Productivity vs the App

On April 30th 2013  economists announced that they have not been able to relate growth in smartphone phone market share to a growth in worker productivity.  It would be even more ironic if the economist had calculated that on their smartphone.  To me this was never quite surprising.  Despite people’s claims that they are excellent at “multitasking” and all the cool smartphone commercials smartphones are pretty much smaller computers that allow us to integrate personal life with work.  If you are the productivity Natzi then the smartphone is basically a miniature TV set.  I would take it further and say that the computer in general is over rated as a productivity tool.  Computers are simply tools.  I can use the same hammer to build something that I use to destroy it.  It is about the work not the tool.  A better question for computer users is when is the computer a good answer and when is it a time waster.

With the smartphone employees complain that work now creeps more easily  into their personal time. Meanwhile some bosses complain that personal cell phone use  steals productive time from work hours.  From an economics standpoint they feel that the net result may simply be a wash.

If we want to improve productivity I suggest that we forget the smartphone and look at a much bigger time waster… Email.  The upside of email is that you can communicate to large numbers of people at a low cost.  However, as a result a larger number of people will email you about things that will not increase your productivity.  Email bombards you with time requests and you can get lost for hours at a time.  Do we really think that now doing that on a smaller screen in more locations is somehow going to make it go away?

Like many, I find that email is the huge black whole of anti-productivity.  Yes I write then but I am not always sure who is reading or comprehending them.  I read a lot of crap that does not pertain to me and when I use email to define my day I am pacing according to somebody else’s  agenda.  As a result i rarely check my email on my cell phone.  It is easier faster and cheaper to delete those little gems on my desktop.  When I am not in the office then people can call me live or just wait.  In short my goal is to just call rather than write back.  It is faster for me.  I try to start my day working off my to do list rather  than everybody else’s.

OK I promised that this would be about apps.    So my thought are to separate smartphone fun apps that reduce productivity from those that increase it.

Apps that Raise my Productivity:

Waze -Social Traffic and Gas.  I get there faster and happier and for less cost. (For me that IS fun).

Shared Calendars (Google).

Cloud mark spam filter.  Actually installed on my PC not my phone but with IMAP email that saves me time everywhere.

Flashlight – I see.

Gas Buddy.  I buy gas for less.

HopStop Urban, Public transportation routes from A to B

Kayak travel deal finder I find a better rate on a hotel etc.

Flight View free: flight tracker I waste less time in and around airports.

FoxFi smartphone becomes a hot spot which  allows me share my mobile internet data on to my larger screens without a monthly fee.

MyMotospeak has a Bluetooth with wind filter that allows me to answer my phone when I am outdoors.

WiFi Analyzer- Helps me diagnose WiFi signal strength when setting up wireless networks

Alarm Clock

CamScanner – scan a document anywhere.

FileManager Phone and Lan file browser

Evernote – Word processing, works on any device at any time

IMAP- it is not an app. It is anEmail protocol that if you install on all your devices you to carry your email with you (in case of emergency only)

SMS backup and restore back up your text messages

Dropbox access one folder and subfolders from any device

SugarSync access any folders from any device.

Plan B lookout phone finder – find my lost cell phone

The Weather Channel

Twitter – I follow just who I want and when I want.  People interest me or not with under 160 characters.

White Pages /Current caller ID  answer just the calls you want to.

iCloud/Google Contact Sync cary your contacts with you.  Add address to your GPS easily.


Fun Apps (but they  Lower productivity)

Snap Chat


bar code scanner



Google Play Music



Move bike computer

My Tracks

Google docs

MX video player

NCAA ESPN march Madness



Netflix guide



MX player

Picasa /google+




Yelp/Google Places (find a restaurant or service)


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