There’s one topic that seems to increasingly come up in conversation around being a creative today - the feeling of being overwhelmed, unfocused, and bombarded with distractions. The main culprit being social media. On one had its more important that ever to be involved in the culture, posting content, building your online presence, etc. On the other hand we still need to put the time in to actually creating our projects.
For me the hardest part is that social media (instagram specifically) is a hub for messaging and building relationships in the creative community. So I log into the app to check massages and see what a few people are up to and all of a sudden 15 minutes has passed by. It’s said to take 10 to 15 minutes to get back into a flow state once your concentration is broken. All day long we are breaking our focus and dealing with the attention residue as we try to get back into a productive state of mind.
I’ve been using two tools the last month or so that have helped me curb the impulsivity of social media while increasing my ability to stay on task. Together, they’ve become a powerful combination.
1. One Sec App
The discussion around social media addiction is well known at this point. The apps are designed to be sticky, the algorithm are finely tuned to keep you engaged. We all know this by now but we use it regardless. I’m not one for saying delete all your accounts, never log in again. I love Instagram and I still get a lot of positive benefits from being on it. The issue for me is mindlessly using it and constantly breaking focus.
Here’s where One Sec comes in...
The app works by adding friction to the instant gratification your mind is looking for. When you open instagram, (or whatever app you assign to intervene) you’re forced to wait just a few seconds as it suggests you take a deep breath. Through the added delay in gratification. The brain adapts to the new behavior and loses its ability for a quick dopamine fix by checking instagram.
This has been the only app that has considerably curbed my screen time.
Overcoming the constant dopamine hit was difficult the first week or so but I noticed a positive ripple effect in my mental clarity overall once the habit started to change.
From a study by One Sec:
Friction causes behavioral change
By taking out the instant gratification, the urge for unintentional social media usage fades away over time: user’s brain now connects opening Instagram with something unpleasant, having to wait 10 seconds during the breathing intervention.As a result, attempts to open social media apps shrink significantly – resulting in more conscious usage patterns.On top of that, in 32% of the attempts, users still decide not to continue in the app and abort the intervention.In total, combining both long-term behavioral change and the abortion of interventions, user’s social media usage shrank by 57% on average.
Check out the app here https://one-sec.app/
and more of their studies here. https://one-sec.app/max-planck-study/
Essentially we're just leveraging the Pomodoro Technique, which involves breaking work into timed sessions with frequent short breaks.
You know the feeling of procrastinating all day and you end up getting everything finished in a frenzy at the last minute?
This technique works similarly. By giving an artificial deadline to your task you can create a sense of urgency for yourself.
It also breaks the day up into blocks which allows you to get some movement in-between sessions.
Knowing a break is coming keeps me on task while the countdown gamifies procrastination.
I like Be Focused specifically because it not only serves as a timer but also includes a checklist, allowing you to organize your tasks for the day.
Cycle through the timers until you've completed everything on the list and your done for the day.
You can also use a physical timer or your phone / watch. The main requirement is just setting a predetermined time, usually 15-25 mins and having a notification tell you when you’re done.
I’m always looking for ways to enhance focus and feel more energized overall. If you have any tools or techniques that help you I'd love to hear them, shoot me a message. Otherwise, get focused and keep creating!