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Focuster Review, Day/Week Planning App

If you are looking for an online tool to plan your day then Focuster may be worth a look. In this Focuster review I will cover this combined day planner/todo list productivity solution.

Focuster
6.7 Reviewer
Pros
• Combined todo list / calendar
• Integration with
500+ apps via Zapier
• Google Calendar Integration
Cons
• High Price
• Limited functionality
• Needs some refinement
Bottom Line
A basic task list and calendar web based solution that currently lacks mobile solutions and comes at a high price.

Focuster Review Introduction

Famous folk such as Elon Musk Plan their day to the minute and no doubt rely on a small army of employees to make their day run like clockwork. For normal folk such as ourselves who would like to plan their day’s activities but

don’t have the resources of a small European country? then whip out a day planner


don’t have the resources of a small European country, day planners can be used. Day planners have evolved a little since the days of Filofaxes. These days multi-platform apps tend to fulfill this function which makes sense as we have electronic devices within our grasp for most of the day. This electronification (yes, I totally made that word up) brings a few advantages over the traditional pen and paper. You can actually find prior notes using a quick search, set reminders and even include files related to the scheduled task. If you are still with me then you are no doubt interested in the aforementioned advantages and the apps that can offer them. Focuster is one such example of a day planner app that leverages your Google account to provide an integrated todo list and calendar view.

If that sounds like what you need then with a crack of the knuckles and a slurp of coffee, let’s get on with this Focuster review.

Focuster User Interface

The Focuster user interface is simple and comes in three varieties,

  • Day/week view where the tasks for that day are listed
  • Calendar view
  • Combined task and calendar view where the tasks from the todo list can be dragged across to the calendar view for scheduling

An example of the combined task list and calendar is shown below.

Focuster review: Calendar and task view

Focuster task and calendar view

As can be seen from the screenshot, the interface is pretty simple.

All of these points indicate that a little more spit and polish is needed

This is not because the overwhelming functionality is cunningly concealed by an elegantly conceived user interface but rather that the intrinsic functionality is limited and therefore the interface is simple. So, if you have simple needs and require a simple interface then Focuster fits the bill nicely. A couple of things to highlight about the interface. First, I found that scrolling up and down the calendar view was needed to see the task titles. A little annoying but not a show stopper. Second, updating the task duration on the task view did not provide an immediate update on the calendar view for that task, see below for the mow the lawn task.

Focuster review delayed calendar update

Delayed update of the calendar view

Third, when tasks are dragged across from the inbox to the calendar, they appear on the calendar but are no longer visible on the task list, see below. One needs to be careful here as to not inadvertently delete tasks from the task list by simply scheduling them.

Also it appears that tasks details cannot be edited in calendar mode. It is necessary to refer back to the task list to make changes. All of these points indicate that a little more spit and polish is needed. At this point I will take a time out to report my progress through my pint of Guinness. This is the first pint I have tackled in about a year and it is definitely a tasty brute. Guinness can be pretty hit and miss but I this one is definitely a hit.

Now back to the Focuster review. On a more positive note, I like that when tasks are added to the calendar view that the accumulated task durations are shown. This is indicated by the little coloured bar under the day/date. As more tasks are added for the day, the colour of the bar changes. You can see an example of this below. The benefit of this to you, the end user, is that you can see the total time that you have allocated to tasks on a given day. Other apps such as Nozbe also have such accumulated task calculations but the focuster implementation is somewhat more elegant in my opinion.

Focuster review auto task time

Accumulated task time shown under thu 9/14

Focuster features and functions

Focuster offers an integrated calendar and todo list solution. To use it, envision this scenario. You cobble together a list of tasks that you want to do on a project and you sit confronted by these tasks on a rainy Monday morning. These tasks tend to be numerous and of short duration. When will these tasks be done and how will they fit in around scheduled meetings and other commitments? This is when Focuster comes in. For each task you can enter a duration and drag these tasks onto your calendar. The tasks are then scheduled and the calendar time blocked. A few key features in Focuster that I want to mention today are listed below.

Task drag and drop

It is very easy to schedule the tasks on you todo list. Simply drag them from your list onto a free gap on your calendar. Durations can also easily be determined by stretching the tasks on the calendar in the same way you would in MS Outlook. I note though that the resolution is pretty tight, only 5 minutes for those aspiring to the Elon Musk time block.

Platforms

Focuster is accessed via a web browser and I have to say that I had mixed experiences with this. Chrome for Windows seemed to offer full functionality whereas Safari for the iPad seemed to have limited functions including key features such as dragging and dropping tasks. I understand that mobile apps are in the works which hopefully should address such shortcomings.

Integration

Focuster links to your Google account and specifically its calendar. Any changes you make to the calendar in Focuster is reflected on your Google calendar and vice versa. In addition to the google link, you can also link to about 500 other apps via Zapier. A myriad of options is possible using the zapier link. For example, you can create actions in Focuster from starred Gmail emails or alternatively save completed tasks to Evernote.

“Auto” scheduling

This means that any incomplete tasks will be rescheduled in the calendar and remain visible until they are done. In practice I had a little problem with Focusters smart scheduling. When I moved time zones, it refused to let me schedule tasks during office hours in my new time zone. I was able to remedy the problem though with some adjustments to the settings.

Work Breakdown

The last topic I want to touch upon regards nesting of the tasks or rather the absence thereof. So, if you are accustomed to having subtasks to organize your work then this option is not available in Focuster.

Focuster pricing

In terms of features and pricing, Focuster comes in three flavours.

  • Focuster Basic: $9.99 per month
  • Focuster Pro: $19.99 per month. Offers scheduling up to two weeks in advance.
  • Focuster Executive: comes with coaching sessions.

I consider all three to be overpriced. Let’s add some context here for comparison. I use Todoist for task management. It is a very powerful, multi-platform task management tool. It is priced at $29 per year. Other day planners such as Moo.do come in at $70 per year. Focuster has less functionality than either but somehow warrants a higher price. You can see more at my Moo.do review and Todoist Review for Android.

Focuster review summary

Right, now for the Focuster review wrap up. My feeling towards Focuster is that it is currently under featured and over priced. A combination of todo list and calendar can be an effective way to get through tasks but I think there are currently better and cheaper solutions out there than Focuster. Furthermore the requirement to have a desktop class browser to utilise the available features is too restrictive. Hopefully this will be alleviated when mobile optimized apps make their appearance.

I hope you found this Focuster review helpful and if so, make sure to share this on your choice of social networks using the little buttons hovering on the left side of the screen.

Until the next time,

Cheers!

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers!
Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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