I’ll admit, I’m a little bit of a productivity freak. So when I started to realise that the worst distraction I had in my life was my mobile phone, I had to do something about it! However, it’s still a device I need and it’s also very handy. So what do I do? Throw it out the window in the hope to become less distracted and more productive?

I’m Ben Kolp and I am the founder of The Living Room coworking in Málaga. I decided to present at our February TGIF as I felt this is an important topic that many people are struggling with. How to turn our mobile phones into a productivity device and away from being a distraction downfall!

As someone pointed out to me during my presentation, phones are expensive, so why throw it out the window!? I was really inspired by a guy called Tony Stubblebine who founded a company called coach.me. He wrote an article, which was essentially a manual on how to configure your iPhone to turn it from a distraction into a productivity device. I’ve been using some of his tips and tricks for the last 2 months now and it has been really beneficial to me. I want to share my 7 steps with you today and help you to become more productive and love your phone again!


Lockscreen GoalSTEP 1: Adapt your wallpaper

Apparently, we unlock our phones on average 48 times per day. So, why not make your lock screen image an inspiring reminder of your goals? With Instagram stories for example, it’s never been easier to create an interesting and personalized image. So when you go to unlock your phone, you are immediately reminded about your goals or motivations for the week or month! It’s important to change the image regularly as your brain soon becomes bored and won’t register the image anymore. Make your lock screen a positive distraction towards being more productive! Here goes mine with my current goal of growing the TLR Family to 120 member by the end of April.



STEP 2: Throw out the bubbles

Switch off your notifications! I would go onto my phone to make a business-related call and then I would see I have 20 unread notifications on WhatsApp. Obviously, I went straight into WhatsApp to read them. 10 minutes later, after replying to all theses messages, I would forget why I had originally gone onto my phone in the first place! Have all notifications switched off if you can. Also, I personally find that having my email set automatically as ‘read’ is really helpful, so you aren’t distracted to read them straight away if you don’t want to.

STEP 3: Tools before Toys

I bet you have all the ‘fun’ apps on your home screen, right? I know – I did! Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, games, … you name it. Now, I only have useful apps on my home screen such as my utility apps, no social media! LinkedIn is my exception as I use this a lot for work, but I seriously recommend putting any social apps on the second screen, so you have to swipe to see them. This way you don’t see them right away and you don’t have that instant distraction. I’ve been doing this for 2 months and guess what, my company didn’t burn down, I didn’t lose any friends, nothing bad happened! Be in control of your own time and don’t let others control you by pulling you into your phone.

STEP 4: Set time to text

This follows on from my above point. By moving all messaging apps to the second screen and switching off the notification bubbles, you will go into your messaging apps when you want to. Not whenever somebody texts you. I like to set aside 1 hour a day to check my messages and spend the rest of the time being productive or living my life. Obviously, these are all very personal choices and are what works for me. But don’t be afraid to adapt these things and see what works for you. Give it a try!

STEP 5: Don’t get disturbed

On nearly all phones there’s the ‘please do not disturb’ option. Only people set as your favourites can get through to you and anyone else will go directly to your voicemail. My phone goes into “do not disturb” mode every day at 7pm and won’t come back until 9am on the next day. Apart from that I always have my phone on silent with vibration, which allows me to be in control and my phone won’t rudely interrupt when I’m in a meeting. I also listen to brain.fm, which is a library of music that is proven to stimulate your brain in a certain way to help productivity and concentration. I tried it out and then I joined as I find it really does help me focus.

STEP 6: Learn, don’t socialize (as in online socialising!)

Apart from work related things, you can only see learning apps on my phone’s main screen, such as podcasts, meditation, Medium or my Kindle. So instead of unlocking my phone and going into WhatsApp or my emails, I see these learning tools first. Imagine if everyone spent the time they waste on social networks learning; there would be so many intelligent people out there! Just make sure not to bring your phone to bed to learn: It’s proven that the screen light stimulates your mind and makes it more difficult to sleep. It’ll trick your body into thinking it’s daytime, as the light on your phone screen mimics the sun! Ideally you don’t use your phone at all before going to be, but using the ‘night mode’ can be a useful to filter the blue light and replace it by red light.

Step 7: Save time all the time (for ad hoc, time saving things!)

  • Google Photos for example, saves a lot of time as you can simply search for an item (e.g. palm tree) photos with that items in it will appear without the need to label photos upfront. It’s incredibly intelligent.
  • Set your auto lock to the maximum time, mine is set to 5 minutes. It’ll drain your battery a bit more, but usually we unlock our phones various times in a row and you save time with every unnecessary unlock.
  • The control center on your phone can be set to be available on every screen. Just a swipe up from the very bottom will make useful tools show like the flashlight, the timer, etc. … at least on iPhones. Happy to hear from Android users who it could work on other devices.
  • Use text replacements: A short word that you define can quickly be replace with more text. That way you can quickly “type” invoicing details, phone numbers or email addresses without knowing them by heart. It’s so easy and saves so much time!

I’ve learned that it’s true what they say, kicking old habits is a lot harder than learning new ones, for example reading Medium instead of reading Facebook. But once you’ve done it, your life will change for the better, trust me! A mobile phone is something that you can’t live without nowadays especially as an entrepreneur. However, you shouldn’t be sucked into it and spend your entire day on your smartphone. So don’t throw it out the window, but make it count and use it as productively as possible!

Check out the audio of my TGIF on smartphone productivity below, if you want to listen to the entire session:


And for the slides I used for my presentation, here you go:



Ben at The Living Room CoworkingBen is an intrinsically driven entrepreneur fascinated by the power of networking, both online and – believe it or not – offline. He made it his personal mission to network, connect & synergise wherever he goes. By simply listening Ben learns from others about what they are good at and what they could use help with. This puts Ben in the unique position to connect people and craft synergising relationships. In his various roles as a consultant, a sales man and a coworking owner, he always thrives towards that same goal: A smile on people’s faces caused by win-win-win synergies.