Back in the day (2010ish), I rocked a Blackberry for my smart phone. I knew how to use it, I liked it, and I resisted the iphone because I thought it was a weird, cultish, I’m-totally-obsessed-with-Steve-Jobs kind of thing to own. I wanted no part of it.

I was wrong.

When I finally got my first iphone, I fell in love. When I later upgraded to the 4s and got “Siri” in the deal, my love grew. When I upgraded to the iphone6 in November, I pretty much became an iphone-for-lifer.

While I would assume all of these tools exist on any smart phone today, I can only speak personally for the iphone. I find them so helpful and use all of them every week, if not every day. So here goes…

 

#1 AIRPLANE MODE

If you truly want to get something done, turn your phone OFF! If you want to keep your phone on, but don’t want to be distracted by incoming phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook alerts, etc., put it in Airplane Mode.

I often use the timer function on my phone when I’m doing a “productivity sprint” (a designated amount of time to work on a particular project), but I definitely don’t want the distraction of text messages and phone calls which will no doubt disturb my concentration.

Airplane Mode prevents those distractions entirely, while still giving me access to the clock feature and many other handy features on the phone.

(NOTE: From what I have experienced, when you select “Airplane Mode” in your settings, the Wi-Fi setting defaults to “off”. If your Wi-Fi setting is set to “on” you will still receive text messages, emails, alerts, etc. In this case, the only thing Airplane Mode will accomplish for you is sending incoming phone calls directly to voicemail. For laser focus and greater productivity, ditch the Wi-Fi!)

 

#2 VOICE NOTES

Next to Siri (and Jesus), voice notes are my BFF. I use them ALL.THE.TIME.

I have very fond memories of growing up and hanging out in my dad’s law office, watching him speak instructions into a dictation device, instructions which would later be listened to and expeditiously accomplished by his dear secretary, Debbie. (And no, she wasn’t an “administrative assistant” since they didn’t exist in those days. She was a secretary and she ROCKED! She was like another daughter to my dad and we loved her!)

Thirty years later, the technology is different, but the concept is still the same. Record something via an audio device, and then forward it along to the person to whom it pertains.

In addition to using Voice Notes when I’m driving to ramble thoughts to myself that I don’t want to forget, I also use them in much them same way my dad used his dictation device.

I have virtual assistant, Emi, who lives in Massachusetts. She is THE BOMB!  She used to live here in Hawaii and do work for me in person. So when she moved back to the mainland, I hired her via an online “e-lance” site (www.odesk.com) to continue working with me virtually.

Now, multiple times a week, when I have thoughts about tasks that Emi could easily handle for me, I record them via voice notes and email them off to her. She listens to them during her scheduled work time, and sends me awesome “Done!” emails to close the loop and let me know that she’s accomplished each request. Oh, what a feeling!

The Voice Notes option is great if you are not in a position to write or if there are details which you feel may be better delivered via audio.

Side note: I also use Voice Notes in the middle of the night to record my dreams. I’m always too out of it to write them down, but I’m a big dreamer and I don’t want to forget them, so this is the perfect solution!

Love me some Voice Notes!

 

#3 NOTES

What I absolutely adore about the “Notes” feature is that your notes on your iphone synch with your other apple devices. I can write stuff on my ipad and voilà, it appears on my iphone. (Call me a Steve Jobs groupie now…I know!).

What’s great too about this feature is that if, for whatever reason, you don’t happen to have your ipad or your iphone, but you need to access your “Notes”, you can log into your icloud account and there they are!

In fact, if I am working on my computer and I am writing something that I want to be able to have easy access to at any time, I actually type it up in my icloud “Notes” because I know that means it will very quickly make its way to my phone and ipad as well.

 

#4 EMAIL

This is going to sound very funny because I am promoting “Email” as a “Productivity Tool That Already Exists On Your Iphone” but I actually don’t get email on my iphone.

Let me explain…I don’t get my work or personal emails on my iphone. I have an email address that is double-top-secret which hardly anyone knows that I use on my iphone primarily to send emails to myself. I don’t use it for exchanges with others so my incoming mail at that address is next to none.

As an overall productivity principle, I actually don’t recommend getting email on your phone if you can avoid it.

Why? Because at one point I did, and I found that it increased my stress and decreased my productivity.

Walk through this with me…

I am with clients all day long. When I am in session with clients, I do not use my phone. My total attention is on them.

If I am thinking about emails that may be coming in on my phone, I’m going to be distracted. If I respond to emails during the day (when I am usually in session and unable to respond), I am going to set up an expectation with other clients and friends that I can and will respond to emails during the day.

I used to do that…it was stressful.

So then, when I got my first iphone, I made a switch. I did NOT get my emails on my phone. I put a signature message on my work email that indicated that I process emails at 6AM and 6PM daily, and I processed emails (for the most part) only when I was at my computer and at the designated times.

Now, people have come to expect that. And you know what…nothing dire has happened! In fact, I tend to get less email overall as there is a lot less back-and-forth.

If someone really needs to reach me, they know that phone or text is the best way to do so anyway. The truth is…email is NOT urgent.

When you get a noise notification every time you receive an email on your phone, you’re actually taxing your concentration. You’re working on something–clearly NOT that particular incoming email–and then you get sidelined by this noise.  You feel compelled to “check” because “it might be important.” It’s a vicious cycle and it’s NOT PRODUCTIVE.

So the “Productivity Tool” on my iphone is an email account that exists entirely for me, to send myself reminder emails when they come to mind, to send myself articles I read on my phone which inspire a further action, or to send Emi voice notes!

Think I’m crazy? Take your email off your phone for a week. See what happens. It will be scary at first, but mark my words, you’ll breathe easier. I do.

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