Two weeks ago, I wrote about restarting my idea journal. The biggest problem I faced was simply: where?
I do most of my writing on the computer. But it’s not like I can lug that around with me everywhere I go. A laptop might work, but I’m not going to unpack it and fire it up whenever I have an idea, either.
Now, a small journal would definitely do the trick — that’s what I used the first time around — but I know from experience that I’m not going to carry it around and stick it in my pocket all the time.
Which left me only one option: my phone.
The more I thought of using my phone, the more sense that idea made. After all, my phone is almost always with me, whether I’m writing, working my other job, traveling, or even playing with the kids. So it’s really the ideal place to capture ideas that could come at any time.
But is there an app for that? No, not exactly. At least not in the Google Play Store (I use a Samsung Galaxy 5, but any smartphone — Android, Windows, or iPhone — will give you all the functionality you need). So what did I do? I improvised.
And as I started using my phone to record my new idea journal, it struck me just how many things I could do with my phone. So I decided to make a list.
Here are my top 10 ways that my smartphone can help my business.
1. Idea Journal
Now, whenever I have an idea, I just type it into my smartphone. This enables me to record ideas whenever I get them, whether it’s at home, at work, or on the go. I wanted to keep a daily log to track how many ideas per day I was coming up with. So I installed a journal application called Journey. This automatically combines my entries by date, and has some cool-looking export features for future use. There’s no automatic numbering, so I just add a number before each idea.
Another idea is to use voice recording when you’re not able to type. Whatever application you use, putting your idea journal on your phone is the best way I know to capture those ideas quickly, while they’re fresh on your mind.
Yes, there’s a LinkedIn app. It’s one way to keep up-to-date with LinkedIn if you don’t find the time when you’re sitting at the computer with all your other priorities in front of you. Whether you use it to browse your feed, make comments, plan your next post, or even to publish, with this app, you can help yourself get your LinkedIn tasks done each day.
The same goes for Facebook. Browse your Facebook feed and connect with people right from your phone. Find articles to post and share, make comments, and even get your socializing out of the way. So when you’re sitting at your computer, you can focus on higher priority tasks than this.
I love reading email on my phone, usually when I have just a few minutes here and there, like waiting in a line, or picking up my kids from activities. This saves me so much time later on, and I get to actually read more of those interesting newsletters — at least, the few I haven’t unsubscribed from.
5. PDF Library
Do you have a folder like mine with about a zillion PDF files you’ve downloaded? Only you never find the time to read them? Why not put them on your phone? It makes a great eReader for those special reports and e-books. And you’ll discover lots of time suitable for quick business reading — times when you wouldn’t want to whip out and get engrossed in a novel, for example.
One of my favorite smartphone uses is for audiobooks. I use Audible, but any audiobook app will do. I hook up my phone to the car stereo to listen while I’m driving; or with headphones during exercise. You can find a multitude of titles in the business and self-improvement categories. The late Zig Ziglar called this the University on Wheels. (Side note: Check out the audiobook section of your local library — you might be surprised by the wealth of titles you can find there.)
7. Web Browsing
Using your smartphone’s browser is a great way to scope out new potential clients. Or find best practices from your colleagues. Or research new marketing ideas and techniques. Whatever online tasks you can get done on your phone will save you time later when you’re sitting at the computer.
Also, be aware that browsing from a mobile device is a hot topic right now. So the more you practice this, the more you’ll be able to speak to mobile browsing trends and understand the issues when speaking with clients.
8. To-Do Lists
I still prefer to keep my daily to-do lists in a journal with pen and paper. But there are many task list applications that make this easy to do on your phone, as well. Most of them will sync up to whatever planner program you use on your computer, too. There are times when it would have been nice to glance at my phone to remind me of my daily tasks. But for now, in this one area I’m staying old-fashioned.
One of the most useful features of your smartphone is the calendar. Not only can you record meeting info there, you can also set up multiple alerts and reminders for a variety of tasks. For important events, I usually set up several reminders, including one the day before so I don’t forget about it in my daily planning. I use my phone’s built-in calendar program, and it syncs up neatly with my Google account.
10. Creating Documents
Yes, you can even write on your phone, if you’re so inclined. There are plenty of word processing apps out there that allow you to do a lot more than text. You can even save them directly as .docx files, with formatting and everything.
I usually just take notes on my phone because I’m not very adept at “texting” with my phone’s keyboard (my kids love to point out my lack of skill in this area). But if you’re really interested in writing whenever you want, there are customized virtual keyboards and even handwriting recognition apps out there you might want to try.
I recently saw a kid in the local high school with a nifty little device — it projected a laser keyboard onto the table and connected to his phone via Bluetooth. The device was about the size of a C battery. He said he bought it at Brookstone.
So there are 10 ways to use your smartphone for your business. And I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even mentioned organizational programs like Evernote that can boost your productivity, or voice recognition software like Dragon that can make transcribing your thoughts a breeze.
The trick is simply to get as much done on your phone as you can during those “downtimes” when you weren’t expecting to get anything done. If you can do that, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
By the way … I created this list on my phone using an app called Polaris Office … while I was watching TV.
How do you use your smartphone to improve your productivity?