I love my smartphone. It’s pretty, it keeps me entertained on public transport, it helps me when I get lost, it organises food deliveries for me when I am hungry. But before I started writing this blog I can’t say it helped me be productive.
Last month, I explored two celebrated productivity tactics. I wanted to see if my phone could help me work smarter, not harder. Here’s how they went.
Home screen optimisation
One of the methods that is often recommend is to optimise your home screen. In basic terms, this is setting up your home screen so it only has the most essential apps, not those you check mindlessly.
The idea is to put all other apps on another screen and turn off nearly all notifications. Then if you want to go to extremes, you can delete any timewasting apps and disable your web browser.
Did it work?
I found the first step really useful. On my home screen, I now have travel apps, my alarm and calendar, the Optus widget, banking, recent emails and a weather app (I live in Melbourne so I need to check that regularly). I also have podcasts and music.
That takes care of where I’m going, what I need to bring, how I’m getting there, staying connected and my to do list.
I also turned off a bunch of notifications that directed me to open apps when nothing had really happened (shopping apps are bad for that, as are quite a few social networking apps). But I kept my browser and didn’t delete the majority of my apps.
Despite only following some of the advice, I did find that I wasn’t mindlessly scrolling nearly as much as I was. So this gets a big tick.
Another method is to turn your home screen grey, thereby avoiding the call to action that little red notification provides.
App designers know that bright colours catch our eye, so they’re designed to capture our attention with colour. But you can control that.
On an iPhone, you do this by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Colour Filters and then switch Colour Filters on. Select Greyscale. On androids it can differ between models, but have a dig in your accessibility settings.
Did it work?
Not as well as optimising my home screen. In fact, switching to greyscale made me want to check my phone more often in case I had missed something. I missed all the colour in my phone for a day, and then switched it back.
So there you have it. I now have a great home screen and I’m getting a bit more done.