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TIC-TOC: A Time Management Hack for Your Well-being

Updated: Aug 14, 2023


TikTok has become the most used social media platform with over 1 billion users. Tiktok has even changed our lexicon a bit. Instead of the common millennial phraseage: "Let me Google that," or "A quick Google search," we now more commonly hear the Gen Z verbiage: "I saw this Tiktok the other day." Data supports this trend as NBC News reported that in February 2021, TikTok surpassed Google as the most popular website. Its growth didn't stop there. Forbes data indicates that TikTok made headlines in Q4 2022, generating $350 million in revenue, easily outperforming—to the tune of $205 million—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat combined. For marketers who’ve been sitting on the fence about TikTok, these stats are a clear sign of the platform’s significant potential. But there is always two sides to every coin. There is a problem, a dark side that keeps the Chinese born app in the news and on our minds.



The Time Problem

Remember the days where you pull up a video and you are 7 minutes in and realize this is only the introduction? You haven't even got into the meat and potatoes of the video. You found yourself impatiently skipping forward. Oops went too far. Reverse. Nope still introduction. Skip forward again. Ugh! Click off video because, nope!

TikTok was designed to provide rapid fire information and entertainment in a quick and easy to digest format. Because the videos are between 15 to 60 seconds long, TikTok has been highly successful in keeping the viewers' attention. In the grand scheme of things, 15 to 60 seconds doesn't seem like a lot of time out of our day. Problem is, because the videos are so short and engaging, we tend to spend more time on the app than intended with some estimates showing that users spend an average of 80 minutes per day on this platform. A hypothetical statistic to ruin your day. If someone started using social media at the age of 16 and continued until the age of 70, they will have spent approximately three years of their existence on online social media platforms (I'll throw the calculations of this down in the comment section). If you should be getting other things done, TikTok can quickly become a time bandit that further hinders you from managing your time wisely. Other things like school (if you are still enrolled), work, completing household chores, or heck even self-care fall by the wayside as there just isn't any more time left in your day.



The Worldwide Problem

If there is one thing that brings Boomers, Gen X, and some Millennials together is the concern that this app has a negative impact on an entire generation of humans. There are concerns that millions of teenagers are becoming addicted to this platform. Pew indicates that half of adults ages 18 to 29 say they use TikTok. There are some estimates that in 2022 there were about 5.1 billion internet users on planet earth with about 4.7 billion of those users using social media. In 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people use social media across the world. What’s more, this number is expected to jump to approximately 5.85 billion users by 2027.


These numbers becoming highly concerning especially if you have listened to any news stories about the concerns of data privacy and security concerns of TikTok alone. There have been allegations that the TikTok app collects and shares user data with the Chinese government due to its parent company, ByteDance, being based in China. Speaking of privacy and security concerns, the privacy and safety of younger users are of concern especially with there being instances of adults trying to connect with minors on the TikTok platform. And in alignment with this blog's focus on mental health and wellness, the news cycles also raised concerns about TikTok's inappropriate, harmful, or offensive content being accessible to young users as well as its potential negative impact on mental health through social comparisons, cyberbullying, and negative comments on videos.



The Mental Wellbeing Problem

Curtin University based out of Australia, found in a study that short attention spans are linked to social media distress. Authors Mahalingham, Howell, & Clarke (2022) write in the Journal of Affective Disorders, "Attention control moderates the relationship between social media use and psychological distress. Those with lower levels of attention control showed a significant positive relationship between social media use and psychological distress, whereas no relationship was observed among those with average or high attention control." Simply put, social media impacts our emotional wellbeing especially if we struggle with attention and control. Unfortunately, this is what apps like TikTok capitalize on. As mentioned earlier, TikTok capitalizes on providing bite-sized information and entertainment. Beware.


​Or maybe we weren't ever on course Grandpa Phil.


The TIC TOC Technique

There is that spelling again; certainly, another typo- first in the title and now here. It's not. And if you have stuck around until this point, thank you for allowing me to briefly steal your attention today! Now we can actually get into what this article is actually about (and keep our total read time at 7 minutes or less). I promise it isn't an expose or indictment of TikTok. Afterall, TikTok can be both fun and entertaining as long as we have balance. So please, forgive me for begin slightly misleading. But TikTok was such a great homonym and segue for our true discussion point today and I just couldn't resist (feel free to air your grievance with me about this down in the comment section).


For the past three weeks, we have been exploring time management. From blockages to effective time management, to the motivation vs. discipline debate, to behavioral activation. This week I figured we'd round things out with an oldie but a goodie cognitive behavioral technique that will hopefully get you unstuck mentally as you proceed and progress with effective time management. It's called, drum roll please, the TIC-TOC technique. That's TIC TOC not Tiktok.


Last week, I provided my dear readers with a freebie to help you all with your behavioral activation. Have you downloaded it yet? What's that? You've been meaning to get around to it but just haven't yet. I see. The procrastination bug has bitten you again. No judgment. It happens to us all. This seems like the perfect time to introduce you to the TIC-TOC technique which basically helps us examine the thought process behind our procrastinations. Once aware of our thoughts, we can evaluate the accuracy or even rationality of those thoughts. If we find that it is negative, distorted thinking patterns that are the culprit to why we just can't get started, we then can begin to replace those with more balanced and realistic thoughts. In short form, we have to replace our TICs with our TOCs.


TICs

Our TICs are our Task Interfering Cognitions. Another helpful definition for this acronym is as follows: Thought: Identify the negative or troubling thought that is causing you discomfort. Write this thought down being as specific as you can. Interpretation: Reflect on the interpretation or significance you've given to the thought. How are you interpreting the situation or information? Are you jumping to conclusions, using all or none thinking, catastrophizing, or overgeneralizing. Consequences: What is it costing you to hold on to this negative thought emotionally? How about behaviorally? Physically? Reflect on how it is it affecting your mood, behavior, and overall well-being.



TOCs

Our TOCs are our Task Oriented Cognitions. Another helpful definition for this acronym is as follows: Test: Evaluate the accuracy of the negative thought. Seek out proof that either confirms or challenges the thought. Can you find different viewpoints or explanations? Is the thought grounded in factual information or is it based on assumptions. Other explanations: Explore other potential explanations or perspectives for the situation. Are there different angles from which to interpret the events? What might someone else say about this situation? Consequences: Envision the potential impact on your emotions and behaviors if you were to shift your thought or viewpoint towards a more positive direction. How might your feelings change if you embraced a more balanced and rational perspective?



Another Way to Look at It

Situation

Task-interfering Cognition (TIC)

Thought Distortions

Task-oriented Cognition (TOC)

​Feeling overwhelmed at work

​I'll never be able to finish all of these tasks on time and my boss is going to fire me.

Catastrophizing or All-or-none thinking

​There have been times in the past where I have been able to work under pressure. Maybe some tasks aren't as urgent and I can do those later. I can break up my tasks into smaller steps.

​Situation

Task-interfering Cognition (TIC)

Thought Distortions

Task-oriented Cognition (TOC)

Feeling anxious over an upcoming social event

"Everyone will think I'm boring and weird and they won't want to talk to me."

​Mind reading

There have been other social occasions where I have had positive interactions. Other people may have their own worries and might not be thinking of me as much as I think. I can go in with an open mind, show genuine interest in others, and might have meaningful conversations.

Situation

Task-interfering Cognition (TIC)

Thought Distortions

Task-oriented Cognition (TOC)

Feeling negative about yourself.

"I'm not good enough. I always mess things up."

All-or-none thinking or Discounting the Positives (a type of mental filter)

I can list my achievements and positive qualities. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes don't define my worth. When I acknowledge my successes and accept my imperfections, it gives me the confidence to take on challenges.


Being proficient in managing time can be tough if we can't get out of our own way in getting started. Don't let procrastination win! The TIC-TOC Technique empowers us to take charge of our thoughts, challenge negative interpretations, and ultimately reshape our perception of the world. By consciously applying this technique, we can break free from the cycle of self-doubt, anxiety, negative thinking, and procrastination. Keep in mind that practicing the TIC TOC Technique might take some time and effort before you start noticing significant changes in your thought patterns. Transforming thought patterns takes practice. If you find the process challenging, seeking guidance from a coach can provide valuable support on your path to well-being. However, if you are worried about a deeper issue such as depression blocking your progress, a qualified mental health professional may be better suited to provide personalized support and strategies. Please remember wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!


"I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else." ~Winston Churchill
 

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