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Re-ConnectEd – Using a Digital Gatekeeper to Limit Distractions

A few weeks back, we posted an article about how to be more productive and less distracted. One of the items the article mentioned was finding someone to be a gatekeeper for you. This can definitely be a challenge in today’s world, so rather than rely on someone, why not rely on the phone itself to be your gatekeeper? There are several possibilities on the market, but today, we’ll look at two of them – one for iOS and one for Android.

iOS – Do Not Disturb

In iOS 6, a new feature was introduced called Do Not Disturb. It’s represented by a crescent moon and is very customizable. You can set specific hours (say, while sleeping) or you can just activate it for specific times. With the introduction of iOS7, Do Not Disturb became a part of the control center, so with just a simple swipe up and tap of the moon, you are in Do Not Disturb mode. Once it’s enabled, you will see a little crescent moon up by your Bluetooth or battery indicator.

As I enter a meeting or boxed work session, I turn this on. It will disarm any notifications coming through. But, wait, what if you’re waiting for a very important call? Well, you can set up who can reach you by assigning a Contacts group permission to call through.

For example, I have 4 developers and they could need to get in touch with me at a moments notice should we have an outage or other issue. I’ve added each of them to my group of who can disturb me, as well as my wife and supervisor. Other than that, all other calls can wait. So far, none of those contacts have called me while in Do Not Disturb mode.

Here is  a great step by step on how to use Do Not Disturb on about.com.

Android 4.0 and Up – Agent

There are some Android phones that have this functionality built in, like the HTC One or Moto X, but for those that don’t have it, we’re going to look at an app may by Egomotion Corp. called Agent. Agent has five different functions it can perform:

  • Meetings Agent – Mute notifications and alerts during meetings
  • Sleep Agent – Mute notifications and alerts during sleep
  • Battery Agent – Helps maximize battery by optimizing settings
  • Driving Agent – Read out text messages and take replies
  • Parking Agent – Help you mark where you parked

Greg Stinton has been trying out Agent for the past couple of weeks. Here’s what he had to say about his use:

I use the battery, sleep, and meeting agents. I don’t use the driving or parking agents because I haven’t needed to remember where I parked recently and I have bluetooth to handle what the driving agent would help with.

Meeting Agent – Based on my work calendar (you can select which you want to use in the app), agent silences all notifications for the duration of those calendar events. I allow disruptions with a custom list of contacts that can still text or call.

Sleep Agent –  I generally always turn my ringer off at night, so this is pretty nice. I have it set to trigger at 11pm – 6am and only when plugged in. With these settings I can be sure that I’m sleeping and I don’t need to be constantly bothered by email notifications.  Everything is silenced completely when active. I also use a custom list so that if I receive a call or text from the contacts I’ve selected, it will still ring or chime through.

Battery Agent – This rarely triggers for me, but when I get to a certain battery level (10% or less) my auto-sync of Google services and Exchange services are turned off and the screen brightness is turned way down. It definitely increases the battery life of the last 10%.

So, if you’re an Android user, Agent is definitely an app to check out. Aside from helping keep your notifications in check, it improves the efficiency of your phone and helps you deal with your car. Oh yeah, and it’s free. Pretty cool.

With these two options, you won’t have to bother anyone about being your gatekeeper. Just use the tech you have.

Are there any you’d recommend? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or email us.

Chad Curry

Managing Director for the Center for REALTOR® Technology. Working to improve the value proposition to our members through our web properties and mobile space.

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