2 Simple Smartphone Hacks to enhance your productivity & your life

Who is in control of your time? You or your smartphone? Are you constantly reacting to a new alert from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Messenger or some other social media or phone app? If the answer to that questions is yes then your smartphone is controlling you. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

I’ve tested this & it will work if you persist

I often had these thoughts myself and then decided to do something about it that has helped me. Maybe this can help you too. About a year ago I saw a suggestion in one of the blogs I read or maybe I heard it in one of the podcasts I listen to. I can’t remember.

Be forewarned, the simple tips that follow have the potential to help you take more control of your time and your life instead of abdicating that responsibility to your smartphone. If you do choose to implement them your results will vary but I do believe they will all be positive.

iPhones…I don’t know

I am not part of the iPhone team. I am on Team Android so I don’t know much about iPhones. The principle applies to iPhones too. I just can’t tell you the specific steps to implement these changes there. I am sure, if you are interested, you can figure it out. I expect they are similar.

I will just check this one…

OK. If you are ready here it is.

These distractions are more detrimental than beneficial to your life and productivity. Often what happens to me is I think to myself, “I will just check this one notification and then get back to life”. What happens more often than not, is 30 minutes later I am still glued to my phone because I clicked this link then that link and so forth and so on. I think you know what I am talking about.

I did this myself at the beginning of last year and it has made a significant difference in how I spend my time and I am confident it can do the same for you.

I plan to share more on that in a future post. This simple action on your part will provide many benefits including being more productive at work, spending more time talking to your family and friends, building relationships and eliminating a lot of unneeded stress and drama in your life.

Here’s how

There are multiple ways to accomplish blocking notifications. You can go into each application and modify the notification settings there. However, I recommend starting with Settings on your phone and scroll down until you see Notifications.

Click on Notifications and you should see all of the applications that can potentially notify you and interrupt your day. If your phone is anything like mine, there will be a lot of apps listed. I have 211 so I probably need to pare down that number some too. Click on the app you want to block and then select “Block all” to stop notifications from that app. This will be similar but different for everyone. You know the apps constantly distracting you on your phone. For me, it was Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Messenger & Amazon Kindle. You can adjust this as needed so if you miss one just go back and block it when you get the next notification.

Global Setting

Making the change here is a global setting that supersedes or overrides the individual app settings. In other words, your app notification settings within the app will not work if you have selected “Block all” from your phone Notification settings. If you want to use the notification options inside specific apps you will need to leave the app unblocked here. Then you can tweak or fine tune notifications within the apps themselves so you can get the important weather alerts or text messages that do really need to alert you.

Simple but effective

That’s it. Pretty simple, huh? You will be amazed at how quiet your phone will become. You will probably pick it up occasionally to check to see if there is something there you missed until you get accustomed to the quiet. It is really a freeing feeling. At least it was for me.

But wait, there’s more…

One more tip to help that I added, and need to add back again, is to use one of those apps on your phone called Clock or Timer. I added this to my home screen to make it readily available.

Use the stopwatch feature and set yourself a timer, 15, 20 or 30 minutes, whatever works for you.

When you do go to check the apps to avoid getting lost again and spending your time chasing links or likes, start your stopwatch. When the time expires be disciplined and stop, close the apps and get back to life. You will be surprised at first how fast this time goes but, with practice, you can learn to get in, check the things that are important to you, and then get back out and into life. You will also discover you did not really miss anything. But the best discovery will be the people and life you were missing with your attention focused on your smartphone.

Don’t do like I did and think, “I don’t need that stopwatch anymore. I can keep up with time myself.” If you do, you will find you are are slipping back into your old habits, those you were trying to change.

Reminder to self here!

This is just one of the many things I know I should be doing but am not consistently practicing. I still get sucked into that black social media hole that on my smartphone too often.

Other benefits

Additional benefits of implementing these changes on your smartphone include longer battery life and fewer distractions while driving, eating, reading or even cleaning out the garage.

Try it and let me know how it works for you

I challenge you to try this for a month and see how it works for you. I think you will be amazed at what you learn about yourself and your time and maybe even your friends, family and co-workers.

If you do try this I would love to know how it worked or did not work for you.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on February 25, 2018.


Who is Sean Thomas?

No, this isn’t a Jeopardy answer, although that might fit. I think To Tell The Truth fits this story better.

I received an email yesterday morning with the subject Enterprise Schools supposedly from a “parent with students in your system”. It was sent at 10:21 but I did not see it until yesterday afternoon. The email wasn’t addressed To me. I was copied though. It was addressed to all the school board members and Greg Faught. The email is from someone I had never heard of prior to this email, named Sean Thomas, or was it?

UPDATE: Since the original post this story and blog was mentioned in a news story on WDHN on 9/28/16. You can see that story here Enterprise school superintendent’s contract set to end; concerned residents call for non-renewal Continue reading Who is Sean Thomas?

To write or not to write…Is that even a question?

For me it is not. Writing is how I best express my thoughts. Writing gives me control over the final edit to, hopefully, make the finished product the best I can make it. Writing is the form of communication that works best for me.

That being said, writing is just one form of communication. Others include speaking, body language, listening and sign language. If I had to rank myself on the first four here is how they would rank for me from best to worst – writing, listening, speaking, body language. I know nothing about sign language at all.


Writing allows me, although I sometimes don’t take advantage, the option to edit, delete, rewrite and add to what I probably thought was pretty good to start with. It allows me to potentially stick my foot in my mouth (replace foot with pen or word processor) less often. I should be able to catch these errors in grammar, spelling and judgment and edit them to make them more palatable for the reader. Do I always do this? Of course not, but with writing I do have that option.


When speaking I cannot take back what I said (edit it) so the edit option is not really available. I do have a filter I can use but once words pass the filter and the lips they are out and cannot be un-said. I can try to explain what was said wrong or offensive with more talking but that normally just digs a bigger hole. That is why I will normally not be the most talkative person in any group setting.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln says,

That is one of my favorite quotes.

Body Language

I have never been accused of wearing my emotions on my sleeve. I am often accused of not wearing them at all.

Emotions are part of body language but not all body language is expressed by emotions. I do try to pay attention and communicate that to the person speaking. Body language is expressed in many ways such as smiling, nodding, crossing your arms, leaning forward in your seat, or leaning back and reclining. I recognize body language is an important part of communication and it does communicate whether you want it to or not. I do try to make myself aware of this form of communication but I often fail.


Listening is the least used but most important part of communication from my perspective. If there is no one to listen, the speaker is just talking to themselves. Many speakers don’t really have a problem with this as they enjoy hearing themselves talk but there is really no communication taking place when that happens.

Listening is often thought of as being a passive activity. However, it really is an active activity that you have to consciously focus on and work at to be master it. When involved in a conversation most people are multi-tasking, listening with one ear and thinking of what they are going to say in response to words they haven’t even heard yet. Listening with one ear, trying to think ahead and predict what the speaker is going to say, and then formulating a response all at the same time does not work very well.

Listening also provides people like me topics to write about.

2 Ears 1 Mouth

I am sure you have all heard the saying, God gave you 2 ears and 1 mouth so that means He intended for you to listen twice as much as you talk. I think we would all be better off if we put this into practice and really listened to what is being said. If there is silence for a few seconds or even longer before you speak there is nothing wrong with that. It shows you were listening and now you are processing what you heard and formulating a response. This shows respect to the speaker and will have most believing you are the best conversationalist in the room.

Try it the next chance you get. You just might learn something.

Until next time…

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I don’t run marathons…however

I have never run a marathon, never really had any desire to. To me running is not fun or something I want to spend time doing. However, I do know people who have run marathons and half-marathons and I am amazed by their drive and persistence in accomplishing this feat.

I was reminded of this again this morning as I saw some tweets on twitter about the Walt Disney World Half Marathon being over today. This brought back memories of last year at this time when we were there.

My wife, Sharin,  completed her first half-marathon.2013-01-13 05.07.44

On the next day my daughter Amy, running with her friends Meggie and Anne, completed her first marathon.2013-01-13 12.45.48

I am still amazed and in awe of these achievements as I know they are far from easy and often painful and discouraging. The thrill and sense of achievement one feels after achieving this feat should never go away.

If you have completed one of these events and have lost that feeling of pride in your accomplishment, go back and think about all the sacrifices you went through to get there, days you did not want to get out and run, days when you were unable to run due to a nagging injury your doctor recommended you rest until it got well, days when it was raining and cold, or both, and you ran anyway. Look at any pictures you have of you with your medal after you finished and just be proud of what you accomplished.

Regarding those tweets I found myself congratulating people I didn’t even really know. I have followed @runDisney on twitter since last year and saw the posts and just felt like congratulating them. They deserve it. That is the thing I wanted to emphasize with this post. Even if you, like me, have never even considered running a marathon or half-marathon I encourage you to go watch one. Find a spot near the finish line and just watch. I guarantee you it will be something you will not soon, if ever, forget.

You will see all different types of people and all different types of stories. Everyone has one. You will see young people, middle aged people, and older, seasoned, people. Seeing them push through those last few steps and yards to reach the finish line will inspire you. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. All will make you cheer and by doing so you can share in their accomplishment.

If you are considering running either a half-marathon or marathon I read a book recently called You Can Go the Distance by Bruce Van Horn. I recommend this book to runners and non-runners alike. You will probably learn many things about how to prepare and run a marathon. You will also learn many things about how to run this marathon we are all running called life. One of the quotes from the book makes this point, “Marathon training is like life; it requires that you train in all conditions for all situations.”

I am not going to suggest or recommend you start preparing to run a marathon since I have no direct experience or desire to do so myself. If you are considering it though I say go for it! You will be glad you did. If you are looking for a good first marathon experience check out http://www.rundisney.com. Disney does know how to make anything fun and interesting and they don’t disappoint with these events.

If running is not your thing, I do understand that. I do recommend you go watch one sometime though. It will change your perspective for any future marathons you see in the news. Find someone you know training or running one and go support them.

Congratulations to all runners running this weekend or if you have run and completed one of these in the past. Be proud of your accomplishment and use the lessons you have learned about running and yourself in all other areas of your life.

Until next time…

If you like what you read here or just want to see what comes out of my warped mind enter your email address in the sidebar on the left and subscribe. This is the only way to ensure you will be notified immediately whenever a new post is published.


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