Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Distraction Disaster! Sucked into the iPad Vortex!

Lately I've been working on an eBook based on my experiences with ADHD and iPhones. It seemed a fitting project to take my blog writing to the next level.

I enlisted the aide of a friend to help keep me on track just in case my ADHD or Depression waylaid my progress. As he looked over my eBook task list and the subjects I would be covering, he noticed an omission and texted me:

Maybe have [a section] for "Oh! Shiny!" on ways to avoid distractions (like going to news sites and spending hours there instead of doing what you're supposed to be doing)?

What‽ It's like he knows me or something.

The funny thing was that I was momentarily shocked. How could I have forgotten that simple aspect of ADHD management? Didn't I used to do that? Didn't I used to use my iPhone to keep track of my online time? And why wasn't I doing that anymore? Oh, that explained soooo very much lately. Getting divorced and setting up a new home had knocked me off my old routine.

I don't tend to read news on my iPhone; the screen is too tiny. But I love to spend hours of time reading on my iPad. That is why I used to have a Lockscreen reminder to keep news reading to under one hour. I'd also set a timer on my iPhone to keep me from spending too much time on news. It created a good habit. I even got my news addiction down to thirty minutes. If I wanted to read more news, I would do it while pacing. That way I got exercise and satiated my need.

Then life pulled a rug out from under me. Funny how we can forget routines so easily when we are knocked on our butts. But now I'm all excited. I can't wait to re-implement this practice into my morning routine.

Smartphones Are Windows Into Distraction

The nefarious thing about iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, and other internet savvy devices is that they are windows into an ever changing world. For people with ADHD, these devices can be like Smeagol's ring, gripping their hearts and not letting go. Nothing can be more addicting to a person with an intolerance for boredom than a little device that they can hold in front of their face and be endlessly entertained with link after link after link for hours on end.

I know the temptation all too well. Factor in social networking, and you can share news links and stupid Youtube videos all day long thinking you are busy doing something while in fact you are doing nothing at all. Since my divorce has triggered the worst Depression I've experienced in my life, I find myself lost in the glow of my iPad when I should be writing, working, or doing just about anything else. It's easy; it's comforting, but it's a waste of time. Yet I find myself struggling to escape its vortex.

Use Your iPhone to Manage Your Time with a Timer

My weapon of choice tomorrow will be the built in Apple app "Clock" on the iPhone. I have read many a snide comment about this app online, but I love it. Tap on "Clock" and then tap on "Timer" along the bottom dock. Set a timer for 30 minutes and be prepared to stop. You can do the same with an egg timer, but egg timers can't play back snide Bart Simpson or menacing Lord Vader sound files. I like to use a clip of Ataru Moroboshi being electrocuted with love to catch my attention. There are many apps that will go even further and play music from your collection at the appointed moment. I use "Awaken", but there are a plethora of apps for you to choose from in the app store that do the same.

Sometimes I don't want to be stopped from what I'm doing as much as I just need a reminder that time is passing. In this case I set an alarm a half hour ahead in "Clock". When the alarm goes off it will feature a "Snooze" button in the Notification screen to tap for a 9 minute delay. If I'm not finished working, the 9 minute snoozes help me be aware of how much time has passed. The current time is prominently displayed right above the Snooze button. It's very effective at helping me keep on track.

Another app that can help is "Interlude" which gives you a different front end to your music collection, but it's big selling point is that it interrupts the music in between songs to let you know what time it is and how much time has passed. It's free and, frankly, fantastic for ADHD types who lose track of time.

Good Habits Take Practice to Develop

Obviously, using a timer requires discipline. There is no iOS app out there that will helpfully slap you in the face when time is a'flying. But with effort you can learn to use your iDevice to do more than just play "Angry Birds Space". You can actually manage your time and be productive. Imagine that.

Follow me on Twitter as @SplinteredMind. I also explore iPhone photography with Instagram as douglascootey (peek). And if you're a glutton for punishment you can friend me on Facebook as well, or find me on Path where I explore my coping strategy process.