Focus on iOS 16 Will Supercharge How You Organise Your Life, Time and Tasks

Ludo De Angelis
5 min readNov 21, 2022

You bought a new iPad but are a bit overwhelmed.

A new tool you’re determined to use to finanly start that new drawing hobby; to read and write more or to simple have a secondary computer to your main Mac machine.

If you have an iPhone, you’ll be familiar enough with an iPad to hit the ground running — after all, everything looks and behaves pretty much the same way.

But how do you use it, really?…

Unfortunately, one of the main uses most people have for their iPhone is to maintain a complete digital mess at all time. Loud and unmanaged, where every notification and message is a VIP to the attention party.

If you’re reading this, you may not have this problem. And you certainly don’t want this problem for your new iPad. But just incase, read on.

Digital Line In the Sand.

I have always struggled with maintaining a work/life balance with my technology.

I am a citizen of the internet (cringe) and love to explore new software (not so cringe). I even went through a phase of collecting Starbucks cards so I could load them digitally into the Wallet app (extremely cringe).

So since both my work and many of my interests live on the same device, it was very hard to draw a digital line in the sand between the two worlds.

Without any boundaries between the two, managing that distinction became mentally exhausting. A non-stop stream of information coming at me at all times.

When I introduced the iPad Pro into my life, it became clear that I was simply recreating this again. But 2x this time.

I had imported the Mac and the iPhone into one terrible piece of technology which didn’t serve me in the slightest.

Slack messages and work emails next to distracting Netflix and Apple TV apps. Calendar invites and recipe updates… what was the point? What a stupid, distracting piece of technology I had created for myself.

Focus modes in Control Centre

Show Me The Focus

But when Focus Modes were introduced with iOS 15 it showed me what could be.

Not only did it provide the digital line in the sand, it also inspired to me think about why I was using the technology in the first place.

Focus modes laid out a framework that would serve as a template to digitally mirror the different parts of my life.

They allowed me to create a digital workspace experience that’s mindful, focused and productive.

For example, I have a Focus called “Finance” where every Sunday, as part of my weekly reflection/planning session, I run through my finances.

With this Focus I can:

  • Create a “finance” home screen
  • Place only money-related apps on that home screen
  • Filter who can contact me during this Focus Mode
  • Hide the home screen after I’m finished reviewing everything

Or having the ability to set a custom screens depending on what you’re focusing on. Meaning it allowed me to switch on a Writing Focus and can only see the apps relevant to writing

How To Set Up Focus Modes on iOS 16

Okay, time to walk you through step-by-step how you can set up your iPad environment for a more mindful and productive experience.

1. Life Categories

Begin by brainstorming the various parts of your life you have dedications with and categorise them in a way that makes sense to you.

Example: day job, side job, creativity, family, finances, household, physical health, mental health, reading & researching, writing etc.

(These can also be aspirational i.e. if you want to start a new drawing hobby).

2. Apps

If you already know what apps you’re using, start building out dedicated screens for each of your Life Categories . Place the relevant apps in each one.

Example:

  • Writing apps: IA Writer, Pages, Evernote, Notion
  • Photo editing apps: Lightroom, Photoshop, VSCO
  • Video editing apps: Lumafusion, iMovie, CapCut

3. Widgets

Long-press on the screen to see if there are relevant widgets to each Life Category that you would like to use or see when you have that Focus activated.

The addition of widgets allows more differentiation between Home Screens and offers you more contextual information too.

Example, in my writing Focus Mode, I have a widget that launches a specific page in Notion. This saves me time by not having to open Notion and tapping around. I can go directly to that page.

4. Create A Focus Mode

Go to Settings → Focus and create a new Focus Mode. Add your Custom Screen for each mode you create.

Now you can go hide those screens so they only appear when you activated a Focus.

  • Go to your Home Screen
  • Press and hold anywhere (that isn’t an app/widget)
  • Tap on the white-dots above the dock
  • Deselect the custom Screens you made so they are hidden when not activated.

4. Allow Contacts & Notifications

Navigated back to your Focus settings. Select who can contact you and what apps can ping notifications at you.

For example, I have most notifications turned off except for Home for security pings, Timery and Focus apps to let me know when a focus session has ended.

My Writing Focus doesn’t allow anyone to contact me (even partner and family) but I have already communicated to them that if they truly need me, then to call me, as they will get through focus mode.

5. Main Home Screen

Now you clean up your main Home Screen. You know, the Home Screen that iPad will present you when you’re not focused on anything. Ask yourself what you want to see when not focused? Calendar? To do? Newspaper app? You decide.

Photo by Teo Zac on Unsplash

CONCLUSION

Of course, this applies to your iPhone too since they both have Focus Modes. But since iPad is more conducive to a variety of creative applications, it makes sense to start with iPad.

When you approach your iPad through the lens of Focus Modes, you are forced to think about why you are using the technology in the first place.

The iPad and all technologies are tools, there to serve you when you need them and not to extract from you.

Technology exists to serve us; to accelerate us. We don’t exist to serve technology. We are not to be data-points in social media data-harvesting world. Use your technology with purpose, then when you’re finished, walk away and continue living.

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Hope this article helped you think more deeply about your relationship with technology. If you’re feeling stuck and creatively unfulfilled, drop me a message and we can chat about it.

Ludo ✌️🖤

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Ludo De Angelis

I write about creative fulfilment, our relationship with technology and living a good life.