How to Work Smart Without Giving up Your Smartphone
Would you swap your smartphone for a flip phone? Most people would see a decade-old cell phone as a difficult downgrade — for some, an impossible sacrifice. Really, though, what would we do with our eyes, while waiting in the line at the grocery store or sitting on the train, if they weren’t glued to a screen?
Interestingly enough, classic handsets are now making a comeback. In the UK, the newly designed Nokia 3310 is marketed for use at summer music festivals. Meanwhile, Jordan Foisy, writing for Vice Magazine, discussed what he learned from becoming a flip phone user again after losing his smartphone in a cab.
He found that he used the phone as just that, and he was able to spend less time on social media. “As a craven addict to the lukewarm bath of jealousy and narcissism that is social media, it’s nice to be forcibly disconnected when I’m out of the house,” he wrote.
Although it would take a lot for most smartphone users to return to simpler technology, there’s certainly a growing awareness of the time we spend on our phones, and how much of that time is spent productively.
40% of smartphone users, 10% of flip phone users distracted in the workplace
In May 2017, TSheets commissioned OnePoll to survey 1,000 US adults (aged 18+) about their time-wasting habits and whether smartphones are making people more or less productive. We found that flip phone users are much less likely than smartphones users (10 percent to 40 percent, respectively) to become distracted by their device at work.
It’s not surprising that the newest phones are so captivating. The smartphone apps that are designed to make us more productive run alongside flashy social apps that take our attention away from the task at hand. According to the research, nearly half of millennials surveyed admitted to being distracted by their phones at work, compared to just 15% of the over 55s. While flip phones don’t boast the bells and whistles that smartphones do (including the apps that help us more easily navigate the real world), they also don’t hijack our attention.
How valuable are your minutes? A productivity expert weighs in.
In studying the topic of time wasting, we’ve found that even productivity experts aren’t immune to misconceptions about how we’re spending our time at work, and thinking we have less time than we actually do. For example, Laura Vanderkam spoke about productivity and her experience keeping detailed records of her time use. “The biggest thing I learned from tracking my time was about the hours I work,” she said. “I had this idea that I worked 50 hours a week, but it turned out I was working much closer to 40 hours when averaged over the year.”
As ubiquitous as smart technology has become in our everyday lives, it’s more important than ever to save our time for the valuable moments that bring us purpose. Laura elaborates: “On any given day, if you just make forward progress and keep devoting time to things that are important to you, in the long run, that really does add up. Having some intentions for your time can help you make the most of it.”
6 Smartphone Hacks to Supercharge Your Productivity
Saving a few minutes here and there to work smarter at your job can be the difference between a hard day’s work and a major productivity flop. But you don’t have to go back in time to create habits that make you more productive at work. Keep your smartphone — we’re lucky to have such amazing tech at our fingertips — but try a few of these smartphone hacks to supercharge your productivity.
1. Enable Night Shift on your iPhone or Twilight on your Android for a better night’s sleep.
Sleep.org says getting enough sleep can not only help you make better decisions, fewer mistakes, and improve your memory, but it can help you recover from distractions faster. For those of us who love to use our phones and tablets at night, it’s important to minimize the blue light we’re taking in, which is a known disturber of our circadian rhythm. Enable Night Shift or Twilight for mornings that are more productive, regardless of your distraction level.
2. Purchase a phone case that closes.
It might seem obvious, but if the face of your phone is always in sight, you’ll be more likely to pick it up. Try purchasing a case that closes, so you aren’t constantly bombarded by notifications when you’re at work.
3. Use a tomato timer and give yourself breaks to check social media or take a walk.
Also known as the Pomodoro Technique, tomato timers are set for 25 minutes, wherein you focus intently on your task before taking a five-minute break. This method is highly recommended for people who want to power through a project with intense concentration, and those short brain breaks between timer alarms will allow you to be more productive when you return to your work. Step away from your work to go on a walk or chat with a colleague. This is also an appropriate time to check your otherwise distracting phone so that you can focus on the task before you when you’re back at it.
4. Use Zapier to integrate your apps.
Our research found that 1 in 5 people say smartphones are time-wasters, and younger people are less likely to associate smartphones with productivity. But it really doesn’t have to be that way. You can use a tool like Zapier to integrate the everyday apps that make you more productive. For example, by integrating apps like Asana, Evernote, Google Forms, and Gmail, work is automatically shared between them, making it easy to get to work without having to enter project information and notes twice.
5. Turn off work notifications and set your priorities first.
It’s easy to get distracted by the work emails and chat notifications that come through on your phone. But if you can designate time for checking email and chatting, you’re more likely to be productive. Turn off those notifications so that you can prioritize your workplace updates.
6. Hide your social media apps on a separate page or in a folder on your device.
Another way to trick yourself into checking social media less is to hide the apps that distract you most on separate pages of your display or in another folder altogether. Simply making your biggest distractors less visible can prevent the temptation to constantly check in with your social networks.
At the end of the day, we all find ways to procrastinate. As many as 9 in 10 of the respondents to our survey said they regularly put off important tasks until another day — and flip phone users were just as guilty of this as everyone else. So there’s no need to trade in your iPhone just yet. With a bit of intentionality, you can make small adjustments to how you interact with your device, especially while on the clock, and turn the minutes you save into precious moments.