Will Henshall is CEO/founder of www.focusatwill.com, a Los Angeles based tech platform that helps professionals be four times more productive at work. He has had a 30 year career as a start up entrepreneur, tech inventor and notably successful musician.
In 1987 he founded the British pop soul band Londonbeat, who had two Billboard #1 hits, “I’ve Been Thinking About You” (91) and “Come Back” (95). After touring extensively he wanted to spend more time at home, and one day while sitting in his London recording studio he started figuring out how to collaborate remotely with other musicians and sound designers around the globe.
In 1996, he moved to San Francisco and started up Rocket Network, funded by Paul Allen and Cisco Systems, where he invented the the media transfer system, DigiDelivery, subsequently used extensively in film and tv audio post production. He sold the company to Avid/ProTools in 2003.
An interest in helping people work more efficiently and live happier healthier lives led him to attending the Singularity University Executive Program in 2011, where he had the ‘light bulb moment’ for his next start up idea. With support and investment from SU Labs and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups, he created Focus At Will, neuroscience technology that uses tightly timed instrumental music to deliver instant productivity on demand. The company has now helped nearly 1 million people over the past 3 years, with over 80% of subscribers continuing to renew every year.
How Does Focus@Will Work? Music helps you focus
Focus@will was developed in partnership with leading neuroscientists Dr. Evian Gordon (www.brainresource.com), Dr. Stephen Sideroff (UCLA Professor of Psychology) and ADHD expert and best-selling author Dr Ned Hallowell (http://www.drhallowell.com). Trials show typical 11-12% positive increase in focus biomarker and up to 400% extended session time.
Music you like is created to engage you. It makes you feel good, moves you physically, emotionally and intellectually. That’s why you love to listen to it, and that’s also why it is going to distract you when you are trying to focus and concentrate on work or studying. Singing and foot tapping take you right out of the focus zone.
Focus@Will has a unique library of instrumental music that you won’t find anywhere else. Every track has been remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement. We’re soothing your fight or flight mechanism, engaging your brain’s limbic system, to increase your attention span and general concentration.
Improve Concentration with scientifically designed music
Focus@will is a new music service based on human neuroscience. It helps you focus, reduce distractions, maintain your productivity and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading. The scientifically tested technology behind focus@will has been shown to alter brain activity toward a state that is more conducive to productivity.
Most people can only concentrate for a maximum of about 100 continuous minutes before needing to take a quick break to stretch, move about, maybe get a drink of water, and so on before they resume for another session. The focus@will system makes it faster and easier for you to concentrate – it brings you a focused flow state and then keeps you there.
How does it work? Music has been used across cultures for millennia to put people’s minds in specific states: only recently have neuroscientists discovered that this effect is due to the broad impact of sound on neural circuitry across the brain – not just in the auditory cortex, but in all areas of the brain, including areas that are important for memory, analysis, and creativity. Focus@will uses the brain-shaping features of sound to keep your mind from avoiding two undesirable states: distraction and habituation.
You already know about distraction – it’s what happens when you have a video on in the background, or your kid is crying, or you turn on the radio while you’re working. Part of your brain is focused on the distractor, and you can’t concentrate on your work. But what about habituation? Habituation is the other extreme – your mind gets bored with your surroundings (environmental habituation) as well as whatever you’re working on (goal habituation). Because your mind seeks novelty, habituation leads to checking your social media, opening your email, or calling a friend rather than making continuous progress on the screenplay or code you’re writing.
Keeping your mind from being distracted away from your work while simultaneously keeping you from habituating to your work is the key to focus@will’s audio technology. Without sharing our “secret sauce,” we can tell you that we do this by making sure that each piece of music is related to the previous piece in a way that keeps you from being distracted by the changes, but that each piece of music is different enough from the previous piece so that you don’t habituate to the music or your goal. In this way, we balance your mind between the two poles of distraction and habituation, keeping you focused on your work.
How do we know it works? First, the results of an EEG (electroencephalographic) or “brainwave” study show that focus@will audio tracks tune people’s brains to frequencies associated with sustained, task-focused attention and thought (read the study results). Second, we see a greater than 200-400% increase in focus time with focus@will, based on a survey of 22,000 of our most active users. Third, we see dips in usage over the weekends, so we know our subscribers are using focus@will primarily during work hours, a key measure of whether the system works. Fourth, we ask our users to rate their productivity during each session, and we’ve found that the average productivity in a one-hour focus@will session is 75% – this is far above the productivity most people report in an hour without focus@will.
Forward Practice Effect
1. Learn 48 words
2. Practice 24 words of them
3. Take a test on all 48 words
4. Results better on the trained words
But flip 2 and 3
1. Learn 48 words
2. Take a test on all 48 workds
3. Practice 24 words
4. Results better
People with low openness benefit more with streamlined music