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Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

Take Control Back Over Your Smartphone

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?

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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.

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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.

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Enjoy!

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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