And you need to use it smartly to make it productive.


When was the last time you spent a day without your phone?

Half a day? Heck, even a couple of hours?

I bet you probably can’t remember a time where you were purposefully without your phone.

That said, the number of hours spent peering and jabbing at our smartphones isn’t just annoying, but potentially dangerous.

As we become increasingly reliant on smartphones, picking them up every other minute to check the latest updates, we are susceptible to smartphone health hazards. Our lives — both personally and professionally — have become so controlled by the flow of communication that even a few minutes without our phones within reach has been shown to cause anxiety, physical signs of stress, and even depression in some users.

But that brings us to a question.

Are smartphones really bad?

The short answer is no.

According to Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to make habit-forming products, we check our phones not just, because something told us to. But because we have built habits that tell us to do it on our own.

And often the addiction becomes so bad that even a silent phone near you causes increased anxiety, stress, and disruption to your focus.

So the key here is to find ways to tame its constant pull and build a better relationship that puts us in control of when and how we use it.

And the best way to do it is to make use of your phone’s productive features. Yes, despite their misgivings, our phones are also incredible tools for productivity, when used properly. Unfortunately, few of us do this.

And here are a few suggestions to get you started.


Time Management and Task Scheduling.

If you need some structure to how to approach your day, try the Pomodoro technique.

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have — rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks, separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.

The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.

On your phone, you can install pomodoro apps like FocusBooster or PomoDone app or even use your phone’s timer to divide your day.

The forced breaks help to cure that frazzled, burnt-out feeling most of us experience toward the end of the day and keep your creative energies at their active best throughout the day.


Let The Phone Read Aloud For You.

Whether you are zooming down the freeway, or crammed into a subway car, or even in a darkened movie theater, it is not always convenient or possible to pull up your smartphone’s screen as you normally would.

But with a few tweaks to your phone, you can get the most important information off your phone without having to look down at the display.

And here are a few ways to do it.

Google Assistant.

Android’s Google Assistant can do quite a bit, but one thing it is not very good at is reading things back to you. In fact, the only thing you can get Google Assistant to read aloud are your five latest text messages. For some, this may be exactly what you need.

Use the voice command Read my text messages and she will deliver them in order of most recent first. After each message, you can choose to repeat the message or reply, before going on to the next one.

Text-to-Speech.

If you want to depend on native features to hear more than just your text messages, you are going to have to delve into Android’s accessibility features. You can get the feature up and running in two easy steps.

· Go to Settings > Accessibility > Text-to-Speech. The settings here will likely vary depending on what make of phone you have. For example, Samsung users can choose between Google’s text-to-speech function or Samsung’s. You can adjust the speech rate, pitch, and play an example to hear how it sounds.

· Go back to the Accessibility screen, scroll down to Select to Speak, and toggle it on.

You should now see a little icon in the corner of your screen with a speech bubble. To use the feature, do the following:

· Navigate to the app or page you want to be read to aloud.

· Tap the speech bubble icon (it will turn blue).

· Select the text you want to be read aloud.

Unfortunately, there are no voice commands that will get this read out to you without having to manually select the text you want to hear.

Third-Party Apps.

For those of you who do not have Google Assistant or for those of you want a more robust hands-free experience, you can look to a third-party app.

One of the simplest to use is OutLoud. With the free version of the app, you can set it to read notifications from one app.

After choosing your app of choice, go to the Preferences tab to turn the feature on. Under preferences, you can also set it to automatically turn on and off when headphones are plugged in or when connected to Bluetooth. These scenarios can be useful during a commute, for example, so you do not have to take your phone out of your bag to hear messages.


Sharing Websites With Your Computer.

It isn’t hard to go from reading an article on your phone to reading it on your laptop.

All you need to do is remember where you found it, right?

There are multiple apps, which are available for doing that.

Pocket app.

The pocket app allows the user to save an article or web page to remote servers for later reading. The article is then sent to the user’s Pocket list (synced to all of their devices) for offline reading. Pocket removes clutter from articles and allows the user to add tags to their articles and to adjust text settings for easier reading.

IOS Users Can Use the Built-In Handoff Feature.

With iOS, you can send whatever site you are looking at on your iOS device to your Mac using Handoff, one of Apple’s “Continuity” features that synchronizes compatible apps between Mac and iOS devices. If you’re on an iOS device and looking at some webpage or are using a supported app like Messages, Safari, or Bear, you’ll see the corresponding icon appear in your dock, letting you leave your phone alone and access it from your Mac.

Google Chrome Supports Syncing.

If you would rather keep your content’s cross-pollination strictly to the web, Google is your savior. Signing in to Chrome with your Google account enables a variety of syncing features, keeping your browser history, extensions, and login information accessible in nearly every iteration of Google Chrome.


Use Your Phone To Meditate.

Yes, while your phone is infamous for multitasking and distractions, it can also help you relax and center yourself.

For many who are trying it out to control their stress levels, apps such as Headspace, Buddhify, and Calm are useful options. These apps allow users to take guided sessions, follow a preset time, log their details of practice and keep track.

The apps are designed for different user levels. For example, Headspace would be great for beginners and those who want to meditate in short spurts — maybe a 10-minute metro ride or during an office break. For people who do ‘serious meditation’, apps such as Dhamma make more sense.

And if you do not want to install any app, the easiest way to find your Zen would be to block all your phone’s distractions by turning on “do not disturb” mode during bedtime.


Sync Notes with your Desktop PC.

There are plenty of solutions available in the form of note-taking apps accessible on both smartphones and desktops to synchronize with each other. Making the day-to-day information of the person accessible every time is the main motive of the note-taking apps.

When you search for any note app, the app should be easy and convenient to use and must support most of the OS platforms. Thereby, you can synchronize your notes with your family or kids on their phone or laptop if required.

Some of the well-known apps are.

Evernote.

Whenever the talk of the best note-taking apps happens, Evernote app pops first thing in the mind. Evernote is an incredibly powerful tool built for creating notes and efficiently organizing them.

Evernote comes with the feature to attach the pages of a website as well as images. For students, this note app is the perfect place to save almost any kind of note regardless of the content and size.

Google Keep.

Google Keep is a good note-taking app that comes with card-based notes. This Google note app allows the user to get all their ideas and images in a single place. Keep can transcribe the text present in an image that includes handwriting. 

The app allows you to record the notes in the form of a message through its memo feature. Color code and give attributes to your notes to make them different from one another.

OneNote.

Coming from Microsoft, OneNote gives direct competition to Evernote with the pack of free features. The note-taking app is rich in features and gives many things for almost free. 

With the integration of Office tools like Word, Excel, and others, the tool becomes more powerful to use. The tool allows you to type and write as well as draw the content on the note. You can easily capture an image to add in the note and the tool will automatically crop the image to fit in the note. OneNote app can easily pin the notes that you need in the future to find them easily.


Last Thoughts.

As you can see, always using your smartphone does not have to be unhealthy or horrible, especially if it lets you multiply the time you have available in the day.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t put your phone down and spend more time with family, but if you’re somewhere where you’ve got nothing better to do, unleashing its productive capabilities are one of the best things you can do.

So, next time you pull out your phone and unlock it, think twice about what you will be doing with it.

Will you waste time surfing meaninglessly online?

Or will you actually get something productive done?

Mindlessness or Mindfulness? .The choice is yours.

As Jon Kabat jinn has rightly said.

Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.

Related.

Technology manager, poet, archaeology enthusiast, history maniac and also an avid blogger. I look at each day as a new flower waiting to unleash its magic. Visit Ravi on Medium.
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Technology manager, poet, archaeology enthusiast, history maniac and also an avid blogger. I look at each day as a new flower waiting to unleash its magic. Visit Ravi on Medium.
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