Even if you happen to like working from home, I think we can all agree that despite the benefits, it can be a challenge. That's why I'm in favor of anything that helps me stay focused and productive. I've tried all kinds of apps and gadgets, and there are definitely a lot of great tools out there, but it turns out the thing that has helped me the most is one I've been wearing all along: my Apple Watch.
As I thought about it, I realized there are three specific reasons that the Apple Watch is the best productivity tool, especially now:
Siri + Reminders
I know Siri sometimes gets a bad rap, especially in comparison with her more able competition from Alexa and Google Assistant. I'm not here to make the case that she's the best A.I.-powered voice assistant, but I will say that on an Apple Watch, there's at least one way that she's better than the rest.
No kidding, the feature I use the most on my Apple Watch is Siri--specifically in conjunction with the Reminders app. If you walk past my office in the basement, chances are good you'll hear me say something like "Hey, Siri, remind me to email Matt about my next column at 4 p.m."
Sure, Siri can do other things like get directions, or add appointments, or even send messages, and all of that is great. In fact, I use all of those features regularly, but Reminders is such a killer app on a device you wear, and therefore always have with you.
One other handy way to use Siri when you work from home is to say "Hey, Siri, set a timer for 40 minutes." That will allow you to dive in and focus for that amount of time, and then get up, take a break, and move on to whatever is next. Just having that external accountability of being on the clock can often be the motivation to get something done.
I'm probably not the only one, but I have a love/hate relationship with notifications on my iPhone. If I'm honest, I'm leaning more toward the latter feeling, except that sometimes I need to be notified. I don't want to miss those, but the reality is that every time I unlock my iPhone for a notification, there are a dozen other things that distract me.
Maybe you can relate. I want to respond to a message but that means also looking at my calendar, which reminds me of something I wanted to do today and now I'm scrolling through emails to try to remember whether I sent something that was due yesterday. All of that is too overwhelming, so, instead, I just start watching YouTube videos for an hour.
For me, a much better option is to put my iPhone on its charger, and instead have notifications on my Apple Watch for important messages only. That way, when I need to get something done, I can ignore Slack, or email, or anything else that wants to steal my focus, and still know that if my wife needs to get ahold of me, I won't miss her text.
No Face Required
Despite all of its technical marvel, Apple still hasn't come up with a way for my iPhone's FaceID to recognize me while wearing a mask. For example, I had to travel for work recently, which meant wearing a mask almost all of the time. That meant that every time I received a notification on my iPhone, I had to enter my passcode to unlock it before I could read the message or email or whatever else was trying to get my attention.
Then, something occurred to me. Well, actually it tapped me on the wrist. I can read my messages on my Watch with a mask on. Granted, not a lot of people are traveling right now, but we do still leave the house, and around here, that still means wearing a mask.
This might be my favorite thing right now about my Apple Watch since it allows me to not have to deal with the hassle of unlocking my iPhone unless I actually need to use it for something I can't do on my Watch. It may not seem like much, but all of that time spent staring at your iPhone, only for it to not recognize your face and then having to enter your passcode, well that all adds up.