Smart Phone or Smart You?

If you are not living under a rock, you probably heard the term, “smart phone”. Instead of me spending time to make up a definition of it, let’s first look at what Wikipedia has to say,

“A smartphone is a mobile phone built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity than a feature phone.”

In today’s article, I am going to share my experiences of using smart phone to manage my time and work effectively.  You might have known some of the tips I am going to share here, but I suggest you to read on as it’s always good to pick up one or two tips that you have not given too much thoughts about. And as always, if you can add any of your contribution to the list by leaving me a comment, I will appreciate that.

smart phoneWhy do we need smart phones?

Basically a smart phone has more features than a standard mobile phone from 10 years ago. The features of a smart phone make it more powerful. We all know how personal computer (PC) and the Internet changed the world in last decade, but PCs are kind of limited to locations. Even with the thinnest laptop computer, it’s not so easy to carry them around all the time. In order to stay on top of fast growing information in today’s world, we certainly need some devices that can fit into our pockets, so tablets and smart phones are going to be the super stars for the future without any doubt.

When I first heard the term, “smart phone”, I was wondering if what that really means to the consumers. Is the phone itself smart, or the user of the phone is smart? A simple fact I have been noticing for years is that there are many people who are holding smart phones in their hands do not use them smartly. What I mean is simply to use a smart phone without a data plan. If you think about it, the most power to a smart phone is the ability it has to connect to the Internet in order to share and exchange information. If you only use a phone for making phone calls and messages, there is really no need to a smart phone.

My tips of using smart phone smartly

I am using a smart phone with Android system, so I can only speak from my own experiences based on that, but as Apple has better App store, I believe you can always find similar Apps from there. My whole purpose here is to give you the ideas with as much details as possible to open your mind and I am sure you will find better ways from this article to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

iStock_000017496132XSmall#1 Shopping and Travel


I don’t know how often you dine out or travel, but I guarantee that if you spend a little bit time to look into Groupon deals, you can always find ways to save money. It’s free to sign up a Groupon account, so even though you do not need to buy something right away, there is no hurt to look around for more opportunities to save you time and money potentially in the future. This tool is very useful for dinning, shopping and traveling, but it does need some planning skill, so I want to warn you to only buy things you need for the future, otherwise there is a chance you can end up wasting your money with a whole bunch of expired deals.


Personally I have been using this App for more than 2 years and saved at least $1000 from different deals, so I will highly recommend you to sign up today (this is not an affiliate link).

Airline e-Ticket

If you took flight in last few years, you probably notice that most of airlines are using e-tickets now. I used to print out the confirmation of e-Ticket with the reference number and bring it with me on my travel, but there was one time I forgot bringing the paper. That simple mistake taught me how to use my smart phone as an alternate. From then on, I can simply download the pdf file version of e-Ticket (more airlines offer this option after your submit your payment) onto my phone before I show up at the check-in counter. As long as I remember to bring my phone, I would never be in trouble any more.

#2 Time Management

Alarm/Stop Watch/Timer

These options are old school and not something unique to smart phones, but I always wonder how often people utilize them to manage their life better, so I decided to include them here. Here is how I use them,

AlarmAlarm: I literally have 6 regular alarms set up during the day.

– 1 alarm for waking up and 1 alarm for going to bed. I want to have a good schedule in order to keep a healthy body, this remind me to have enough rest after my busy work.

– 2 alarms for my son. Drop off and pick up him at the school bus station. Am I teaching my boy how to be on time? You bet.

– 2 alarms for checking emails during the day. Most of the people working in front of the computer have trouble with checking emails for way too many times during the day. Checking emails wastes lots of time, so I set up two alarms to remind me on checking emails. Other than those two time spots, I close my Outlook.    

– In addition to the regular ones, I usually set up alarms 30 minutes before any important meetings and appointment, so just in case I lose my mind some time, I can save my trouble by implementing this little trick into my daily routine. 

Calendar: Google Calendar is my favorite. Why? Because I can have access to it from anywhere, computer, tablet, smart phone, you name it. Anywhere with Internet connection, I can always edit the items on the calendar on different devices and synchronize the changes altogether. Alarms are as good reminders, but using calendar allows me to work more proactively.  Every morning, the first thing I do even before getting up from bed, is to look into my Google Calendar on my smart phone, which makes my day go by smoothly.

To do list (Taskos)

There are different ways that you can build up a to-do list to remind you to complete certain tasks (usually small ones as big ones are scheduled into calendar already). The smart phone app I constantly use is called Taskos. It comes with very handy features to manage the tasks. If you are interested to give it a try, please go to your app store today.   


I established a detailed blog post for EverNote as it’s my favorite time management tool, so I am not going to get into too many details. If you have not signed up for it yet, please do it now. You will never regret to learn how to use it.  


#3 Social Media

“I am too old for Social Media” is an excuse I use for more than 3 years, but in order to keep updated with what is going on around the world, social media channels especially Twitter and Facebook are most important platforms you need to jump on as soon as possible.

Social Media

Recently by listening to podcast, a simple affect brings me some attentions – more than 50% of the social media users are from a mobile device mainly from smart phones. This is amazing to me, so by all means, I installed Twitter and Facebook Apps onto my phone and I am on these channels from anywhere. Do you have dead times such as waiting before appointments, waiting for a bus, sitting in a train to commute to work? Get into your social media account, you will not feel bored anymore.

#4 Tracking

Tracking records is one of the smartest ways to constantly improve effectiveness and efficiency in life, but there are so many things going on in our lives and sometimes we just forget to write them down. Now it’s time to type some numbers into your smart phone. You will be surprized how much the data can tell you. There are two main categories I can think of:


As you might or might now know, I started a weight loss challenge and lost 12 pounds in less than a month. I want to give a big credit to the calorie tracker that I am using to keep record of my daily net calorie intake to monitor my weight change. I downloaded this paid app from for less than $5 from and it gives a crystal clear look at how I am doing on my weight loss journey and how much a cheat meal can affect my weekly goal.


I have not personally use this type of apps as I am still doing it on an Excel sheet in an old school way, but I heard quite a few of friends picked up on the budgeting apps by simply recording their expenses and saved $200-$300 per monthly successfully. If you ever tried it, please leave me a comment to share you experience.

#5 Learning


I don’t prefer to read on a small screen for a long time, but if you have a good size of smart phone screen such 4 inch and bigger, you can definitely take this advantage to read from your favorite websites. By the way, if you have not grabbed my RSS feed, now it’s a good time to do so here

Listening (Audio books and podcast)

Detailed benefits of audio books and podcasting are listed in my previous blog post, How audio products can help you enjoy life better. Here I just want to share some little tips of how I use smart phones to learn from all over the place.

podcastFirst of all, you need to install the player for these Audile files. I use Audible app for audio books and BeyondPod app for podcast. Then you need to download the audio files with wireless network (unless you really do not care about downloading big files will affect you mobile data plan). I usually listen to these files when I am in a situation that I could not read books, such as having a walk, doing a workout or even sitting beside a swimming pool to watch my son’s swimming class. Again you can use your dead time smartly with smart phones.

#6 Gaming

As I am not a big gamer and only ever play Angry Bird, and Pants VS. Zombies on my phone, I can’t really suggest any great games here, but playing game on smart phones is one of the main reason people purchase them especially for teenagers. Entertainment is a great way to tension relief and help with health issue related to stress and pressure.

Bonus Tip: Need extra data plan package?

BonusI want to throw this part in as I often heard people complaining about not having enough data package to cover all the usage. There are lots of place out there with free Wi-Fi environment that you can utilize to stay connected to the Interent.

Coffee place

Most of the major coffee brands such as Starbucks in North America offer free Wi-Fi for their customers. To enjoy a cup of coffee is always a perfect bonus while surfing on the Internet.


If you are not a big fan of coffee shops or feel embarrassing to seat in Starbucks for too long, libraries can be good alternative places with free Wi-Fi environment. Not only because these places are nice and quiet, most of libraries also have reading area with comfortable chairs or sofa.


Alright I understand this blog post is a little longer than the usual ones, but I hope you enjoyed your reading so far and if you would like to know more tips like this, please grab my email list below.

Have a great day!


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