Five Ways to be Productive without a Smartphone


Smartphones are part of our daily lives.  There's no way to restate or retract that statement.  If you're in a public place, try this experiment:  look around and count the number of tops of heads you can see on people.  Now unless you're looking down from above you shouldn't be able to see many, right?  But I'm willing to wager you can see a fair number, more than you ever could have five years ago.  It's the heads down focus of the smartphone user that has become so prevalent today.

Now let me be clear.  I've been using mobile tech since before mobile tech was mainstream (yes, very hipster of me but also very true) so I am a staunch advocate for the benefits that can come from using mobile tech.  There are times when being offline, by choice or not, comes into play and we need to continue being productive without our digital man Friday.

Here are my top five ways to be productive in cases when you fear you may be unable to use your technology:

1.  Notebooks

Paper doesn't get blocked, lose signal, or run out of power.  We've trusted it for thousands of years and I'm willing to suggest we will continue to do so.  If you think you are at risk of being disconnected, take time to jot down critical information such as contact names and numbers, meeting agendas, and other vital information for an event or meeting.  Even if you never crack open the notebook, just the confidence gained from having the information available can be highly reassuring.

2.  Redundancy

Using cloud based systems with web accessible interfaces can keep you from being completely disconnected when out and about.  Even if you need to borrow someone else's device or use a public terminal, your information is still ready for you when you need it.

3.  Images and glue sticks

What?  Are we in grade school now?  Well, there's a handy trick from our younger friends that can be very productive.  If you check in your favorite office supply store you'll find a thing called a repositionable glue stick.  This is one where the adhesive is not permanent, but rather allows you to turn anything into a post-it note.  Now while you're out and about you can combine this with #1 to attach receipts, business cards, and other papers into your notebook for later reference.  Before going out you can print screenshots of critical information or crop down sections of pages for posting into your notebook for reference.  If you decide you don't need something or you're finished with it, just peel it out.  It's that easy.

4.  Google Voice

Ok, now this was supposed to be about NOT having access to tech.  This is a little trick I learned one day when my phone battery died and I needed to return a work phone call from a friend's phone.  By leveraging Google Voice and calling my own number I was able to make an outgoing call that showed my business number rather than my friend's phone number.  Task accomplished and no loss of image.

5.  Notebooks

Yes, I know I listed that before.  But notebooks are so helpful they warrant two places on the list.  If you define stage gate processes (SGP) that include capture and processing of information, notebooks can be the quickest method of capture around.  Couple them with systems such as Evernote or OneNote, and when you get back to your technology you'll not only be ahead of the curve, but you'll also have the redundancy I listed in item #2.

There are other ways to continue being productive without a smartphone, but following these might just give you the head start you need the next time you're not spending time looking down at your little companion.

Photo credit: JefferyTurner / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)