People are becoming increasingly aware that mobile phones, especially smartphones, can be used to make their lives better or more efficient. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of time management. Early on, phone developers began including rudimentary calendars and clocks in their phones. Today, a variety of apps capable of organizing every aspect of your life are available.
The first line of defense against time-wasters is the simple planner. All of your meetings, appointments and obligations should be entered into your calendar, of course. However, most people neglect to schedule their daily activities. Make a list at the beginning of the day of everything you know you will have to do that day and then begin plugging items into your calendar. Set alerts to vibrate every time you are scheduled to transition from one task or activity to another. Even if you don’t end up following the schedule you have set for yourself, the very act of making a plan for the day will make you more efficient and help you to get more done. A well-maintained calendar can also prevent you from inadvertently overbooking yourself, and it may improve your ability to realistically estimate how long tasks will take.
Reading and answering emails is one of the biggest time-wasters any office worker faces. It’s easy to spend large chunks of time wading through a seemingly endless inbox. Conventional advice is to set aside a specific amount of time at the beginning and end of the day to go through your inbox and respond to select messages. This is good advice, but with a smartphone, you can use time spent waiting on a late client or tardy coworker to delete spam and work your way through read-only messages, even if you aren’t in your own office.
Down time, such as that spent waiting for various reasons, or time spent on public transportation during your daily commute, can be turned into productive time with word-processing or spreadsheet apps. Another idea is to use cloud storage to stash current projects or files so that you can read them from anywhere you can take your phone.
Call Screening to Voicemail
Unfortunately, your smartphone itself can lead to wasted time. It is possible to take control of your phone and your time, however. One trick is to allow all calls to go to voice mail initially. You can listen to the message and formulate a response. If necessary, you can research the issue or consult superiors or colleagues. Before you call back, think about what you will say and plan to keep the call brief and to the point. Once you’ve addressed the original issue, politely get off the phone. If the caller tries to launch into a general discussion before you can disengage, offer to make time in your schedule to discuss the issue. If the issue was truly important, the caller will eagerly accept your offer. If it was just the beginning of a general chat session, however, this tactic will usually put an end to it before it starts.
by Jaye Ryan, a freelance author who enjoys writing about varied mobile phone uses for MobilePhones.org.uk.