If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to remember a time that I checked my email on my personal computer at designated times at my home or at the office. The smartphone has made me much more productive, allowing me to answer email while waiting at the coffee shop, salon, doctor, child’s lessons, or restaurant — giving me more time to schedule things I need and want to do like workouts, chores, and family time. Often times, by the time I’m at the office, my inbox is at zero, which allows me to focus on getting things done. More and more, I’ve embraced this freedom to get things done on my own schedule — my way.
What? You Don’t Have a Smartphone?
It’s amazing how everyone is embracing smartphones and tablets. According to Pew Research, 46% of all American adults use smartphones. Also, after the September 12 announcement of the iPhone 5, Apple announced that they sold two million iPhone 5 models in the first 24 hours of pre-orders. This is more than twice the previous record from 2011. Furthermore, according to research by Frank N. Magid and Associates, nearly 50 percent of the U.S. online population has downloaded an app.
If you’re one of the 44% of adults who hasn’t purchased a smartphone yet, this post might prompt you to make a change. Clearly, more and more people are adopting smartphones and tablets to help them get things done on the go. And if you’re someone who doesn’t work at the traditional office, the ability to get things done while mobile — such as bringing your own device to your kids’ school, a friends’ playdate, or to a co-working space is invaluable.
There’s some controversy about whether or not your smartphone use makes you more or less productive. Many believe that downtime is good for your creative self, and that the smartphone blurs the lines between your work and personal life. But using your device in a “smart” way can help you be more productive. The following ideas and tips are meant to help you use your device in a smart way — maintaining a healthy balance between personal time and the workplace.
1. Be smart about email
Checking email while you’re waiting for an oil change, while you’re at your child’s gymnastics class, or while in line at the coffee shop is a great way to optimize your time. However, keep it balanced. Don’t check email 24 hours a day, but respond within an acceptable length of time.
If email is your primary way of communicating at your company, it’s not necessary to be notified each time a new email is delivered — silence your email notifications and disable push notifications. Be consistent with the people you communicate with — for example, if you’re consistent in answering email within eight hours, your employees, managers, and peers will expect a response within this length of time. Setting a precedent of an immediate response can suck your productivity. Unless you’re required to answer each email immediately due to your job function, email can be answered when it works for you and your business.
2. Manage your projects, tasks, and to-do lists
The Apple App Store includes an entire category of productivity apps. It’s a broad category, but generally apps in this category help users be more productive or work in-sync with productivity services and software. Within this category, you can find mobile apps and software to help you manage your time. For example, an App such as LifeTopix™ manages your calendars, to-dos, projects, notes, files, shopping, people, assets, finances, events, travel, health, activities and more. Apps to manage your life help you to get organized, which allows you spend your time doing the things you really want to do.
3. Boost your creativity and productivity with voice notes
When a great idea, quote, joke, or to-do pops into your head, you can immediately record it via your voice notes. Or, perhaps you’re in a meeting with a customer and you want to remember an important item. It’s not always convenient to type it out or pull out a notebook, but it’s incredibly easy to record a voice note. It also makes you look cool and tech savvy.
4. Record and store important documents
When you need to have access to an important document, it’s much easier to take a photo with your smartphone than it is to scan it on your PC. You can also easily and seamlessly store the photo by using a service such as Dropbox. With Dropbox, you can simply place a folder on your computer, copy any file into that folder — and it becomes available on other computers and Android, BlackBerry, and iOS apps. The iPhone and iPod touch version of the Dropbox app allows you to upload any videos or photos taken from your device or synced to your gallery. Dropbox is a great way to share and save photos and other docs.
5. Take advantage of free HD mobile video conferencing
FaceTime, courtesy of Apple, Inc.
From experience we know that face-to-face communication is the most valuable method of communication, but it’s not always possible due to location or economic constraints. When not communicating face to face, you can miss non-verbal cues and ultimately end up wasting valuable time because of miscommunication. Luckily, mobile video conferencing is easier than ever before, which allows you to communicate face to face via your smartphone or tablet. Unlike traditional, expensive, video conferencing and telepresence options — FaceTime, Skype, and Google Plus (Hangouts) provide free and low cost options for video conferencing via mobile-to-mobile and PC-to-mobile. And now with the advancements in technology, video conferencing on your mobile device is a quality experience. According to a recent article from Telepresence Options, iPhone 5 with 720p FaceTime Camera May Bump Mobile Video Growth, “for the first time, iPhone users can use their mobile VC apps to attend meetings on an even level with the other 720p meeting participants. Hook the iPhone to a medium sized display and you have an instant 720p VC endpoint.”
6. Save time and money with barcode and QR code scanners
According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, “Sixty-two percent of moms surveyed have a barcode scanner app on their mobile device to help them find deals (29 percent more than the general population).” Barcode and QR code readers can save time and money. You can scan the barcode of most products with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and then apps such as RedLaser search the Internet for the best price — no more driving from store to store to find the best price.
What are your thoughts? Does your smartphone make you more or less productive? What are the apps and tips that you use to boost your productivity? We welcome your thoughts and tips.