Ed. Note: This series was first published in January 2017. As technology changes so do some of the apps I use, and as I meet more and more interesting people I am finding better ways to do things. So that means that this information changes on multiple levels. I’m making it a point to update this series periodically to reflect my current usage. If you’ve read this before, check it out again. You just might find something that makes your life a little bit easier.
I love technology. I’m kind of a nerd in that sense. I’ve always been that way, looking for the newest gadgets that do the coolest things. Sometimes putting insane amounts of effort into setting up said gadgets that were billed as time savers in their product pages. I’ve grown up in an interesting time for technology because so much of what we have around us now is the result of many different companies getting into the game to figure out what people want. Phones, tablets, computers, laptops, watches, glasses, iron man suits. Whatever.
It seems that now, 10 years after the launch of the iPhone, we can finally sit here and say “ok. This is the stuff that is sticking.” And I like that. I’m continually evaluating my personal processes and learning what apps work and don’t work for me to be productive and effective in my day-to-day. Notice I said effective, not efficient. I’m a big believer in identifying the most important things to do which leads to being effective, versus doing the wrong things quickly or easily. Effective > Efficient.
We all carry around a device that allows us to access all the world’s information. So the issue isn’t so much about having the information we need as it is learning to ask the right questions.That’s a separate blog post, though. Right now I’m going to focus on how I use my iPhone as a tool to help me get stuff done. I think that some of these tips can be put into place in your life and might help you save some time. If YOU have a tip that I haven’t covered, please chime in! I’d love to hear it.
I’ve been thinking about how the iPhone has been woven into my life. It really is such an amazing device. For me, there are 4 categories that I really try to maximize its use: Communication, Productivity, News & Entertainment, and Content Creation. I think that this spread is probably pretty universal so I think that it’s a good jumping off point.
Side note- I remember when my dad, who is an entrepreneur, came home with his first car phone. It was around 1985 and the phone was a corded phone that you hung up to end a call. It had no display and it could only do one thing- make phone calls. But it was the hottest piece of tech I had ever seen. And it was crazy expensive. Now people get angry when you call them instead of sending a text message! Crazy how things have changed in such a relatively short amount of time.
Communication is the basis for which these devices were created. For me, there is one feature that is specific to the iOS platform that made me choose an iPhone over an Android device- iMessage.
The iMessage feature is hands down the best way to send short messages to an individual or a group quickly and with minimal loss. You can send a text, voice memo, pictures, video, GIFs, or handwriting all from the messages app. It’s great and it’s completely underrated. However, this would be a moot point if most of my friends and co-workers didn’t have an iPhone. I’m honestly surprised that Apple hasn’t made a standalone iMessage app for Android. Is it perfect? No. Are there better chat apps and platforms out there? Probably. But what makes iMessage great is that anyone with an iPhone pretty much automatically uses it.
As a shameless plug- did you know that Yes Louisville has a sticker pack for iMessage? It’s got some fun Louisville-themed stickers and an updated is being worked on as we speak. But in the meantime download it and start adding a bit of Louisville to your communications.
Then there is email. We all rely on it and on some level I think we all have a love-hate relationship with it. But there are ways to do email better. I use an email app on my iPhone (and iPad and Mac) called Astro. This app is one of the few email apps that really offers something different. It has an AI assistant built into it that helps you to stay on task and be more productive. It uses machine learning to analyze your email habits and recommend things, from unsubscribing from lists and managing spam to recognizing things that need to be followed up on and giving you reminders to do so. It prioritizes senders that you talk to frequently and recognizes who you don’t in order to keep the notifications to a minimum. It also uses iCloud to keep the app synced on other devices, which is helpful if you’re like me and use an iPad and a laptop.
I can’t stress the importance of choosing your email app more. We get so bombarded with emails throughout the day that if we don’t manage how we receive them they become noise and aren’t helpful. That’s how people become bogged down and become poor communicators. A little bit of setup in the right app can make all the difference in the world.
Facebook is probably on your phone, and for the most part, I would classify it as a time suck. But the messenger app for Facebook can be super helpful. For starters, pretty much everyone has Facebook and thus has the Facebook Messenger app. One of the hurdles for any app is adoption, and the best messenger apps in the world are useless if the people you communicate with don’t use them. You can send text, audio messages, video chat, make a phone call, send a GIF and even send money. It’s really pretty solid.
Remember when calling long distance was a big deal? Phone companies would charge you by the minute to talk to people. How crazy is that?!? I communicate with a few people pretty regularly that live overseas and for phone calls to them, I use an app called WhatsApp. This lets me send a text, call, video chat and leave messages to people anywhere in the world. We don’t often think about it, but some of our most popular services and apps are blocked in other parts of the world. Google isn’t available everywhere, ya know!
This pretty much sums up the apps I use for general, personal communication. Sure, there are times that I’ll communicate via the messaging function that is built into a lot of apps these days, but I don’t consider myself a user of that feature unless I initiate conversations in the app on a regular basis.
I’d love to hear how you use your mobile phone to help you communicate. If there’s an app that you think is the beans let me know about it! Leave a comment or shoot me an email!