About a year and a half ago, I got my very first smartphone. Up until then, I only had a “stupid phone,” which was perfectly fine with me. All I really needed my phone for was making calls and texting my kids, so it was no big deal.
But suddenly, two of our phones happened to break in the same week, and we were faced with replacing our old phones with either overpriced flip phones or specially-priced smartphones like the rest of the modern world seemed to be using.
I have to admit that I was hesitant to get an iPhone. I wanted one (who wouldn’t?!?), but I was afraid a smartphone would be a huge time-waster for me…and I was right! I’m not going to lie.
My phone and I are pretty much joined at the hip (literally, since it’s nearly always in my back pocket!), and I have to be very intentional about how much time I spend checking my email or popping onto Facebook.
As a matter of fact, I had to remove all but one of my email accounts from my phone (I have something like FIVE email accounts – it’s a sickness), and I don’t have many apps on my phone, either.
I also unfollowed most of my friends on Facebook (I still “like” them, I just don’t “follow” them), so I mostly just hop on Facebook to check on a couple groups I belong to and keep up with the Simple Everyday Home page. Because I’m a Facebook addict. The struggle is real.
But having a smartphone hasn’t been all bad for my productivity. It has actually become an invaluable tool for keeping me organized and helping me not forget things. I have a horrible memory, so my phone has become my second (never forgetful) brain.
How to use your phone to keep you organized:
1. Put To Do tasks into the calendar.
I use a physical (paper) planner to manage my To Do list on a daily basis, but sometimes I need to jot down a task on the fly. Since I always have my phone with me, it’s easy to type something like “pick up dry cleaning” or “call doctor” into my calendar so I don’t forget by the time I get home.
2. Use calendar alerts to remember due dates.
Library fines add up quickly when a stack of books or a weekend’s worth of movies is overdue. I use my library’s computer system to find the first due date for the items we have checked out. Then I enter “Library Due” as an all-day event on that date in my calendar and set an alert.
When my calendar chimes on the morning something is due, I hop online and either renew the item or grab whatever I find out is due and put it by the door to be dropped off on my next trip out. Then, I edit the date on my calendar reminder so it will pop up again on the next due date. I just keep resetting that same reminder over and over with the due date that will be coming up next.
3. Set reminders for recurring tasks.
My phone’s calendar is also a great way to remember things that need done once a week, once a month, or just once or twice a year. I set up a recurring note on my calendar for things like watering the plants, giving the dog his heart worm medicine, and changing the furnace filter. Then I add an alert so I’m sure to notice the reminder.
4. Keep track of high-value coupons.
I absolutely hate finding a $10 or even $25 coupon for a favorite store two days after it’s expired. It drives me crazy! I always think I’ll remember that I stuck it into the zipper pouch in my purse, but I rarely do. (That poor memory issue again.)
Now, when I get a great coupon in the mail, I put the coupon into my purse and enter the expiration date into my phone as an all-day event. I set an alert for one week prior to the date so I have time to plan for a shopping trip, if needed. Then, after I’m notified a week early, I change the reminder date to the actual expiration date, just in case I still forget to use it sometime during that final week.
5. Set alarms to remember things throughout the day.
I have an alarm set for the times that each family member needs to wake up in the morning (including myself, of course), but I also have alarms set for the times I need to go pick up each of the kids at school. I set alarms so I remember to leave on time for appointments and so I don’t forget things like drinking water or starting dinner.
Alarms help my distracted brain remember things that might get lost when I’m in the middle of working on something. I can’t tell you how many times I would have been late to pick up one of the kids if my alarm hadn’t reminded me to get off the computer and find my shoes five minutes before I needed to head out the door!
6. Take photos of details that need remembered.
Since I know I’m prone to forget semi-important things like the exact shade on my box of hair color, the variety of salsa my husband likes best, or the size screw I’m supposed to pick up at the hardware store, I’ll often take a picture of the package before I head out the door.
My phone’s camera is also a quick way to capture my kids’ school schedules, to save addresses that might be needed later, and to remember the street where I parked the car, all without having to spend time writing or typing out the information.