No Distractions

September 7, 2014

Distraction-free iPhone | www.lauratosney.co.uk

I love my phone. I hate my phone. I love it and I hate it and it feels like I’m stuck to it 24 hours a day. My relationship with my phone is making me lazy, short of concentration, devoid of my own creativity plus – conversely – stoking that inherent desire in me to do everything and see everything to a level that makes it impossible to do anything or go anywhere. It’s sort of…paralytic.

As someone for whom social media is a large part of my working life, I find it hard to justify not using it out-of-hours, because it’s often when you’re using it for yourself that you get an idea for a cool project or campaign or you notice upcoming trends & patterns . Plus, I genuinely enjoy it. There are hundreds and thousands of interesting, beautiful, arresting, thoughtful things on the internet alongside the bad. Except, when you’re stuck to it for too long it turns your brain into a creative desert. The platforms themselves lose their lustre; one pretty picture is just like another and please tell my I’m not the only one who started getting sucked into the facebook-Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-Twitter-Gmail-Facebook-Pinterest cycle? Ugh. Even just reading that makes me feel dull.

So having read this article about a year with a ‘distraction-free’ iPhone, this one about best ways to stop procrastination, this one from Matt Andrews on his own ‘no consumption‘ experiment a couple of years ago, and listening to a ton of After the Jump episodes (check out ep. 83) while I run, I’ve decided it’s definitely time I took control of my own habits.  I’m going to keep a diary, see how I get on from week to week, chart any changes in work output, creative output, life output. And that means putting. down. the phone.

An Update from Week 1:

First, the purge.

Deleted:

  • all non-essential/unedifying/’infinity’ apps including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Path, Steller, Pinterest, Tumblr, 2048, charity running apps I’ve had on there forever and never used, shopping apps, random game apps, random quiz apps, Reddit, etc etc
  • Safari (‘disabled’, because I previously deleted the Facebook app and found myself looking at it in the browser anyway)
  • Email accounts

Kept:

  • Productivity apps such as Focus Time, CoffitivityEvernote
  • Useful apps (bus timetables, Uber, WhatsApp)
  • Music and exercise apps
  • Two news apps – BBC, and Pocket so that I can finally catch-up with the articles I bookmark during the week
  • Camera apps (though have streamlined and deleted the 5 or so editing apps that were languishing on my phone unused)

And, randomly, the Duolingo app…because if I’m ever really that bored, and I don’t have a  book with me, then I’m better off practising some French and German than I am scrolling through endless Twitter angst.

I set out loose ‘rules’: personal social media during allowed during breaks and at home if using browser. Try to limit time in the evening and weekends. Okay to briefly re-install apps that you need to upload new content you’ve created yourself (e.g. Instagram/Stellar). Keep notebook close for personal notes, ideas, things I need to check up on etc. (I.e. try not to break work concentration to Google random thoughts – jot them down, sort them out later).

How it went: Coupled with a change in seating at work (i.e. no longer next to a door and constant flow of disrupting traffic) and an insanely busy week of deadlines, I’ve had a much better week of concentrating than most of August. Using FocusTime means I feel like I”m ”cheating” if I look at something not of the task in hand, and I’ve whizzed through a lot of things.  Still find myself reaching for my phone for no reason, but now, instead of getting stuck into a cycle of social media apps, I put it straight back down because there’s nothing to look at. I”ve started using the app Happier with a locked-down profile to keep hold of those small, fleeting feel-good moments. A long week has left me too tired to start on personal projects at home, but for the first time in a long time I feel real ideas bubbling away that I’ve put to one side for later. Progress!!

Cons: I did however find my first issue – stupidly, deleting gmail from my phone meant my calendar reminders disappeared too and I found myself missing a night at the theatre (to see King Charles III) I’d been looking forward to for a long time, but in the midst of a hectic week, had slipped my mind and there was no pop-up to nudge me. GUTTED. Also realised I use the Pinterest app as a shopping list for my favourite recipes more than I knew, and by getting rid of Safari too, I couldn’t jot down a shopping list on the train home without reinstalling. Both lessons in organisation to be learnt from! But also means I’ll be reinstalling Gmail but blocking actual mail notifications for the rest of the time.

Are you up for trying a distraction-free month? Or do you have any favourite tips for productivity? I’d love to hear them…

 

Smushy face

August 31, 2014

Corn dawg // www.lauratosney.co.uk

There is nothing better than going home and being greeted by the dog of a thousand faces. Say ChEEEEse Chief!

Cheeese // www.lauratosney.co.uk

LOOK AT THAT FACE! I don’t believe there is a person on earth that couldn’t love it. He is the happiest, most spoilt rotten dog ever.

Playing catch // www.lauratosney.co.uk

Shall we throw this slimy, saliva-filled ball for you Chief? Of course we shall. Oh are you a bit pooped? Let’s have a rest, right here then. And then later you can have your slightly stiff hip rubbed and lay down on a soft bed. Or the sofa, because I think you’ve claimed that too.

English spaniel, cute dog, dogsofinstagram, spaniel

It’s the life, Chief, isn’t it? And so is mine. Because I too had my slightly stiff hip massaged, and my stomach filled with home-cooked food, and I was picked up and packed off from the train station with big hugs and love. We’re the luckiest, aren’t we Chief? Yes. Yes we are.

(a bit of a different) Monday Reminder

August 25, 2014

Sad times that this is the last summer bank holiday of the year…

// www.lauratosney.co.uk

It is, of course, raining today.

beach2

But yesterday wasn’t too bad…
Brighton Pier // www.lauratosney.co.uk

It may have actually been sunny at one point!

Out to Sea // www.lauratosney.co.uk

Sea air! All the sea air! And gelato. And some craft cider.

// www.lauratosney.co.uk

Annnnnd then I came home to find out my sister had so lovingly nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

She’s sooo kind, that one.

gulls  // www.lauratosney.co.uk

Still, money where my mouth is and all that.

Brighton PIer // www.lauratosney.co.uk

…actually, it woke me up today. Quite enjoyed it!
(I may have used a small bucket)
(not that I could lift a big one)
(oh well)
(…I tried*)

(*donated anyway)
Time to make comfort food and zone out to some filmage!

Why I’m all for the #icebucketchallenge

August 20, 2014

20140820-230228-82948388.jpg

So, bout that Ice Bucket Challenge, eh?You literally couldn’t miss it, even if you wanted to, and I actually, for once, really don’t want to. And I’m not just saying that for sopping wet Tom Hiddleston reasons. (…honestly).

I absolutely hated #nomakeupselfies. Sure, it was raising money for cancer research and that’s all to the good, but it was mainly making money for an organisation that pretty much poops £££ already, comparative to some charities in the same space. But more than that, I disliked it for what it was and what it said about us as a society. Here was a “challenge” involving taking a photo of your own face.

I mean…really though.

Forgetting the sheer vanity of that for a second, let’s also remember that the challenge was mainly “accepted” by women because let’s be honest, the vast majority of men don’t wear make up, and it played on the idea that not wearing makeup was something…noteworthy. Because god forbid a woman should exist on the planet in a sort of natural state and not be feeling that she’s making a big political statement, amirite?

But the ALS challenge (for Motor Neurone Disease, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is crazily brilliant because it isn’t just fun to watch famous folk and friends do something daft like drench themselves in iced water, it actually very momentarily replicates the freezing and lack of control you have over your muscles as a sufferer of a degenerative disease. Fun and empathetic? Someone out there was an evil genius to spot the link and jump on it. Yes, some slebs aren’t getting a good plug in for the charity, but lots ARE and it’s raised over $22 million for a charity that probably wouldn’t see that kind of income in a long time…never mind over the course of one heady week.

I know in days of Ferguson and Gaza and IS in Iraq and James Foley and all the heaping, bloody, barbaric things happening in the world, this can seem…inconsequential. Frivolous maybe. Wasteful, even. There’s often a sense of hopelessness that can fall over the whole idea of online activism at times; how often have you thrown a link out into the void (the same one that thousands and thousands of others are too) and known deep down that no matter how loudly you try to shout about the subject matter, or how deeply you feel the injustice or horror or truth of a matter, that pixelated point won’t make the slightest bit of difference to the outcome? But these buckets of water are turning into literal buckets of cash that will fund real research, that one day years from now will mean the difference between life and death for the diagnosed.

So I’ll leave you with this video I saw today – of 26 year old Anthony Carbajal who did the ice bucket challenge but then went on to explain why it’s a seriously good thing for him. Watch it to the end, especially if you’re lairy about the whole shebang…maybe it’ll persuade you that it’s a good thing after all.

RideLondon

August 12, 2014

Ride London // www.lauratosney.co.uk

On Sunday I stood in the peeing rain for two and a bit hours, clapping the riders streaming on past Hampton Court palace, on their way for another 60 miles around the countryside and London. A good six or so stacked it on this corner pictured above, but most people were great at calling GRAVEL! SLOW IT DOWN! Which is good, because there’s literally nothing you can do as a spectator except grimace while someone and their £1000 worth of bike go sliding along the tarmac in the most painful looking way possible. I think I’ll stick to my little mountain bike hires in Clumber Park, ta.

Monday Reminder

August 4, 2014

Anne Lamott |Via the magnificent Trish McCosh’s blog.

In almost everything, after the first enthusiastic flush of an idea fades, the first step is the hardest. What if I fail? What if I’m not as good at that as I thought I was? What if I let people down who are counting on me to do a good job? What if I don’t reach these ridiculously high bars I set myself? What if what if what - nuuuuaggghh.

Think it, write it down on a piece of paper, and then screw it up, throw it in the bin and just get on with it. My favourite way to take the first step towards something = work on the project for just ten minutes every day. Increments make it easier to start moving and you’ll probably start taking longer once you get stuck in. And if you have trouble remembering, or keeping motivated, use the Commit app to keep you on track.

Early bird breakfasts

August 3, 2014

coffee // www.lauratosney.co.uk

Is my blog 80% coffee? Am I? Hmm. There’s a question. I do and I don’t need this, having been awake since 6.30am both yesterday and today; not a notable thing for most people, but despite wanting to be a “morning person”, every attempt at becoming one usually crashes and burns by Tuesday morning (*snooze button* __ *snooze button* __ *snoo-). If this doesn’t continue into the working week, I’ll be ridiculously sad…mainly because there never seem to be enough hours in the day to achieve everything you want to, plus, the light days won’t be here forever – we ought to make the most of this, the best summer we’ve had in a long time. Also, and this is the best bonus, getting up early means SECOND BREAKFASTS.

It seems I am officially a hobbit.

If you’re a fan of leisurely weekend brunches (and who isn’t?) you should add these cauliflower tots to your repertoire. They can’t possibly be healthy, given the amount of cheese I’ve put in mine, but they make a nice replacement for potato-based side dishes. I was up so early yesterday that I actually had time to make a new batch of granola before I sat down to eat. This is great, given that bags of Gluten Free granola are both expensive and rubbish, because they don’t come in crunchy, chewy clumps…just bags of toasted oats with loads of seeds thrown in. So now I make my own (starting with this recipe, but you can throw in whatever you like additional) and it turns out the secret to making chunky granola is whipping up an egg white, coating the ingredients, baking and then leaving it to cool in the pan completely before you break it up. Nom!

So close, yet so far…

July 26, 2014

coffee pour // www.lauratosney.co.uk

Yesterday Self remembered to put cold brew into the fridge before she went ceilidhing. Today Self was momentarily amazed at organisation, until the utter dismal quantity of coffee beans was revealed and it was proven that the coffee was not (whisper it) actually drinkable.

So Today Self will faff around with badly set-up pouring shots for funsies instead of doing the necessary chores that have been put off all week because life…