It’s a great time to be alive; our technology is truly amazing these days.
Even still, we are human, and how we use tech can be ultimately to our advantage around every corner, or we can choose to waste our whole day away. There are countless numbers of articles on the web about how we waste our time with smart devices:
It’s all about the daily choices that you make.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to take advantage of the technology to enhance your daily life experience. There are so many incredible tools developed for that purpose!
But you have to set things up for your benefit. If you let your technology decide the experience for you, then you’ll be buried in notifications, game requests, and posts from people that you really don’t care to follow. Your productivity will drown down the tubes, and your day will waste away before you know it.
So decide to be intentional!
- a determination to act in a certain way
- a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge
Set up your technology to send you only the important things that work to your daily advantage! Use applications that measure performance, guide you to better productivity, and allow you to speak to and build an audience. In other words, view your technology as a tool to create a more intentional life, instead of viewing it as a way to keep you from boredom while in line at Starbucks.
There’s nothing wrong with allowing your tech to serve as a distraction, but you have to find balance. If you really want a balanced, healthy, and productive life, then you’ll have to find a way to put your smartphone to work for you, and then be disciplined enough to put it away when appropriate.
How am I intentional, and what am I using?
Below are a few examples of apps that I use daily, and a little commentary on how to set things up for intentional use, therefore cutting down on distraction and wasting of time.
1) Notifications OFF or ON?
Many people in the productivity space will suggest that all your notifications be turned off. I get it. I understand that if you lived for years with notifications filling up your lock screen, that turning all of that off will definitely help you to gain focus, reduce distraction, and minimize overwhelm.
However, some notifications on the lock screen can be a good thing. An email reply from a client, a reminder to make a stop at the store before I get home, or a response to one of my Medium articles. These are things important to me that I intentionally set to notify me. I then turn many other time wasters off.
In many email programs you can set aside contacts that are VIP. Once you make that designation, you can select to only receive notifications from them, therefore leaving all your newsletters and special Black Friday deals archived for later viewing.
The application OmniFocus can be set up to be location aware. It has a feature for setting up a “Publix” context. I have a grocery list stored there that is always active. This is very useful when I’m driving around town running errands and my grocery list pops up when I pass by a Publix grocery store. This is intentionally designed to help me remember that I need something like “eggs” before returning home.
I write on Medium as much as possible and I’m working very hard to build an audience here while I contribute to this community and platform. I enjoy knowing when people respond to my articles, and even though it can be a borderline time waster to check your Medium notifications, I choose to be active here over say Facebook, Twitter, or other places I care about, but know that they will distract me much more.
2) Use more voice — Learn to be more hands-free!
On Apple technology, Siri has gotten better and better at allowing you to command action from your technology, rather than constantly having to physically interact with it. Google voice, and now Amazon are amazing in this space as well!
Many smart phones, tablets, and watches are enabled for your commands. Where this tech was in its infancy years ago, things have progressed to a level that is quite impressive once you learn the capabilites.
The phrases, “Hey Siri” can now prompt the iPhone to listen to your command/question, just like “Okay, Google”, or “Alexa…” can do on their respective hardware sets.
Lets say I’m in the kitchen cooking breakfast for the family, and I see that we are getting low on eggs (just to reference my example above), I’ll say, “Hey Siri, add eggs to my Publix list in OmniFocus”, and she’ll respond by confirming the action and just like that, the reminder is set without any further steps. And you guessed, later in the car, that reminder hits my lock screen as I pass Publix.
I could speak to many more voice technology features, but one other way I use voice for reminders is when I think of an amazing idea for a post on Medium. These days, inspiration can strike anywhere at anytime, and if you can learn to capture it in the moment, then you can come back to those ideas when you hit a “writer’s block” or are in need of material at a later date. I pick up the iPhone and say, “Hey Siri, add a note to Evernote”. (I’ve used Evernote for a while to collect my ideas, notes, and resources). Siri asks me what I want the note to say, I say it, then it automatically adds that note into that app. The idea is captured, and I can go on about my day!
3) Sync your devices through a cloud service and always backup!
This morning I’m typing on my computer. If I think of something I need to do, and I need to add it to the calendar, then I’ll open the calendar app on the Mac, add the appointment, and then continue with my work. Later when I’m looking at my phone, I need to be looking at the most current info and availability. Since my Mac and iPhone sync over what Apple calls the iCloud, then I know that all my devices will continuously give me the best up-to-date information.
But I intentionally set it up like this.
Side note: Apple makes it easy for these devices to talk to each other, however my point is that you should make sure that everything is set up correctly, syncing properly, and most import of all, make sure that your data has a way of backing itself up. Apple also allows customers to use the iCloud service for backing up information on devices as well. So make sure you are taking advantage of these features!
Android devices sync with Google servers and most smart devices these days have some way of syncing and backing up. Be intentional about setting your technology up to participate in these services!
We are moving fast through life, and we have thousands of things to remember and keep track of. It’s the way that we live and somewhat depressingly the truth: When we don’t have our cell phone on us, or when all our information is gone, we feel super lost. It’s not the end of the world, and sometimes you make mistakes and you have to rebuild your organization. But if you intentionally set up these devices to sync and back up properly in the first place, when disaster strikes, it becomes not so much a disaster, but more of an inconvenience until you get your device back, or get back on a computer to catch yourself up.
Be intentional with your technology. Make it work to your advantage. If you don’t want it to distract you, then cut the distractions.. but don’t cut things so far down that you aren’t seeing the benefits of how these tools can help you live a higher quality of life!