Make Your Phone Work for You, Not Against You, at Work
Last Updated on October 23, 2018 by Karen Quach
In theory, smartphones should make you more productive at work. After all, they give you easy access to email, let you chat with colleagues about important issues, and notify you about scheduling changes and upcoming meetings.
But since you’re likely reading this article on your smartphone—and at work, too—you don’t need me to tell you smartphones are both addictive and productivity-draining. (If you want to know how many times I checked my phone while writing these two paragraphs alone, you’re out of luck. The number is too high to share.)
But smartphones don’t necessarily deserve their bad rep: according to 2015 statistics compiled by the Pew Research Center, over 60% of smartphone users look up important medical information on their phones, over 40% use them to find real estate and job listings, and nearly 20% use them to apply for jobs. It should follow that your phone can be a helpful tool at work, too, not just a time-waster that keeps you from meeting quotas and deadlines.
If you’re tired of beating yourself up because you can’t tear yourself away from the newest game long enough to finish an important document, this article is for you. Keep reading for some tips on how to transform your smartphone from time-killing foe to time-saving friend. These mobile apps will help you stay productive while keeping you safe online.
Take Better Notes
Whether you prefer to type notes, scribble with your fingertip, or write with a stylus, there’s a note-taking app out there for you. Each of these apps is available for both iOS and Android.
- Evernote is one of the most popular organizing and note-taking apps for both businesses and individuals. Along with letting you write notes, the app lets you record audio files and collaborate with coworkers.
- Zoho Notebook lets you doodle, save websites, add photos and voice recordings, create checklists, and take notes—and it does it all on one gorgeous, easy-to-use format that suits the creative-minded and practical user alike.
- Want nothing more than the ability to take quick, easy notes on the go? Choose Simplenote. This free app lets you share notes and access them from any device, but that’s about it—perfect for the employee who loves clean space, zero frills necessary.
Accomplish Work Tasks on the Go
If you only use your phone to check email and Slack, you’re doing it wrong. In fact, going mobile just to tackle business communications might actually hamper your efficiency.
Checking your email at home, on vacation, or at lunch makes you feel like you’re constantly working, which can sap your efficiency and enthusiasm. Plus, constant text and email interruptions hinder your workflow during the regular nine to five.
Instead of using your phone as a constant source of work-related interruption and distraction, use it to tackle other work tasks around the office more efficiently:
- Travel a lot for work? Everlance is a mileage tracking app that also shows exactly how much you spend on travel for easy reimbursement.
- Cut the cord and start conference calls on the go with UberConference. This app makes hosting several parties simple, no matter where your work takes you. It also gives you the tools to schedule and record conference calls and to read quick summaries of each call.
- If your scanner and printer are constantly down, your phone can help. Dropbox Business lets you capture text, photos, and multi-page docs that it then sends to the cloud with your annotations. To get similar features plus expanded printer access, check out Evernote Scannable.
- Streamline expense tracking and minimize errors with Expensify, which lets you scan and upload receipts, reimburse employees within 24 hours, and prep for tax season with minimal hassle.
Listen and Learn
Skip the time-wasting games and try podcasts instead. As a burgeoning form of media that range from news broadcasts and educational courses to fictional stories, podcasts offer fascinating information that can enrich your life—for free:
- DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders is produced by Stanford and features talks from some of the foremost innovators in business. Subscribe to learn how to reduce workplace friction, empower your employees to succeed, and more.
- Social Pros focuses on social media marketing. Listen in to get updates and advice on creating ads that convert in the digital world.
- The Action Catalyst Podcast focuses on more than just business. You’ll also learn strategies for time management and self-discipline, along with getting tips from experts each week.
Of course, all work and no play leads to burnout—fast. Try these informative and fun podcasts the next time you need a mental break:
- Fresh Air, an NPR podcast hosted by Terri Gross, features interviews with everyone from authors, former spies, and actors to news correspondents, politicians, and military officers. You’ll learn something new and fascinating every time you listen.
- Simply need to rest and recharge your brain? Head over to MaximumFun.org, where you’ll find podcasts that range from quirky explorations of medical history to faux-courtroom judgments on the mundane and bizarre. You’ll learn something and laugh while you do it.
- Prefer stories that distract you and make your mind work to unravel plot puzzles? Try the ever-popular horror/fantasy Welcome to Night Vale or the lesser-known but no less gripping sci-fi drama Wolf 359.
Studies suggest that multitasking kills productivity, so don’t try to finish last quarter’s report while listening to interviews. Instead, listen to podcasts during your daily commute or weekend chores. You’ll make the most of time you usually consider wasted, and you’ll learn something to boot. If you’re interested in expanding your productivity with tech into your home, check out some tips on how to easily integrate smart tech into your home.
Have other tips to share? Help the rest of us break our bad phone habits—share your advice in the comments below!
Author bio: Kylie McQuarrie is a copywriter from Salt Lake City. When she’s not writing or fantasizing about owning a dog, you can find her reading, hiking, and drinking too much coffee.