Desktop Widgets Help You Focus


Remember when ‘fidget’ desktop toys spun into our lives and dominated the anti-anxiety toy market?

One day people were spinning pens then almost overnight the office was filled with the sound of people clicking buttons and spinning mini-flywheels. It’s always fun to witness the hive mind adopt the newest thing in a line of tools to stay focused.

It’s even more fun when the hive mind just as quickly abandons a trend when the news gets a hold of it. The photo above is from our office, a graveyard of spinners on one of the spare desks. Just like when the news revealed that fidget tools did nothing to help you focus. Just as quick as the toys found their way into the office limelight, they were gone.

Focus is such an important topic in the corporate world. Why do you think caffeine is the only drug that is socially acceptable to brag about overconsumption and dependency. “Don’t talk to me until I have my morning coffee or two!”

Shareholders demand year on year returns and the corporation C-suite has a fiduciary responsibility to max out those returns. CEO bonuses hinge on managers making their teams more productive and profitable. So managers try everything they can to help teams to become and remain focused.


I've seen managers try everything from:

  • Mid-Day Yoga Sessions

  • Meditation

  • Removing Sugary Snacks And Drinks From The Office

  • Piping In White Noise Over The Speakers

  • Wild Products With No Scientific Evidence (see 10 bunko gadgets here)

Most of it does not work, and the reason ‘why’ you would never expect.

Why Most Tips To Focus Fail

To understand why most ‘focus tips’ don’t work, let’s take a look at how focusing works.

Focus is a state.


However, like other states, it can’t be accessed immediately.

Focus isn’t like joy or panic which respectively dumps dopamine on the brain or triggers the fight or flight mechanism.


Focus is a bell curve that you rise and fall with.

That’s why toys, midday breaks, and similar focus tips don’t work.

Cal Newport explores this in Deep Work. He digs into the topic by explaining that Deep Work (a broad term for focus) results from consistent practice and accessing key signals for focus to take place.

We've kept this in mind when developing a solution to make Qlik metrics more accessible and more powerful. Qlik is one of the main platforms we use when building a Business Intelligence solution for our clients and to measure our success in house. It is one of the leading tools available and we've developed KPI Pulse to extend the reach of Qlik and to provide key metrics easily over email, mobile devices, on desktop widgets or a head up display and directly into Excel.

The broad ideas expressed in Cal’s book reflect a unique KPI Pulse feature that signals focused states with desktop widgets : Here’s How.

Desktop Widget Top Focus Picks

KPI Pulse is a sandbox template design.

Go in and personalise the dashboard however you like.

This addressed a core issue with many Qlik dashboards, busy User Experience (UX)


Busy UX is rarely good.

Our brain has pre-mammalian scripts that help our minds optimise energy, a backup DOS prompt protocol for the human equivalent of safe-mode.

In Thinking Fast And Slow By Daniel Kahneman, the author maps the survival of what he refers to as our ‘lizard mind’. This ‘lizard mind’, Daniel posits, is a survivalist mind programmed to override our state when too many distractions arise.

You see this reflected further in the book Paradox Of Choice.

Their premise at its simplest is this: Too many options causes our brain to give up.

In the early nineties the Chinese government was forced to regulate animated cartoon frame rates, because kids started having seizures while watching TV that reached frequencies of 60 hertz (flashes per second).

That’s why we built-in the custom design element into our solution - KPI Pulse. By simplifying the design, you can optimise UX while cutting distraction and choice paralysis.

3 Focus Tips KPI Pulse Desktop Widgets


To see a widget means ‘work’. Using the same widget builds your focus on-ramp for your team.


Only choose a widget that has a unique pull for your industry. Don’t choose something your team might relate to something else. You want the choice you make to be unique to your team.


‘If one is good more is better.’ Doesn’t hold true here. Creating too many options will cause choice paralysis.

Final Thought

At Advance and in developing KPI Pulse, we salute our widget technology forefathers, and are committed to pushing forward widget wizardry which has been over 25 years in the making. Small pieces of customised desktop and web content have made their way into our lives whether you call it an accessory, a widget, a web part, or a gadget.

Interested in learning more about how we used psychology, design, and intuitive interfaces to build Qlik dashboards that companies love? Sign up to our mailing list.

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If you’d like to get in touch or comment on an of my blogs you can reach me directly via my contact details below.

Many Thanks, Jp.

John-Paul Della-Putta


Advance Business Consulting & KPI Pulse

Phone: +61 8 8238 6500