Save Time with a Smartphone

By Carlos Portocarrero

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It’s been a year since I bought my Android G1, and I can’t imagine ever going back. There are some things I don’t like about smartphones (people who can’t ever put them away, for one), but overall they can make you so much more efficient that I think they’re worth it.

Here are some ways I use my phone to save the most valuable thing of all—time.

GPS Locator

Having GPS means not having to print out directions before you head somewhere you’ve never been to before, like the Six Flags that’s up north somewhere. Instead, M and I just jump in the car and fire up the GPS in my phone.

It’ll tell us exactly where to go and where we are so there’s no chance of getting lost.

It’s also great when you’re on the highway and traffic slows to a crawl. We were between Detroit and Chicago somewhere (Indiana, I believe) and the traffic was just not moving. So we fired up the GPS locator and snuck around the traffic.

I never would’ve gotten off somewhere I’m not familiar with the streets, but with GPS on I’m as brave as anyone else.

Actually, it’s kind of fun.

Internet on the Go

There is a lot you can do when you have the Internet in your hands (you can’t argue with Bill Curtis). Whether it’s checking and sending email, paying bills, checking your bank statement, or running any other kind of virtual bills, now you can do it all no matter where you are.

Sitting at the doctor’s office waiting to get your physical? Respond to the email from your boss asking about that powerpoint deck. Forgot to transfer over some money into your checking account? Do it while you ride the bus home (though I’m partial to reading on the bus).

Either way, there is no down time when you have a smartphone with Internet access. Some people may think that’s a bad thing (and I totally see the point), but it also means you can be more productive in places where you’d least expect it.

Google Maps

You can’t beat this. Having Google Maps in the palm of your hand is pretty sweet. Worried about traffic? Check it on the map. Want to see exactly where you’re going so the cab doesn’t screw around with you and take you the long way? Google Map it.

And it’s not only for directions. If you’re going to be in a certain area and you don’t know it very well, you can search for restaurants, see reviews, call them up, etc.

Bus Tracker

This one is one of my favorites. The CTA in Chicago was clever enough to create a bus tracking app so I don’t have to wait at the bus stop wondering if and when the bus will ever show up. Instead, I enter the routes I use every day, the stop I usually take them at, and boom—I’m told how far away the next bus is.

I’ve been waiting for this one for years.

Now you can stay at work an extra 5–10 minutes without having to worry because you’re actually getting stuff done instead of killing time at the bus stop standing around waiting.

On Downtime

I’m all about being more efficient and saving as much times as I can. It’s the most valuable resource there is—I really believe that.

But I’m also a fan of randomness. Of spontaneity. Of reading a book or a magazine when I’m waiting. Of staring out the window and thinking up new stories or remembering old friends. Of people watching. Of daydreaming.

So while I hope these tips make you more productive and save you some time, don’t forget that sometimes a little down time can refresh you and make you even more productive in the long run.

Curious to hear any other apps out there that people use to save time…whether it’s for Android or the iPhone.

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