Social media and the use of digital tools aren’t all bad — there are infinite productivity apps on your smartphone just waiting to hand you a dose of focus. We all know how good being “in the zone,” or in a flow state can feel. When everything around you — iPhone and iPad alerts, Google Chrome tabs, Slack pings, distracting coworkers — melt away and you can immerse yourself completely in the task at hand, channeling your energy, allowing for a distraction-free session that leaves you feeling satisfied.
The challenge? Getting there. Stress makes distraction worse and, in some cases, can even cause it. Do you ever find yourself scrolling on social media when you feel overwhelmed about work or aimlessly looking in the fridge for a snack even though you’re not hungry? You’re not alone and there’s a biological reason for your scrolling, stress eating, or whatever procrastination flavor you choose.
When you’re underslept, have too many competing tasks vying for your attention, or have to do something important or challenging, your brain interprets that stress as a threat, triggering a mini fight-or-flight response. Your scrolling, snacking, etc, is a sign that your brain is looking for a short momentary relief from stress through distraction. The problem is that procrastination generally makes you even more stressed out in the long run.
So how do you clear your head so you can focus your energy on what you want to do?
The good news – there are plenty of trusted tools out there that many of us here at Apollo use to help us get in the zone. You may have heard of tools like the Pomodoro technique to train your focus. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s — it uses the Pomodoro timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This style is tried and true, and many of the apps have iterated off the Pomodoro concept.
Apollo’s ‘Clear and Focused’ mode is great for deepening your focus on any task at hand — whether that’s clearing your inbox, tackling a project, giving a presentation, the list goes on. Apollo’s Social and Open mode is also a secret power when it comes to keeping your energy up and your creativity flowing. Our co-founders, Dr. Dave and Kathryn, use both big fans of these modes. It’s far more impactful than just taking a five-minute break between tasks. Apollo harnesses your sense of touch to deliver vibrational patterns that remind your brain that you’re safe to immerse yourself at the moment. When you use Apollo consistently, you’re retraining your mind to relax into flow states more efficiently for the long haul.
We love sharing new tools and relaxation techniques that are tried and true by the Apollo team to add to your stress management toolbox to get through stressful situations. When you pair Apollo with other tools to help you focus, even the most distracted mind can find stress relief and achieve flow and clarity.
Note, none of these brands are paying for this content; these are just recommendations from our diverse community. We all gravitate towards different solutions, so we suggest perusing a few free solutions first and see what works for you!
Brain.fm is a mindfulness app that plays music composed to improve your brain activity and help you focus, specific to the activity at hand. Brain.fm’s technology claims to coordinate your neural activity and removes distractions. Get started with five sessions free.
You may know Cory Allen from his podcast The Astral Hustle with Cory Allen, but have you listened to his binaural beats? Our favorite focus tracks are the Binaural Beats for Deep Work or Gamma Flow under Binaural Beats Volume One. Get started with some samples, and if they’re for you, you can buy them for as little as $5 for two hours of easy listening.
Nuraphone’s custom headphones change the sound game entirely. Nuraphone learns how you hear and adapts the sound to deliver an entirely new listening experience, helping heighten any audio experience to leave you in a focused flow state. Nuraphones use technology that builds a personalized profile around how your ears hear sound. Jonathan, Apollo’s Product Director, throws on his Nuraphones and some binaural beats to help him focus through long stretches of coding. Here are a few of Jonathan’s top songs on Nuraphones: Sarah Davachi – Gentle So Gentle, Marco Shuttle in the No Way Back Outer Space Room, and Steve Good – Refracted Light.
Coffee made out of mushrooms? Just when we thought we’d seen everything. But Four Sigmatic Lion’s Mane Coffee is no joke. It’s perfect for hours of crash-free focus. This is a great substitute for that second cup of coffee you know you don’t need and inevitably regret as you sit jittery at your desk. At $16/mo, Lion’s Mane Coffee is a perfectly balanced brew for your mind and body and will knock your productivity sessions off the charts.
Our favorite literature on focus is named accordingly and deserves a spot on this list. Deep Work by Cal Newport is a fantastic read and provides a total reframe of how we think about productivity. Newport offers theories and concrete strategies inspiring and instructing readers how to access a flow state and find focus in a distracted world.
6. Tenzo Matcha
Are you on the matcha train yet? We love the calm focus and long-lasting energy without an afternoon crash. Our favorite is from a company called Tenzo. They promise we’ll “live clear-headed and get sh*t done” — say no more, and count us in. Tenzo offers a great discounted trial for $40 to see if the zen-like concentration is worth the hype.
Endel is an app that creates sound environments based on your setting. What does that mean? Endel uses ambient music curated to help you achieve states like focus, sleep, and relaxation. Endel has cool integrations with Apple Watch and Twitch, like a 24/7 stream of Sleep soundscape that helps gamers reset their sleep-wake cycles. Try it for seven days for free; and, a 1-year subscription will set you back $24.99.