The world seems to be on fire these days. It's sometimes quite literally. My phone becomes an instrument of doom scrolling. I knew what needed to be done when Apple made some changes to its focus modes. The mode was called "This is Fine".

A This is Fine mode is based on the fact that sometimes you aren't as good as you think. Life goes on even though terrible things happen. You still need to eat, deadlines need to be met, bills need to be paid, dogs need walking, and kids need to pick up. It is sometimes best to ignore my feed, but mustering the will to do so leaves my brain a pile of mush. I know doom scrolling is bad for my mental and physical health, but it's so easy to do when the latest tragedy is all anyone can think of. You are going to end up curled in a ball on the couch sooner or later if you layer in personal disasters. I wanted to create a technological bandaid that would allow me to zero in on the tasks at hand.

There are focus modes that are old. I liked the concept of them but they were difficult to program. They are still annoying but there are more ways to have fun. Focus modes can be linked to a specific lock screen and you can make your own homepages. You can use watchOS 9 to sync a Focus mode with your Apple watch. I don't have to be sad in the news cycle.

The This is Fine dog is sitting atop a dumpster fire and I set my lock screen for this mode. I decided not to include anyWidgets on the new lock screens due to the purpose of the mode. The information should be limited to essentials.

screenshot of This is Fine homepage
I’ve limited which apps I can see by selecting a custom homepage.

You can tell which people and apps are allowed to alert you in the Focus mode menu. My This is Fine mode only allowed four people to text me: my two besties, my therapist, and my husband. The people with whom I have an agreement regarding emotional baggage are those who work during the day. Everyone else can wait for me. If it helps you think about who you want to silence notifications from, you can set it that way in Apple's new operating system. TheMindfulness app is the only one that is allowed.

You can choose from a number of homepages. You have already made some of them, and others are auto-generated suggestions. For this particular mode, I have selected a single screen that highlights a health app, some photos from happier times, the weather app, the Calm app, and the Notes app.

I chose a no-nonsense Gradient face for my linked watch face. There are problems with the date and sleep schedules. There are restful things. The watchface is low-key and doesn't bombard you with information. If I look down at my wrist, I'm more likely to remember that you're trying to be zen.

Focus filters allow you to change the behavior of your apps and devices when a mode is enabled. I kept it simple for this mode and only allowed messages from people who aren't my friends. I decided not to use the option to automate when a mode turns on for this mode. When things get too much, I manually turn on this mode to be intentional.

Screenshots of Fitness and Sleep modes showing despairing woman working out and sleepless Kirby.
If you’re going to make Focus modes, might as well have some fun with it.

I felt the need to set this up in the beginning. When Uvalde happened, I was able to take a break from the chaos on the internet and start writing. I was at my mom's funeral when the news about abortion became public. While flipping this mode helped me stay present in the moment, the picture of the This is Fine dog made me laugh. The day after my dog died, I wasn't tempted to go crazy. I was able to stay connected to the people I loved the most.

It doesn't have to be serious. It keeps me from quitting strength training early because I poke fun at myself with my fitness focus mode. Whenever my sleep mode comes on, Kirby looks at the ceiling. My work and reading modes turn on automatically when I get to the office, as well as when I open the app on my phone. The idea of using Focus modes remains the same despite the fact that these are more functional. Give yourself the grace to log the hell off, and have fun while you are at it.

Victoria Song is a photographer.