In my humble opinion, technology should save us time and make getting things done more efficient, but I constantly run into people who are not making use of the tools and features, of say their iPhone, that could reduce the amount of time and hassle it takes to carry out tasks or daily routines. In fact, the excuse I give for buying an iPhone is that it’s a money maker for me. It actually saves me time, and thus money.
Below are some tools, features, and apps I use to save time or the hassle of doing routine tasks. This list is intended for non-power users of the iPhone—users who still haven’t set alarms on the iPhone, don’t know how to use the built-in voice dictation, or make a list of reminders. For you experienced users of the iPhone, I hope that you will share with us your useful apps and ideas for saving time.
Set Multiple Timers
Use the Clock app to set multiple alarms for nearly every time sensitive daily activity you need carry out. Do you need to leave the house by an exact time to get to work or drop your kids off at school? Set an alarm for that. Alarms can be labeled and turned off and on when you need them.
Keep a List of Restaurant Orders
Typically the food items at a restaurant you order for your family don’t change from week to week, so why not keep a standard list of those items in the iPhone’s Notes app. Your list can easily be copied, emailed, or printed out for another family member to make orders.
Also if you go to a restaurant for the first time and order a meal you really like, either take a picture of it with your iPhone and save it to a supporting notes app (the built-in Notes app doesn’t allow you add photos), or use Evernote’s elegantly designed Foods app (Free) to keep a pictorial list of your favorite meals.
Maintain a Recipe App
On the other hand, if you and your family go out to eat too much, find and use a recipe app on your iPhone, and maintain a list of at least 15 meals you can select from and plan out for the week. The 250,000+ recipes app is a good one start with. There are dozens more.
Notes App in Your Dock
Keep a notes app in the dock or homepage of your iPhone so you can access it quickly. With your handy mobile device, there’s little point of keeping scraps of papers or locating a pen to write with. I like use Drafts, because it creates a new document each time the app is launched, and it provides a list of other apps and places I can save quick notes to.
Keep Business Cards on Your iPhone
I keep what I call a Quick folder of apps in the dock of my iPhone. It includes an app called CardFlick that contains my digital business card. With a single click, I can pull up this card and email it. I also use Card Manager ($0.99) to capture and access paper business cards, that used to get thrown in my office desk drawer.
Whenever I attend networking socials or events where I might meet people I want to stay in contact with, I like to use Evernote’s Hello app. It’s little buggy, so I can’t fully recommend it, but I like it because when I collect someone’s contact information in the app, it automatically emails that person my preset contact info. The app includes a feature for snapping photos of your contact, but I don’t use it, because it feels weird asking to take someone’s photo when you barely know them.
Add Your Driver’s License to Your iPhone
Use a quick, time saving app, called PeekIt to pull up a photo of your driver’s license or any image you need to show quickly. Using PeekIt means you don’t have to go hunting for a photo in your Photos library app. With a single click your preset image just pops up.
Use the Dictation Tool
Stop wasting time pecking away on the little iPhone keyboard, and learn to use the built-in voice-to-text diction feature. You simply tap the Mic icon and dictate your text when you want to dictate text, say in the Message app. This feature is part of the new Mountain Lion update, and work say way. See my article on how to use it.
Find My iPhone
If you haven’t installed Apple’s Find My iPhone app yet, it probably means you’re wasting lots of time looking for your phone around the house. Install this app on your iPhone and you can send an alarm message to it from your computer to locate it. It’s like having someone call your phone so you can find it in the couch or in your car where you last left it. It’s also may be very helpful when your phone is truly lost or stolen.
Save Favorite Web Pages As Apps
If you use your iPhone to visit favorite websites, like MUO, open the site in the Safari app of your iPhone, tap the share button, and select Add to Home Screen. Now whenever you need to go to that site, just click the “app” on your homepage.
Use Multiple Web Browsers
Similarly, if you use your iPhone for surfing various frequently accessed websites, download one or two additional web browsers and use one, say for your work related websites, and another for your personal web browsing. With more than one web browser, you can save time searching bookmarks and typing frequently accessed webpages.
There are dozens of web browser apps for free download. Mercury Web Browser is a good one start with.
Use a One Touch Timer
The iPhone’s built-in Clock has a timer feature, but you can’t set multiple timers with it. Use an app like Timer to keep and access pre-set times–e.g., 10, 20, 30 minutes. With Timer, you just tap open the app and select a preset timer, or multiple timer.
Use a Task Manager
If you really need to stay focused and get a routine number of tasks done on a regular basis, an app called 30/30 ($0.99) might be of use to you. 30/30 enables you to preset a number of tasks and assign each of them a timer. You tap the start button and you will get an alarm at the end of each timed tasks.
Use a Dedicated List App
Creating and accessing lists can be huge time savers when for example preparing for a trip, a presentation, a workflow, events, etc. I use List Book for this purpose, but you can just as well use the built-in Reminders app on the iPhone for a similar purposes.
Take Photos of Receipts
Download and use a dedicated iPhone “scanner” app for all your important receipts and documents. JotNot Scanner Pro ($1.99 and Free version.) is a good one.
Use Dropbox to Access Your Documents
Start saving all your documents on your computer to Dropbox (Free) so you can access them on your iPhone and other iOS and Mac devices. If you don’t know about Dropbox or similar cloud storage apps and services, you’re not making full use of your iPhone. MUO has dozens of articles on using Dropbox.
Bonus: Remote Control Stuff in Your Home
Okay, admittedly this is not a free or low cost solution, but as a bonus I have to throw it in as one of my most used gadgets. It’s called WeMo. I use to remote control my hot water pot from my iPhone. The controller itself is $49.99, and the WeMo iPhone app is free.
With WeMo you can set up a rule to turn your device, such as a coffee pot, on and off at scheduled times, which is really handy for when you’re running late in the morning to get out of the house. While that’s a huge timer saver, you can also use an Ifttt hack to trigger your device via your Messages app while you’re away from home. So if for example I’m driving home from the gym, I can send message to the Ifttt server to turn on my coffee pot, say ten minutes before I get there.
Okay, that’s my list of time saving apps and features. Tell us about about a few of your own, and let us know which of the above ideas you plan to use.