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Is your phone your friend or your enemy?

Do you battle to reduce your screen time?

I know a lot of people who talk about cutting down the time they spend on their phone and are perhaps detaching themselves from it earlier in the evening (or resolving to at least).

But if you have a job where your mobile is on hand during the day, maybe you could use it to your advantage instead.

Could you come to see it as your ally in a bid to become more productive (and free up more time for stuff that isn’t work)?

In both coaching sessions and walkshops recently, my clients have come up with some benefits that the tiny box in our pocket can offer and here are my 7 favourites (many of which can also be adapted to tablet or laptop apps and browsers, depending on your own personal vice):

  1. Make use of the timer: whether that is to remind you to take regular breaks or to use a more formal time-blocking technique such as the Pomodoro technique (where you work in 25 minute intervals with short breaks in between and a longer break after every 4 intervals.
  2. Or a timer with an incentive: try the Forest App which will let a tree grow on screen during your focused period of work.  If you stop you kill the tree.  They also plant real trees to reward the environment for your hard work.
  3. Find the backing track that works for you: if you like background noise as you work then try classical music (lyric-free) to keep it from intruding. You might also want to try something more ambient: the app Focus To Do will time your productive work intervals and your breaks – another fancy timer – but this time with the option of a white noise soundtrack.  “Wind with Crickets” is my favourite.  Or you might benefit from something like this 4 hour soundscape from BBC Sounds.
  4. Keep an eye on your wellbeing: consider using the many health tools available to help you make it through the working day in better shape – whether you need to be told to drink more water, or to stand up and walk around from time to time, there will be an app for you.
  5. Make effective use of the calendar app: this one even works with a paper diary.  There are lots of steps you can take to make your diary management smarter and more productive.  Block out some focus time, for example.
  6. Use airplane mode (or leave your phone in a different room, or try an app blocker): the theme here is to make the phone work for you, rather than being its slave.  I can’t be certain who will read this but I can be fairly certain that you are not so vital to world survival that you can’t have half an hour off.
  7. Make your apps work for you:  for some of you (me) that might mean deleting the apps themselves and, for example, limiting yourself to checking twitter on your phone.  But you might find that 5 minutes of Duolingo or even some mindless scrolling is just the break you need between focused periods of attention to work.

You can read some more productivity tips here or sign up to my mailing list to have them delivered to your inbox (where you can, of course, review them at a sensible time that works for you).

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