There are lots of great productivity apps for your smartphone. You can track tasks, stay in touch, and edit documents. Some are free, some cost a few bucks, and some are worth every penny you pay for them.
There’s one app on your phone that you probably don’t think of as a productivity app. It can save you time, save your bacon, and, yes, save your precious moments.
Here are five ways the camera on your smartphone can help you be productive:
- Make shopping a breeze. I can never remember what kind of shampoo my wife uses. Just when I start to recognize it, they update the packaging and I’m back to square one. Instead of racking your brain, just take a photo and stick it in Evernote. Now you can pull up a photo refresh your memory, or compare the specifics if you see another alternative. This also comes in handy when you need to ask someone to help you find it.
- Take a home inventory. If you ever need to file an insurance claim to replace the contents of your home after fire, theft, or act of God, the process will go more smoothly if you have a photographic record of the contents of your home. Do your wife a favor and take these photos right after the house has been cleaned and everything is in its proper place.
- Notice the clutter you’ve trained yourself to ignore. Our brains get used to clutter. We quickly start tuning out anything that’s been left out, put back in the wrong place, or needs cleaning. We can see some of it by specifically looking for it, but if you really want to see the clutter that’s draining your energy, take a picture. There’s something about looking at a photograph that causes our brains to see the scene from a new perspective, and the blinders come off. Suddenly, we can’t tune out the scraps of paper, the abandoned toys, or the disheveled blankets.
- Skip the transcription. After a meeting, taking a photo is the fastest way to transcribe notes and whiteboards. Not only will Evernote keep them organized, but it will perform handwriting recognition on the photo so you can find the contents of your notes when you search. You get the same ability to recall the information with only a few seconds of effort.
- Keep track of less paper. I used to have a Costanza wallet. I’d slip the receipt in with my change, then forget it was there. By the time I finally got around to capturing it, the ink was smudged beyond legibility. If you snap a picture, you can capture the receipt while it’s still crisp and not worry about what happens to it from there. Use the Evernote camera on your smartphone and enjoy free guitar lessons, track your receipts, and remember everyone you meet without straining your wallet (or your lower back).
As part of your weekly review, empty your camera roll. It’s another Inbox where you collect information to process later. Now it’s time to integrate that information so you can find it later.
When in doubt, take a picture. Bits are cheap. If you don’t need it, you can always delete it. Or you may confirm the advice given by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane over a hundred years ago: “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” It’s usually worth a few minutes of your time, too.