With easy access to the internet and social media, along with millions of apps, there are also myriad ways to distract yourself from work. But smartphones don’t really deserve the majority of the blame in these situations. In fact, they actually serve as a tool for organization for a great many users. With smartphone technology, you can schedule appointments, manage tasks, and so much more, thanks to the vast number of features that assist you to become more productive. To find out how savvy smartphone users tap into this smartphone productivity power, we asked a panel of business professionals and gadget lovers to weigh in on this question:
“What’s the #1 way you can use your smartphone to increase your productivity?”
Meet Our Panel of Business Professionals and Gadget Lovers:
Michael Ajah is a Computer Science student of the University of Port Harcourt. He is the CEO of NaijaTechGuy Inc. He’s a researcher, Web Developer, Programmer and ICT expert.
“Smartphones have become an irreplaceable asset in the life of everyone in the 21st century…”
There are thousands of apps to help you become more productive in the office or in school. Apps like Photomath and Malmath help students solve advanced maths problems and shows them how the problems are solved. There are also apps to remind yourself of meetings, social gatherings, and parties, so you don’t miss that important event.
Nathan Barber is a Digital Analyst for digitaladvertisingWorks working on digital media projects for his clients. He loves to play soccer, read, and explore.
“I work from home and the main company office, so using my smartphone can be useful during the day getting work done efficiently…”
Increased Communication and Team Interaction
Having a smartphone enables you to communicate with team members when you are away from the office using a messaging platform. For example, with the Skype app, all of the team member contacts are on one central hub which allows large group, medium level groups, and personal conversations to take place in a messenger style. The central nature of the messaging app is great for using on a phone as you can also have face to face conversations with your team if needed.
Syncing your smartphone to your email will increase productivity because lag time will significantly decrease during correspondence. You don’t have to wait until Monday when you get back to the office, only to be left with a mountain of emails to respond to. The portability of being able to respond right away will vastly decrease your email pileup as you will be able to keep pace your inbox. The increased rate of correspondence with your communication device always with you, increases productivity to get the projects done quicker.
Mobile Taking Advantage of The Cloud
Now with the cloud, it is becoming easier to work on large scale documents without using up too much memory. You can synch your Google Account and can work on documents with team members using the Google Drive. This is great for increasing productivity when one is away from the office as you work from a phone any place, any time.
Adding Microsoft Office to access company Excel, Word, and PowerPoint Documents also saves time. Keep a continuous stream of information to monitor important information, study, and crunch numbers on the go.
Utilizing the phone calendar keeps you organized and prepared. All your important dates and information plugged and synched from your email calendar to your phone is best practice. One can keep track of all date and meetings so that surprises are reduced from lack of organization.
Kimberly Barnes is the founder of ContentPark, a copywriting firm that develops valuable, relevant, and consistent content to support in-house marketers and the client needs of creative agencies.
“How to use your smartphone to increase productivity? Simple…”
Turn it off.
Carve out a sacred time for yourself during the day in which you turn off all notifications and distractions—including your smartphone. Even the apps designed to boost your productivity can be a distraction, keeping you from really focusing on a task.
Removing distractions is a great way to have productivity “sprints”—short bursts of time dedicated to accomplishing a single task. You’d be surprised at how much you can achieve when you’re not glancing at your phone.
Chris Beattie is the Co-founder of Fried.com, a site dedicated to educating individuals and organizations on the importance of online data privacy protection. He is passionate about maintaining cyber privacy and a free world wide web.
“In my experience, having lived a digitally nomadic life for many years now, I have found one sole application on my smartphone to have proven itself the most beneficial to my productivity time and time again…”
I’m sure this answer is not the most obvious one, especially considering the thousands of incredibly popular and explicitly productivity-focused apps around today.
However, when it comes to managing time between running my online business and living my location independent lifestyle, the use of a VPN for instant access to any service or website saves hours every month. When I use my smartphone as a hotspot for my laptop, which happens often, I find that VPN becomes the number one way to use my smartphone.
So for myself, although purely productivity-focused apps have obvious benefits – it is a VPN that proves itself to really save me a lot of time on getting quick, secure access to the *entire *web at any time.
Swapnil Bhagwat is Senior Manager – design & digital media, implementing digital, design, web and strategies for the group companies with Orchestrate. He is an MBA graduate with work experience in the US, UK and Europe. Swapnil has worked for more than a decade across a range of businesses for the global markets.
“One of the ideal features of smartphones is the availability of…”
The activity which has the maximum influence on increased productivity is my ability to check emails and respond to them on-the-go. As most official work is carried out through emails, being able to access them all, wherever and whenever you want, is one of the biggest boons of smartphones. In addition, instant messaging and video-conferencing apps such as Skype have further fast-tracked the peer-to-peer communication and eventually the decision making processes.
A keyword-cruncher, customer-collector and web designer extraordinaire, Adam is the Founder of Creative Click Media. If he’s not in front of the computer marketing your business, he’s playing with his son, Miles.
“One way that my smartphone has increased my productivity is…”
With an app called MileIQ. With MileIQ I’m able to record all of my drives and their distance, and even track my total cost per mile in gas so I can see how much money I spend every month driving to meetings with clients. Tax season is stressful for anyone – especially business owners – and MileIQ has been a lifesaver when it comes time to fill out my tax returns. The amount of time I save already having these drives recorded as a business expense is incredible, and knowing this is one less time-consuming task off my plate makes for a much needed boost in productivity.
Alexandra Bohigian is the marketing coordinator at Enola Labs, an app development company based in Austin, TX.
“Your smartphone might seem like a distraction, but it can actually be an excellent tool for increasing productivity…”
Smartphone users should utilize applications that fit their productivity needs. I use the Evernote app on my iPhone to create checklists of items I need to get done during my workday, as well as grocery shopping lists for the weekends. I also use the calendar application to keep track of all appointments and events. Once you get used to utilizing these applications, they become second nature in keeping life organized.
Ed is the CEO of Goozleology Digital Marketing.
“Like any other tool, if you use your smartphone the right way, it can save you a lot of time…”
Switch out the apps on your phone’s home screen from those that you use the most (Facebook, Twitter, and other time vampires) and replace them with those apps that you should be using the most like Slack, ToDoist, Calendar, etc.
Do this and you’ll find yourself wasting less time checking cat videos and getting more things done.
Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. He speaks throughout the United States and into Canada, helping busy professionals develop systems to increase productivity and decrease stress.
“Without a doubt, the #1 way the smartphone has increased my productivity is…”
Voice input assistance. Digital assistants such as Google Now, Siri, and Cortana have turned input from a chore to a delight. With my voice, I can invoke the GPS, make entries on my calendar and task list, dial a phone number, write an email, or search the world’s knowledge. Those examples are just the beginning. Google Siri commands, Google Now commands, or Cortana Commands, and you can quickly learn to do the same.
Kevin Cundiff is the Vice President of Retail for Fortegra.
“There are several valuable ways your smartphone can enhance your productivity…”
1. Email and Data Entry and Maintenance
Employees who’ve recorded data at home in the field don’t have to take time to transcribe it when they return to the office. Today’s smartphones allow data to be modified on the go and accessed from anywhere.
2. Improved Collaboration and Sharing
This just in: it’s not 1960. We don’t have to wait ‘til we get to work to hand a coworker a paper memo anymore. At their core, smartphones are about communication. With instant access to everything from email and texting to team collaboration apps like Dropbox and Salesforce, smartphones make working with others – even remotely – easy.
3. Virtual Meetings and Conferences
FaceTime isn’t just for homesick college students and traveling puppy parents who want to ‘talk’ to their ‘kids.’ Think back to videoconferencing – reserved for large companies, the Jetsons, and Monica Geller’s rich boyfriend – if FaceTime feels a little bit like videoconferencing in your pocket, that’s because it is.
4. Increased Employee Work-Life Balance
Mobile employees can work anywhere. This might be a workaholic’s kryptonite, but it also opens up new possibilities for busy professionals to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal events like soccer games, ballet practices, or girls’ night out.
Adam Davis has over 17 years experience in international, multi-channel marketing in the tech industry. He is currently CMO at Thingthing, the iOS keyboard for increased productivity.
“The key to increased productivity on your smartphone is…”
Efficiency. In bringing the desktop world into the mobile environment, while accessibility has increased greatly, it is in many ways far less efficient. This is because the desktop behaviors of constantly switching from app to app, from tab to tab, copy/pasting from here to there, have also been carried over to mobile where they are more cumbersome and time consuming. Cross app sharing and integrations are helping to solve this (Slack integrations are a great example). At Thingthing, we’re actually doing this at the commonality across apps – the keyboard – allowing you to access your calendar directly from it while you type, for example.
Dustyn is a blogger at a semi-serious personal development blog, PersonalSelf.com. Focusing on creating an abundant life through consciousness and awareness, the goal is to help people cultivate a life they could only dream of.
“I personally don’t find myself getting any substantial amount of work done on my phone in regards to getting specific tasks done…”
Instead, I use the time that I’m driving or waiting around to learn. We all know it’s HIGHLY important to be a life learner, and what better time to get a good learning session in while you are doing nothing else? There is no app, no hack, or easy to way to get things done on the phone that I use, just learning. Through podcasts (for when I’m driving), blog posts, and news I’m able to acquire something new that I can typically implement into my life and business nearly everyday. To sum it up, use your phone to learn in your free time and never stop learning!
George is the Co-founder and Managing Partner at XO, a digital marketing and software development company based out of Los Angeles, New York and Mexico City.
“One of the best and most useful ways to boost your productivity with your smartphone is…”
Location- and time-based automations through tools like IFTTT and Zapier (among others) can increase productivity by 2-3x if setup correctly.
The initial objective would be to diffuse the impact productivity killers can have on your productive time. These will be different for each person but could include things like: a. Receiving phone calls b. Getting food c. Receiving distracting emails These would be prime candidates to setup as location (i.e., trigger a certain action once smartphone enters a geographic radius) and time (i.e., trigger a certain action at a specific time). One example would be, if smartphone is at location 1 at 12:30pm, order lunch.
The second objective would be to create automations that enhance productivity and these could include the following (although these again could be of a wide variety):
a. Play ‘productive’ music while at a certain location.
b. Alert you to take short breaks.
c. Notify your team to either work while a user is at a different location or when not there.
d. Create an online log of locations and times to improve daily plan in future weeks, etc.
In all, the location and time automations can be used in infinite ways to maximize the passive productivity benefit your smartphone can have. Furthermore, trigger based macros could further enhance the productivity enhancing power your smartphone provides.
Monica Georgieff is CMO of SaaS Kanban solution Kanbanize. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto in Canada and has recently transitioned from the publishing field into tech, where it’s double the fun. Catch up with @KanbanizeInc on Twitter to check out how it can help you boost efficiency in your team or some of @MonGeorgieff ‘s wicked awesome finds on her personal account.
“My smartphone is my productivity companion when I’m on-the-go because…”
It hosts mobile versions of everything in my professional toolbox. I use several productivity apps to make sure I’m on track and to sync with my team. All of the to-do lists, Kanban boards with work in progress visualized on them and emails from all of my accounts are available to me on my phone 24/7, no matter where I am. This means that everything happens much faster and there is no fuss around communication because connecting to the right people happens instantly. I don’t consider my smartphone a phone per se, I hardly take calls on it. It’s just a handy, casual version of my desktop that allows me to be prompt, keep things moving forward and make the best use of all the stray minutes of my day when I’m riding on the subway, waiting in line for something or between meetings.
Brian Gill is the founder and CEO of Gillware Data Recover, an industry leader and world class data recovery company.
“My favorite app that helps me to boost my productivity is…”
OneNote, from Microsoft.
I’m able to document everything relating to all of my projects, including typed notes, audio recordings, pictures, and much more. I like it because when I save my notes, everything is synced to all of my devices. There’s a variety of formats included as well. So you can make checklists, conduct research, attend meetings, and record lectures while taking notes. It’s really proven to be useful in my day to day business interactions.
Tieece Gordon is a tech enthusiast having worked with a number of gadget and electrics companies. He is now with A1 Comms offering a range of telecommunications solutions for enhanced business processes.
“The number one way smartphones have improved productivity for me personally is…”
The ability to have remote access to my desktop computer. This applies on both a professional and personal level.
I’ve synced my phone and PC using an app and now have constant access to files wherever I happen to be. If I need to retrieve, edit or show a certain file, I can do so. If I want to simply browse my downloads, I can do that too.
Cloud storage apps are great at what they do, and I do use those but personally, I find the familiarity of my desktop more practical. It’s much easier to work away from the office as everything is in the same place I’d usually expect to find it, speeding up processes and keeping me connected in the most efficient way possible. I can work wherever I am safe in the knowledge I can get exactly what I need from where I left it.
Sara Grove is the Co-Founder and CEO of Raw Food Magazine, a Certified Happiness Coach (yes, that’s actually a thing) and adventurer at heart. Visit RawFoodMagazine.com for healthy recipes so tasty you actually WANT to eat the food that’s good for you.
“My smartphone helps me manage my email, cut the time I used to spend email by two hours and achieve the coveted Inbox Zero daily…”
I have a personal rule that I never check email on my phone, with one critical exception. I use the Mailbox app on my smartphone to check email at my desk right before I open my computer to start working. Checking email first on my phone lets me quickly sift through emails by swiping left and right to delegate certain emails, defer less urgent emails to a later date, archive resolved conversations and delete junk. I refuse to waste time replying to emails on my phone (I’m much faster with a full keyboard than just thumbs!) but sorting it in this way means by the time I open my computer, the ONLY emails in my inbox are the ones I need to respond to right now. Email used to waste hours every day. Now I spend just 10-15 minutes replying to the important ones every morning.
Sean is the CEO and founder of TekBoost, a tech startup located in Austin, Texas, that focuses on the national resale of refurbished IT equipment. Prior to launching TekBoost, Hall studied biochemistry at Baylor University.
“There are several apps that I use everyday to increase my productivity…”
But one of my favorites is UberConference. I have tons of conference calls every day, and this allows me to host an unlimited number of calls. Each of my guests can either call in or connect through the app. I can record all of the calls, and I’m also able to mute specific people or send messages privately. The best part about it? It’s free!
Kate Harrington is the Content Director for FindAFax.com. She has been researching and writing about online communication and productivity tools for FindAFax for 3+ years, and was recognized by Recruiter.com in 2016 as one of the Ten Writers Every Entrepreneur Should Read.
“Since most of us now carry smartphones, essentially small computers, there are a number of ways to use them for productivity…”
In particular, two types of apps come to mind: those for project management sites like Trello or Asana, and those for online faxing. On the project management/productivity side, my favorite app is Trello, because I love the streamlined and simple layout of that productivity tool, which also translates over to the app. It lets me keep track of tasks, both business and personal, in specific boards. When a task is done, it’s satisfying to move it along to complete. And, Trello lets me communicate with people I’m working with and attach documents to review.
As far as online faxing, there are a few providers, including MetroFax and RingCentral, that include smartphone apps. These let you fax right from your phone without having to go to a website, and some also let you snap pictures of documents to attach as PDFs.
Daisy is the founder and CEO of Banish.
“The best way you can use your phone to increase your productivity is…”
By uninstalling all games/social media accounts and leaving your phone with Google Drive, email apps, Recorder, WhatsApp messenger (for work), and Calendar. By being strict with your use of smartphone, time is saved. Access your social media accounts on your laptop, play games on your tablet then leave the business aspect to your smartphone. It is only by then will you be able to realize productivity with your smartphone.
Sophie Knowles is a web developer and co-founder of PDF Pro, an online software for editing and converting PDF files.
“One of the best smartphone features for enhancing productivity is…”
The calendar on your smartphone is a great resource for manage your weekly schedule. You can organize your days into 15- or 30-minute chunks. This can be very helpful for planning your work schedule and coordinating any personal commitments or errands. You can also set calendar alerts to make sure you don’t forget any upcoming meets or important assignments.
An Atlanta native,Daniel is a marketer in both non-profit and startup environments as well as managing a freelance marketing consultancy. Thriving on helping build businesses and marketing products that make a difference, Daniel loves serving people and is a self-improvement junkie (a.k.a. a poor man’s Tim Ferriss).
“This might come as a shock to some, but the #1 way I use my iPhone to increase my productivity is by…”
Enabling Do Not Disturb (DND) mode in tandem with the timer has changed everything about the way I work.
I’ve discovered that most messages I get via Slack, Basecamp, email, or whatever other communication software is rarely as urgent as it seems. We’ve become so addicted to notification bubbles that as soon as we see one, we’ll tap it and dive head first in to that new information.
That’s a disease. It’s an addiction that ruins productivity, and I had to send myself to rehab. Started as an experiment, I turned DND on one day for the entire work day just to see if I actually missed anything incredibly important.
I didn’t. So I tried it again the next day and added in a timer. I set my timer for 30 minutes and choose a task or project to work on for 30 minutes nonstop. If I make it the entire time without getting distracted, I’ll reward myself with a 2-minute break or walk around the office, before repeating the process. I dedicate a couple of these 30-minute chunks every day to handling email, project management, and other communication work flows.
I’ve been doing this for 6+ months now and my work capacity and output have skyrocketed. Better yet? I haven’t missed anything important and there was nothing so urgent that it couldn’t wait for me to get to it on my own time.
A highly sought-after Career and Small Business Strategist, Mike McRitchie helps you take control of your career or small business results. Whether it is uncovering competitive advantages, aligning that with branding and social media strategies, or analyzing and optimizing critical success factors to fire up your career or small business.
“The #1 way to boost your productivity with your smartphone is…”
It’s happened to you. You’re killing time in the waiting room, or planning your day over breakfast before work, or you’re sitting in the car waiting for your kid to wrap up soccer practice. And it hits you.
That spur-of-the-moment, hair-brained, awesome idea!
And by the time you get back home, it’s long forgotten.
But what if you had the ultimate tool for recording those cool, off-the-cuff thoughts that pop into your head when you least expect them?
Ideas that could be your next invention. Or sets you up for a promotion or raise. Or rockets your business forward.
It’s there, with you all the time: that thing that is almost always in the palm of your hand. That you’re looking at every couple minutes…your smartphone!
Whether you rely on your phone’s virtual post-it-note or text editor, or you’re using a voice recording app, or taking pictures or video of your cool idea.
Your phone is the one-stop-shop for capturing the awesomely productive you.
Oleg is the President of Productive Computer Systems. He has been an IT Pro for the past 3+ decades, helping small businesses utilize technology to bring its immense benefits to their businesses.
“My smartphone is an equivalent of a really potent personal assistant/secretary…”
It tracks my appointments, provides audio/text/video communications with friends/relatives/business associates, let’s me read books and listen to audio books, as well as music, let’s me track my car’s fueling and expenses, provides information from the wisdom of the web, is my shopping tool, let’s me take photos and videos, see weather and news, keep track of my travel and much more.
“I’m always trying to figure out ways to become more productive in order to meet tight deadlines…”
I’ve found that communicating effectively with my team plays a large role in that. I’ve found that the most efficient way to keep in touch with everyone is through an app called Slack. Instead of trying to communicate through phone calls, texting, email, and Skype, everything runs smoothly through the app. It’s really cool because I can talk about various subjects in different channels so that everyone is able to see any updates, pictures, files and more.
Pratik Shah is the director of marketing at GrinApps.com, a marketplace for exchanging growth tactics on social media. Prior to that he was head of marketing at India’s largest ethnic marketplace, Craftsvilla.com
“While it’s an old utility, the #1 way my smartphone has increased my productivity is with the…”
Driving Maps. Years ago, we printed maps and directions from our computers and carry them along. However, if there were a change in route or you wanted to take another route, or if there were an error in the directions itself, there was no fallback. We would have to p’raps visit a mom&pop store along the way and ask for directions. Too bad if there’s not one around.
However with smartphones, driving is as good as hopping into your car & launching the Maps app. Walking and discovering new places is fun! We are not even dependent upon the network if we have downloaded the offline maps! No papers to carry and no asking anyone!
Spencer Shulem is the CEO of WeDo.
“The best thing about having a smart phone is you never have an excuse not to write something down right away…”
Using the notes app on the smartphone, or a simple To-Do list app like WeDo, allows you to write down what you need to get done RIGHT when it comes to you, and then be able to back to that list when you’re at your computer or able to start it. This is the single best thing the smartphone can do to help improve productivity.
Marisa South is the General Manager of Vet & Pet Jobs, a career website for employers and job seekers in the veterinary field.
“I think the best productivity app is…”
EverNote. I really like it because I can create to-do lists for projects, write down reminders, take pictures, brainstorm ideas, create timelines, and so much more. I can save things from the Internet, and everything gets synced to all of my devices. It’s really cool because I can draw, write, type, record audio, take videos and create PDFs. Then everything is organized into notebooks. I’ve found it really useful when collaborating with team members, especially when feedback is needed on projects.
Murray is a screenwriter, book author, and the co-founder of MobileMovieMaking.com, an online magazine about shooting smartphone video to enrich our work and personal lives.
“Of the thousands of ways to use a smartphone (I’m thinking of all those apps), for me the single most important is using it to…”
Make videos. Today’s smartphones contain cameras that can produce incredibly high quality video. But the worth of the video–its impact on productivity–has to do with what the video is for. Here are three ways that video can enhance productivity:
1. Sharing skills:
If you are good at something–handling customers over the phone, writing memos, making foreign clients feel at home–making a video is a powerful way of empowering coworkers. A thoughtfully made, 5-minute video can be worth an all-day workshop. (I speak as someone who led more than 500 workshops.)
Every business has problems. I experienced one recently. I was waiting to sign in at a business where I had an appointment, and the receptionist, who was on the phone, ignored my presence for five minutes. If this encounter had been captured on video, the receptionist would have seen for herself the problem, and likely could have figured out a solution.
Most businesses include an element of selling. Stores obviously are about sales. But so are service enterprises such as dermatology offices, auto repair shops, and restaurants. The most efficient way to promote businesses these days is through locally made commercials, which can take many forms such as testimonials, behind-the-scenes mini-docs, or a straight into-the-camera pitch. Such hand-made commercials can be broadcast on social media or played at the place of business.
Hazel Thornton is a professional organizer living in Albuquerque, New Mexico; creator of The Clutter Flow Chart Collection; and author of Go with the Flow! The Clutter-Clearing Tool Kit for an Organized Life. Visit her online at www.org4life.com.
“The #1 way I use my smartphone to increase my productivity is to…”
Turn the ringer off! Why? So you can have uninterrupted time to think, or write, or focus, or relax. The second part of this strategy is to regularly check for messages in a timely manner. But you can do that on your own schedule. It depends on your situation and comfort level. Whoever is calling doesn’t know where you are, what you are doing, and why you aren’t answering the phone. Maybe you’re busy with a client. That’s why we have caller ID and voicemail. Not answering calls also gives you a chance to think about what you want to say to that prospective client, or how you want to answer a difficult question. If you are expecting an important call, you can always turn the ringer back on.
John Turner is CEO/Founder of QuietKit, which provides guided meditation for beginners (for free).
“The best way to use your smartphone to boost productivity is…”
Use it to help you make and keep new habits.
Setup an app like Habit List as a way to make, track, and improve on daily habits.
And since you’re likely to carry your phone with you throughout the day, that means you’ll be able to remind yourself with that list no matter where you are.
Zondra is the President and CEO of Blu Skin Care.
“The #1 Way I use my smartphone to increase productivity is…”
Siri, Siri, Siri!
The best productivity tool by far is Siri for iPhone. Like most business executives, I’m very busy and am notorious for forgetting. Siri is my right hand lady, so to speak. She sets my alarms, makes my important phone calls and even writes out texts. I love it. She’s been so helpful.
Ian Wright is the founder of Merchant Machine, a payment comparison website.
“The number one way I use my smartphone to increase my productivity is…”
To read and respond to e-mails while on the train to and from work. Given that I spend one hour each way on the train, it actually allows me to come in later and leave work earlier than would be the case if I could not use it during my commute.