Smartphones can be turned into powerful platforms for productivity and output. But to use them for good, you have to find ways to silence the noise and focus on the most positive features and applications.
The Problem With Smartphones
For all of the beneficial ways that smartphones can be used, we can’t have a meaningful discussion on pocket-sized productivity without first acknowledging the issue that smartphones create.
For starters, they give people constant and never-ending access to everything that’s happening in the world at all times. Someone living on a farm in Nebraska suddenly has a real-time feed of what’s taking place in the streets of Beijing. And while this might sound like a good thing on the surface, it’s highly problematic.
A farmer in Nebraska was never intended to carry the weight and burden of what’s happening in Beijing, Moscow, or Buenos Aires (or vice versa). Humans don’t have the capacity to keep tabs on what’s happening in all places at all times. Yet, the smartphone has made it possible. The problem is that the human brain has not evolved as rapidly as technology and accessibility. This leaves us feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus on the tangible things right in front of us.
Secondly, the constant influx of phone calls, SMS notifications, and push notifications from social media has put people in a constant state of high-alert. And every time a device rings or dings, it sends a small burst of endorphins into the bloodstream. We’ve become so addicted to these notifications that concepts like “phantom notifications” and “ringxiety” have risen to prominence.
3 Tips for Increasing Your Smartphone Productivity
At first glance, the best solution might appear to be giving up on smartphones altogether. But that’s not the answer. (They offer far too much value to quit cold turkey.) Instead, the solution is to optimize how we use our phones to become powerful tools for productivity.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Productivity and Focus Apps
There are some pretty powerful productivity and focus apps, if you know where to look. When used appropriately, they can do everything from reduce stress to promote greater focus and efficiency.
The Neuvana App is a great example. It allows you to listen to VNS waveforms and combine them with your music library to stimulate the vagus nerve and enjoy benefits like lower stress, better focus, and more productivity.
2. Homescreen Optimization
Once you have your phone filled with the right types of apps, you should optimize your layout and settings for optimum productivity.
As BetterHumans explains, “The root problem is that cell phones are designed as if multitasking is a virtue. Notifications, badges, banners, games, inboxes and social media all work to create an environment of interruption and task switching. However, all science says we are much more productive when we are single-tasking.”
With a few simple tweaks, you can optimize your phone to avoid distractions and promote productivity. Tips include:
- Remove any apps that promote mindless checking. Instead, only include primary tools that you rely on frequently (like your calendar, maps app, or email).
- Relocate any apps that you enjoy using, but aren’t essential to your productivity. Place them on a secondary screen or in a subfolder where you have to click through to access them.
- Silence any notifications that aren’t urgent or necessary. (And consider only allowing push notifications for phone calls and text messages from certain people.)
You might find some other practical tweaks helpful, but this should give you a solid place to start.
If you perform certain tasks every day, there could be ways to automate parts of these processes with your smartphone. The IFTTT app, which stands for “If This, Then That,” helps you connect your apps and devices and creates streamlined flows. For example, you could optimize IFTTT to do the following:
- If you place a phone call during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., log the information into a Google Sheet.
- If you leave your driveway during the week, automatically turn on your home’s security system.
You get the idea! And as this app becomes more powerful, new integrations and features are being added. It’s an absolute must for productivity-minded people.
Get More Done in Less Time
When you learn how to use your smartphone properly, it can become a tool for productivity. There are thousands of potentially powerful features and applications available at your disposal, from focus and concentration to efficiency and automation. But it’s ultimately up to you to put them into action.