It’s never been more difficult to focus. Surrounded by digital distractions and platforms designed to capture and hold our attention, we’re left in a relentless battle against our brains and willpower to avoid the lure of the internet.
Luckily, there has been a rise of digital wellness tools and companies that aim to fight back against the digital noise so that you can give your time and attention to the things that matter most.
Enter Dan Clark.
Dan Clark is the CEO of Brain.FM, a productivity and wellness tool that uses an AI engine to compose music that helps listeners focus, relax, and sleep better by enhancing the brain’s cognitive state. Although, music has played a substantial role throughout human history, Dan and his team believe that we are only just beginning to unlock its power to influence our state of mind.
By using the latest research in auditory neuroscience, Brain.FM has created music that elicits a specific mental state that helps our brains to combat mind-wandering and distraction – producing results in as little as 15 minutes of listening. As a pioneer in the field, Brain.FM continues to work closely with experts and researchers and has recently been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a grant to support its work in the field.
So this week we decided to sit down with Dan to learn a little more about how music can influence our mental states, as well as the tools and strategies he uses to stay focused in our noisy digital worlds.
You are the CEO of Brain.FM. Can you tell us a little more about how you got to where you are now?
Sure, happy to go into more detail. I actually didn’t create Brain.fm, but came across it when it first launched being one of the first users. Previously I built apps and websites and would start working at 10 PM – 2 or 4 AM every night in order to find my zone to get work done.
I switched careers from building an advertising agency and came across Brain.fm. In my first session I bought an account and was so excited after a week of use I needed to be part of the company. I called 12 times. I finally got a job and worked the first month for free. Fast forward, I’m now the CEO.
How did Brain.FM first come about?
Brain.fm came out of our inventor and founder Adam Hewett who I like to call our secret weapon. He has been working on brain stimulation techniques for the last 18 years with previous pursuits in brain-controlled video games (the controller is an EEG). While working he discovered music could change mental states. The hypothesis is that with enough data and testing we could amplify what regular music does – this is what Brain.fm is.
On your site, you guys state that you believe music to be the future of medicine – can you expand on what that means?
We believe that what we have discovered inside of music has long terms effect on human wellness in general. Currently we have a National Science Foundation grant that has been awarded to validate if we can be an effective treatment for ADHD. While we aren’t looking to take away prescriptions, we are looking to help people have another option or reduce what they take.
What is the most interesting piece of research you have come across in regard to how music can influence your brain’s state?
While I’m not directly involved in the daily research that we do, the most interesting thing I’ve learned so far is about how our brains are always listening. Thousands of years ago, distraction kept you alive. Now we don’t face life or death situations; we have no bears trying to eat us. This results in simple things taking much more room in our mind and distracting us from normal tasks like working. In the same regard, most people sleep better while there is rain. There is some preliminary research linking that to the thought that many predators don’t hunt in the rain resulting us to sleep better from an evolutionary perspective.
As a CEO, how do you stay productive, motivated, and focused?
Routine and habits are the best way I find to be most productive, motivated and focus. I start everyday at the same time, I put on Brain.fm focus, I drink an iced coffee, and I write down everything I need to do. I then have intentional work sprints in order to get through the day and accomplish my goals.
Our overly digital lives leave many of us fighting off distraction and struggling to find focus – what does this battle look like for you and how do you fight back?
Besides using our product, I also use a variety of other means to stay focused. Handwriting in notebooks with actual pens helps me really focus my mind. It helps to have a physical thing I carry around everywhere which I can jot things down. This helps me not get bogged down by the thousands of digital things that can interrupt my flow.
What are your biggest distractors?
Running a growing business has different distractions daily. No matter what the distraction, it’s about how you handle it, rather than what the distraction is.
What project are you currently most excited about?
We have a lot of amazing projects here that I’m really excited about. More to come in the future!
Where are you currently based?
I’m based in New York City.
To learn more about Dan Clark or Brain.FM visit their site here.