I’m just full of social media tips, most of which can be boiled down to “put down your phone” and “stop engaging.” Which is funny, because I’m incredibly bad at doing both of these things, no matter how hard I try (downloading a little app that grows trees while you’re not using your phone, setting a goal to read more books, having the same conversation with my therapist over and over again). But I finally found a trick – a smart iPhone app – that seems to work. For the moment.
Ironically, I made this discovery while mindlessly scrolling through Twitter on my iPhone, which I do whenever I’m idle, whether it’s taking the dog to pee, waiting for the elevator, or put the kettle on to boil. In these moments, I’m not really want to everything Twitter has to offer; it’s just a foolish habit, and that lack of purpose never stops that quick sweep from turning into a pointless 10 minutes.
But this Shortcut Automation application, called “a second” by its innovator, Frederik Riedel (@FrederikRiedel) – seeks to inject mindfulness into this insane habit. To use it, you set up an automation that will trigger a second of execution when you attempt to open any social media, game, or other app that eats away at your day. It’s a simple, soothing animation that will interrupt the process, encouraging you to take a deep breath before pressing a second time to confirm that you really want to open this app or not.
You can see how it works in this Tweet from Riedel:
I realize there are many other tools that encourage you to limit social media usage, from Apple Focus modes at screen time alerts, but a second worked best for me because it interrupted me at the right time; it’s easier to force me to think with intention (“6 attempts to open Twitter in 24 hours”) than to scold me to stop doing something I’m already doing (any pop-up telling me that my app usage for the day has passed is instantly ignored). You can block an app for free, and unlock additional features (use with multiple apps, more robust breathing exercises, time tracking, website blocking) with a premium subscription ($14.99/year).
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a pretty serious internet addiction. But I also managed to stop myself from looking at my phone while waiting for the dog to poop for five days straight. It’s not nothing.