cover for Facet an app to build back your focus

Facet an app to build back your focus

11 December 2023

Lately, my ability to concentrate has hit rock bottom, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this boat. But I’ve just finished developing an app to tackle this exact issue.

Tech is Teleportation at Your Fingertips

When we use our devices, be it for work or leisure, we wield the power of teleportation right at our fingertips. With a flick of a mouse or a stroke of a keyboard, you can jump from an email for work to YouTube in a heartbeat.

Does this sound familiar? You start on a challenging task, something outside your comfort zone that requires energy and attention. You’re determined to, say, finish that article! But a few minutes later, somehow, you find yourself in the “wrong place.” Maybe watching a YouTube video, responding to an email, or scrolling through Twitter…

There’s nothing stopping us from hopping from one task to another, from one project to another, or even from one aspect of our life to another. That’s hardly an exaggeration.

I’ve noticed that my frequency of Context Switching has significantly increased lately. And frankly, I don’t think we’re built for this.

Always Just a Click Away from Self-Sabotage

Most people reading this article are Knowledge Workers. Our computer is our tool, and knowledge, information, and data are our raw materials. We are craftsmen of knowledge.

But imagine a craftsman 300 years ago, a carpenter working on a piece of wood. He uses his body, and every action has a certain physicality… there’s an effort and time required to switch contexts. To satisfy the whims of a stray thought.

To switch from his work to running errands, he needs to put down his workpiece, leave his workshop, open and close doors, etc. Even in terms of planning, there are numerous steps for a human brain to process.

Today, a knowledge worker can be sitting at their workstation and, with a mere thought, teleport to a store to buy garbage bags. Or to the village square to catch up on the latest gossip.

We’re always just a click away from self-sabotage. And I haven’t even started on notifications.

Bringing Back Physicality with Facet

To accomplish “important” tasks, we often need to step out of our comfort zones. And by definition, these tasks are a bit harder than others.

No matter how determined we are, if it takes almost no effort to switch to trivial tasks… we all end up sliding back into our comfort zones.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with a tool that adds effort to switching between contexts. A bit of physical action. To note these moments, these interstices, before switching to something else. Hence the creation of this productivity app.

Facet is a MacOS app that sits in your menu bar. It has one function: at any time, you can lock the current application, and Facet will alert you when you switch.

The core of the game is to notice.

For example, to write this article, I lock the current application, here Obsidian:

And when I switch applications, a window appears asking to take a few “steps” toward the new application:

And it works, I published this article!

Looking for Testers

If you’re a MacOS user who tends to multitask, I think Facet can help you. I’d be thrilled for you to try it.

You can contact me directly on Twitter, LinkedIn, or sign up for my newsletter below. I’ll send you a link to install it.

You can also sign up to see the next steps in its development! 🫶

Laurent Senta

I wrote software for large distributed systems, web applications, and even robots. These days I focus on making developers, creators, and humans more productive through