Startup tip 65: 8 ways to transform your smart phone into a business booster, not a deadly distraction

We’ve all been there. We look up from our cell phone and an hour (or two or three!) has gone past without us even realising it. We’ve been sucked into the smart phone black hole again.

Managing our own time well is one of the most critical skills we can develop as an entrepreneur. Often it seems like our smart phone is the enemy, when really it should be one of our most useful tools in business.

We’re well past the start of the year now and if you’re not feeling as productive as you’d like to be, these tips might help you to claw back some time.

Action: Avoid distraction and get the most out of your smart phone

So here’s 7 tips to help you avoid distraction and get the most out of your smart phone. You probably don’t really need me to tell you these things – but sometimes we all need some friendly nagging ;-P to get us to do what we know we should do.

1. Don’t let other people tell how to use your time.

You know those beeps you get all the time. Think about them as people jumping up and down saying, “Look at me. Come on, let me distract you from something really important.” You wouldn’t respond to this in real life so don’t allow people to do it to you electronically. Turn off automatic notifications from Facebook, Twitter, your email and any other services that send you automatic notifications.

Schedule two times a day to check these things – and give yourself a time limit when you do. This will stop you getting into the procrastination cycle – you know the one where you check Facebook, check Twitter, check your email and then check Facebook again. The only exception to this is if you are doing a time limited and critical activity, like a product launch, where its crucial to respond straight away.

2. Use the right tool for the job

Smart phones are great, but just like us, they’re better at some things than others.  Just because you can do a task on it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Use a device with a keyboard to respond to social media comments and email, to do any task that requires working with text and also tasks like research and working with docs and spreadsheets,. It’s faster and you’ll be more efficient.

3. Annihilate the enemy

Consider deleting apps that aren’t work related and are a time suck. This will make your phone more work focused than play focused. You know the kind of apps I mean; news, Flipboard, games. Anything that sucks you into the smart phone vortex.

4. Be intentional about how you use your time

We often end up browsing on our phones because we haven’t made a conscious decision about how we want to spend that time. So plan your time. Making sure you have planned what you need to do means you won’t get sucked into social media or apps with no useful purpose.

If you do want to just chill out, decide for how long and then set a timer before browsing. That way you have an external reminder to stop whatever you are doing and get on with something productive.

1337847611_fa16142fbc_b5. Enlist some allies that will help you get the job done.

Your smart phone can also be your friend. There are all sorts of great apps that can help you get your work done. Here’s some of my favourites (all Android, mostly free, but you can find similar apps for iOS):

  • Calengoo – a great calendar app that syncs with Google Calendar,
  • Pomodroido  – a time management app that helps you implement the Pomodoro technique, a really simple tool for getting things done.
  • Habit Streak Plan – an app that helps you develop new positive habits
  • Keeping track of stats on the go – Google Analytics, Mailchimp
  • Messaging
  • Maps

6. Invest in knowledge

I love my Kindle App on my smart phone. In fact, since I installed it, I’ve gone from being a frequent visitor to the library to never darkening it’s doors. Invest in some great books to read through your Kindle app that will help you build and grow your business.  It’s a much better option than time wasters for those situations when you find yourself with some time on your hands, like public transport or doctor’s waiting rooms. My current favourite is The War of Art.

7. Set an alarm

Use alarms and timers – not just for getting up. You can use alarms to remind you to do anything important: such as going to bed on time and stopping work to relax. Timers are also really useful. You can use them to limit browsing time or phone conversations, or to help you get on with tasks,. eg. “I’ll just spend 15 minutes working on my business model canvas.” Set it and once the timer is ticking, it makes you start.

8. Make yourself unavailable

Turn your ringer off when you are focusing on something important. You can pick up voice messages later. It’s probably not that important that it can’t wait half an hour. Unless your wife’s about to go into labour. Then you’d better have it on!

Join the Conversation:

How do you use your smart phone to help you build your business? What tips and tricks and apps do you recommend?

If you have enjoyed this post and want to know the next steps to turn your good ideas into a great business, grab your free Startup Blueprint: 5 Steps to launching your 6 figure business

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 Image used courtesy of Erin Nekeveris under Creative Commons license.


  1. Hi Susan,

    I’ve definitely fallen into the smart phone black hole.

    I never considered turning of automatic notifications and scheduling in time to check them.

    Now I’m writing and thinking this ‘aloud’ it sounds really unhealthy. But I’ll say it anyway…

    The reason I wanted automatic notifications is so I can work round the clock. Unless I’m asleep no matter what time it is or what I’m doing I can respond and keep on top of it.

    I’m re-thinking my plans!



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