The sanity-saving productivity hack you won’t believe

I told my 5-year-old son recently that he was about as old as the iPhone.

His eyes widened in shock and despair. “But Mom!” he exclaimed. “What did you do without your phone?

What did I do without my phone, son? I actually got work done! Like most people, I purchased my first smartphone as a means to increase productivity and for a long time, it really did help. I worked as a social media manager for a large online parenting publication at the time, and I needed to have access to Facebook and Twitter 24-hours a day.

That was the gateway to the giant time suck that is mobility. While that gig is well in the past, my iPhone remains. As I move through the cycles of my professional life I find that the more I use it, the less I actually get done.

Here’s the hack you’ve been waiting for—I took every email account except my personal account off my iPhone. That’s right, no one I work for or with can reach me when I’m away from my laptop unless they call me, text me or email me at my private email address.

It’s counter-intuitive, but removing my work email from my smartphone makes me a lot more productive. In the past, I may have replied to an email on the fly, only to forget about it later and miss a deadline or some other important task.

Now when I’m answering email, I’m in work mode—not at the playground, the swimming pool or the doctor’s office. I also know that if I get a call or a text, it really is urgent. Folks tend to communicate that way only when they really need my attention at that exact moment. This helps me to be a better parent and partner, as well. When it’s kid/family/couple time, I’m more focused on what’s happening in front of me.

This hack doesn’t work great if your personal and professional email accounts are the same, so I urge you to consider separating them. It makes for a much more organized (and balanced) work life. If you are working for a large organization, don’t be afraid to ask for an internal email address. Sometimes they balk, but I’ve found more often than not it’s pretty easy to get one. Otherwise, get yourself a second free email account and dedicate it to professional communication only.

What’s your favorite productivity hack? Tell me in the comments! 

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