Looking for productivity tips/hacks using your iPhone — suggestions?

Ramit Sethi · June 22nd, 2008

I’m working on a new eBook on productivity hacks using your cellphone (especially your iPhone), and I’m looking to collect some more productivity tricks you use with your cellphone.

For example, here are some tips you’ll find in the eBook:

  • How to leave voice notes for yourself and have them automatically sent to your to-do list
  • How to get almost-completely free WiFi at Starbucks
  • A template for tracking gas and expenses using your iPhone

Do you have any productivity tips using your cellphone? If you submit a tip and I include it, I’ll send you a free copy of the eBook ($25 value).

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Submit your cellphone productivity hacks here.

I’ll collect tips until this Friday, June 27th, so if you have a productivity hack for your cellphone, submit your tip now!

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  1. Whenever I am trying to get a project done, I like to turn off all notification devices. IM, phone, etc. I like to go to the library or coffee shop, and leave all the distractions at home.

  2. At work, I often have to record data from somewhere that isn’t a PC, such as a piece of paper, a white board, VFD settings from an electrical panel, specs on the side of an electric motor, etc. Most of the time I need these for one time use and then I never need them again. In these cases I usually just snap a picture of them with my iPhone and then email it to myself or whoever else needs the info.

  3. Of course, you can do this with every camera phone, but what makes it easier on the iPhone is the quality of the photo, the ease of emailing it to yourself, and the huge storage capacity that lets you take hundreds of photos.

  4. Active your userbase to create free labour, oh wait that was for another e-book. I like to use my phone as an alarm clock, so i get up in the morning and am actually capable of doing some productive activities.

  5. What may be difficult about this question is that most of my productivity enhancements on the iPhone are just using the features… calendar, notes, timer, etc. I’ve had these features in previous phones / PDAs, but on the iPhone they’re faster and more responsive. This means I have a tendency to use them more.

    For example, I use the notes feature a lot at work while I’m away from a PC. I’ll take notes while observing a piece of our equipment, and then email it to myself. Later on when I’m at a computer, my report will be based off the notes I emailed myself.

    Is using a feature as it was intended a productivity hack?

  6. At home we make a shopping list on a drawing board and keep updating it whenever we find that we ran out of something.
    I take a picture of that list with my phone before leaving the house for shopping and use it in stores. This way you never forget to buy required items.

  7. carson

    the iPhone is way more productive when hacked…

  8. Eva Holtz

    1. Evernote for online, searchable access to various documents I’ve saved.

    2. Load up podcasts for listening to while driving or during other downtime.

    3. Photograph receipts and trash them immediately if I won’t need to make a return, like at a restaurant. The receipts auto-download to iPhoto when I sync. (This could be hooked into Evernote, too.)

    4. Jott

    5. JiveTalk for IM via iPhone

    6. Photograph my parking spot so I won’t have trouble finding it later.

    7. Have a policy that I can only do time-wasting (Facebook, LJ, etc.) while in forced unproductive mode, e.g., waiting for a friend to show up, waiting in line, walking to the car.

    8. Same as above, but with a Lists folder and a To Read folder in my email.

    9. Link to a web page that lists free Wi-Fi spots, so I can find Wi-Fi wherever I happen to be.

    10. Keep a portable habits list on Joe’s Goals,

    Looking forward to the e-book!

    Eva Holtz

  9. freckledbruh

    I am in sales and there are three major features that I use with my iphone that helps mucho:
    1) Calendar w/alerts – yeah, most phones have a calendar and can beep at you when you need to be somewhere, but with the iphone (and ical) I get a decent description of the event (appt., call, email, etc.) and I have notes for the event to view that can be as detailed as I want (client requested xyz, present abc product, etc.). Plus, I can type in a phone number in the notes on my laptop, sync it to my iphone and then if I need to call the person I am meeting I can just tap the phone number and it will call that number.
    2) Contacts/Address Book – If I have 1,000+ contacts in my address book, it can be a pain scrolling through all of them to find one number. To combat this (Apple will soon have a search function BTW), I make contact groups. For example, if I have 80 contacts that could benefit from Product A, then I make a group labeled “Product A Leads” and drag those contacts into that group. Taken further, I can make a group called “Product A Clients” and drag any leads that have bought Product A. This is a big help when I need to focus a few group of contacts for that day/week and not be overwhelmed by all the other leads.
    3) Maps – So, I am on the road and I have my cal and groups but how do I get to all of them. With maps, I can set my office as my home location, then tap the destination tab. A little book icon comes up and I can scroll through my grouped contacts and get directions. From destination A, I just flip the directions and hit the destination tab again, hit the book icon and tap the next contact to see. MUCH better than printing out mapquest directions from the office and throwing them in the car.

    There are many other useful things the iphone can do in a sales setting even without hacks and jailbreaking, but these have helped me the most.

  10. ekrabs

    I’m an old-school Palm user. Currently on Treo.

    Like everyone else, I use the basics such as alarms, to-do list, and calendar.

    I also use SplashID, which is a simple database with simple encryption to store semi-sensitive information I may need but not remember while I am out and about.

    The crown jewel is my personal finance software. (In my case, it’s PocketMoney.) I budget and track transactions exclusively on my cellphone. Since it’s also my cellphone, I carry it everywhere I go. I don’t have to wait until I get home and be in front of a computer to make sure if I am within budget for something. In fact, I can change and toy with budgets on the fly, anywhere.

    With this system, I don’t even need receipts to track my transactions (but I keep them in case I have to return something). I just enter the transactions as I go. It only takes about 5-10 seconds.

    I can even see how sad my net worth is at the push of a button. 🙁

    About the only thing I haven’ t quite ironed out is how to get it to track my investment accounts easily. However, because they’re mostly for retirement, it’s just as well that it isn’t listed. I use this system largely for managing my day-to-day cash flow.

    While I do love the iPhone 3G, it doesn’t provide the level of functionality I need yet. And a part of me wants to get off the smartphone track all together, mostly due to cost considerations.

  11. Oxiana

    I’ve been using’s time tracking tool to manage my own personal productivity. Word on the street is they’re going full tilt with an iphone app in the next few days.

  12. I am not rich yet, so I do not have an iphone.