Wondering how to easily turn your phone into a fantastic productivity tool and stop letting it making you waste your precious time? Check this quick guide out!
We live in a smartphone-addiction era and that’s not a secret.
Many people associate smartphones with distractions but today I’m going to show you how I turned my phone into a productivity tool and made it my friend, instead of my enemy.
Since I’m an Android user, and I’ve never owned an iPhone, I’m going to explain my process for Android, of course. However, some of these apps I recommend are probably available for iPhones as well and you can almost certainly apply my methods if you own an iPhone.
How to easily turn your phone into a fantastic productivity tool
This is how you turn your phone into the ultimate productivity tool.
Stop seeing your phone as an entertainment tool
This is the first step because, as I’ve said before, everything starts with the right mindset.
I could give you a list of amazing apps for you to leverage how useful your phone can be, but if you keep looking at it as some sort of toy to play and “kill time” when you’re bored, those apps won’t do anything for you.
So, the first thing you want to do is to take your phone in your hands and see its true potential. Your phone is a tool, just like a hammer, that can be used to build beautiful things but also to destroy things and hurt people.
This technological marvel you take with you everywhere you go can actually help you build the life you want and improve yourself, instead of making you compare yourself with others (I’m looking at you, Instagram) and lose track of time.
Take that all in and you’ll be ready to work on the next steps.
Download My Phone Usage
My Phone Usage is an app that keeps track of every minute you spend looking at your phone and then shows you a graph of the most used apps.
Once you have the app downloaded and installed, go about your day as usual. Use your phone as you normally would and, at the end of the day, take a look at this app’s graphs.
The first time I did this (around a year ago) I learned I was spending (or should I say “wasting“?) 3 and a half hours a day on Instagram! On a single day, I opened the app 80 times. It’s embarrassing to admit that, but I’m proud to say I needed to see that only once to realize I needed to eradicate Instagram from my day to day life.
Delete distracting apps
By now you should have identified which apps make you waste your time. I know it’s hard, but it’s time to delete them. Now.
Be honest with yourself. You already know which apps are preventing you from doing your best work and living in the moment.
Some apps are preinstalled on your phone and you won’t be able to delete them and some others may be useful sometimes but still distracting. In those cases, the best thing you can do is to mute notifications for those apps. Go to your phone’s Settings and you’ll find the option there.
You can mute them whenever you need to concentrate or just keep them like that from Monday to Friday or from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Whatever suits your routine!
What’s most important is that you don’t let these tiny notifications steal your focus and prevent you from doing important work!
Clean and organize your home screen
Another trick that may work wonders for you is keeping distracting apps out of your sight. Once you’ve cleaned your phone, it’s time to clean and organize your home screen as well.
This is likely the screen you look at the most, so you’ll want to keep it as productivity-free as possible.
Then, make a list of 4-5 essential apps (like Gmail, if you need to check your mail constantly because that’s how your clients get in touch with you, Google Drive, Forest or Evernote).
This is how I organize mine on my Android:
Wallpaper by Emmygination (check her out, she’s amazing!)
Since I use Pinterest to monitor my small business, I check it around 2-3 times a day. I’m guilty of forgetting about it in the past, so I decided to place the icon on my home screen and now I don’t miss a single day of pinning.
Download key productivity apps
- Forest: plant a seed on this app to see a small tree grow. If you open a different app while the tree is growing, your tree dies.
- aCalendar or Google Calendar: use it to create time blocks and organize your whole day.
- Todoist: keep a list of things to do. Here, you can organize your tasks per project and urgency.
- Evernote: take notes everywhere! This is the one I use to keep an updated list on blog post ideas and where I wrote my 3-year vision I read every single night before going to bed.
Place a calendar widget on your home screen
This one serves as a reminder of what you need to do and at what time of the day it needs to be done.
Now, a little context:
I’ve talked about how blocking your time on Google Calendar is a key step to organize your whole life.
Every night I check my to-do list and then open my Google Calendar and create time blocks to complete the most important tasks of the day. I always leave room for rest, lunch, a power nap in the afternoon, etc. Plus, I give my tasks a little more time than necessary just in case something unexpected comes up, I’m still able to complete the task on time.
Back to the app.
Download a Calendar app like aCalendar and place its widget on your primary or secondary home screen. Every time you create time blocks on your Google Calendar, they’re going to show up on your home screen.
This is an easy and awsome way to keep pace with your daily tasks and avoid distractions.
Use Forest app
is an app that’s specifically meant to keep you productive. By planting a seed in Forest, you’ll watch it gradually grow into a tree. But if you leave the app to answer a text message or check Twitter, then the plant immediately dies and you’ll have to start over again. But you aren’t faulted the first time you exit out to access a different app — a banner that pops up warning you that your tree is going to die. If you do it a second time, you’ll have to start over.
Whenever you’re going to start working or just doing a task that requires you to focus, plant a tree on Forest.
It’s amazing to plant little trees and earn coins and then get new ones and build a fantastic-looking forest you can be proud of.
Let people know you’re busy
Chats are wonderful. They’re revolutionized human communication and they’re among the key players in globalization. They keep our loved ones close, no matter how far away they live. But… they can also be so, so distracting.
If someone’s texting you and it’s not an emergency, you can say something like “hey, can I text you later?”. Go about your thing and reply only while on a break.
Sometimes you just got to turn it off
That’s right. Sometimes, when all else fails, you’ll need to turn your smartphone off for an hour or two.
I usually do this on days when I don’t feel like doing anything. Somehow it puts me on the right mindset to just work on my thing and forget about the rest.
Turn it off and leave it in a different room, then work for 45-60 minutes straight, rest a little and if you want to reward yourself for what you accomplished during that time, turn it on and check it for 5-10 minutes.
Last year I was a total mess. I barely worked on important projects and I’ve felt mostly lost, stuck and purposeless. When I look back, I see myself sitting on my couch checking Instagram for hours on end. I had what we could call “a little meme situation” going on.
On January 1st, I was ready to revamp my life and I knew for a fact that I was wasting way too much time on my phone, so I decided to tackle the problem and close my Instagram account. I couldn’t delete the app because it’s preinstalled on my phone, but deleting the account worked for me anyway.
Then, I started to look for things to do with all that free time I had on my hands now.
I started to read more books and check out better content on YouTube and that’s how I ultimately came up with the idea of starting my side hustle, this blog. Aimlief has become an amazing challenge and hobby for me, so I can confidently say that leaving Instagram brought a lot of positive things into my life.
Try these tips and make space for good, productive things!