory, especially coming into the experience knowing the Pomodoro Technique. But otherwise, it offers little insight into the concept behind the method. Not even the iTunes description page offers any explanation, which could ultimately cost the developer with potential buyers who haven’t been exposed to Cirillo’s workplace philosophies.

Timers are preset to 25-minute work increments, five-minute short breaks, and 25-minute long breaks. These can all be adjusted by turning a virtual on-screen dial or by accessing the Option menu, which also lets users establish the number of work sets to perform against a total daily goal.

The Option menu is also where the application’s disruptive ticking sound can be muted, or where one can choose from between five different ticking sounds and a white noise selection called “Cafe Noise.” There are 10 separate alarm sounds from which to choose, including the somewhat insidiously named “slash” (a sample of two sharp kitchen knives being scraped together) and the slightly startling “steam.” App color schemes can also be tweaked to match any color in the visible spectrum.

Minor complaints aside, Focus Keeper is a simple yet effective iPhone app that works well and has no problem continuing to operate in the background if the iPhone is put into sleep mode or when other apps are accessed. Is it worth checking out? Yes, especially if the Pomodoro Technique sounds beneficial or interesting.

Focus Keeper is $.99 at the time of this writing, and is available in the App Store for iOS devices running iOS 7 and later.



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