People give lots of control to the devices around them, have you noticed that as well? Of course, there is the computer, your TV, perhaps a car. All of these have a lot of control over you and they can definitely change your mood. Still, there is one device that has probably more control over you than all of these things together. Yes, you guessed it correctly: your mobile or smartphone.

Is your smartphone in control?

Can you remember the time when you didn’t have a smartphone or even a mobile phone? How was that? Did you feel less stressed? Were you able to live a normal life? Could people reach you?

Studies show that many people go to bed and the bathroom with their mobile phone. My personal opinion is that when your house burns down, you’ll probably save your mobile phone over your cat. And you don’t even have a backup of your cat!

Have you seen the people who are walking with their children? Or the people who are on a family trip? How about those groups having a nice dinner together?

What do many of them do?

That’s right, they check their email, social media status, the news, play games and all kinds of other stuff that is (of course) very important at the time. But when they look back, they’ll realize it is not really that important. Let’s be honest with each other. Most of the emails you receive are not really so valuable that they need your immediate attention. The news is kind of the same as weeks or months ago. Social media is nice, but who really has 2,000 close friends who tweet quotes and share pictures?

I am not against all of that. Still, a little bit of self control and valuing your time is in order.

How to take back control.

My point is, many people (you as well?) give a whole lot of power to a smart device. Perhaps the device makers and app makers are the really smart people. They get you hooked on using that little machine all day long and taking it everywhere you go. While you’re doing that, you miss out on so many beautiful things that are actually happening in the real world.

Have you ever thought about going for a day without using or longing for your mobile phone? I think many people can feel like they are going cold turkey when their smartphone crashes.

The moment you take control back, you will become much more productive. I am not saying you shouldn’t use your phone anymore (by the way, based on what we are really using it for, should we still call it a phone?) What I suggest is that you create a ‘relationship’ with your device in which you are the one in control. Create a situation where you use the tools, instead of you getting used by these tools.

Here are a couple of things you could — or perhaps should — do, starting right now.

Email:

Please, don’t do this on the device unless it is really important. If it isn’t, respond later on your computer. This will make your productivity go up as well because you will type faster on a computer than on a phone.

Also, make sure you don’t check email all the time or keep the online connection open all the time! I mean it, start right now by going offline! Check your email only twice a day when you really have to. This goes for both mobile and normal laptop email reading. You will be able to respond to more messages in less time by batching the email tasks.

Social Stuff:

Spend a lot less time on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s face it you don’t need to know what all the people on your list are doing, all the time. And become much more selective about what you share. Stop sending quotes of famous people — share your own experience and knowledge. Stop telling people you are having dinner or you are in the bathroom. Really? You need to share that stuff with thousands of people? I believe you are worth far more than that.

Voice (E)mails:

Don’t write anymore. Start dictating and send out voice messages, they take a lot less time to record. Then send them to people who really need to know the information, and keep them brief (less than 15 seconds would be great!).

Timers:

Use apps for timers on your phone. This is something that will help you become more productive. Also, it will help you use the device that may have cost you hundreds of euros or dollars for something useful.

News Feeds:

Stop reading news sites and getting distracted by things you don’t need. Create your own news channels and read them. There are services you can use for this and they create a news stream that is just for you with the news you need or want. Focus on what is important, not on what is published.

Camera:

Use the phone camera to record settings or situations that give you a good feeling or motivate you. Capture notes or white board overviews and be done with it. And no, you don’t need to share that then with your Twitter friends!

When you do this, your phone becomes a productivity tool again. I believe my phone is made for that. I don’t want you to suffer from having a tool that drains your energy and robs you of being creative and productive.

Make your phone a real smartphone — except this time you are smarter because you know how to take control back.

Enjoy!

Converting “Down Time” Nowadays, it seems, everyone with a smartphone has gotten into the habit of continuously trying to convert “down time” into useful, work time. A New Productivity for the Smartphone Era

Featured photo credit: LJR.MIKEvia Flickr

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