I am just full of advice about social media, most of which can be boiled down to “put down your phone” and ”stop engaging.” Which is funny, because I am incredibly bad at doing both of those things, despite my best efforts (downloading a little app that grows trees while you don’t use your phone, setting a goal to read more books, having the same conversation with my therapist over and over). But I’ve finally found a trick—a clever iPhone app—that seems to be working. For now.
Ironically, I made this discovery while mindlessly scrolling Twitter on my iPhone, which is what I do during any given moment of inactivity, from taking the dog out to pee, to waiting for the elevator, to putting the kettle on the boil. In these moments, I don’t actually want anything Twitter has to offer; it’s simply a mindless habit, and that lack of purpose never stops that quick swipe from turning into 10 useless minutes.
But this Shortcut Automation app—called “one sec” by its innovator, Frederik Riedel (@frederikRiedel)—seeks to inject some mindfulness into that mindless habit. To use it, you set up an automation that will trigger one sec to run when you attempt to open whatever social media, gaming, or other app is eating into your day. It’s a simple, soothing bit of animation that will interrupt the process, encouraging you to take a deep breath before you tap a second time to confirm that you truly do want to open that app—or not.
You can see how it works in this Tweet from Riedel:
I realize that there are many other tools that encourage you to limit social media use, from Apple’s own Focus Modes to screen time alerts, but one sec has worked best for me because it cuts me off at the right moment; it’s easier to force me to think with intention (“6 attempts to open Twitter within 24 hours”) than to scold me into stopping doing something that I’m already doing (any pop-up telling me my app usage for the day has elapsed is instantly ignored). You can block one app for free, and unlock additional features (use with multiple apps, more robust breathing exercises, time tracking, website blocking) with a premium subscription ($14.99/year).
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a fairly serious internet addiction. But I’ve also managed to stop myself from staring at my phone while waiting for the dog to poop for five days straight. That’s not nothing.