Brain.fm for Focus
Brain.fm’s Guide to Sustained Focus
If you need a little help focusing on day-to-day tasks, you are certainly not alone.
The fact of the matter is: we have never needed to work so hard to protect our attention from everyone and everything. Notifications flying left and right. Side conversations on Slack. No one’s immune to it. These built-in disturbances shift us into multi-tasking mode so frequently; it’s become our default way of operating through our day-to-day.
Everyone has their ritual to beat distractions and get important work done, whether it’s finding their favorite corner at a coffee shop or slipping on a snug pair of noise-canceling headphones.
If you’re anything like us, finding the right music can make or break your ability to focus. Unfortunately, most music is actually designed to trigger an emotional response and get your attention. So, while it’s fantastic at hyping you up, most music can be pretty counterproductive where work is concerned.
...That’s where we come in.
Here at Brain.fm, we’ve built our functional music from the bottom-up to successfully influence top-down cognitive processes, like your ability to focus on that presentation deck right in front of you.
Sound like a tall order? Maybe, but our technology wasn’t born yesterday. It was meticulously developed through a decade’s worth of brain entrainment research and supported by a fair share of our own controlled experiments in and out of the lab. The result? The highly-functional music that’s at the service of your eardrums today.
If you’re a living, breathing human being, your brain is emitting neural oscillations all day long.
neural oscillations = rhythmic wave patterns emitted by the brain
Depending on what you’re doing, whether that’s studying for a big test, sleeping, or relaxing on a cushiony couch after a long day’s work, your neurons are moving at different speeds depending on your activity. The neural oscillations associated with the “flow” state and mental focus are categorized with (mostly) beta wavelengths.
more beta = more focus
TIP BOX: In addition to beta rates, your brain can also emit alpha, delta, gamma, and theta wave patterns depending on the activity you’re engaged in at that moment.
You may be thinking... Okay, Brain.fm. I get it. Beta rates help me focus. Now, where exactly do you come in?
Crash course time. Brain entrainment is the studied phenomenon in which an external source like electromagnetic pulses, light therapy, or music can influence someone’s neural oscillations to the wave patterns of a desired mental state (a state of relaxation, rest, focus, etc.)
While research on brain entrainment had been conducted before Brain.fm came on the scene, there had not been any controlled studies conducted on the specific acoustic features in music that are responsible for “entraining” or influencing the brain’s neural oscillations to a desired mental state.
Enter Brain.fm’s large-scale behavioral study
With funding from the National Science Foundation, Brain.fm scientists conducted a controlled study with 677 participants to test an acoustic feature they believed to be responsible for “entraining” a person’s neural oscillations to match those that are present during a focused state.
The study background:
- Give the participants a test that is very boring to test how long they would sustain their focus
- Give half the participants: the “special” Brain.fm music that has a 16 Hz (beta) modulation rate (“focus” state-specific) applied to it.
- Give the other half: identical background music BUT with varied (either 8 Hz or 32 Hz) modulation rates
And the results:
- The beta (“focus” state-specific) modulation had the lowest error rates
- The median participant in the group with the “focus” state-specific modulation stuck with the task for 39% longer than the group with no modulation. (We even saw an increase as high as 93% in our participant pool!)
That faint humming sound that you hear in the background of our music? That’s our “special sauce.” It's patented, and it’s what makes our music different from anything else you will listen to on the internet. It’s not just “focus music.” We’ve designed it to be the most functional music on the planet, helping you to get your brain into a beta state in a matter of mere minutes, so you can get into the zone and get your most important work done presto pronto.
Brain entrainment is one of the key concepts at Brain.fm, but that’s not all. Let’s dive into the other elements that make our functional music (at least) 10x better than anything you may find on Youtube or Spotify.
The ingredients in Brain.fm’s core music technology today
Neural-phase locking. Our crown jewel. The beta state-modulation rate we mentioned above initiates neural-phase locking. (And, when we say “neural phase locking,” we mean that within 5 minutes, your neurons are actively synchronizing with the wave patterns of the music.)
Distraction-proof music. We’ve designed our music to safeguard from any distractions, producing tracks free of gaps, breaks, sharp changes, or any abrupt instrumental additions that might unnecessarily distract you.
3D externalized sound. We have also implemented 3D spatial audio techniques that create the illusion that our music is coming from the space around you, thus detracting your attention from the mental noise happening in your head and placing it directly into the task in front of you.
Now that we’ve fully briefed you on our tech, it’s time to take this downstream and talk shop about the different focus music categories we offer.
Let’s explore focus at every level.
Different work activities require different levels of focus. Below, we’ve listed the different genres of focus music and their corresponding work or activity. That said, we’re not always aware of the level of focus we need for an activity, so don’t be afraid to weave in and out of different categories to find your perfect focus fit.
Deep work. The category for when the work you’re doing requires your full and undivided attention for a substantial period of time. Perfect for your most important, heavy-duty (“all brain cells on deck”) tasks of the day. (Tip: Deep work is a safe bet for those who find they get easily distracted.)
Creative work. For when you’re thinking outside of the box, any open-ended activity ranging from writing to outlining the elements of a business plan. With creative work, there is no blueprint on how to get from A to B; you’re creating it as you go.
Study & Read. Use this for cognitive activities such as knowledge retention, rote memorization, and comprehension of dense concepts. If you’re surrounded by textbooks and a stack of flashcards, this category is the one for you.
Light Work. The genre for what we in the biz call “pushing paper.” This category is for the busywork we all have to slog through as adults, the kind of administrative work that isn’t necessarily a...wellspring of mental stimulation.
Our favorite 5 tips for the seasoned focus-seur
Using Brain.fm to help you focus is a game-changer, but pair Brain.fm with a drawn-out plan of attack, and you’re pretty much unstoppable. So, we took the liberty of working up some steps to help you and your work goals take flight with little to no turbulence ahead.
1. Start with your #1 thing.
Before you get started, set your intention on that one thing that you know you need to get done. It may feel like you have a thousand things you need to finish by the day’s end, but singularity is key to a sustained focus. Taking it action item by action item is not only how you complete your to-do list more efficiently, but it’s what enables you to deliver consistently high-quality work.
2. Create a physical and mental environment that supports your deep work mindset.
A clear workspace makes for a clear mind. Declutter whatever falls within your line of sight during your sessions. That could include your desktop just as much as your physical desk space. Consolidate all of the random documents and screenshots littering your screen. (Embrace the recycling bin.) After all, you’ve already got enough mental clutter your mind is juggling on any given day. To reach clarity in our work, we have to streamline, streamline, streamline
3. Stay “essential” during your session.
You’ve picked the task, and you’ve cleared the path to completion. Now all you need to do is stay on track. This step is intuitively easy to grasp but can sometimes be the most difficult to execute. It requires that you remain aware of what you're doing most of the time. (What a concept!) Staying “essential” means avoiding external distractions (closing irrelevant tabs, put your phone in another room, etc.) as much as it means avoiding internal distractions, i.e., losing track of the forest for the trees. As tempting as they are, goose chases for a particular or a finishing detail are rarely worth the time and effort spent. Instead of trying to nail everything on the first-go, come back to it after you’ve gone through it once. The greatest leaps in productivity are made when you're focused on the big picture.
4. Leverage the power of time sprints (25 ON/5 OFF, 50 ON/ 10 OFF, etc.)
A surefire way to remain focused throughout your session is to use time sprints (alternatively known as the Pomodoro technique). Placing time barriers around your deep work also reframes the session as a game. The goal here, of course, is to finish your work on time. And while you want to be ambitious with your goals, it’s just as crucial that you set reasonable expectations for your session. Last but not least, don’t forget to take your well-deserved break to reward those hard-working neurons.
5. Learn from each session, iterate, and keep score.
Once you’ve gone through a couple of time sprints, note where you are in your progress and how you feel. Maybe you found you were very productive for the first couple of rounds but prematurely burned yourself out by the end. If that’s the case, try out shorter sprints, longer breaks, or both. Each session is a new data point, and data gives you the precious ammo you need to finetune your productivity.
And THAT is how you leverage Brain.fm to make every day as productive as you decide. You have the power to do the work you’re committed to. And we’re here to support you every step of the way.
We believe someone like you who’s up to a whole LOT in the world will need more than just the average “focus music” you’ll find around the corner. We’ve designed our music to be functional to help you get into the flow when you need it most.
If there’s anything else that you want to learn about our science or productivity, be sure to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’re looking forward to hearing from you and continuing to give you what you need to zone in and achieve your goals.
Your partner in productivity,
Brain.fm Team 🚀
P.S. Haven’t tried Brain.fm yet? Here’s a link to get started with a free 3-day trial!