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How to turn your smartphone into a productivity engine

If we add up the times we consult our mobile phone throughout the day, the answer is sure to be impressive. Much of this time is also 'wasted' or misused. Here are some useful suggestions to optimise these consultations and increase productivity in the use of our smartphones.

Time is money, and more so in this society where immediacy is everything. We have accepted that taking our mobile phone out of our bags or pockets is normal, and even necessary, to see if someone has sent us a WhatsApp or an email, and this operation is repeated many more times in a short space of time, to refer back to messages or any other things: Google Maps, the weather forecast, an app that recommends places to eat or things to visit...

Each person consults their mobile phone an average of 2,716 times a day. With this high intensity usage, a change in habits can have a huge impact at the end of the day. It is about avoiding unproductive habits and promoting productive ones.

There are applications that count up the actual amount of time we spend looking at our telephone per day, which give very useful results to raise awareness and serve as a motivating factor for change. Do you know that if you count the hours we spend looking at our mobile, we spend between 4 and 6 years of our lives looking at its screen? Too much time!

Productivity is the relationship between the results we want to obtain and the time spent getting them. We all seek to be more productive and our mobile phones can be a very valuable tool for this or just the opposite. We use it more and more at work, something that mobile manufacturers know, and that is why they strive to create user-friendly interfaces. But what can we do?

The simplest tips we all know. The 'obsession' with being up-to-date and keeping up with the latest makes us check everything every so often, so the first thing to do is to separate the personal from the professional. It's very important to differentiate and realise that if you are at work it is not the time to look at social networks or personal emails. For this, both Android and iOS enable good control of the phone's notifications, to choose which ones we really need, and to avoid looking at the screen every two minutes. The ideal is also to have a different work email from your personal email.

"The first thing is to separate the personal from the professional".

Another proposal to consider is not to use the phone's camera so much to immortalise every moment, or to have a presence on social networks, unless, of course, that is what we do professionally.

Are notifications useful? As we have seen, they are if they do not interrupt our current tasks. There are also tricks, such as setting a daily timetable for when to pay attention to your phone, and the rest of the time not doing so, silencing it or putting it on aeroplane mode.

It is also important to remember that a phone call is usually more productive than sending a WhatsApp or an email. Normally, what it takes to send a message and receive a response will be solved with a phone call which takes seconds. Before all of this, we made calls more often, didn’t we? Wouldn't it be better to get used to that again?

What brings greater productivity to a mobile phone?

The technical characteristics of each phone play a fundamental role in its productivity. When we decide to buy one model or another, this is something we need to consider. For example, look for a good amount of RAM (Random Access Memory), dedicated to data processing, and the same with ROM (Read Only Memory), used for storage.

Recommendations depend a lot on the use that each person makes of their phone (work, social networks, photos or videos, etc.) but three gigs of RAM is fine for any multitasking and enough for the phone to run smoothly. In the case of ROM memory, 32 gigs is the recommended minimum for a work smartphone, always accompanied by space in the cloud and, optionally, an external micro-SD card. Also the battery plays a vital role, and it should have a minimum amperage of 3,000 mAh.

Another factor that can significantly improve the productivity of a smartphone is the applications that are used. Today there are apps for all possible tasks. For example, if we use several social networks at the same time, it may be useful for us to have an application like Hootsuite installed. Among the project management proposals or team tasks, we can choose Asana or Trello, which will help us keep everything handy, locatable, centralised and organised.

Regarding communication, both Skype and Slack are very useful tools, which even allow you to make team video calls. It is very important to have these tools installed on our phones if we need to be available and reachable but work remotely, or are out of the office for long periods of time.

Similarly, good content management is essential for every worker's smartphone. Documents from Google, Polaris Office or WPS Office will open any document we need, and to store and access them there will always be Google Drive and Dropbox.

There are also specific applications to help with the most common tasks, such as Text Expander, which serves to avoid having to write the same texts over and over again from your mobile. With an abbreviation an entire text can be saved, and in this way we avoid having to write it in full each time. We can also have this activated in email and WhatsApp, although not everyone finds it useful.


How to organise your smartphone's home screen properly

As there are applications for everything, they can start building up on a mobile phone. This mishmash of badly-organised apps can waste a lot of vital time for each user.

There is no fixed criterion to organise them, and it is something that depends on each person. However, logic says that it is best to have the applications that are most used on the home screen, and the rest on other screens. Access to the home and the dock (the lower icon bar of the main screen) is immediate as soon as the mobile is unlocked, and here every second counts.

Messaging applications, banking applications to be able to quickly access our data, the social networks that we use the most, email, the mobile browser, the phone key to make calls and the camera are some of the most common on that first screen.

The rest usually depend on the tastes and habits of each person: games, music, Netflix, or daily training and sports applications. At the forefront there must always be what is most used. Everything else which is secondary can go on other screens, such as the social networks that are not really looked at much any more.

Also, the criteria used to organise icons on screens are very varied, ranging from placing them by categories and creating folders by content, to ordering them on the screen on the basis of colour. This is a very effective method for very disciplined people or people with a good photographic memory, and it is a system that offers great speed of access to apps but does not work for everyone. For this reason, as we have said, the best thing is for each person to organise their screens according to their day to day routine, occupation and lifestyle. 


Get the most out of your phone's battery

Another of the key points in improving the productivity of your mobile phone is battery life. Whether we are going to be away from home for a long time (although today there are alternatives for emergency charging such as external batteries), or if we want to avoid the phone’s rapid battery consumption, there are tips to bear in mind:

  • Some phones include software designed to optimise battery use. If this is not the case, you can download applications that do so.
  • The screen is one of the most energy-consuming things on your phone. The first thing is to adjust the brightness, and the ideal would be, as we have already seen in this article, to avoid looking at your mobile every other minute. In addition, games, watching videos, recording them or taking photos, are activities that also consume a lot of battery. Be careful not to leave the camera or browser open without realising it. The same goes with enabling WiFi.
  • Location is best disabled, if it is not being used. There are applications that will use your location, but this is something that uses up your battery.
  • Automatic app updates are also best avoided, because they are so frequent and sometimes come at the worst time.
  • As a last recommendation, it must be remembered that heat affects battery life. We should not expose the phone to high temperatures for a long time, which happens a lot in summer without us even realising it.
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