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.