Apple iOS iPhone

Mastering Productivity: Harnessing the Hidden Potential of Focus Modes

person holding magnifying glass
Photo by Maurício Mascaro on

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, maintaining focus on the task at hand has become increasingly challenging. With constant distractions clamoring for our attention, staying productive and centered on our goals seems like an uphill battle. Recognizing this common struggle, Apple introduced a game-changing feature called Focus Mode in iOS 15, designed to empower users by customizing their digital experience to suit specific contexts, thus fostering a deeper sense of presence and enhancing concentration.

Focus Modes represent a significant enhancement to the existing Do Not Disturb switch, providing users with the flexibility to define up to 10 personalized modes across their Apple devices signed into the same iCloud account. Each Focus Mode can be tailored to cater to distinct scenarios, allowing users to curate their digital environment and strategically filter out distractions.

Imagine beginning your day with a “Work” Focus Mode that silences social media notifications, personal messages, and non-essential emails, enabling you to channel your energy into crucial tasks without the constant buzz of interruptions. Alternatively, during a “Fitness” Focus Mode, only health-related apps and notifications would break through, encouraging an uninterrupted workout routine without distractions.

Initially, some users may overlook the potential of Focus Modes, as I did myself until iOS 16 introduced several enhancements that caught my attention. After experimenting with various modes, I discovered a “Reading” focus mode that significantly improved my reading experience. With the “Set a Schedule” feature in Focus mode setup, I could automatically activate this Reading mode whenever I opened reading-centric apps like Kindle, Instapaper, Gmail, Twitter, YouTube (watching is like reading!) and a few more. In this way, Reading focus mode effectively minimizes notifications, allowing me to immerse myself fully in the reading material while minimizing disruptions.

A real breakthrough came when I stumbled upon “Focus Filters.” Within my Reading focus mode, I also configured my iPhone to activate dark mode and low power mode, preserving battery life while creating a distraction-free reading environment. Why have my iPhone waste battery power doing other tasks in the background – like email, etc – while I’m reading?

Setting up a Focus Mode is straightforward through the Settings/Focus setting, although it may require some initial experimentation to find the perfect configuration.

To further complement my Reading focus mode, I also created a Personal Automation shortcut that automatically enables low power mode whenever my battery level drops below 50% and I’m away from my home Wi-Fi network. Another automation reverses the process when the battery level rises above 50%.

These seemingly small enhancements have improved my overall iPhone experience, making it more personal and satisfying. Embracing Focus Modes has been a game-changer, helping me reclaim control over my attention and boost productivity in various aspects of my life.

In conclusion, Apple’s Focus Modes epitomize the company’s commitment to enhancing user experience and productivity. By leveraging this powerful feature, users can tailor their digital environment to suit specific contexts, unlocking a new level of focus and efficiency. So, why not give it a try and experience the transformative potential of Focus Modes for yourself? It may just be the key to unlocking a more meaningful and rewarding digital lifestyle.

Applications Drafts iOS iPad iPadOS iPhone Mac Productivity Tools Utilities

Drafts – a tool for idea capture

I’ve been using this handy utility for a few years now – but increasingly so over the last year. It’s kind of magical in the functionality it provides. While there are other good note taking apps – including Apple’s Notes app – Drafts is especially useful for capturing spur of the moment ideas for later processing. The developer describes Drafts as “where text starts. Quickly capture text and send it almost anywhere.”

Because Drafts is available everywhere in the Apple ecosystem – Mac, iPad, iPhone and Watch – it’s universally available whenever you need it. Apple Notes is mostly everywhere – but weirdly not on the Watch.

The way that Drafts works is simple but takes a bit of learning to grow accustomed to using it regularly. When you open Drafts on the Mac or iOS/iPadOS, it opens as a blank note – waiting for you to enter something. It’s designed for that quick capture – type in some text – or dictate it – and away you go. Sometime later you can come back to Drafts and review all of the notes you’ve captured – and decide what you want to do with each one.

I’ve put a complication for Drafts on my Apple Watch face so that with one tap I can open Drafts and begin capturing an idea using dictation on the Watch. After I’ve captured my idea, Drafts on the Watch will sync the note containing my new idea via iCloud and make it available to Drafts apps running on my other devices – Mac, iPhone, or iPad – where I can open it later and decide what to do with it. For example, if I have an idea for an email I need to send or a blog post I want to write, I can capture those initial thoughts using Drafts and later go back and “revise and extend” those thoughts as I choose – and then send that final version of the text out via email or into my blog application. It doesn’t get any handier.

Drafts has a number of additional features that continue to evolve as the developer releases new versions and as members of the Drafts community contribute actions and themes which extend the functionality of the app.

Drafts is no youngster – this month the developer is celebrating the app’s 10th anniversary. The app is available for free – but the advanced features require a Pro subscription which is available on a special deal this month (through April 2022) for $4.99 for the first year.

I’m a big fan of Drafts – and a Pro subscriber. It’s become a regular part of my daily tech life. I’m such a fan that I just wanted to highlight how useful it is to me – thus this post – which itself began on Drafts! Perhaps you’ll find Drafts a useful tool as well if you’re an Apple user.