At Markd, we love trying new tools to help us get more productive. A couple of weeks ago, I discovered Bear Focus Timer, a simple app that aims to help you focus based on the Pomodoro Technique. The unique illustration design style drew my attention, and I’ve been trying it since to see if I can add it to my daily suite of productivity apps.

Bear Focus Timer, as the name suggests, is a timer that breaks your working hours into smaller chunks to help you stay focused, one session at a time (25 minutes per session by default). You get a 5 minute break after each session, and a longer break after 4 sessions.

I have tried many similar apps while exploring Pomodoro, and nothing really stuck with me. However I’ve found myself using Bear Focus Timer regularly and noticed an increase in productivity when I do.

The Trick

Two things this app does work incredibly well for me. Aesthetics and User Experience.

Aesthetics

Productivity apps often have similar looks. They tend to be enterprise-focused, and often a bit stuffy (boring). For Bear Focus Timer however, it forgoes the industry norm and uses a comic-book style design.

I’ve always been a fan of good illustrations, and Bear Focus Timer wins big with its charming visuals. This approach makes using the app a pleasant experience - it does not feel like work!

User Experience

Instead of overwhelming you with customisation options, the UX design has a strong focus on simplicity.

How simple? You use the app without tapping. A zero-tap UX design - how’s that for a mobile app? ;)

To start the timer, you put the phone face down on the table. The timer starts alongside the white noise. This design is also more than just a simple way to start the timer - it stops you from getting distracted from the notifications from the screen. I am a big fan of dual purpose designs, and this is a fantastic example of that.

Simple & Delightful

Bear Focus Timer does one thing only, and does it well. It’s out-of-box design won me over. It has become an app that I use whenever I work, and got me thinking about what we can learn from its design for Markd.

You can find Bear Focus Timer on the App Store.