Taking on too much

Not far into 2019 and I feel I’ve overcommitted to passion projects already. Between home and work I’m struggling to put the required time and energy into much at the moment. Hoping it’s just a slump but I need to do a bit of soul searching on what to concentrate on.

My blog is the easiest to keep updated and the bit I’m most passionate about.

The podcast is on hold, still stuck in a loop with Anchor. This is probably a good thing as I’m struggling to find stuff to talk about right now.

I’ve also wanted to record an album of my own music to keep for prosperity rather than market or anything. Playing guitar again is something I need to bring back into my life, too much tech related stuff isn’t good for me personally right now. This’ll take priority over the podcast depending on what I want to do going forward.

Lots of thinking to do.

Productivity and projects update

I tried an experiment as I wrote in a previous post of giving Things 3 a go and I’m declaring to do app bankruptcy.

Whilst it looks great there’s something about their privacy policy I just don’t trust (I’m pretty picky these days about where my data is being held). I also found there to be too many steps to creating repeating tasks and adding reminders.

So, I’m back on the core Apple apps and iCloud. I think this’ll work as I’m simplifying my hobbies a bit going forward so won’t have too many side projects to plan out.

iOS Only is on hold until I can get my feed sorted with Anchor.

I’ve blown the dust off my guitar stuff and aiming to put some time into using it to relax a bit in the evenings. Be it recording music on my iPad or just learning new songs. I’m feeling less and less interested in tech at the moment from a keeping up with the latest news perspective. I’ll definitely be writing or talking about how I’m using iOS for music.

The blog stays as is, writing about my passions. These may change over time but it’ll always be what I’m interested in.

How to avoid distractions on your smartphone

For the last month or so I’ve been very conscious about the amount of distractions and unused apps I have on my iPhone. I found myself unlocking my iPhone when bored and hitting those social media and video apps. Well I’ve made a few changes that I’m hoping help curb this for me and should help me in my theme of focus and calm.

I’m also not a fan of using screen time to manage this. First off I found that it had a negative effect on my battery life and secondly I could just remove the app restrictions myself.

So, I just wanted to share some of the steps I’ve taken to improve this for my own use. I’m hoping some might resonate with you too.

Move those distractions

The first step I took was to move all of my apps aside from essentials into a second page. I used to have folders and everything on one screen but by taking them out and onto another page I didn’t see them so the likes of Twitter distracted me less. The screenshot above is everything I have on my iPhone.

Notifications

It’s really important to reduce the amount of notifications you get on your lock screen. I’m sure Twitter isn’t that important that you need them to be shown. My notifications are only there for messages, phone calls, reminders and calendar appointments.

Delete apps

At the same time as organising my apps I deleted anything I hadn’t used or forgot I even had installed. Mobile data is so fast these days if you need something on the go I’m sure you’ll be able to download it.

It’s ok to be bored

Its perfectly fine to be bored, let your mind wander or spend a few minutes with the breathe app on your Apple Watch. I used to listen to a lot of music and just let my mind wander. These days I listen to a lot of podcasts instead. I’m going to reduce these and get some music back into my life.

Your tips?

Got any tips for being less distracted on your smartphone?

Keeping going

Being a creative person on the internet has been hard over the last 10 or so years for me. I went from being somewhat successful in the world of YouTube guitar players back in 2008 to losing my channel then discovering blogging and freelance writing, which took me down the path I’m on now. I constantly have to remind myself that I prefer writing and chatting on podcasts more than I did feeling awkward on camera producing YouTube content. To be honest even if I’d stuck it out the guitar content has fallen into the click bait world of YouTube now too, so wouldn’t have been comfortable making it anyway.

There so much vying for attention with the addition of social networks and click bait favouring algorithms that keeping going with your own thing is hard.

I’ve been demoralised at stages in the last few years with my blog, realising that not many people want to help support you. My failed patreon was also having a negative impact on my confidence levels and I’ve completely removed this link now from the site. If you can make it work then great but from my experience unless you already have a large following somewhere else it just didn’t work out for me.

I think my issue was that I was trying to ‘make it’ in the world of being an independent journalist but have quickly come to the realisation that you can’t make a living doing this alone in this day and age. I’ve given up trying to ‘make it’, hell I can’t even get other professional bloggers or journalists to give me feedback and publications and some podcast networks only pick guests from their inner circle.

What has helped me keep going though has been finding a smaller niche group of people that actually read my stuff and give me feedback. I’ve also found more smaller creators that I’ve had some great interactions with and have given me the energy to keep going.

I’ve also found that I enjoy just writing what I’m passionate about. I’m not competing with any site I just want to share my thoughts on stuff and not worry about sticking to a particular theme.

I guess what I’m trying to say is (I’m trying not to ramble) if you read someone’s content out there, especially from an independent like me please engage with it. RT, like, cross post, comment – do anything you can to let them know that you’ve read it (it’s also not rude to point out typos by the way).

So, it’s this interaction that keeps me going. I have no financial dependence on this blog at all, it’s a passion project as is my podcast but for us small creators please let us know what you think of our stuff.

Thanks to everyone that’s engaged with me on my content, even that little like you may have done on Twitter really helped me out that day to produce something else.

Finally, in the spirit of sharing others work here are some fine folks that have really helped me keep going over the last few months.

Rethinking social networking and my yearly theme

Yes, I’m writing yet another taking a break from something type of post. Between my day job and trying to be more focussed with what I’m doing on my passion projects I’m trying to remove distractions. I’m also conscious that’s it not doing my mental health any favours and without the heavy use of filters and Tweetbot I’d most likely delete my account.

I use it to communicate with friends I’ve met on the social network and also have gained opportunities to appear on other creators projects, something I’m grateful for.

So I’m not giving it up completely but doing a few things to put up little barriers.

First off I’m deleting all Twitter apps from my iPhone and iPad.

If I want to check in on my notifications I’m going to use Safari on my iPad, so I’ll most probably check in every few days.

I’ll still be sharing but I’m aiming to use my blog to do it.

I will be on social but I’m cutting it back to a few slack channels and Micro.blog. At the moment everything I do on Micro.blog has to be posted on my blog but I’m considering supporting them and going all in on it being my social network of choice. More on this once I’ve figured it all out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m feeling social burnout and everything is a little out of balance at the moment.

My theme this year is Focus and Calm, this is a little step in the right direction for me.

UPDATE:

I’ve installed Tweetbot again as I found that I missed the conversations that I enjoy as someone that works at home, it’s my water cooler conversation.

I’ve also tried and deleted Micro.Blog. A nice community and great idea but I didn’t have any interaction that was worth £5 a month. I’ll still post there but using my WordPress rather than paying for a micro.blog.

Taking a day off social media

You might have seen my tweet, it was the last one I did yesterday. I’ve decided to take a proper break from social media. I use Twitter, Instagram and Slack. I stopped using Facebook in Jan 2018. In a bid to get some more quality time back in my life it’s a decision that was actually quite easy with how toxic most of them are. I do get a lot of value from interacting with others but the negatives of both ‘the feed’ and companies attitudes towards its users has finally become too much for me.

I have a blog I want to put effort into, a podcast to plan and music to record. Spending too much time lost on Social isn’t helping me succeed in any of this.

What I’ve noticed

  • I’m picking up my phone less
  • I’m less distracted thinking about the news or thinking about purchases
  • I’m spending more time in apps that give me some value, such as sketching out ideas in Notes for example

Yesterday happened to be the day when another iOS beta dropped but I stayed strong and didn’t install any social apps to catch up on what happened. Not sure how long I’ll last but I’m going to give it a good go.

How to go greyscale on the iPhone

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Inspired by the Center for Humane Technology I’ve decided to take some control back and adopt some of their suggestions for using my iPhone less. The first stage to this was to implement the greyscale filter, not only does it give you more battery life but makes your iPhone screen seem less playful and in turn less likely to play around with too much.

Here’s how to enable this

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap General
  • Tap Accessibility
  • Tap Display Accommodations
  • Tap Colour Filters
  • Tap the toggle and make sure Greyscale is selected

You can easily disable when you want to take a photo or view images by adding a shortcut in control centre like this

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Control Centre
  • Tap Customise Controls
  • Tap the + next to Accessibility Shortcuts

Now when you want to get some colour back simply swipe down from the top and tap on the Accessibility Shortcut button.

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