Pushing back on the line in the sand
These days, it's hard to imagine being out in the field without your smartphone. And while nearly all of us know exactly where our phone is at this very moment, you probably couldn't say exactly how much juice it has left in the battery (without cheating a look). This article is primarily about saving power-saving tips, but we'll throw in a few pointers on recovering power. Because as we all know, the impromptu throw-in appointment at the end of the day might just push you past your known power limit and that just won't do. Let's explore a few ways we can push that limit a little further, but also gain some reserves for those unforeseen opportunities in life.
The world we live in is a noisy and inconvenient place
First, we're going to make the assumption that you're working with a smartphone like Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy series or something similar. If this is the case, then calling it a phone is already a misleading statement. Your mobile device is pretty much a mini laptop computer that's permanently connected to the web, pushing and pulling information throughout the day and night (largely without your input or permission). Smartphone manufacturers make the assumption that you're an average consumer with average entertainment needs and this means they're going to skew your default settings further into the battery-draining side of things (so that you can have a "better" entertainment and user experience).
Unfortunately, they also make the assumption that you're sitting next to a power supply at any given moment throughout the day. As a real estate agent, you're always on the go. And this means that yes, while you may be near a power source at this moment, you may also have just left your charger in the car on your way in. But more often, the phone's pressed to your ear, beeping at you to charge it up. So the first thing we're going to address is "background apps" (specifically, turning off any ones that you don't want or need in order to take advantage of those client lead opportunities that you very much want and need).
Background app... what's a background app?
First, an app is like a piece of software for your phone. Some come pre-installed your phone while others, you or your family may have downloaded to your phone in order to add functionality. Apps can be games like Candy Crush, social media communities like Facebook or more sophisticated and power-hungry solutions like weather apps or mapping services. Just like manufacturers, app-makers are fighting to remain relevant in your life and on your phone. As the features of their apps expand over time, so too does the length of time they run and the amount of processing power they eat up. Unfortunately, processing power = battery drain. While this isn't necessarily always the case, it's a good rule of thumb that if the app is a game or has anything to do with your "current" location, it's probably eating your battery.
A background app is any app that is constantly running in the background. This may be an app you just never closed out of properly after using it or it may be because the app is providing some sort of continuous location-based service (as in the case of mapping apps). One of these apps running in the background can drain your battery, 2 or 3 running at the same time will bring your battery to a crawl and if you're charging your phone while these are running, then you're looking at a higher chance of your phone overheating and running into other serious problems. If your phone is lasting a shorter and shorter amount of time between charges, seems to never fully charge, drains faster or seems really hot to the touch... it's likely a background app vs charger war and your phone (and business are paying the price).
Find the apps that are draining your battery
So all of that probably hit home fairly hard... we all experience it. Now, let's go over fixing it. Note that we're not going to get into specific smartphone support here. Frankly, there are too many OS (Operating System) updates to keep this article relevant for the long-haul. Instead, we'll arm you with the keywords to look for and speak in generalities that are relevant across the manufacturers. The good news is that all phones share a general Settings area that allows you to look for and manage your apps. Mainly, you're looking for statements that reference "location", sharing "background info" or "running in the background." Remember that these companies don't know what other apps are running... they're just trying to make your experience "better."
One iPhone user found that Facebook, for instance, was responsible for 47% of their battery's use during a 24-hour period. They deleted the Facebook app and ended up nearly doubling their battery life. Easy do, but while deleting an app can give you a clean slate, you don't need to go as far as to uninstalling them in order to turn your phone into an energy-efficient machine. The Settings area on your phone will give you control over when and how long an app can run. This is usually the best way to handle a power-hungry tool like maps which you do actually want to have running in the background at times. Go ahead and explore the Settings area, looking through all of your installed apps. As mentioned above, you're looking for anything that screams "I'm going to run day and night" knowing that some app developers may be trying to hide this setting from you after all.
Check your phone's settings as well...
Apps and app developers aren't the only culprits. Your phone manufacturer (or a family member with good intentions) may have set your phone's general settings to be easier to see or in an always-ready state. And again, while this can make your phone faster or easier to access, it's going to be at the expense of your phone's battery life. In the same Settings area mentioned above, check for things that allow you to:
- Turn down the brightness (you'll get a lot of boost here)
- Activate any "low power" or power-saving mode available (this is something found on most phones).
- Disable the vibrate function - if you're a busy agent and you're phone gets a lot of attention throughout the day, this will help.
Thinking outside the box
Managing the settings on your smartphone to save battery life can be very effective. Afterall, small settings can mean 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there (or more) and when it comes to your business, every opportunity to meet with a client or prospective lead counts. But what if you've maxed out your battery's life? There are things you can do and accessories you can employ to help get through your day without a power failure, regardless of whichever phone you use. Purchase a lightweight power bank or mobile battery pack and try to keep it charged so you can take advantage of it when you're out and about. Battery packs come in a variety of sizes that can be used to charge smartphones and tablets. If you're clever-enough, you can get two and make it part of your new routine to always have one charging while the other is with you at all times.
Most phone charger cables (the ones that come with your phone for instance) are by default roughly 3 feet in length. This may end up limiting you to sitting uncomfortably and unnaturally close to a low-placed (or high-placed) power outlet. Hey, you get what you can get in crowded places like airport lounges, but this can affect the natural feel of a conversation, so why risk it. Instead of chaining yourself so tightly to the wall, head over to your nearest Best Buy or Walgreens and ask for a 9 foot charger cable. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Just be sure to mention that you want one that can handle power and data exchange. This is because some 3rd party manufacturers of power cables don't bother making them compatible with your computer. So when you go transfer photos or the like, you may end up surprised that your new charger doesn't make the grade. Again, anyone there can help. Just be sure to get one that mentions working with your phone's make and model, then to check for mention of data support.
Get it when you can get it
Of all the energy-saving tips we could put in front of you, nothing will be as effective as making it a personal habit to charge your phone wherever you can. It sounds obvious, but think back when we asked you about how much juice your phone had. Is it charging right now? What if you got a last-minute opportunity to meet with a prospect and you're dashing out the door to go grab a cup of coffee and talk dream homes? Would your phone be ready for an afternoon on the road (right now, at this moment)? Don't fret it, it's not really about right now, it's about beginning to think further down the road. Start by making it a habit to plug your smartphone at your desk and in your car. Note that your phone's battery life can be diminished over time if you charge it beyond 100%, so be sure to pull it off when you hit it.