Did you ever stop to think about the fact that you hold the entirety of human knowledge and achievement in your pocket at all times? You can learn anything, contact anyone, and record everything. You know what we use that amazing piece of technology for? Spending real money on fake gems in Clash of Clans.
Instead, why don’t you harness that power and turn it into a productivity, networking, and wealth building machine? By using a combination of apps, settings, simple organization, and a little self control, we can transform the iPhone (or any other smartphone) into something helpful, not harmful. Let’s get started.
STEP ONE: THE PURGE
This might hurt a little. Go on an uninstall spree, trashing everything that doesn’t make your life a better place. Watch as those app icons tremble and shake in fear, hoping they avoid your wrath and make the cut. Don’t keep a single game on your phone. You can play games at home. If you have free time when you are waiting in line or out and about, read a productive book on iBooks, watch a 15 minute TED talk, or write something in Notes.
Try and get down to one screen, with a few folders. Delete the shopping apps and all of those semi-cool services that you installed once and never opened again. Minimize your options. Simplify your focus. Humans aren’t effective when we are presented with too many choices. We freeze up. Eliminate that possibility.
STEP TWO: THE ESSENTIALS
You’re never going to find the right app or program that does exactly what you like for organization, task management, or note taking. So just build your own. Through a combination of Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets, at any time you can view and update cloud-synced spreadsheets and documents for your finances, fitness, to-do list, journal, photos, files, and so much more. For a complete guide on how to set up Google Drive to organize and dominate your entire life, click here.
For the things that we cannot do easily in Google Drive, we will use other apps. Depending on who you are and what you do, the applications you’ve chosen to keep will vary. Here is my system, that you can modify and improve upon to your heart’s content. Let the rest of us know what you’ve decided to do in the comments, so we can adjust too.
Kaizen means daily improvement in Japanese. I have a Kaizen folder labeled “R&D” because my business and my personal life is so extremely interlocked. In my Kaizen folder, I keep applications that help me make my life better. This includes, but is not limited to:
– Calm for guided meditation anywhere
– Duolingo for language learning
– iBooks for fiction and non-fiction reading on the go
– Feedly for all the blogs I read in one place
– LoseIt to track my nutrition.
– Audible and Podcasts for education during a drive
Inside the Operations folder resides applications that help me stay organized and manage my lifestyle.
– WellsFargo for mobile deposits and transfers
– SigFig for quick investment portfolio checks
– Mint.com to stay on top of my budget and transactions
– Canva for any graphics I might need access to on the go
Social media isn’t a distraction on its own. For me it is essential! It all depends on if you can use social media responsibly. This is why I’ve labeled my social folder as Marketing, so it is perfectly clear those applications are there for productivity purposes. If you are addicted to opening social apps without even noticing, trash this entire section. Seriously. Inside the Marketing folder:
– Facebook to stay connected with the local business community
– Twitter for the Conquer Today brand
– Instagram for the Conquer.Today showcase movement
– Alien Blue to quickly respond to Reddit messages
– Uber for 3AM when I am lost walking around the city streets
STEP THREE: SETTINGS
One of the coolest things you can do with an iPhone while you are getting used to using your phone productively instead of destructively is the restrictions feature. Go into your settings, and turn on “Limit Adult Content” for the internet. This is not to block adult sites (Which isn’t a bad idea, by the way. We will write one day about how quitting or limiting pornography can have a drastic improvement on your quality of life).
Instead, when you select this option, you get to add specific websites you don’t want to be able to access, like Buzzfeed or Distractify. If you try and click on a link or open up one of those sites, you will be met with a warning and an opportunity to enter your password override. Usually, all most people need to get back on task is this gentle reminder you’re going somewhere that isn’t productive.
Finally, change your notification settings. Turn off notifications for almost every social media application. Limit other apps to only one new notification, without a sound or vibration. This will help you with compulsively checking your phone, because it should no longer be lighting up off the hook.
STEP FOUR: SAVING SPACE
Once a week, set a reminder on your phone to clear your photos. First, go into the Google Drive app, create a “Phone Photos” folder with sub-folders labeled by week, and upload all the few good pictures from the week you actually want to save. Then, go into your Photos app, and delete everything from that week you don’t want. All of those selfies you took thirty of, and those stupid memes we save thinking we’re going to send them to someone later. This will save you so much time and space in the long run, I promise. (Psst.. We just learned that the Google Photos app can help you save these automatically, but it won’t clear out the junk. Check it out.)
STEP FOUR: MANAGE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN A SINGLE SPREADSHEET
This is that Google Sheet we were talking about. Time for 100% optimization. Everything from your work projects to your personal network is available at the click of a button. Download the FREE complete template and a link to the extensive setup guide below.