App rate: Pocket and Focus Booster

App rate: Pocket and Focus Booster

A few days ago I was at my neighbour’s door asking for babysitting help when we got talking about her French homework. “It doesn’t make any sense!” she complains to me at the door step. Two minutes later and I’m sat next to her on the sofa, laptop on the knees, squinting at a passé composé worksheet in Google Drive. Here’s what I started thinking: She was seriously limiting her chances of her French homework making any sense because of the other 2 devices on the sofa pinging for her attention, not to mention the 42 inch TV, 42 inches from her right shoulder. But focus isn’t just a lost art of 13 year olds – we are just as bad – our phones and tablets rule us just as much – leading us along the dark path of procrastination and stealing our focus. So rather than go all Amish on you, I’m going with the approach that technology is not going away any time soon so let’s embrace it – use it to assist in the fight for focus. Here’s a double app rate for you:

Pocket – I’m guessing that anyone who would find this was useful already knows about it (apart from me who only discovered it 2 weeks ago). This is an app that allows you to save anything interesting for later, if you share it across all your devices it works just like a back pocket, storing articles, videos, recipes, and webpages of all variety in a tidy way, while allowing you to add tags along the way. Then when you go to your compiled list it sorts them into readable articles, cutting out all the dross that usually appears on news pages like headings, animated ads and sidebars. So how does this help with focus? Twofold: 1. It may stop procrastination in its tracks – something that might have originally distracted you can be pocketed for later. 2. If you use if for research purposes you’ll know that once all the articles you need are together you won’t be distracted by other click-throughs which normally appear in original articles.

Focus booster by AppLess – There is a paid app of the same name which is very different – when you search for focus booster it comes up with both, this much simpler version seems at the outset like a joke app – it uses a little rocket animation to block your access to your phone for a predetermined time. The downsides are that it makes an unnecessary amount of noise when it launches and it doesn’t technically block your phone (I was imagining it turned all noises/notifications off). But the discipline is still a good one – ban yourself from your phone – and this app does it in a humorous way so you can’t get too annoyed with it.

Know of any other great apps that help you focus?

 

 

Hero #1: Barbara Oakley

Hero #1: Barbara Oakley

Every so often I’ll be introducing you to one of my heroes. This week my procrastination theme has led me to Barbara Oakley, a professor of Engineering at Oakland University, Michigan, who is known for her book A Mind for Numbers and her training in the art of learning. She’s my hero because she explains some key shared ideas of people in top professions that allow them to excel at their subjects and does so in a simple way that means I don’t need a degree in engineering to understand them; great news for me! Here’s the best of it from a talk at Google https://youtu.be/vd2dtkMINIw.

Her topic as a whole is not directly related to time management or procrastination but she does offer a brilliant explanation of procrastination while explaining how to take the “time to build the neural scaffold” when switching between focused and relaxed learning modes – it rings so true I almost cried.

She explains:  “If you look at something you don’t like, the pain sensors of your brain actually activate… So what do you do when you feel pain?…Well, you have two different ways of handling it: The first way is you can work through it, like, 20 minutes or so and the pain will gradually disappear, but if you are like most people, what you’ll do is you’ll just turn your attention to something more pleasant and, guess what! You’ll feel better immediately”

The best definition of procrastination: avoiding pain. And if we avoid it enough, it becomes an addictive thing to do. It’s been said that you are half way to solving a problem when you admit there is one. Like being told that you’ll hit a wall during the Marathon (not that I’ve done this) or being told that child birth is the most painful thing you’ll ever do (let’s not talk about it) – this knowledge works to galvanise you so your fibres scream “let’s do this, grr!”. And if that doesn’t actually work for you, granted head barely rules heart most of the time, then Oakley goes on to recommend a very practical technique called the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ which I’ll probably touch on during my next post.

So, thank you Barbara Oakley for teaching me a bit about my brain, you are my hero!