Focus & Digital Balance

Blogging about Digital Detox and unplugging, customizing our connectivity, new technologies, distraction management, and a healthy lifestyle in our hyperconnected world

5 Tips on How to Work Smarter Without Your Smartphone

Many health professionals recommend times where you disconnect. Productivity gurus advise you to ignore your ever beeping devices since ages already. Why? Because putting your device away pretty much means applying 95% of all productivity tips in one go. In fact, working without your device for a full day (like we promote right now with our „Mobile Free Mondays“ initiative) could result both in a boost for your productivity and a better well-being. That said, a weekly day off the grid comes as a real challenge: Can you still manage some hours without your phone? And how does it make you feel?

To make this challenge a little easier and to avoid any bad surprises, we recommend sticking with the following 5 things. If you have further tips, please let us know and we’ll extend this list.

1# Focus

All the productivity tips on the web have one simple piece of advice in common: Focus. Focus on one thing at a time and block all other distractions out. Multitasking is a myth, believe me or just try it out yourself.

When you feel like doing something else: embrace the feeling coming up. And also listen to yourself: why did you want to stop doing what you were doing? How is your breathing? Where is your mind going? In case you find your mind wandering around to other things: write them down for later and get back to your task at hand.

#2 Get a notebook

In order to focus on one thing, you have to take care of all the other things that will come into the way. There will be many impulses which you can’t immediately follow up upon (and which also try to distract your focus) – looking up this thing on Wikipedia, checking your Facebook status, writing down this email or idea. To make sure those things are not lost, get yourself a notebook (or just a piece of paper for the day) where you write down everything that comes to mind. Plan some time during the day where you work through the list, and then look the important things up or write the emails you need to write.

#3 Organize your day a day in advance

Instead of organizing your present day in a hurry, make it a habit to look into the near future: What’s coming up tomorrow? What do you want to get done? What needs to be done? As we we do ‘Mobile free Mondays’ on Mondays, you should best do this on Friday. It’s an opportunity to finish the current week and plan the next week already. When you have to fix meetings for the other week: send out emails now or call your contacts right away (‚If you have to use a phone make it a landline only… it’ll cut down on the withdrawals‘, recommends Craig Daniels). This way you get a head start into the next week: get on Mondays straight into working mode, get your things done and have your first (and necessary) meetings scheduled for Tuesday already.

#4 Communicate your availability

Make it clear to others that you make sure they’re able to reach you – but limit this to specific times during your week. Join the productivity crowd: Tim Ferriss advocates for this in his famous 4-hour work week: ’be available only to certain times via phone and put the times into your signature and and on your voicemail.‘ And he takes it even further: ‘Put in an auto-reply message to your email that people should call you and put on your voicemail that you are available via phone twice a week to a certain hour.’ However, reliability is everything here. Make sure you’re really available during the times you communicate as people will hold your word for it.

#5 Use ( OFFTIME )

Of course, our last and final tip is to use apps that help you deal better with disconnecting, like ( OFFTIME ). It allows you not only to block you out from your phone for some time, but it can also filter your callers and give them a little status update about when you are available again (“Sorry, Max is currently in a meeting. Please call again after 4 pm.”).

Further recommendations have been:

  • #6 walk, bike or drive if you must to meetings or events without a smartphone or iPod (recommended by Craig Daniels)
  • #7 a weekly rotating open house for all your clients and co-workers – serve a huge but simple buffet and ban all smartphones (recommended by Craig Daniels)

How do you organize your work and your on/offline duties? What are your tips on working without a smartphone and other technical devices? Please let us know by either commenting, sending us an email (German or English) or just adding your points directly here, we’ll keep the list here updated.

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