Friday, October 21, 2011

[WoD] Your Phone: The Tool and the Distraction

Cell phones are everywhere today. Here in the US, there may even be more people who have them than not. They've been around for decades now, and they keep advancing. One of the things cell phones have evolved into are smart phones. These are phones with operating systems. They're tiny, pocket-sized computers. And they set us in a different ball park today. If you've got a smart phone, I've got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that your phone is a great tool. It can be used for a great many things. You can even multitask on your phone!

My phone's primary use is as an alarm clock. Every morning it goes off, and every morning I hit snooze just to get a few more minutes of sleep. I even have a different alarm clock app where I have to do math equations to hit snooze of to turn it off. And I have to do the problem while it's beeping. You can mute it for a moment, but it starts beeping again. This is a great way to wake up in the morning. I don't promise that I'll be happy, but I'll be awake.

Like I said earlier, your phone is now also a computer. You can look stuff up on the internet, you can check your e-mail, and more. There are word processors of sorts that come on them, so that means if you're like me and need to write a little bit while away from your computer, you can just take out your phone and write it up or do a quick outline for when you do get back to your computer.

You can store almost anything and everything on your phone. Take pictures and it will be there. Shoot a video and upload it to the net. It even allows you to digitally write down your thoughts. Say goodbye to pen and paper. Heck, even better, your phone can act like a voice recorder. At the push of a button, just speak your mind, and your phone will record your every thought. Perhaps the best part about our mobile phones is that you can use them from just about anywhere provided that you have service.

I'm more or less of a minimalist when it comes to my phone, but I do use apps, as I stated above. But I do use my phone for more than just an alarm clock. Here are some of the applications I use on there everyday

  • Evernote — This is a life-saver. Any thought I have, I open up my phone and leave a note to myself. How I do it depends. Evernote allows users to make written notes, voice notes, or picture notes. This is actually great. You can get a visual if that's the best type of note, or you can record yourself in case you happen to be driving your car down a freeway (wouldn't want to be typing a note then).
  • Kindle — I'm a little behind on the times. No, I do not have an Amazon Kindle device, but I do have the application on my phone. It's kind of convenient to read a portion of a book if I have to wait anywhere. My battery doesn't waste away as fast that way, too.
  • SleepBot — This one's actually relatively new for me. I've been having a little trouble sleeping since I've gotten back from Europe and thought it would be best to keep track of my sleeping patterns. So far I've learned that I go to bed super late and even when I wake up later in the mornings, I still have sleep debt. But there's charts and some other cool features that it offers.

Alright, now for the bad news. This is going to sting a little. Are you sitting down? Yes? Good. Your smart phone is also a big distraction. For one, it's now much easier to type onto your phone so your ability to text and chat with friends has greatly improved. This is a good thing if you want to be more social, but not quite as great if you're working on becoming more productive.

Your phone is a mobile procrastination station. Think of all the games you have on there. How many minutes are you playing those that you could be using to do something more productive? Who knows how many hours of Angry Birds and Plants Vs. Zombies I've played. But I'm not afraid that the amount is somewhere up in the hours.

I said earlier that having the internet on your phone was one of its benefits. Well... it's also one of the potential distractions. You know possess access to the internet in the palms of your hands. Remember that line from Spiderman? More power means more responsibility; use it wisely and efficiently.

Now, don't go throwing away your phone because I call it a "mobile procrastination station." I just want you to be more aware of the distractions your phone could cause you and how that can hinder your productivity. If your phone doesn't get in the way of your productivity, don't give it a second thought. But if it is, don't throw it out; instead, try to find out how you're spending so much time on it and try to get away from those apps for a short time.

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