The ‘Reel’ dilemma: My personal battle with focus and productivity!

Aishwarya Srinivasan
New Update
Productivity Day

We’re in the era of Reels and something either holds my attention for 60 seconds or it’s a snooze fest. Here’s how I’ve seen my focus deteriorate over the years!

Right up until my early twenties, I was a binge watcher. I could go on for hours on end and finish a series in a day. It’s not just about my level of content consumption; be it any activity, studying, working or even having a simple conversation with someone, I could give my 100% attention to everything I was doing. But as different social media platforms started promoting more and more short form video content, before I knew it my attention span and level of productivity went down immensely. 

I’m a writer and of course I have a deadline to submit my article. On most days, it feels like the toughest task ever because I simply cannot stop being glued to my phone. I type two lines and wander back into the world of trends and what’s happening in another part of the world. And social media listening in on my conversation with friends and family and manipulating my algorithm on the basis of that feels creepy, I feel violated of my privacy but just like many of you, I’ve succumbed to the mind games. I will be writing my article and in the middle of that, I’ll get a notification from Instagram saying my crush has posted a story ‘after a long time’ or PVR would send me notifications about movies I didn’t even know were in theatres again, and that’s it, there goes my attention. I immediately stop my work and get sucked into scrolling for a good 20 minutes. 

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My work needs me to be on Instagram and that’s worse! So many times I’ve opened the app for work and because of a post from a paparazzi page, I start analyzing that instead and completely forget what I really even came here for. I write movie/ TV shows reviews for a living and of course I need to hold my attention span till the duration of the content I’m watching. Otherwise how would I even form an opinion on it and tell the rest of the world how I felt about it? But I've dreaded staying away from my phone for that long. My mind wanders, my hands start feeling restless as I hold my attention on one thing for a good 2 hours. Even in my personal time, I love watching K-dramas, meeting my friends, reading a book but I’ve cut down on it massively. I am guilty of admitting that I’ve watched K-dramas at 1.5x speed. Within the first 30 seconds I decide whether something interests me or I just skip it. I have said no to plans with my friends. And even the thought of opening a book makes me feel lethargic. 

But guess what? I’m the same person who’ll mindlessly scroll through Reels for 3 hours straight. I go from BTS edits on Taylor Swift’s songs to 5 cafes to visit in Seoul to discovering a new content creator who’ll keep me entertained with his/her 1 minute skits. It might feel like an easy way to detach from a long day but it’s also changing who I am. I literally have to keep my phone in another room or switch off my internet if I really need to get a task done. Even then I’m itching to go check my phone - what new has happened in the world and who went on their next vacation? As if in an hour everything is going to turn upside down!


Maybe this is why I miss my childhood so much. I woke up at a human hour, I had limited screen time, I had no phone and I went down to play with my friends. I did not zone out or look into my phone when someone was talking to me. I easily processed new knowledge and I read books. How I wish to be that person all over again! My teeny tiny effort to do that is learning a new language so my brain is active in a healthier way. But even in that, I scroll through Instagram or text my classmates in the middle of it, fully behaving like a back bencher in an online class! 

Sometimes when I step back and see myself, I feel sad that I have become this person who cannot stop looking at her phone. I know I am capable of so much more than that and in a time where literally the whole world could be my horizon, I choose to limit it to my 6 inch smartphone. This year, Productivity Day could be a much needed reminder for me and many others from my generation to be present in the moment, to make an effort to be productive, take that trip or come up with better ideas at work rather than submitting myself to the clutches of Reels, posts and stories. 

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