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How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

How Not to Let Smartphones Make Us Dumber but Smarter

The more we use smartphones, the dumber we become.

Research [1] has found that having a smartphone physically nearby actually causes us to perform worse on tasks than those who’s smartphones were in another room. In other words, the mere presence of your smartphone reduces your cognitive capacity even if you’re not conscious of the affect.

Smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution

While smartphones provide us with convenience such as the ability to connect with people within seconds, they also facilitate the development of bad habits like having too much entertainment and procrastinating. Entertainment is great for the short term, but it’s a massive drain on our time and has a massive impact on our long term growth.

Whether we want to admit it or not, smartphones are the largest source of attention pollution.  If you check them or not, push notifications are there to remind us of who’s messaged, emailed, liked our status or latest Instagram photo. We get these at all hours of the day and night as a flashing beacon to check our phone, meaning it’s difficult to complete a task without interruption and distraction compared to years ago when this wouldn’t have been a problem.

People are so addicted to smartphones because of the fear of missing out

Even without any notifications to nudge us, we never forget to check our phones, thanks to FOMO or the fear of missing out. This is when we feel that sense of anxiety that we aren’t up to date on the latest news or posts especially on social media, and it causes us to robotically check our smartphones mindlessly.

The problem with FOMO is that we fear we’re missing out on the things that actually don’t matter. Our lives won’t change if we don’t see the latest updates on Facebook.

However, this is causing us to miss the things in life that actually do matter. We waste a vast amount of time that could be spent working on our strengths and weaknesses, widening our knowledge and personal growth or improving our health.

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This is like feeding the brain junk food while letting it be starved of the essential nutrients it needs to sustain its optimum health and thrive.

How not to make your smartphone turn into a “dumbphone”

We can’t completely avoid using our smartphones. This is unrealistic. But there are ways we can avoid our smartphones turning into “dumbphones”.

It starts with identifying particular types of apps that immediately turn a smartphone into a dumbphone. These are the apps that:

  • Have no clear purpose. They don’t provide a concrete function and you can’t tell what you’ll get out if it at the end.
  • Are bottomless. There’s no definite end to these like you’d find with a book or a movie. Rather they’re designed to keep you using them for as long as possible usually in the form of a game.
  • Are addictive. When you don’t use them regularly you feel uncomfortable and FOMO comes to the surface.

Don’t delete them, just make them less accessible

While deleting these apps and going cold turkey may seem like the answer, it’s actually better to make them less accessible.

The more we suppress ourselves by deleting the apps, the more difficult it’ll be to stop thinking about using them.

Instead, a better way (if you use an iPhone in this example) is to gather these apps together into a folder and move this to the last page of your phone’s screen. The magic of this is that you’re creating a choice and when you’re brain is mindful of this choice it feels less tempted to open the apps. The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ concept is also pretty powerful here.

    Create a folder and name it as “Time wasters”
      Put the folder on the last page

      How to further make your smartphone really SMART

      So you’ve managed to reduce access to these time-wasting apps and it’s freed up your time to focus on better things. Now it’s time to use your smartphone to facilitate your growth.

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      Go from the passive to the active approach by using RSS feeds

      Using RSS reader apps can dramatically increase the quality of information you receive through your smartphone. On other platforms, if you have a particular interest and want to get the latest updates you might get inundated with 100 news stories on a subject where only 2 of them are actually applicable to you. With RSS feeds (or Really Simple Syndication feeds), on the contrary, the right information will be filtered for you based on your needs, dramatically cutting down on precious time.

      The good news is most websites have these but Feedly is a great example of an app that allows you to gather vast amounts of content in one place making it convenient for you to find. It links to many different media channels across different platforms allowing you to keep up to date.

        Learn new things through a wide variety of apps

        There are a plethora of apps that help you learn and grow in almost any subject.

        Khan Academy provides so may options for subjects to learn about, from history to science, finance to humanities.

        Wokabulary and Duolingo are two great apps for learning new languages. But whatever you want to learn whether it’s guitar, drawing or coding, there are relevant apps to help you achieve your goals.

          Duolingo (left), Guitar Lessons by Guitar Tricks (Middle), How to Draw – Free Drawing Lessons (right)

          Make use of your phone to track your lifestyle and improve it

          Our smartphones are with us everywhere we go so it’s a great way to track what we do. Once we have a better overall understanding of how we’re choosing to live we can tune and improve it.

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          Tracking what you eat can be one of the best ways to get more healthy. Most of us can’t remember what we ate for dinner last Tuesday but apps like MyFitnessPal will do this for you.

          Other areas of your life can also be covered using your smartphone’s current apps such as writing down your daily moods which can improve your well-being.

          Make good use of practical apps

          There are many amazing apps that can fire up our imaginations or simply help us to live a better life. Either way, they can be used to replace any current apps that waste your time.

          Decibel 10 turns your smartphone into an accurate noise meter. It’s fun and interesting to see how much noise you’re being exposed to.

            PackPoint is a useful one for travellers. It helps calculate what you need to take on a trip according to the length of time, where you’re going and what you’ll be doing there.

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              Waterlogged will help you drink more water by accurately allowing you to measure your containers. It also includes other drinks such as tea, coffee and soda.

                Forest can show you exactly how much time you waste on social media and procrastinating in general. With this app you grow your own tree but the catch is it’ll wither and die the more you move away from the app to check other unnecessary ones.

                  While our smartphones are getting a bad rep, it really is down to us to use them to our full advantage. Replace those apps that bring no added growth to your life and make use of the access to apps that can enhance your knowledge and well-being.

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

                  What Are The Top 7 Priorities To Have In Life? Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How to Tackle Them Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips 11 Best Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

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                  Last Updated on February 17, 2021

                  50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                  50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time

                  If you feel like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want to do, maybe it’s time to check-in with your time management skills.

                  No one is born to be very good at time management, so that’s okay if you think you’re bad in it. But everyone can learn to boost their productivity and achieve more!

                  Here are 50 ways to increase productivity and add hours to your day.

                  1. Set a Timer

                  Estimate the time you need to tackle different tasks and set a timer for each of your tasks. How you go about this is up to you as there are many different ways. There is the Pomodoro technique where you focus on a task for 25 minutes followed by a five minute break afterwards.

                  In the event that you have a task that will take much longer than that, you can consider one of the many timer-based apps. One that comes to mind is Clockify. It’s used for freelancers and entrepreneurs alike, however it’s a good way to be setting yourself a timer. It provides reports and you can serve as a project manager of sorts too. Best of all, it’s free.

                  2. Eliminate All Distractions

                  Distractions include the phone, email notifications and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop. Just as it’s important to be organized offline, it’s key to have things organized online as well. This free guide End Distractions And Find Your Focus is a good tool to help you. With this guide, you’ll learn how to get rid of distractions and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

                  You can also learn more on how to get rid of all distractions in this guide: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

                  3. Listen to Music That Boosts Productivity

                  Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus.

                  Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.

                  Here’s a complete guide to help you pick the right music for better productivity: How To Maximize Your Productivity With Music: A Complete Guide

                  4. Find Meaning in What You Do (And Love What You Do)

                  Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.

                  If you aren’t sure what you love doing yet, don’t worry. Leo Babauta has some unique ways to help you: How to Find Your Passion

                  5. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time.

                  By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.

                  Learn a unique technique to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster.

                  6. Batch Similar Tasks into a Single Batch.

                  Tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email and errands can be grouped into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session. One way to help you with organizing all of those things is through the app Todoist. It’s an easy and simple way for you to plan out your day, set reminders, and group all of your most important tasks in a convenient spot.

                  7. Complete Your Most Dreaded Tasks First Thing in the Morning.

                  Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.

                  Many people tend to check emails in the morning because after checking a list of emails, they feel fulfilled. But that’s just an illusion of having achieved more.

                  Doing simple tasks like checking emails first in the morning is bad for you. Instead, do the difficult tasks because you have more energy in the morning to tackle them!

                  8. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Big Task

                  To stay motivated for whatever you do, reward yourself every now and then.

                  Keep track of your small wins and milestones and celebrate them. So whenever you struggle about your progress, you see how far you’ve come!

                  Find out more about this 2-Step Approach to Self-Motivation: Track Small Wins and Reward Yourself.

                  9. Don’t Multitask

                  Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. If you think you can multitask, think again.

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                  For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.

                  10. Step Away from the Computer

                  The Internet has become one of the number one distraction. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible.

                  I do this a lot when I try to brainstom new ideas and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.

                  11. Use Focus Tools

                  Make good use of apps and technology to help you remove distractions.

                  Here’re 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools to help you stay focused. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM.

                  Also, join the free Fast-Track Class – Overcoming Distraction, and you’ll learn the one simple method to work even when you’re surrounded by distractions. Join the free session now!

                  12. Just Start

                  Often times, starting is the hardest part. People tend to wait for the perfect time with perfect condition to start. But there’s no perfect condition.

                  Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.

                  13. Find out Your Productive Hours

                  Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning.

                  Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.

                  14. Keep a Notebook and Pen on Hand at All Times

                  This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. Your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second. Another consideration is getting the app Evernote. Not only does this save you on ink and paper, Evernote is a convenient place for you to jot down notes and thoughts and then share them with the team. In certain circumstances, this can prove useful if you’re the type of person that has a lot of ideas that you want to share.

                  15. Write a Blog to Chronicle Your Own Personal Development and Achievements

                  The blog keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.

                  When you write down all the small achievements you’ve been having, you’re also more motivated to move forward.

                  And you know what, this is how I started Lifehack too! What also helped me in starting Lifehack is WordPress, which allows people to set up a website for free. WordPress has simplified a lot of the process of building a site to the point that virtually anyone can build a website now.

                  16. Write out a To-Do-List Each Day

                  I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up. The Full Life Planner is a nice tool to help you organize your days and get things that matter done. Check out the planner here and start to plan your day ahead easily!

                  Make sure you don’t make any of these common to-do-list mistakes!

                  17. Write Your Most Important Tasks and To-Dos on a Calendar.

                  The key to good time management is knowing where to be and what to be doing there at any given time. Effective calendar management goes hand in hand with good task list management.

                  Learn here How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space.

                  18. Reflect on Your Productivity Constantly

                  As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself:

                  “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?”

                  This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.

                  19. Get up Early Before Anyone Else

                  I know it could be difficult for some to wake up early in the morning but nothing beats a quiet house!

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                  Here’s How to Start Your Day at 5:00 AM and some Simple Things Early Risers Do to make waking up early easier.

                  20. Get Plenty of Sleep

                  When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.

                  Try out this night routine which I highly recommend for productivity: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                  21. Exercise

                  Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace.

                  Take a short walk at lunch or do some simple stretches during your break to maximize your productivity.

                  Here I have some exercises recommendations for you:

                  22. Outsource as Much as Possible

                  If you want to achieve more in less time, learn to delegate or outsource work. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:

                  Also, read this guide to learn how to delegate effectively: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

                  23. Set Some Exciting Goals

                  Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.

                  Set goals that are challenging and achievable. The best goal setting framework is a SMART goal. That said, there are other tools that can help you out as well. For example, The Dreamers’ Guide To Reaching Your Goal is a great guide to help you set and reach goals effectively. Grab your free guide and learn how to make your goals happen this year!

                  24. Tell Other People About Your Goals

                  When you tell others about your goals, you will instantly be held accountable.

                  25. Listen to Podcasts

                  Listen to educational podcasts or audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner.

                  Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.

                  Some recommendations for you: 11 Podcasts To Inspire Yourself

                  26. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done

                  This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read. Read it, apply the tips in your daily lives and get more things done.

                  Here’re more great books about productivity too: 35 Books on Productivity and Organizational Skills for an Effective Life

                  27. Learn to Speed Read

                  When you can read faster, you will read and learn more! Check out these 10 Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed.

                  You can also make use of the app OutRead to help speed up your reading speed!

                  28. Learn to Skip When You Read

                  When you’re reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest. But you have to read with a purpose.

                  Learn how to make it work here: How to Read 10X Faster and Retain More

                  29. Focus on Result-Oriented Activities

                  Pareto’s law (also known as the 80 20 rule) states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results.

                  We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those activities.

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                  30. Take a Break

                  You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.

                  31. Start a Polyphasic Sleep Schedule

                  What is polyphasic sleep?

                  Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern specification intended to compress sleep time to 2-5 hours daily.[1] This is achieved by spreading out sleep into short (around 20-45 minute) naps throughout the day. This allows for more waking hours with relatively high alertness.

                  While you can learn more about it here, you’re recommended to take some naps during the day to recharge your energy too.

                  32. Learn to Say “No”.

                  We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.

                  Learn the Gentle Art of Saying No from Leo Babauta.

                  33. Go on an Information Diet

                  Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing.

                  Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

                  The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on. Here’re some simple tips you can try: 10 Simple Productivity Tricks To Manage Overloaded Information

                  34. Organize Your Office

                  The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system and dumping the junk.

                  Check out these 21 Tips to Organize Your Office and Get More Done and 20 Easy Home Office Organization Ideas to Boost Your Productivity.

                  35. Find a Mentor

                  By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.

                  A good mentor is hard to find, so here’s a guide to help you: What to Look for in a Mentor

                  36. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts

                  With technology’s help, you can double your work efficiency. Even better, you learn all the shortcuts when using technology, for example keyboard shortcuts.

                  When you use keyboard shortcut, you gain 64 hours every year!

                  Not sure what shortcuts to lear? Check out these 22 Tricks That Can Make Anyone A Keyboard Ninja.

                  Besides learning the shortcuts, you can also create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.

                  37. Improve Your Typing Speed to Save Time

                  Do you know you can save 21 days per year just by typing fast?

                  You don’t really need to take some serious courses to type faster, try these typing games online:

                  38. Work from Home and Avoid the Daily Commute

                  If your job is a flexible one, consider working from home. This saves you the commute time and you’ll find yourself more energetic throughout the day as you have saved the long ride.

                  Take a look at these tips to help you stay productive while working from home:

                  How to Work from Home and Stay Ultra-Productive

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                  39. Get Rid of Time Wasters

                  Common time wasters include Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television and extraneous Internet surfing.

                  Don’t rely on your willpower, make use of some of these useful tools to help you stay focus: 10 Online Apps for Better Focus

                  40. Plan Your Meals in Advance

                  Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This allows you to focus on the necessary – saving you time and money. You can also save yourself even more time through a wide variety of apps. One app that I find helpful is Mealime. It’s an app that provides you with a wide selection of recipes and also a convenient spot for your grocery list as well.

                  Considering the fact that over 4 million users have this app, it goes to show that there is a good selection of meal plans that you can follow and that the app is friendly to use.

                  41. Cook Your Meals in Bulk

                  When you cook your meals in bulk, you will have plenty of leftovers. This can avoid having to cook everyday.

                  Find out more about how to make cooking in bulk works: Once a Month Cooking: Productivity Hack or Overrated Time Suck?

                  42. Protect Yourself from Unnecessary Phone Time with Caller ID

                  The minutes you spend on picking up unnecessary phone calls are time wasted. You can prevent that from happening.

                  Check out this detailed guide how you can deal with those unnecessary phone calls: How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day – Cellphone Calls

                  43. Take Shorter Showers

                  This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.

                  44. Save the Trips to Bank by Taking Direct Deposit

                  Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.

                  45. Auto Pay Your Bills

                  How many times have you been worried about whether you missed the bills deadline?

                  Auto paying your bills will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.

                  46. Shop Online

                  Whenever possible, avoid going to the store. When you shop online, you can be more focus about what you’re getting.

                  47. Speed up your Internet With a Broadband Connection

                  Many people are aware of the slow speed of internet but aren’t doing anything about it. In fact, this is the number one Internet time-saver!

                  If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.

                  48. Keep up the Speed of Your Computer

                  If you’re a Windows user, use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.

                  Or maybe, consider switching to Mac as there’re plenty of Advantages You Probably Don’t Know About Switching To Mac From PC.

                  49. Turn off the TV

                  The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube.

                  For better health and productivity, turn off the TV. Here’re 11 more reasons to tell you to stop watching TV so often.

                  Turn off the TV and you are sure to get more out of life.

                  50. Use a Tivo or DVR

                  This can help you cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes. You can save time while not missing the fun.

                  So, here’s the ultimate list of techniques you should learn to boost productivity. Pick the techniques that work for you and make them your daily habits. As time goes, you’ll find yourself being a lot more productive.

                  More Time Management Tips

                  Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Medical News Today: What is biphasic and polyphasic sleep?

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