What is Nudge Theory?

How can I optimise my smartphone for productivity?

We all struggle with productivity1 sometimes, especially when we are conditioned to reach for and scroll through our phones whenever we get bored.

Social media or our messaging apps could be culprits of our procrastinating2 tendencies, breaks out work flow3 and increases our stress levels.

But did you know you can also use smartphones to counter these behaviours? The features are in-built and all you need to know is how to optimise them!

Follow this Guide to optimise your in-built smartphone features

If you have an iOS

Minimise distractions:

Turn off unnecessary notifications and alerts.

Keep only the essential ones like phone calls you cannot miss, messages from important contacts (like your family or your boss!), and calendar reminders.

Organise your home screen:

Arrange the apps which you NEED on the home screen, keep that under 10 apps.

Use widgets to keep track of important information like the weather, calendar events, or task lists.

Create folders for apps that you use less frequently.

Make use of the App library to store apps you want to use less often, making it more difficult for you to reach for them, and decrease their immediate salience4

Use productivity apps:

There are many productivity apps available that can help you manage your time and tasks efficiently.

Some examples include time management apps like Calendar to see organise your time throughout the day, and task management app like Notes which allows you to track your to-do list, even to share and collaborate with your friends on the same task

Use voice assistants:

Siri can be a powerful tool for productivity on iOS devices. You can use Siri to set

reminders, send messages, make phone calls, and even control smart home devices.

Siri can be helpful in performing tasks quickly without having to type or tap on your phone.

Manage your email:

Set up your email to prioritise important messages and filter out spam.

Schedule specific times of the day to check your email, rather than constantly checking it throughout the day whenever it pops up.

Turn on "Do Not Disturb" mode:

If you need to focus on a task or need uninterrupted time, turn on the "Do Not Disturb" mode. This will silence all notifications and calls except for those from your favourite contacts.

Use the "Shortcuts" app:

The Shortcuts app allows you to automate tasks and create custom shortcuts for common tasks. For example, you can create a shortcut to send a pre-written message to a specific contact or to open multiple apps at once.

Set up a "Focus" mode:

iOS 15 introduced a new "Focus" mode that allows you to customise notifications and app access based on your current activity or task. This can be a great way to minimise distractions and stay focused on your work.

Specific tips if you use an Android

Use the "Digital Wellbeing" feature:

Android devices have a "Digital Wellbeing" feature that can help you track your phone

usage and set limits for certain apps or categories of apps.

You can also set a bedtime schedule to help you get enough sleep.

Keep the feature on your home screen to act as your reminder.

Use the Google Assistant:  

Like Siri for iOS, the Google Assistant can be a powerful tool for productivity on Android devices. You can use it to set reminders, send messages, make phone calls, and control smart home devices.

Use the "Focus mode":

The "Focus mode" feature, allows you to customise notifications and app access based on your current activity or task.

This can be a great way to minimise distractions and stay focused on your work.

Use the "Files" app:

The built-in "Files" app that allows you to organise your documents and files in one central location.

You can also access files from cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.

Use the "Google Keep" app:

Google Keep is a note-taking app that allows you to create to-do lists, set reminders, and save important information. You can also use voice commands to create notes and reminders.

Use the "Do Not Disturb" feature:

Android devices have a "Do Not Disturb" feature that can be activated by swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping the "Do Not Disturb" icon.

This will silence notifications and calls until you turn it off. You can also customise "Do Not Disturb" settings to allow calls from specific contacts.

Use third-party productivity apps:  

Productivity apps available for Android, such as Todoist, Trello, and Evernote. These apps can help you manage tasks, organise projects, and take notes more efficiently.

Download Waitasec, a bespoke behavioural science backed application which helps you boost productivity by encouraging healthier, intentional smartphone use, try it today!


  1. Duke, É., & Montag, C. (2017). Smartphone addiction, daily interruptions and self-reported productivity. Addictive behaviors reports, 6, 90-95.
  2. Li, L., Gao, H., & Xu, Y. (2020). The mediating and buffering effect of academic self-efficacy on the relationship between smartphone addiction and academic procrastination. Computers & Education, 159, 104001.
  3. Rozgonjuk, D., Kattago, M., & Täht, K. (2018). Social media use in lectures mediates the relationship between procrastination and problematic smartphone use. Computers in Human Behavior, 89, 191-198.
  4. Bordalo, P., Gennaioli, N., & Shleifer, A. (2013). Salience and consumer choice. Journal of Political Economy, 121(5), 803-843.

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