These days it often feels like the world is on fire. Sometimes literally. At times like these, my phone turns into an endless doomscrolling instrument. So when Apple changed its focus modes in the iOS 16 beta earlier this summer, I knew what to do. I had to create a “That’s good” mode.
The basic premise behind an It’s Good mode is the fact that sometimes you’re not good. Even so, life doesn’t stop just because terrible things keep happening. Deadlines have to be met, bills have to be paid, dogs have to be walked, kids have to be picked up from school, and you still have to eat. But while I understand that sometimes it’s best to ignore my Twitter feed, mustering the willpower to do so leaves my brain in mush. I know doomscrolling is bad for my mental and physical health, yet it’s so easy to do when the latest tragedy is all anyone can think of or talk about. Add personal calamities or, I don’t know, the whole pandemic, and sooner or later you’ll end up crumpled up on the couch. My goal was to create a technological bandage that allowed me to focus on the tasks at hand so that I could decompress freely. later.
Focus modes are nothing new. Apple introduced them in iOS 15, but while I was digging the concept they were clumsy to program. Technically, they’re still boring to do in iOS 16, but there are other ways to have fun too. For example, you can link Focus modes to a specific lock screen and create custom homepages. With watchOS 9, you can even sync a particular Focus mode with your Apple Watch. The news cycle may be dark, but I can not be.
Therefore, I configure my lock screen for this mode as This is Fine dog sitting on top of an adorable dumpster fire. You can add widgets on the new iOS 16 lock screens, but given the purpose of this particular mode, I chose not to include any. The idea is to limit the information to the essentials.
In the Focus Mode menu, you can also specify who and which apps are allowed to notify you. In my It’s Fine mode, I only let four people text me: my two best friends, my therapist, and my husband. These are the people with whom I have an explicit and mutual agreement regarding the emotional baggage during working hours. Everyone can wait until I’m ready. (But if it helps to think of who you prefer the silence notifications, iOS 16 also lets you set it up that way.) As for allowed apps, I’ve limited it to the Mindfulness app.
iOS 16 also lets you choose from a series of home pages. Some are ones you’ve already made, and some are auto-generated suggestions. For this particular mode, I selected a single screen that highlights a Health app widget representing my sleep (a subtle reminder to maybe get more), some happier weather photos, the Weather app, the Calm app, the Notes app, and KakaoTalk — the messaging app I use with my family.
As for my linked dial, I chose a no-frills gradient face. There are complications for the Mindfulness app, sleep date and schedules. relaxing things! It’s also an understated dial that doesn’t bombard you with information. If I look at my wrist, I’m much more likely to remember, “Oh, you’re trying to be zen right now. »
You can also add Focus filters, which allow you to customize the behavior of your apps and devices when a particular mode is activated. For this mode, I kept it simple and filtered out all messages from people who aren’t my best friends, husband, or therapist. There are also options to automate the activation of a mode, but I chose to ignore it for this mode. It’s a mode where I want to be intentional, so it’s something I manually activate when things get too tough.
In all seriousness, it kinda blows my mind that I felt the need to set this up in the first place. That said, it’s been incredibly good for my brain whenever life decides to throw curveballs at me. When Uvalde arrived, I was able to take a break from the chaos going on on the internet and write my silly blogs. When the news on Roe vs. Wade exploded, I was at my mother’s funeral. Activating this mode helped me stay present in the moment, while the This is Fine dog image was a comforting bit of dark humor. The day after my dog died unexpectedly, I was less tempted to spiral. I could decompress in peace while staying connected to the people I love the most.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be so bad either. I make fun of myself with my fitness focus mode, and honestly, it keeps me from quitting weight training early. Kirby staring at the ceiling while trying to sleep makes me laugh every time my sleep mode kicks in. My Work mode activates automatically each time I arrive at the Edge desktop, just like my Reading View every time I open the Kindle or the Manta app. These are all more functional and lightweight ways to use focus modes, but the idea remains the same. Make it easy to tune out the noise, give yourself the grace to tune out, and have fun while you’re at it.
Photography by Victoria Song / MovieBeat