The smartphone was an incredibly valuable introduction to the business world, allowing entrepreneurs to exponentially increase productivity both in and out of the workplace. However, they are a double-edged sword, capable of cutting down barriers, or slicing productivity to ribbons with time-wasting apps and texting.

Some businesses are embracing the smartphone with open arms with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy, allowing employees to bring their own devices to the workplace. In fact, according to a study by Cisco partner mConcierge, 90 percent of Americans use their smartphones for work (or at work). But not everyone is on the same page when it comes to smartphones in the workplace. Jake Knapp, blogger and design partner at Google Ventures, felt the weight of his smartphone pressing against his very being. He relied on his smartphone to keep himself preoccupied, but more than anything else, he saw it as a distraction from what needed to be done.

Some business owners are in agreement, preventing their employees from using their own mobile devices in the workplace altogether, for fear of unprecedented time-wasting. It’s a reasonable assumption. Smartphones are filled with applications that have nothing to do with work, like social media apps and web browsing. Therefore, unless the situation is somehow controlled, businesses will have employees using smartphones for all sorts of things while on the clock.

Knapp had an idea. He desired a distraction-free smartphone of his own accord. It seems like a completely impossible feat, knowing the unlimited possibilities smartphones pose for their users, but he wanted to try it out anyway. In his original post on sharing website Medium, Knapp says:

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole World Wide Web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

In response to this ongoing smartphone addiction, Knapp did what he thought would be best for himself and his productivity. He succeeded in making his iPhone distraction-free by following these simple steps:

  • Disabling Safari: Safari, the iPhone’s web browser, was seen by Knapp as “a limitless universe of, y’know, everything.” Therefore, it’s logical that it should be disabled. While you can’t delete your web browser on your smartphone, you can disable it.
  • Removing email apps: Email is another big time-waster on smartphones. It’s nice to be able to receive emails wherever you go, but if it’s an urgent matter, you should encourage others to call or text you rather than send an email. Besides, checking email constantly isn’t any better than browsing the web. It’s better to set aside time during the day to go over your email than interrupt work to check it.
  • Remove “infinity” apps: Knapp refers to social media applications like Facebook and Twitter as “infinity” applications, meaning that you can waste an infinite amount of time browsing through them. This tip practically speaks for itself. Delete these apps and you will find yourself being more productive.
  • Decide what else to keep: Generally, you should only keep apps which have some sort of value or practical use to your everyday activities. Obviously, certain applications like text messages and phone calls can’t really be deleted, so you’re stuck with them. Things like music players, for instance, can help you focus, and Google Maps can help you find where you need to go in a pinch. One of Knapp’s favorite ways to pass time on the bus to and from work is with an app called Calm, which he uses for meditation. He claims he’s a lot happier meditating on the bus than he was checking his email constantly.

Will you try to boost your productivity with a distraction-free smartphone lifestyle? Let us know in the comments.

June 24, 2015