How to use your Apple Watch to be productive

Here’s a few of the ways you can use your snazzy new timepiece to help you be more productive

Smart watches were popular Christmas gifts, apparently. Many of these are fitness trackers, being used right now to encourage users with their slowly fading resolutions. More advanced ones, like the Apple Watch, can do other stuff, too. If that’s what you received, here’s a few of the ways you can use your snazzy new timepiece to help you be more productive.

It’s important to adjust your notifications: if you have several email accounts and you set the Watch so every single message is notified by making your wrist buzz, you’ll quickly get fed up of the interruptions.

Better, set your notifications to just the account that matters the most or make particular senders such as your boss, say, VIPs. In the Watch app on the iPhone, under Notifications, you can choose which email accounts will notify your wrist, and you can turn VIPs on or off here, too. 

This way you will know you won’t miss an important message, but also won’t be notified with every single email you’re sent, which can be overwhelming. 

You can be even more specific. On the iPhone choose “Notify me…” and when that particular email conversation is updated, your Watch will alert you. You choose this option by swiping left on an email or conversation on the iPhone and choose More from the options that appear. On the latest iPhones you can also force-press on the screen and swipe up.

And there’s plenty of room to customise things. For instance, when a voice message sounds on your Watch, swipe up to reply. Then you’re offered three default texts, an emoji button or a microphone. I find the microphone best as Siri translates my dictation pretty well, and if she doesn’t I can send the message as an audio file. But if you want to personalise the standard texts, you can do that. Go to the Watch app on the iPhone, scroll down to Messages and pick Default replies. This is useful if you find yourself regularly sending the same text reply like “Honestly, the traffic is terrible” or “I haven’t forgotten, I just haven’t done it yet”. I use that a lot.

Siri, of course, has more uses. It’s great when you’re cooking: raise your wrist and say, “Hey Siri” followed by “set a timer for 10 minutes” which is useful if your hands are mired in flour or oil. Or use Siri so you forget less. “Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning when I leave the office” is a useful location-defined command, for instance.

As with all Apple products there are plenty of hidden features which are hugely valuable. If you forget to turn your iPhone off when you’re at the theatre, when it rings your wrist will, too. The natural response is to cover the Watch with your hand. Usefully, Apple fixed it so that this quells the sound of the ring on both iPhone and Watch instantly. If people have started tutting, do the same to shift blame elsewhere. Then leave it a few discreet minutes and tap your Watch, swipe up and tap the inflight mode which it does for both iPhone and Watch at the same time. Holding your hand over the Watch face should already have invoked silent mode, but if not, tap that, too. Then pay attention to what’s on stage.

There are plenty of apps which can help you be more efficient, and lots of them have Watch support. Like Dark Sky (£2.99) which gives astonishing details of exactly when it’s going to rain in your precise location. You can even build this into the Watch as a complication in some faces.

Or try Streaks (£2.99) which lets you set particular goals which can appear in the Watch app or as a complication. These can range from walking the dog to brushing your teeth, though as goals go, I’d say that ought to be a given. It works in conjunction with the iPhone Health app to help you towards fitness goals. The name comes from the idea of hitting targets for streaks of consecutive days. 

Lark (free) is another resolution helper, geared towards weight loss and fitness. It works with the Health app as well and offers surprisingly human-seeming text message conversations as little pep talks to keep you going in the right direction. If you like Lark on the iPhone, there are more features on the Watch.

Apps with Watch capabilities say so in the App Store. One of the unique things about the Apple Watch is that the apps already number well over a thousand, so there’s plenty of versatility. 

These are a tiny group of features and apps that can help productivity. Though if I told you that thanks to the Watch I’m never late any more, I think friends may disagree. Ah well.

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