Thursday, May 30, 2019

How to turn your phone into a productivity machine

- Let's start with the basics and apply the konmari method to your phone by getting rid of all the apps that don't spark joy anymore. It's very important to understand the reasons that are taking value out of those apps - they can be making you feel insecure or unsuccessful; they can be adding unrequested stress to your routine or make you feel like you constantly need to update the app. In a way, all of these apps are toxic and carrying them constantly in your pocket will probably be not the best for your mental health.

- Secondly, you should make an effort to reduce aural and haptic triggers, which include ringing and vibration. My advice is to turn off *all* notifications minus the phone app. If you are trying to transform your phone into a productivity machine, you need to turn the attention cycle around. When you have notifications on, you aren't the one choosing when to use your phone - your phone is the one choosing when you should pick it up. By blocking notifications from *all of your apps,* including messaging apps, you regain control of your own intentions to use that device. If there's an emergency, people will call you, not send you a text.

- Regarding visual triggers, my rule is to disable badges from all of my apps. That way I don't have to immediately see how many e-mails I need to reply or how many notifications are pending in my messaging or social media apps. This trick reduces visual stimuli and will also prevent you from accumulating stress just by looking at those numbers adding up.

- A helpful trick to help you focus on the content that really matters is using the structure of homescreen pages to your benefit. For instance, I like to hide social media apps in folders and keep the productivity apps, like my e-mail and organization apps on my main page. This immediately focus my attention to productive tasks when I pick up my phone instead of reminding me that I should check Instagram.

- Using alarms to structure your day is a major part of time management techniques and can be easily achieved by creating a routine for yourself using your clock app. Dividing your day into bigger or smaller chunks of time is helpful to 1) give you a limited amount of time to complete a certain task and 2) plan ahead for precious down-time. Your phone will be the perfect device for this - it's always at hand and allows you to customize your alarms in a quick and efficient ways by labelling them and create different combinations according to the days of the week.

- Although this may sound counter-productive, I believe you should tone down the amount of organization and to-do apps you have and really focus on only a couple for daily usage. I usually recommend three types of organization apps: a calendar, an app for to-dos and an app for full-fledged organization and planning. As usual, I will recommend again the two major free calendar apps, Google Calendar and iCalendar, for all of your event-related planning; Notion for major organization templates and projects and Todoist for all of your to-do lists.

- For Android users, using widgets mindfully will be your best bet for adding some visual productivity elements to your phone. Besides to-do lists, calendar blocks and reminders, widgets will allow you to use your smartphone as a virtual productive dashboard where you can jot down notes and add tasks and events.

- Your phone background can also be a usually forgotten productivity booster. One idea I read and thought very interesting was creating a new background for your phone once per week with your weekly intention. This can be made under one minute and will allow you to read a though-provoking question or sentence whenever you unlock your phone.

As you've probably noticed by now, I didn't include any blocking apps in my list and that's because I believe that your relationship with tech, social media and the internet should be more mindful and constructive than simply allowing your phone to block you away from Instagram like your parents would.

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