Productivity

9 iPhone Hacks to Boost Your Productivity in 2021

Avatar of Molly Stoneman Molly Stoneman | Jan 14, 2021
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Your iPhone has so many hidden tips and tricks that can help you stay focused and productive, with more features added throughout the year. It’s hard to keep up, so that’s why we’ve got an up-to-date guide for you to use. Are you getting the most out of your iPhone? Read on to find out!

Even when you are in the groove of a project and jamming out work, we’ve all had that moment when – brrriing! – you get a phone notification and simply have to check if it’s urgent. It’s not just you; in fact, Harvard researchers tested nearly 800 people and found that they had reduced mental cognition when their cell phones were nearby while working, even if the phones were turned off.

This has become such a widespread phenomenon that linguists have even coined a term for cell phone addition, ‘nomophobia,’ for the fear of having no mobile phone. Unfortunately, studies show that this constant need to have  a phone around is killing our productivity at work.

Smartphone

This lack of focus and cognition may be even stronger in young adults; according to OpenMarket, 83% of millennials open text messages within 90 seconds of receiving them, and according to Pew Research Center, cell phone owners aged 18 to 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day—more than 3,200 texts per month.

If you’re having trouble staying productive, you might also consider updating your workspace to maximize your health, focus, and productivity. Distractions might be minimized if you have a well-arranged work station, such as a standing desk to optimize for blood flow and movement breaks, or an ergonomic chair for better posture and back support. Still, even the best equipment and setup cannot eliminate the endless temptations of social media or video streaming.

If willpower alone isn’t keeping you productive, try these iPhone tricks to use your phone more efficiently or even reduce the amount of time you waste on your phone.

1.    Disable App Review requests

Disable app review requests

You open an app intending to get work done, and then that app prompts you to leave a review. This is an unwanted interruption, and your job is to remove as many interruptions as possible. Disable these unwanted Review Requests; if you really love an app, you can always manually go to the App Store and add reviews—or share your favorite apps directly with your friends.

  • Go to Settings > Apple ID > iTunes & App Stores.
  • Find In-App Ratings & Reviews > Switch off

2.    Automatically close all Safari tabs

Safari tabs

Are you someone who ends up with dozens of still-open websites in Safari tabs on your phone? You’re losing valuable battery, memory space, and time when sorting for the one you need.

  • Open Settings > Safari and scroll down to the Tabs section
  • Select Close Tabs. You can select to close tabs manually, or have your phone automatically delete tabs after a day, week or month w ith no usage.

3.    Quickly search Messages

Don’t remember who sent you the link for those concert tickets? While in Messages, just swipe down from the top of the display to bring down the search field and type your request. You can search by topic and even emoji across all Messages, regardless of the sender.

4.    Faster responses from your Lock Screen

Faster response

Received a message notification and want to send a response fast without unlocking your phone and waiting for the app to load? (Or, perhaps don’t want to get distracted by the endless fun on your phone if it’s unlocked?) Just long press (i.e., press and hold down) the message notification to open its preview and hit ‘Reply.’ For the Messages app, you can even just slide your finger up the screen to find three quick suggested responses you can use.

5.    Speed through voicemails with Google Voice transcriptions

Google voice transcription

Google Voice (available for both Android and iOS) will automatically convert your voicemails into typed format, Gmail emails, or text messages that you can read later, at your leisure. Follow this guide to setup your Google Voice phone number in order to access those previously long-winded voicemail transcriptions in simple, actionable text format. 

6.    Airplane mode isn’t just for airplanes

Airplane mode

Airplane mode has a number of awesome uses outside of air travel. If you’re having trouble with your cell signal, just switch airplane mode on-and-off, and your signal should be restored. If you’ve been on-the-go all day and have 7% battery when you get home, turn your phone on airplane mode and it will charge much faster. Finally, if you’ve had a long day and accidentally send a text message to the wrong person, quickly turn on airplane mode and when the message fails to deliver, you can delete it and then actually send it to the correct person.

7.    Save webpages for later, even if you’re offline

Save webpages for offline

Found an online article you’d like to take a closer look at later? Which you could access even when you’re offline? (Your flights will never be the same.) Long press the webpage link, and tap ‘Add to Reading List,’ or save to a customized Bookmark list. You’ll be able to pull up the webpage later when you’re less distracted, even without cell signal.

8.    Add relationships to your contacts

Relationships to contacts

If you have a contact file for a person, you can teach Siri things about them. For example, if your manager is Betty Jones, you can tell Siri, “Remember Betty Jones is my manager,” and it will add this to the contact file. Then you can ask Siri to “call my manager” while you’re in a rush, without over-thinking the name or getting frustrated if Siri calls the wrong Betty.

9.    And of course, you can always ignore your phone

Ignore your phone

Let’s be honest, notifications are your #1 enemy when you’re in a productive work flow. In fact, studies show that it can take over 23 minutes to get back to your original task after being distracted by a notification. While you could turn your phone off, there’s always that nagging feeling that something important will happen while you’re working that simply cannot wait. Here's how to shut everything out while you try to focus, while still being able to be notified in case of emergencies.

Swipe to open your Control Center (swipe down from the top right for iPhone X and above, swipe up from the bottom for older iPhones) and tap the half-moon icon to turn on ‘Do Not Disturb.’ This feature will silence calls, alerts, and notifications until you tap to switch them on again.

Better yet, given you might forget to exit Do Not Disturb mode, tap and hold the Do Not Disturb icon and then choose a duration to silence it all.

  • For 1 hour.
  • Until this evening.
  • Until I leave this location.
  • Schedule your own

“But what if there’s an emergency?!” Don’t fear, you can customize whose calls still come through even while ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode is on. Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Allow Calls From, and select ‘Favorites.’ Check this guide to set, manage, and delete Favorite contacts. Now you can actually focus on your work without fear of missing an important call, but ignoring the distracting notifications from other apps.

Final Thoughts

It can be intimidating to break the cell phone addiction, so even taking a few small steps to lessen time on your phone or risk of distraction is a great first action. However, once you are in the habit of using your phone to its most efficient capacity—using features already built-in without the need for new apps—your ability to focus will soar.

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WRITTEN BYMolly Stoneman

Freelancer passionate about design, travel, and innovation.

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