Focus- How are you using it?

How are you using Focus or why do you prefer not to do so?

I am not crazy about the UI which means I probably won’t use it.

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I find it incredibly useful—even with only two tailored focus settings.

  • For meditation: 21 minutes with an alert at the end and the focus automatically then turned off (previously using do not disturb I invariably forgot to turn it off).

  • For sleep—tailored to allow only a phone call from one person and an alarm (should I need to use it).

I find the ability to tailor the settings and to use focus in Shortcuts (which is how I’ve set up the meditation focus) really useful.



As soon as Focus mode was announced I was eager for it. I have an office job and part-time study, all taking place in the same small apartment, and my brain needs outside help to switch context and stay on task.

My phone and watch already had Sleep and Fitness modes but now the iPad is also in sync. I can play a Fitness+ workout on any device and none of them will disturb me during the workout, or if I go for a walk or run outside I don’t need to remember to turn on DND on my iPad (so my partner doesn’t get disturbed by it). Similarly, I won’t get disturbed during meditation. At night the phone is charging in my office and my iPad is on the nightstand (with Reduce White Point on) to play podcasts or music, and it follows the Wind Down period set on my phone.

I have set Work focus to turn on at my usual day-job hours, and allow emails and texts from work colleagues and notifications from work-related apps; and similar settings for Study mode. I’ve been using Personal mode when socialising in ‘real life’ so I keep notifications to minimum so I can be present with the people I’m seeing.

I haven’t figured out all my use cases yet, but so far it’s met my expectations and I can’t wait until it arrives on macOS (I don’t run betas on my work machines). I also feel it’s yet another Apple feature that is more rewarding the more Apple devices you have.

Editing to add: I don’t know if this is also an improvement to the old do-not-disturb settings as well as a Focus feature, but scheduling seems ‘smarter’ now – there are more useful options for turning a focus mode on and scheduling it to turn off at the end of a work meeting or when leaving a location.


I think that this is the best feature to come out with iOS 15. I use three focus settings currently.

  • Work - I have this set to automatically turn on between the hours of 7am -5pm, every weekday. I have a Home Screen set with all the apps that I use for my job, and I receive a lot of phone calls from anywhere, so I don’t have any limitations on who can call me.

  • Personal - I also have a Home Screen of my most used apps, which are mostly entertainment apps. I do limit who can call me here. They are close family and friends, with a couple of work associates allowed through in case of an emergency.

  • Meeting - This turns everything off until the meeting is over.

I love the fact that focus modes can be scheduled, since I was one that would always forget to turn off DND.


When I heard about focus I thought I would never use it, but then I went on vacation the week before last, and switched my phone over to a “personal” focus mode that only allowed in text messages and phone calls, no slack or email or any other notifications. I left it like that for the full week, for the entire time I was awake.

Then yesterday I was out for my daily walk and started getting slammed with slack messages from work. So I switched the phone over to the “personal” focus.

And now I love focus mode.


So far I’m only using Do Not Disturb much the same as before. On from 10p to 6a and manually (control center) for 1 hour or until I leave a location.

  • Besides DND I use the suggested “Sleep” Focus mode and added a dedicated Home Screen for it with sleep-related apps and shortcuts that are relevant for the evening to trigger lighting scenes directly.
  • Then I created a “Morning” one that activates if sleep is deactivated via automation and shows another home screen with apps that I usually check after waking up (todos, calendar, some news, podcasts to listen to when getting ready).
  • I’ve also set up a “Workout” one for when I go to the gym. Again with a separate Home Screen with direct access to workout related apps and widgets.
  • And and additional “Out” mode with a dedicated Home Screen with a shopping list as a widget and the local metro app, maps and a podcast player.

The additional Home Screens are placed order-wise before my regular main Home Screens. That way they are shown in the first position if they get activated through the Focus modes.

The only gripe I have with Focus so far is that I would like a temporary override of notification/call blocking. In general I like that feature to have some peace of mind in the gym or in the morning, but it also happened twice already that I was waiting for an important call, switched on one of the focus modes by habit and the call got blocked.

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I need Monterey to come out before I can really start using it, but so far I have

  1. Driving —notifications only from my wife or son, and shows me a screen with Maps, Google Maps, and a few other things I might want while driving (Music, Podcasts, etc)

  2. DND — No Notifications except for Time-Sensitive alerts and repeated calls

  3. Sleep — no notifications except repeated calls (this is more like “DND+” I guess :wink: ) Home Screen limited to a few apps that I want at bedtime.

  4. Church — part of a Shortcut. No Notifications. Airplane Mode. Home screen with just Big Clock HD (which I use to keep track of time) and Drafts (which I use to jot down notes to myself if someone says something I need to remember).

I have two for ‘home’ and ‘work’ but honestly I never really use them. I have paired my notifications down to such a bare minimum.

  • iPad Pro and iPad mini have all notifications turned off. Any new apps have notifications denied. Blanket policy. No mental load to try and decide what to allow or not. “iPad == no notifications, period.”

  • All notifications are iPhone only, but very few things get to notify me. Email notifications are limited to 4-5 VIPs. Phone. Messages. Due.

  • When I install an app, I’m usually pretty ruthless about not allowing notifications, and if I allow them and they send anything I find annoying/distracting/unnecessary, I’ll disable them altogether. I’ll regularly go through and review notifications and turn off anything that jumps out at me as “Why is that enabled?”

I really need calendar integration. I want to have a meeting mode.

I use Whatsapp call a lot to talk to my colleagues in another country. Often, while talking with the phone to my ear, I get notifications that light up the phone. Then my ear will accidentally touched the Speaker button and the next thing I know, the person voice blasted loudly out of the speaker, almost deafening my ear.

So, I set up a Focus mode to silent everything when I’m using, Whatsapp or Slack. Since then, no more accidental Speaker mode press. I can talk in peace.


I thought I would use multiple Focus modes; turns out in practice I really don’t, but I still value the feature. I had my iPhone and iPad permanently on Do Not Disturb before, and I do the same thing with Focus now. Upside is, I can now let notifications from Calendar, Trello, my time-sensitive email, and certain close contacts in while still blocking everything else.

I’m not sure I’ll use Focus modes on my Mac though. Can’t wait to experiment when Monterey drops.

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Out of curiosity, what don’t you like about the Focus mode UI?

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Thanks for asking!!!

I guess I didn’t find it attractive. But I just went back and checked it out and I must have been looking at something else. The wrong thing! There was some ugly burnt red timer and another one had a putrid green timer. I do not know what in tarnation I was looking at!

And I am glad I asked the question on how people are using it. Interesting answers.

I have one set up for working out and for sleeping. Both allow family members to call but messages are silenced. With Sleep, I allow Headspace, Ender, Audible and AutoSleep.

I want to set up a Gaming Focus but there’s no way to have just one device to run it and allow some notifications on my iPhone.

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Having a tough time understanding focus mode, it makes sense just not fully getting it. @tjluoma I would like to make something like you have a focus mode for driving with the map apps, but I can’t figure out how to do that. I went to focus and I see driving but how do I get just the map apps to show up? Or do I have to make that a special screen then incorporate that? Is it a custom screen?

If I am not mistaken, Apple set it up that you cannot use Focus while you are driving although it makes total sense that you may very well need access to a map.

You definitely can use Focus Mode while driving. I made a “mode” called “Car” and use it all of the time.

Yes, iOS 15 has a feature to allow custom home screens for different modes.

Here are some links to help.

Use Focus on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch - Apple Support

How to set up and use a Focus on iPhone and iPad | iMore

How to use iPhone Focus mode in iOS 15 - 9to5Mac

7 Ways to Customize iOS 15’s Focus Mode for Work and Play | WIRED

I said I wasn’t sure, TJ. It makes sense to me but I thought you could not be using any apps when you’re driving. I read or heard it somewhere. Does it let you access any app you wish. Maybe because you entitled it “car” rather than “driving”. At any rate… Thanks.

It just let me set up Driving and the books app among others.

Tried this yesterday, was not able to add apps, only contacts, to the Driving focus. If you sent a screenshot of your Driving focus it would be super helpful.