10 Ways to Be Smarter About Your Smartphone


They are supposed to make our lives easier.

They are supposed to help us get things done.

Yet, often they are a source of frustration and distraction.

Is your smartphone making your day smarter?

Is Your Phone Smart?

Phones have come a long way since the introduction of the iPhone.

Yet, many people don’t know how to use their smartphone.

Steve Jobs once said referring to smartphones,

“The problem is… they’re not so smart and they’re not so easy to use…”

There is no doubt that smartphones have taken over our lives.

Most people don’t leave home without them. And if they do, they turn around and go back to get them.

Yet, many people would agree that their phone interrupts their day and is a source of distraction that keeps them from being productive.

Be Smarter

Is your phone easy to use? Does it make your life easier?

Or is it a technology leash that controls your life?

Here are 10 Ways to Be Smarter About Your Smartphone:

  1. Know How to Use It – If you are going to get that fancy smartphone with all the nice features, make sure you take the time to learn how to use it. The Internet is full of great bite-sized training videos. In a few minutes with YouTube, you can learn a few new tricks with your phone.
  2. Know How to Silence It – If you learn one thing from tip #1, make sure it is how to silence your phone. It is amazing how many people carry these devices and don’t know the most basic task of turning off the sound. I was with an executive recently and his phone kept ringing. The strange part was that he was holding his phone. He kept getting frustrated that it was making noise. I finally said, “You know you can silence that ring by pushing the little button on top?” He thanked me like I had given him a magical gift.
  3. Have Some Etiquette – Others don’t need to hear you take that call from your BFF while in a restaurant. The simplest version of phone etiquette is to treat it like you would like others to treat it.
  4. Be Safe – Smartphones have become the bane of the roads. Instead of putting your life, and more importantly the lives of others, at risk. Get a headset. Don’t text while driving. It’s common sense that isn’t so common.
  5. Turn Off Push Email – Email is one of the most abused smartphone features. You do not need to check your email every 30 seconds. Workers complain about being tied to work, yet they are the ones doing it. I recommend that you turn off the email on your phone except when you need to check it.
  6. Turn Off Notifications – Do you really need all those push notifications? Do you need to know right now that it’s your turn on Draw Something? Or that your friend just posted a picture of their lunch on Instagram? Limit the interruptions that your phone causes in your day.
  7. Clean It Up – Just because you can have 100’s of apps installed, doesn’t mean that you should. Regularly, clean up your phone. I bet there are a dozen apps that you could delete from your smartphone right now.
  8. Put It Away – We don’t need to see your phone at all times. Nor do you. Work meetings have devolved into a gathering with 10 smartphones on the table that randomly dance as they vibrate. Whether at work or play, put that phone away when you are not using it. In your pocket or purse is a good place for it.
  9. Back it Up – What would you lose if you lost your phone? Hundreds of contacts? Thousands of personal photos? Make sure you back up your phone regularly. If you use an iPhone, it is as easy as turning on the free iCloud backup. (Yet, most people don’t do this.)
  10. Remember Who Is In Charge – Remember, your smartphone is there for your convenience, not the other way around. Use it in ways that make your life easier and more productive. You don’t have to check that email, or even answer that call. You are in charge.

Outsmart Your Device

Smartphones have taken over our lives.

They are the new personal computing device and have given us new capabilities that make our lives easier.

Yet, left unchecked, they can be a source of distraction and hindrance.

Your smartphone is there for your needs, not the other way around.

Make sure you are smart with yours.

Question: What is your best smartphone advice or tip?

14 thoughts on “10 Ways to Be Smarter About Your Smartphone

  1. The quote from Steve Jobs reminds me very much of what Alan Cooper had to say in his 1995 book “About Face” (http://acol.es/stBkAbtFace) – “What do you get when you cross a computer and an alarm clock? A computer! What do you get when you cross a computer and a phone? A computer!”

    Alan’s book is centred around the users’ experience of a device, but a bad user experience reduces productivity, of course. I’m glad to see the increasing uptake in designing software (and devices) around ‘User Experience’, rather than simply ‘User Interface’. (And a lot of that is thanks to the device and product designers at Apple.)

    1. And as Tim Cook said this week, “What do you get when you cross a Refrigerator and a Toaster?” 

      A Toaster-Fridge… and I think someone is probably making one… 😉

  2. Love it!

    When I’m meeting a client or even a friend, I will put my phone on airplane mode before walking into the meeting. This allows me to hear my alarm – to remind me that I have another appointment or that I should wrap up my time with that client/friend. No text messages, no interrupting calls – just me and that person I’m meeting.

    Of course, I also have all push notifications turned off and follow all the other steps you listed. Smartphones are here to make our lives easier – not more frustrating.

    Great tips once again, Craig!

  3. All of these tips are great, but especially #7. When I got my first smartphone (just a couple months ago!) I was browsing the apps and thinking, “Wow, so many of these will add absolutely nothing useful or interesting to my life.” I’ve only installed maybe… 16, and I think I only use around half of those regularly!

    1. Yes! It seems that most people build up a library of apps that they tried once or something like that.

      It is a good exercise to clean up your phone from time-to-time, just like you would clean your work area. 🙂

  4. Excellent tips! Just remember the old mantra: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Be smart about your smart phone – such great advice!

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