The ability to stay focused seems more and more like a super power as technology advances. Every time my iPhone buzzes next to my computer when I am in the thick of a flow state, my eyes are drawn to its glimmering, colorful, beauty and I slide my finger across its silky screen. Just like that, my flow state is gone - I’ve lost my focus on the task at hand and I am looking at the meme from @GrapeJuiceBoys Emily sent me- then another meme, and Christine’s trip to Bali, and Kevin’s new Golden Retriever.  

Technology has been a blessing and a curse in our lives. We are able to grow businesses, deposit checks, and book a Hawaiian vacation instantaneously all from the convenience of our smart phone. But here’s the scary reality of our new technology; we spend an average of 153 minutes a day on social media and that number climbs every year. 93% of people believe productivity is important to happiness. That’s like everyone. So why do we spend so much time being unproductive?

 

The highest productivity challenge for those surveyed in a Levo Study, a career platform and network for Millennials, is distractions (33%), with social media a leading culprit, followed by time management (25%). Meanwhile, 82% of respondents acknowledged that building better habits and routines would help them be more productive. So how do you build those better habits? Believe it or not, your iPhone can be used as a tool for that too.

 

While our smart phones can be a hindering for our social media addiction, Apps like Focus@Will has tens of thousands of hours of unique scientifically optimized brain music to help you control your ADD and help get you in a focus-flow state faster, and longer. There are also highly curated Spotify playlists (like the Essential Focus Playlist here lol) that help teach our brains to remain calm and focused. Flipd is a one stop shop app developed to monitor and reward your productivity and time well spent on your device. There are also mindfulness features like meditation, breathing exercises, motivational podcasts, and focus sounds.

 

In addition to these applications, there are other practices you can add to your daily routine to keep you focused. As simple as it is, the number one thing listed in Levo’s survey to help increase productivity is creating to-do lists and calendar tasks. Use the old school approach of pen and paper to avoid the probability of clicking on Instagram after scratching off a task on your list.

 

There are a plethora of nootrophics and supplements on the market that stimulate your brain and retain your focus in an all natural non-adderolly way. Nootrophics are dietary supplement that helps support certain brain functions, such as memory, mental speed, and focus. Alpha Brain by Onnit, is an all natural nootrophic that helps you remember names and places, focus on complex tasks, and improve your mental speed in response to stimuli.

 

While there isn’t much accredited studies about Cannabis and focus yet, there are studies proving terpenes and essential oils to be an effective tool in keeping focus. “Our sense of smell can have a profound effect on our mind,” says Amy Galper, a board-certified aromatherapist and founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. “When we smell something, the aromatic molecules trigger an electrical impulse that then sends a signal to the part of our brain called the limbic system, which is responsible for our ability to learn and remember, our behavior, conscious and unconscious, and is also responsible for manufacturing the enzymes and proteins that make up our hormones, which regulate and control all the actions in our body.” This is why different strains of cannabis make you feel alert or sleepy or why lemon essential oil stimulates your brain. In a 2014 study of fourth graders, students who attended language lessons in a classroom where lemon essential oil was diffused, performed better on their exams against another controlled classroom where lemon essential oil was not diffused.

 

It seems almost universal that as humans, we need to be productive in order to be happy. Though, these social media applications can bring us a sense of community and connectedness, they are effecting our ability to keep our focus on tasks at hand. By implementing just one or two of these habits into your daily routine, you could see your productivity increase and hopefully, elevate your happiness.