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Automating Focus on iOS

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The icon of the iOS app Mind the Focus showing a purple moon on a white backgroundMind the Focus — calendar-based focus automation

Looking to link and automate your focus with your calendar? Mind the Focus does that for you, so you don’t have to worry about it! As a productivity app, Mind the Focus synchronizes with your calendar, prompting you just at the right time to activate the desired focus for your next event.

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Since iOS 15, the iPhone operating system offers a way to adjust its notification behavior to your needs. Through focus, iOS enables you to mute selected notifications during work or exercise, for example. With focus, you can also adjust other parts of iOS like the home screen setup, phone calls, and even the data displayed in apps through focus filters. Besides the predefined focuses, iOS also allows to define custom ones for more flexibility.

Existing means for automation

Apple emphasizes that focus follows a deliberate decision by the user. Thus, apps cannot activate a focus through an official API (think FocusKit) for you. Instead, you deliberately have to activate a focus. Still, there is wiggle room for automating focus. In the configuration of a focus mode, you can choose to activate the focus depending on a schedule or based on your location. Beyond, iOS offers to activate the focus for you just when you need it based on your past usage.

With Shortcuts, it is also possible to (de)activate a focus or schedule a focus until a certain date. You can even activate a focus until you leave a location or when a specific event ends. This only gets you so far, though. The more complex your use case gets, the more complex programming is required for the shortcut. Various people on Reddit have tried coming up with corresponding shortcuts but ultimately gave in.

Mind the Focus

As I was on the look to manage focus more conveniently on my iPhone, I stumbled upon the same frustrations as those redditors. Most importantly, I was baffled that Apple has not managed to come up with an integration of focus into their calendar app. For me, that’s the most obvious place in iOS where focus would excel.

While the lack of FocusKit is not a good prerequisite, I was determined to tackle this problem with an app. Mind the Focus was born. Based on the EKEventStore, the app schedules notifications for upcoming events to prompt you to activate a focus just before an event starts. Of course, there is still manual labor involved in this process - you have to tap the notification - but you do not have to remember activating a focus yourself. In addition, Mind the Focus allows for a lot of customization regarding the notification which is not something that you could easily achieve otherwise.

List of Events

A screenshot of Mind the Focus that displays the list of events

The list of events displayed in Mind the Focus

Upon opening Mind the Focus, you find a list of events that are scheduled in your calendar. By default, the app notifies you about all of these events. Once, five minutes before the event starts and again, right when your event ends. The first notification enables you to activate Do Not Disturb, while the latter allows you to activate a follow-up focus if desired. From the list of events, you can also customize the notifications of each event. In particular, you can selectively enable or disable the follow-up notifications of an event through its context menu, for instance.


A screenshot of Mind the Focus that displays the app's settings

The settings of Mind the Focus

For further customization, the settings offer notification settings for your calendars. You can also adapt the point in time at which the lead-up and follow-up notifications are delivered. Besides, you find an option there to delay the deactivation of a focus after events.


While the current state of the app already enables a lot of customization, there are more features planned for future versions of Mind the Focus:

  • Set a dedicated focus per calendar and per event
  • Adapt the focus and its duration dynamically during an event
  • Provide a version of the app for macOS
  • Modify multiple events concurrently
  • Hide event invitations that you have not accepted, yet

Since these are only some of the features that I have in mind for the app, feel free to reach out to me if you have other ideas for features. You can also shoot me a message if you have any questions regarding Mind the Focus or encountered some bug while using the app.