5 ways smartphones can boost your efficiency and productivity

If you think your iPhone or Android is wasting your time, you’re doing it wrong. These tips and apps will help you save time and, quite possibly, money.

We are deeply connected to technology. Computers, smartphones, tablets, apps, and social media platforms influence nearly every aspect of our lives.

In some ways, all of that technology has improved our productivity and the speed with which we complete our work. However, more devices also mean more information to digest and, sometimes, more work. Often, it ends up complicating life more than simplifying it.

Thankfully, there are a number of apps designed to make your life easier by boosting your efficiency. Of course, there are numerous apps and services that will help you, but we’ve chosen five that address the more pressing concerns in our lives.

Read only relevant news stories

All of us like to keep up-to-date with the latest news and events, but with so many blogs and news sites, it helps to have an app that curates this content for you. That way, you’re left with only the news that interests you.

If you’re an iPhone user, Prismatic is one such app for curation. It uses your preferences, location, and subscriptions to shape an intelligent news app. Also, the article you’re reading is accompanied by three of the most popular tweets to show the general mood. Sometimes they’re general tweets, but the slick design and clean interface makes it a solid app. There’s also a desktop version for those who don’t own an Apple device.

For Android users, there are the Flipboard and Google Currents apps, both of which are equally good for organizing your news feed. Flipboard is by far the more stylish of the two, but Currents is arguably a more versatile product.

Get—and stay—organized

If you need some extra help getting organized, there are a number of apps to keep yourself in check.

Along with the Calendar function that’s included with any Apple or Android phone, there are apps such as Astrid, Remember the milk, Clear, and Any.Do to keep you on top of your schedule. With the exception of Clear, all these apps are free and will help you if you put a little time into them.

RELATED: 5 (mostly) free apps to get you organized

Save time completing tasks

It’s one thing to be organized, but what about completing those tasks that are spread across different apps, such as tracking deliveries, paying bills, and syncing your phone contacts with your Facebook account.

If you’re an iPhone user, consider downloading EasilyDo. It can connect to your social media and email accounts and, instead of clicking on a task and directing you to said app, it lets you complete them through the app itself.

If someone’s birthday was coming up, for instance, you would be notified and allowed to post a message through EasilyDo. If you have an appointment, it alerts you when you should leave and provides directions.

The app has some nice touches like alerting you to bad weather the night before an appointment, tracking shipments, and merging duplicate contacts. Perhaps the best feature is when you pull down on the list. It shows you what tasks you’ve completed and how much time you’ve saved by using the service.

Avoid eye strain

Chances are you work in front of a computer every day. spending at least eight hours looking at a screen can strain your eyes. Plus, looking at screens late at night, whether on your smartphone or TV, makes it difficult to sleep.

If this is the case, you should download F.lux for your desktop. Compatible for both Windows and Mac users, F.lux adds an orange hue to your screen so it’s easier on your eyes and prevents you from getting headaches.

Since looking at a screen at night isn’t good for you, the app automatically adjusts itself when it reaches evening in your time zone, so all you need to do is select your settings and let it do all the work.

Unfortunately, the app isn’t available for Android, and can only be downloaded on a jail-broken iPhone or iPad. If you’re not comfortable jail breaking your phone, then you will have to wait until Apple or Google allow an official version in its stores.

Wake up feeling fresh

Speaking of getting to sleep, if you wake up feeling groggy or struggle to get out of bed, you might consider monitoring how you sleep.

If you’re an iPhone user, you could download Sleep Cycle, which monitors your sleeping patterns and wakes you up at an optimal time. By setting the alarm, it will wake you up within a 30-minute period, depending on your sleep cycle. The more you use it, the more you’ll be able to identify patterns that aid or hinder your sleep, such as caffeine, mood, time spent in bed, and timing.

For Android users, Alarm Clock Xtreme is a good alternative. Along with a straightforward interface, the app has some nice touches including a home-screen widget that tells you when your alarm is set. It can also detect when you’re moving and disable the alarm for you.

On top of that, it could be worth visiting the site sleepyti.me, which will help you calculate the best times for you to fall asleep. Just enter in the time you need to get up and the site will recommend different times for you to sleep.

Quinton O’Reilly is a writer of social media/tech stuff for Simply Zesty, where a version of this story first appeared. Follow him on Twitter at @qoreilly.

(Image via)


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.