How remote workers can use the Serene app to focus

Have you tried the Pomodoro technique, noise canceling headphones, mindfulness and still can’t concentrate at home? The Serene app might be for you.

Serene isn’t just for those of us who are easily distracted. It’s for anyone who needs to set aside time for periods of deep concentration at work.

The app has several features that allow a user to harness their “productivity superpowers” using three different techniques.

Before we get to that, it’s important to point out that Serene is currently only available for MacOS users. According to its website, it’s coming to Windows soon. In the meantime, Windows users may want to check out Serene alternatives, such as Freedom, RescueTime, and Forest.

Using Serene is relatively simple. His three techniques for improving productivity are blocking distractions, focus tools, and planning tools.

It claims that unlike other productivity apps, it tackles the underlying causes of distraction. Most of us, whether we work from home or in an office, can imagine what those distractions might be. (Think kids, roommates, partners, pets, other websites and more.)

For those who work from home, Serene is particularly useful. It can be hard to discipline yourself into a productive routine without other co-workers around to make you feel like you’re at work.

Here are the features Serene offers to help you.

Planning the day

Serene’s day planner can help you identify the most important tasks each day. If you’re the type to be easily overwhelmed without management guidance, this could be a lifesaver.

At the start of each workday, Serene will ask you to enter your goal for that day. This will then help you break that goal down into a series of clearly defined sessions.

At the start of each session, the app will give you a little reminder action plan to help you get through each step. It will block distracting websites during times when you need to focus on getting your work done.

It has a session scheduler for these tasks which acts as a kind of Pomodoro tool. It blocks out all distractions for a set amount of time while you focus on sending that important email.

Focus on music

Taylor and his team integrated music into the app, building on research that found ambient and classical music boosted concentration more than silence. Upbeat tunes were more effective while slow music was better for intense focus.

Taylor said he plans to eventually integrate AI-generated music into Serene. In the meantime, he has concocted a focus playlist available on Spotify.

Silent phone

That said, a certain silence can be golden. While music can help workers focus, the constant email and phone alerts aren’t musical or conducive to concentration.

Serene has a phone squelch that activates when you’re in the middle of periods of concentration throughout your work day. There are a few more steps you need to follow to get the phone squelch to work from the desktop app. Luckily, the website has a tutorial that walks you through the steps.

This requires creating an IFTTT recipe using the popular automation platform that creates “if this, then that” workflows. Serene’s guide will walk you through the process, which requires minimal technical knowledge, for Android and iOS devices.

Once you’ve tested the automation and it works, you’re good to go and your phone will automatically go silent when you enter focus mode on the desktop app.

Website and app blocker

Serene’s website and app blockers work in tandem with its chat session scheduler and phone squelch.

When you download the app, it will first ask you which apps are bothering you. It will then automatically close desktop app notifications so you can finish your focus sessions without interruption.

You can use the day planner feature to decide the length of your concentration periods. Then just click the focus button to automatically block distracting websites and apps. Your phone will be put in airplane mode for the duration.

If you like the sound of Serene, you can try it for free. You get 10 free hours of tune-up sessions (or 600 minutes). Once you download the app and set the timer, it will start subtracting minutes from the time.

After the free trial, Serene costs $4 per month. For this price, you get unlimited use of all features.

You can download Serene for free directly from the website.

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About Shirley A. Tamayo

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