I dragged my feet for years regarding phone technology. Before I had kids, I didn’t really want to be reached by phone every second. I liked coming home to messages and not being bothered during the day. Now, six years later, I have a smart phone (iPhone to be exact, although not the latest model), attached to me at all times. It’s like my lifeline as well as my total life organizer. If you’re a working anyone, much less a working mom, you might be surprised at just how amazingly useful the smart phone can be if you don’t already have one, that is.
My biggest reason for getting a smart phone was for email. I work two jobs and there is some carryover. I write and I teach. With the current environment of scrutiny and budget cuts, I don’t want to be THAT teacher who has other emails and what not up on her computer, although I still do usually. I like to have my phone available for emails so that I can check them at work and answer during lunch or my conference period since I’m otherwise unavailable during traditional working hours. I also like to check emails while still laying in bed in the mornings getting what feels like a lazy start on my day or while I put the kids to bed and I’m lying there keeping them company as they fall asleep.
IMs and Text
I have discovered that mothers don’t have time for phone conversations. Ask any mother with children and she will likely tell you it’s easier to call during naptime, after bedtime or if you would, just text her. I’m a texter. I can type with my thumbs like nobody’s business, and so can most of my friends. We text each other because texting is a conversation that doesn’t have to be held all at once. I can send a message about a playdate or a trip to the park at 9pm, and it’s not unusual to hear back from my friend eighteen or twenty hours later as we make arrangements for the week over the weekend. What used to be called phone tag is now called efficiency.
As far as work goes, I haven’t yet, but you can hook your IMs into your mobile phone to appear as texts. Using a program like Trillian and many others I’m sure, you can get all of your IMs as text messages during the day. I’m not sure I’d sit and chat over IM with my phone during the workday, but over the summer when the kids are playing at the park and I’m just wandering around after them to keep them from imminent death, I can just reply a bit here or there if someone has a question. This would be especially nice for clients who operate on the opposite schedule I do or who live across the globe.
The calendar on my phone is my all-time life saver. I have my Google calendar filled with all of my work and life plans. I have work scheduled out for at least six months in advance through my calendar and any time I need to remember anything, it goes on the calendar. My phone is tied to my Google calendar so I can update the calendar on the go with the phone and then see the updates on my computer screen later when I’m home or when I’m at school. I can arrange work and appointments on the computer and they are automatically transferred to my phone so I can receive pop-up reminders and the like.
I put literally everything on the calendar. I schedule phone calls I need to make and make notes about paying certain bills as well as arranging client work in my two hour blocks of time I use for writing. Playdates, birthday parties, meet-the-teacher, special shopping trips I need to make – it’s all there. The sheer and indescribable beauty of the calendar is that once I put it on the calendar, I don’t have to remember it anymore. It’s written down everywhere I go. I just have to remember to scroll through the calendar to see what I’m doing that day. Even then, I might just set myself up an email reminder or pop-up and I don’t have to remember to scroll, either.
The list feature of the smart phone is another small victory for me. Anything that doesn’t make sense for the calendar, and there’s not much in my life that doesn’t, goes into a list on the phone. I have grocery lists, room measurements, project lists, reminders on clothing sizes, random thoughts, ideas for blog posts and any number of other things all included in my lists. I think it, I type it, it’s saved until I need it. There are apps for the smart phone that make a lot of these lists even more advanced. Grocery lists come to mind – tie in recipes and weight loss stuff to your phone and you’ll get auto generated lists of what to buy, by section, in the grocery store.
Other Bells and Whistles
Finally, the internet and apps on my phone has come in handy countless times. It seems to be used most often to check the hours or location on certain places, usually after I’m headed that way. And I might pull up the website for the museum or the emailed shower invitation and then copy and paste the address from the internet or email into the map feature and let the phone guide me in.
I do most of my banking online as well, and with apps that let you deposit your check through images, there’s surprisingly less and less you can’t do with a smart phone. I stream music through it (Love you, Pandora!), I play scrabble on it to stay connected. I tweet on it (sometimes), I check Facebook on it. Perhaps best of all, you can download Angry Birds and episodes of Mickey Mouse to your phone to entertain your children in an emergency waiting-in-line situation.