I don’t have to spend more than this short paragraph to convince you that if you don’t keep your habits, gear, and time in check; your iPhone is going to prove a greater hindrance than support tool for productivity. Next time you are in a meeting and someone’s phone rings or vibrates watch the other people in the room. Everyone will instinctively reach for their phones. Our iPhones are begging for our attention. Here are some tips to help you limit the time wasters and increase the productivity as it relates to your phone.
- Turn off sync. Will your life really end if you don’t get new emails right when they arrive? When you have a few minutes to check your email just do a manual sync. Otherwise, keep it turned off. As a side benefit you will also notice your battery life go up significantly. I first did this when I was on vacation for a week. I turned off sync to ensure my battery would last all day and as a side benefit I found (over the course of the week) that I was more focused and less stressed. I was also surprised to find out that manually syncing email a few times a day was sufficient to checking and responding to the few urgent communications that came my way. Since then I have left the sync OFF all the time.
- Remove the time wasters from your home screen. When you pick up your phone with no specific purpose in mind you find yourself just swiping through your home screens looking for something to do. Empty your primary screen of anything that isn’t truly productive and create folders for those things on your last home screen and you will be surprised how less often you open Facebook.
- Have access to your to-do list from your phone. There is likely more than one app available in the App Store to sync your phone with whatever current task list software you may be using. When you reach for your phone in those moments of dead time you may find that making a habit of opening and checking your to-do list will lead to much greater productivity.
- Designate certain required, but non-urgent tasks to be done via your phone in those moments when you have dead time. Do you have certain things (busy work) that take up your time when you are at your desk that you could complete from your phone? You WILL have time on your hands to kill when in transit or while waiting for a meeting to start. Determine to only complete those certain tasks from your phone and you will find that in those moments when you would have wasted time on your phone you will instead be able to work on that task. This also frees up additional work time at your desk for other things. In my case an example of this is reading Blogs that I’m subscribed to. Because I can do it from my phone I do it ONLY from my phone. Another example would include phone calls I need to make.
- Wait to respond. In the next several weeks force yourself to not respond right away to text messages or voicemails. Batch these and other phone-only tasks to make yourself more productive. Depending on how addicted you currently are and how much total volume of texts and voicemails you currently get; determine a batching frequency that will be a challenge for you but will not seem altogether impossible. For example you might set a goal to only respond to texts and listen to voicemails at the start of each hour, each two hours, or two or three times per day. This help you focus on your current activities and lose less total time and energy transitioning between tasks.
- As an extension of number 5, train those who communicate with you to be more cognizant of your time and availability. Consider changing your voicemail message and email/text autoresponder to notify the caller or sender that you check your (voicemail/email/texts) as often as you can but if this is an emergency they should call your cell phone.
- Use the timer to track your productivity. Use the timer on your phone to help yourself complete tasks (mobile or otherwise) within the designated amount of time you have given yourself. Often its your lack of attention to the time that allows you to drag tasks out longer than is necessary to complete them.
All of the above techniques can be put into two categories. First, techniques to limit the amount of time you give your phone in the first place. Second, techniques to allow you to spend the attention given to your phone on more productive tasks. Follow these steps and your productivity will increase. What other tips do you have to maximize productivity and limit distractions?