More productive ways to spend time on your phone


poster 15 minute phone time breaks

One in every of my best challenges once I switched to freelancing was managing my time. Taking too many breaks; not taking any breaks. Worse—taking a “break” to do different work-related duties, like cleansing out my inbox or catch-up studying advertising and marketing publication subscriptions.

After I would take a proper break, too usually I discovered myself doomscrolling via information or social media on my phone. Hardly essentially the most energizing or invigorating expertise.

We don’t want to conceal our telephones throughout a break. We simply want cell break choices that enhance our way of thinking—not deliver us down. With a variety of private trial and error, I’ve discovered six completely different ways to use my phone on a break, each that refreshes me, clears my head, and re-energizes me.


1. Hear to a brief podcast

Get a pair podcasts in your subscription listing with episodes underneath quarter-hour. That manner, you make it via the entire thing and don’t get sucked right into a longer-than-intended break. (Professional tip: go along with one thing episodic so that you don’t threat a cliffhanger.)

ListenNotes is a good podcast search engine, and you may filter for podcast size on its free model.

It might take some time to discover the one or two brief podcasts that be just right for you. I initially tried a pair “poem of the day” podcasts. Seems that modern poets are a reasonably gloomy lot, and that wasn’t the vibe I wished on a break.  My go-to brief podcasts are Accessible Artwork Historical past and Cupboard of Curiosities.

2. Get in some international language examine

I don’t care what the books say: no person is learning a foreign language in simply quarter-hour a day. However that quarter-hour can be a helpful time to get some supplemental studying completed.

Most international language studying apps have brief evaluation classes, vocabulary checks, or video games you are able to do on your phone. Duolingo is a good, free possibility for studying vocab. You possibly can additionally discover a brief simple language podcast. Since I need to restart studying Italian, I did a ListenNotes search to discover one.


Attempt a number of completely different phrases in your search: for instance, the phrase “simple Italian,” quite than “starting Italian” or “newbie Italian” returned the longest listing for me. Then you’ll be able to slender it down by class so that you’re studying via one thing you care about.

3. Attempt strolling meditation

Mindfulness, guided meditation, and respiratory workout routines are nice for a 15-minute break (or perhaps a one-minute break). However if you need to get out of your chair, you would possibly attempt strolling meditation.

We all know walking is good for the brain, so why not give it a shot? Calm and Headspace, two standard meditation apps, each have a bunch of strolling meditation periods.

It sounded odd and a bit harmful to me at first, like I’d zombie stroll into oncoming site visitors or a pond as I targeted inward. However because it seems, strolling mediation is about noticing your environment and being conscious of your physique’s actions. I discover it refreshing and stress-free.

4. Create and pay attention to 15-minute playlists

You have already got playlists for all the pieces else. Create a number of brief ones to play throughout a break, relying on what you want that break to do—there’s a large physique of analysis on the positive impact music has on our brains, so in case you can match the music to the temper, you’re good to go.

Do a search on “energize,” “calm down,” or “destress” in no matter music app you utilize.

The snowstorm sounds initially made my listing as a result of I’d heard that nature sounds had been the best way to go. I’ve since realized I don’t discover snowstorm noises stress-free. Take away from playlist.

Now I stick to music. Songs with a heavy baseline calm down me, like Peggy Lee’s “Fever” or Invoice Withers’ “Pretty Day.” A gradual tempo sarabande works for me too, particularly one thing by Handel or Bach. If I need to get energized, glam rock and basic rock make me smile. Candy’s “Ballroom Blitz” by no means fails, nor does just about something by AC/DC.

5. Take pleasure in an extended learn of non-public curiosity

We’re all professional scanners now, particularly of headlines for suppose items we don’t have time to learn. As an alternative of simply skimming headlines and pull quotes, use a read-it-later app to clip these longer reads and saved them for your 15-minute breaks.

Whereas the read-it-later app can also be helpful to clip and handle all of the work- and industry-related articles you need to learn, that’s not what you need throughout your break. As an alternative, discover some sources or authors that recurrently publish lengthy reads with a strictly private attraction. I’m a giant fan of Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings, or you’ll be able to stick to one thing extra basic like The New Yorker. You may additionally attempt author aggregation websites like Medium and Substack, the place you’ll discover content material on each subject conceivable.

Another suggestion: Blinkist. It condenses nonfiction books and podcasts into quarter-hour, and the synopses can be found as textual content to learn or as an audiobook. Right here’s a have a look at the classes; I’ve made some editorial recommendations on classes good for breaks and those who aren’t fairly break materials.


6. If you happen to simply can’t resist the social media . . .

This feature requires self-discipline: you don’t need to fall into Twitter toxicity or weirdly inauthentic life-style Instagram feeds. As an alternative, pre-select particular hashtags or accounts that deliver you pleasure or calm down you. The Dodo (@dodo) and the Sheldrick Wildlife Belief (@SheldrickTrust) have pleased animal movies. Extremely suggest.

Once more: this feature is just for the extremely disciplined. To be sincere, I’m not there but.

A break worthy of the identify takes some planning

You’re most probably to take a optimistic break in case you’ve already sourced a working listing of fine choices that be just right for you. If in case you have to seek for issues to do each time, that’s the alternative of the purpose. So ensure to have a sequence of cell break content material clipped, created, or saved so you’ll be able to mentally roll via your choices shortly and get on to the break.

Bonus possibility #7: It’s a phone. Name somebody shut and have a chat.

This article initially appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.