Mobile devices provide lots of tools that allow you to become far more productive than ever before. No matter where you are, on a moment’s notice, you can connect with the outside world, fix problems remotely, and get things finished that otherwise would have had to wait in the generations before mobile devices and mobile Internet.
This brave new world is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it provides you with a way to be more productive without the need to sit behind a desk for so many hours a day. On the flip side, it also means that people can expect to get in touch with you during non-business hours, and they expect you to be far more productive during those unusual hours as well.
So, obviously the curse is that if people can expect to contact you 24 hours a day, they’re going to try to contact you 24 hours a day. So, if you allow your Android phone or tablet to operate on full-capacity around the clock, you can expect to get calls or SMS notifications at some of the most inappropriate times, such as at three in the morning.
There are a few apps that can help you alleviate that problem in a few very short and simple steps.
Make Your Phone Serve You
Here’s one of the most important lessons about a cellphone that all too many people learn the hard way. A mobile device is intended to act in ways that serve you; ways that make your job and your life much easier. It should let you solve problems in 10 minutes from home without the need to make a 35 minute drive into work.
In a mobile world, you can be anywhere and everywhere in an instant, but what you don’t want to happen is for your mobile device to start creating unrealistic demands from you. You don’t want your mobile device to start waking you (or your wife) up in the middle of the night to solve a problem that could wait until morning.
You can do this by installing and using a number of apps that are out there that let you configure your phone or tablet to be silent during those times of the day when using that device would be inconvenient. Jessica covered a couple of these this year, and we’ve covered another called RD Mute here as well. Angela also mentioned being able to silence your phone as one of the best ways to make your phone less annoying.
Do Not Disturb
This is basically like placing a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside of your hotel door. While you might appreciate the service that the cleaning lady offers, you really don’t want to let her disturb you while you’re trying to sleep in. In much the same way, you need an app like DoNotDisturb to give you peace and quiet immediately when you ask for it.
Do Not Disturb is probably the quickest app to use because its methods to enable “silent mode” is so simple and fast. You can set it up to place the phone face down to make it silent. You can also enable silence with a single click, or mute phone calls simply by shaking the phone.
Enabling or disabling features of the app is done on a single, easy Program Settings screen.
Not all features shown are available in the free version, but the paid version isn’t very expensive if you’re interested in using the Pro features of the app.
I’m Sleeping App
The I’m Sleeping app is one of my favorites because of how flexible it is. You can configure this app to automatically silence your phone during your sleeping hours. Not only that, it also lets you set up a “white list” of contacts that will bypass silent mode and allow notifications through if those people call or send you an SMS.
This is especially useful if you’re ever on call and want to allow specific phone numbers to come through (like calls or messages from your boss). The app also lets you configure different sleep schedules for the weekend, since you may likely be sleeping in during those days!
Setting it up is really easy – just configure the start and stop times to enable and disable the app during the week.
Don’t forget to include the weekend hours so that the phone stays silent a little bit longer, or starts a little bit later considering that you’ll probably be staying up a little later than usual as well. You can add whitelist contacts from your own Contact list in your phone, or any other application where you might have stored contact information.
I’m sleeping is really less about randomly silencing your phone, and instead it’s about telling your phone when you’re sleeping and having it automatically manage going silent during those hours so that you don’t even have to think about it. Just go to bed when you normally do, and your phone will leave you alone.
Tell Your Phone To Buzz Off
Another useful “Do Not Disturb” app is one called Buzz Off. This one probably the fastest and easiest to use. It’s the type of app that you open up when you want to place your phone in silent mode, but it lets you dictate not only how long to keep it in silent mode, but you can instead tell it what distance to keep it in silence mode. Cool huh?
This is a perfect feature to use when you you’re about to give a presentation or an important meeting that you know is about to last an hour or so. Just set up the app to keep your phone silent for that long, and your phone will automatically go active again after that time period.
This is pretty sweet because I can’t even count how many times I’ve turned off my phone in the movie theater, only to remember that it was still turned silent 3 days later and I’d missed a few phone calls. Another cool feature is the ability to turn silence back on in a certain distance. This could be useful when you’re taking a walk and want your phone to remain silent during the walk (maybe you’re walking and talking with a friend). This app will turn on your phone again when you’ve moved that distance from your present location.
This will of course require your GPS to turn on, but if that doesn’t last for too long, it shouldn’t drain down your phone battery too much.
Scheduling Your Phone Some Silent Time
Once again, I’ve saved the best app for last. If flexibility is your thing, then the one of these apps that you’ll definitely want to download is Silent Time. This app is cool because it doesn’t care so much how you classify the silent time – whether it’s for sleeping or anything else. This app is all about just automating when your phone goes silent, but setting up silent time schedules.
For example, I know I have a meeting from 9 to 10am every Monday, so I make sure my phone never disturbs me during that time.
Adding a new “Event” is just an easy to use form where you title the event, check off the days and then assign the time range that the phone should go silent. You can also allow or disallow your phone to vibrate during that time as well.
When you launch the app, you can check out your list of scheduled “Silent Time” events – and enable or disable them by just selecting or deselecting the checkbox.
The app also lets you just quickly silence the phone using “Quick Quiet“, or setting special exceptions when the phone shouldn’t be quiet even during “Silent Time” if certain people in your contacts list contact you.
I have to say that I’ve been interested enough times during meetings or when I’m sleeping that I can personally attest to the value of running an app like any of those above. I used to remember to silence my phone most of the time when walking into a meeting, but all it takes is that one call in the middle of an important meeting to provide that special dose of embarrassment. Trust me, you’ll want to install one of these apps after that.
Do you use any apps to automate the silencing of your phone? Which app do you prefer? Share your own insights in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Loud Woman on Phone via Shutterstock