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TECHNOLOGY

If You Like the Sound of Apple’s New ‘Screen Time’ App, Try These 4 Workplace Productivity Tools

At its annual developer conference, Apple announced the imminent release of a new app that could help you better manage your time. If you can’t wait, here are four tools you can use to increase productivity at work, right now.

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BY Jemima McEvoy - 07 Jun 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Smartphones, laptops, tablets--the tech that peppers our personal and professional lives often helps us, but sometimes it hurts.

The average Apple user unlocks their phone 80 times a day, a number that fuels rising concerns over how much time children and adults spend on their devices. Apple addressed these issues and the role that their products play this week at its annual Worldwide Development Conference, announcing the release of an app intended to decrease phone usage. The company's proposed solution, dubbed Screen Time, is expected to provide users with weekly reports of the apps they use and will allow them to limit how much time is spent on each one.

This technology could be useful for employees to monitor their own phone usage and ensure that the time spent on their devices at work is productive. Until its release in September, here are four tools to help stave off succumbing to the allure of mindless scrolling or site surfing in the office.

1. The TimeFlip Productivity Polygon

TimeFlip is a simple way to track time and hold yourself accountable in the office. Each time you start doing something--answering emails, talking to a co-worker, drinking coffee--you flip the dodecahedron so that the side with the corresponding icon is facing up. The chip inside the device will then send the information via bluetooth to an app on your phone, and you can take a look at exactly how you spent the day. Not enough time spent working? Not enough time relaxing? You can learn from your mistakes and develop a productive schedule according to your preferences. There are a variety of stickers with different icons to represent a range of activities, but the device also comes with blank stickers so you can personalize the device to more work-related activities. ($44.99)

2. Forest's Fun Incentive for Productivi-tree

Whether you're on your phone or your computer, Forest's app and browser extension help you look to nature for inspiration. With Forest, you manually set a period of time in which you want to stay focused. It plants a "seed" in the digital universe. As time ticks by and you don't use your phone, the seed grows into a tree, but if you use your phone, the tree will wither and die. An update to the app in February added a collaborative component to the productivity booster, making it perfect for the office. This new friend system means that a tree only grows when everyone is focused, which could serve to increase accountability and performance in work settings when multiple people are working together on a project. ($1.99)

3. Find Your Productivity Zen With ZEI

A similar concept to TimeFlip, time-tracking device ZEI, courtesy of Timeular, an Australian startup, is a piece of hardware that keeps track of the work you're doing, or not doing. A dice-like structure that's run by Bluetooth, ZEI can sit quietly by your side while in the office or when working from home, in some ways making a game out of time management. But the physical device is not the end of TimeFlip's services. The company aims to boost your productivity in the long-term by providing users with reports and tips for time optimization which can be used to take a step back and self-evaluate. ($99)

4. Light's Simplified Smartphone

An alternative to the apps and gadgets that monitor the way you spend time on your cell phone, Light Phone is a sleek, simplified 2G mobile device that posits a new solution to the issue of cell phones distracting from work. Light Phone doesn't include most of the elements of regular smartphones--it only makes and receives phone calls--and instead of replacing your current phone, serves as a supplement. Without the constant vibrations and sinister urge to check Facebook or Twitter, it's easier to be connected and alert throughout the day. And for any fans of the original product, Light is going a step further and launching a Light Phone 2, which will be available in April 2019 with slightly more features, including messaging and an alarm clock. (Order Light Phone for $150, or preorder Light Phone 2 for $300)

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