Android iPhone and iPad Self Improvement

5 Expert Ways to Use Your Smartphone Productively Every Day

Ryan Dube 25-04-2016

These days, it’s popular to talk about all the ways people are addicted to their smartphones Are You Addicted To Your Smartphone? At one time, landlines and payphones were all we had--and we survived just fine, thank you very much. But now, it’s almost laughable if you don’t own an iPhone or Android, and for some of... Read More and how they should use them less The 5 Best Apps to Help You Fight Your Smartphone Addiction Are you addicted to your smartphone? These mobile apps will help you salvage your personal life and regain your productivity. Read More . But is it really that bad? Could your smartphone actually make you more productive 5 Productive Things You Can Do With Your Smartphone Without a Signal No signal? That doesn't mean you can't use your phone to get stuff done! Read More in a healthy way?


Not long ago, Mihir wrote about how smartphones can affect your body and your mind What Your Smartphone Is Doing To Your Body & Mind Smartphones are changing us -- is that a good or a bad thing? Find out what science has to say. Read More , but what about how much smartphones can boost your work and life productivity? What about how much extra time you can save each day by using your smartphone to do multiple tasks at once? What about how much healthier you can get by taking care of your body while also getting work out of the way?

In this article, we’re going to blow away the entire premise that smartphones are addictive, unhealthy or otherwise bad for you. We’re going to look at how you can optimize the use of your smartphone so that you can get even more out of your daily life.

Work While Eating

It’s true that a lot of people let smartphones take over their lives Don't Let Your Smartphone Take Over Your Life Back at the end of 2012, just in time for New Year’s Resolutions, I wrote an article all about smartphone addiction. We created technology to serve us, yet so many of us - myself included... Read More , and yes it may be possible for them to ruin your life How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future. Read More , but they don’t have to. I’m not suggesting that everyone should take out their smartphone during the family dinner — that is actually a pretty good example of how smartphones are ruining family life.


But if you think about the times you find yourself eating alone, and you may not realize just how many minutes out of your week or month that you’re wasting just staring at your food, taking a bite at a time. Why not get some work done?


The only limitation you’ll have to face trying to work on your smartphone while eating is that you only have one hand available. That’s not conducive to things like email or chatting, but there are plenty of things you can get done with just one hand. You can do things like:

  • Trip planning with Google Maps
  • Photo editing
  • Social networking
  • Gaming

You may not consider gaming to be “productive”, but it’s actually a fantastic way to reduce stress during your meals, and reducing stress will always make you more productive in the long run. Consider Harry’s list of some great one-handed games 8 Smartphone Games You Can Play One-Handed Smartphone games are a great way to kill time. If you're stuck waiting for a bus, or just need a way to occupy a few moments, they're hard to beat. Read More to play for a few ideas to get started.

If gaming isn’t your thing and you’d like to plan out your travels while you’re eating, you can do it easily with Google Maps, thanks to a convenient one handed zoom feature. The trick is just to double tap on the map, but on the second tap leave your finger pressed on the screen. As you move your finger up and down, the map will zoom in and out.

Photo editing is a cinch one handed as well. There are even a few great apps to make the task even easier. Pip Camera Photo Editor, available on Google Play or iTunes, has all sorts of great editing features and is well known for its ease of use with one hand.


Camera 360, available on Google Play, is another great one-handed photo editing app. It’s not quite as professional – it’s a silly editing app meant to let you create silly stickers — but it comes with 10 professional photo adjustment functions that only require you to swipe your finger around to use. So while you’re snacking on lunch, edit away!

By the way social networking is the thing you prefer to get done while you’re eating, Omni Swipe for Android [Broken Link Removed] is a fantastic app to install.

It lets you monitor all your social notifications from one screen, and with a swipe of your thumb you can open up any app on your phone. If you want to boost your one-handed productivity at every meal, this is an app for you.

Productivity on the Phone

When you’re talking on the phone, it’s a whole different ballgame. You do have two hands, but your mind is going to be distracted by the phone conversation. Is it possible to multi-task with your smartphone when you’re talking on a landline or while you’re using a headset to talk with your smartphone?



The answer is, definitely. Don’t expect to have a text chat with friends on social networks, or to write a novel, but there are lots of productive things you can do with your phone while you’re talking.

  • Check the weather forecast
  • Review your schedule
  • Scan the news

As you can see, these activities don’t require a whole lot of brain power, but you can still get a lot accomplished.

When it comes to weather apps for your Android, we’ve got you covered. Dan listed seven of them The 7 Best Free Weather Apps for Android These free weather apps will help you stay on top of the weather with your Android device. Read More  on Android for you to make use of, and Tim listed seven storm tracking apps for iPhone The 7 Best Storm Tracking Apps [iPhone] Storm chasing might be considered a strange way to spend your weekends, but if it’s isobars and radar images that get you hot under the collar then this line-up of apps for your iOS device... Read More . Of course Siri, Google Now, and Cortana 7 Siri Alternatives for Android: Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa, and More Looking for the best Android equivalent to Siri? Check out Google Assistant, Cortana, Alexa, and more Siri alternatives. Read More are excellent for getting a quick overview of the weather as well.


When it comes to checking and re-organizing your schedule while you’re talking on the phone, there are few apps as useful as the ToDoist mobile app How Much More Productive Is ToDoist Premium? Here Are 6 Good Reasons To Upgrade I kept using ToDoist for free for a while. But kept coming up against things I wanted to do and couldn't. Email reminders. Adding notes to task. Things that would really add a whole lot... Read More .


There are lots of other great to-do list apps for Android 8 Best Apps for Managing To-Do Lists on Android Don't try to juggle dozens of tasks in your head. These awesome Android task management apps help you efficiently keep track of your to-do list. Read More that you’ll want to check out if managing your time on your mobile sounds like something up your alley. There are also some fantastic list-keeping apps for iPhone Stop, Collaborate and List: 5 iPhone Apps for Shared List-Keeping The App Store is full of applications that allow you to form lists and collaborate with others. Whether you are looking for lists to keep track of things around the house, or for work related... Read More as well.

If you prefer to focus more on scanning news headlines while you’re talking on the phone, check out news reader apps for Android What Is The Best News Reader App For Android? Android devices are perfect for consuming news articles, but how do you choose an app for that? Let's run through the best options! Read More , or news feed readers for iOS The 5 Best RSS Reader Apps for iPhone Tired of news apps that don't show what you want? Then it's time to get back into RSS. Here are the best RSS readers for iPhone. Read More .

Work While Flying

When you want to work while you’re on the plane, it’s a whole different ballgame. These days, most airlines let you purchase wireless internet access so you can use your laptop or your phone while you’re on the plane. It’s not only convenient; it’s crazy productive. Gogo Inflight is the most common in-air wireless service offered by many airlines.

Personally, I find trying to work with a laptop propped up on the tray in front of me to be a real pain. Usually, you don’t have enough elbow room to properly type on your keyboard anyway, so why bother.

It’s much better to take out your fully charged smartphone and use it to get some work done. But what kind of work can you get done with it? Well, with two-handed, landscape-viewing use, you can actually get a whole lot done.

  • Do some blogging
  • Browse the web and capture favorite sites
  • Take notes and brainstorm
  • Use mind-mapping to plan out projects

Whether you’re looking to your iPhone, there are lots of choices available How To Manage Your Website From Your Mobile Or Tablet Read More . If you just want to get started fast and happen to have a WordPress blog, the WordPress mobile app is definitely the way to go.

5 Expert Ways to Use Your Smartphone Productively Every Day muo webmin wordpress

Using the on-screen keyboard in landscape view, you’d be surprised how fast you can type up a post using two thumbs.

If you’re just looking to browse for interesting web pages and then read them later when you have more time, you can’t go wrong with Pocket, Instapaper, or Flipboard just to name a few that are available on most mobile platforms.

If you need more options, make sure to check out Aaron’s extensive list of 9 apps that help you save webpages for later 5 Better Alternatives to Pocket That Bookmark Anything for Later Pocket has long held the crown of being the internet's best digital bookmarking service. But is it time to scrap it and search for better read-it-later bookmarking alternatives? Read More .

When it comes to taking notes or brainstorming, you probably don’t want to be doing that with your voice while you’re on a five-hour flight. Have no fear, we’ve covered lots of highly-productive note taking apps you can use on a long flight, whether you’re looking for Android note-taking apps Better Than a Notepad: The 3 Fastest Ways To Jot Down Notes on Android Whether you need to jot down ideas for your next project or items you want to pick up at the store, it's always good to have something ready for taking notes. Many people carry around... Read More , or ones for iPhone Should You Be Using Apple's Notes for iOS and OS X? For the first time since its release, Apple Notes for both OS X and iOS may be worth considering. Read More .

You can use note-taking apps during a long flight to:

  • Plan out your groceries for when you arrive at your destination
  • Plot out your itinerary
  • Brainstorm ideas for work
  • Write a story

Mind mapping apps are another great tool for brainstorming ideas, but in a more visual way. It’s surprising how many brainstorming apps there are for mobile devices. Saikat outlined some awesome mind-mapping apps for Android Generate Better Ideas With These Android Mind Mapping Apps Brainstorming is sometimes a spur-of-the-moment activity. Arguably, the best tool for generating ideas remains the humble pen and paper. Again arguably, the second best tools are mobile phones and tablets. After all who carries paper... Read More recently, not the least of which is Simplemind, one of my personal favorites.

5 Expert Ways to Use Your Smartphone Productively Every Day mindmap android02

Kayla also listed 8 diagramming apps 8 Diagramming Apps for Better Brainstorming on the Go Life can be busy and chaotic. These mind mapping and brainstorming apps can help you keep track of your inspirations and ideas for a better thought process. All just a screen tap away. Read More that are awesome for this purpose as well. And if mind-mapping on the plane with an iOS device is your cup of tea, we’ve got you covered there too with mind-mapping options for the iPad Mind Mapping on the iPhone & iPad: Here Are Your Options Whether you're using an iPhone or iPad, these mind map tools can keep your thoughts flowing on-the-go. Read More .

Work While Driving

Is it possible to get work done with your smartphone while you’re driving? Most people would say, “Put the phone away if you’re driving”. For the most part that’s true, but if you can talk and drive at the same time, then you can actually make pretty good use of your long commute.


Before you get started with this, you’ll need to make sure you have a good Bluetooth headset The Beginner's Guide to Buying the Right Bluetooth Headset The dirty little secret to buying the perfect Bluetooth headset is that there is no "perfect" headset. Read More for the job.

Here are all the ways that your phone can make you more productive via voice control:

  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Sending or receiving emails
  • Write blog posts
  • Check the weather or the news
  • Learn about anything

There are many different apps that will help you accomplish any of the above, but one of my personal favorites is Google Now. Earlier this year, I wrote about all kinds of amazing things you can do with Google Now How to Use Google Now to Automate Your Home and Life Google Now can serve as voice control for your smart home gadgets, posting to your favorite social media accounts, and even tracking your health. Read More while you’re driving, not the least of which is sending emails to people just by commanding Google Now to do so.

5 Expert Ways to Use Your Smartphone Productively Every Day note6

Angela wrote about speech to text tools Free Up Your Hands With Speech-to-Text on Android Here's everything you need to know about how to use speech-to-text on Android to type text using your voice. Read More that let you do things like write entire blog posts, emails or letters just by dictating them out loud and sending them to your email to send or post later. Christian shared 4 other Android voice control apps 4 Useful, Safe Android Apps You Can Use In Your Car Using your phone while driving is dangerous! Stay safe with these hands-free techniques for Android. Read More , and of course with iPhone you just have to make use of Siri 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Realize Siri Could Do Siri has become one of the iPhone’s defining features, but for many people, it’s not always the most useful. While some of this is due to the limitations of voice recognition, the oddity of using... Read More to accomplish most of the tasks listed above.

Work While Exercising

Working while flying or driving is one thing, but trying to get actual work done when you’re exercising is a whole different animal. Usually, you’ll be in a gym where it’s too loud for you to use voice control apps. You’ll likely have your hands busy so you can’t type or tap the screen. So is there anything you can accomplish while exercising?


Well yes, actually there is.  Out of the 15 productive tips Saikat listed 15 Productive Things To Do Online When You Have 15 Minutes To Kill Can we put some value in the minutes we waste? Let's get thinking about the productive things we can do online when we have a few minutes in our hands. Read More recently, almost half of them you can do while you are exercising. Just a few examples include:

  • Learn something new
  • Practice speed reading
  • Watch a TED talk
  • Learn a new language
  • Improve your memory with memory games

All these things only require that you watch something on the screen — which is easy to do while you’re walking on a treadmill, using an elliptical, or pedaling a stationary bike.

Using Your Phone Isn’t Bad

As you can see, always using your smartphone doesn’t have to be unhealthy or horrible, especially if it lets you multiply the time you have available in the day. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t put your phone down and spend more time with your kids or your wife, but if you’re somewhere where you’ve got nothing better to do, then why not whip out your phone and get something productive done!

What do you think? Do you know of other productivity “hacks” you can do with your phone to be more efficient with time? Share your thoughts and advice in the comments section below!

Image Credit: Robert Kneschke via Shutterstock, g-stockstudio via Shutterstock, Air Images via Shutterstock, g-stockstudio via Shutterstock

Explore more about: Productivity, Time Management.

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  1. Jacob C Adams
    May 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Playing games while eating to reduce stress? How about savoring your meal? Here's the best way to use your phone: look up ways to consolidate processes and mediums of communication. Productivity is output to input. Reduce input through consolidation and productivity increases. Please post a consolidation article. That'd be the primest.

  2. Ruth
    April 28, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Well a heads up on driving. We have a Kia Soul which can pair the phone with Bluetooth. So I can answer and make calls while driving. That also helps keep you awake while on a long drive. So yes you can get work done while you drive without an danger.

    I use my phone to listen to music while doing gardening. And if someone calls I won't miss the call.

    How about while walking your dog? Use a headset to do voice activated things.

    Being disabled I go to lots of doctor appointments. I get a lot of reading done without carrying a book around. Just turn off the ringer and you can do whatever you want on your phone while you wait. Sometimes the doctor wants to see what I'm doing. Turns them on to some new apps.

  3. Anonymous
    April 26, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Yeah not too sure about the work while driving part. Seems too much risk for little reward as you're dividing your attention. I pretty much think most tech should not be aloud in cars as any outside stimulus detracts from your 100% concentration.

    • Anonymous
      April 26, 2016 at 7:43 pm


  4. Anonymous
    April 26, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    “Work while driving” is an absolute stupidity I can think of.
    By distracting attention from driving it endangers not only the driver’s life (which I don’t care about), but my life (and I do care about) and any other driver’s life, too.
    Using a smartphone while driving should be a criminal offence, because it transforms the driver in a potential killer on the road, similar to that of a drunk driver.