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Whatsapp as a tool

Using WhatsApp to capture to important things in life

Since 2009, @Whatsapp has evolved from a simple person to person instant text messaging service into a 1.3 Billion users community worldwide which were using the app anywhere from asking your friend for her recipe to companies internal notification media platform. And the penetration of the app is expected to evolve and expand to personal customer services and in the not-too far future of the Internet of Things (IoT), people will communicate with their home devices, such as timing the washing machine to complete its run 5 minutes before you come home from work (thanks to integration with Waze traffic and drive time algorithm). The machines can send updates back on their progress, any malfunctions that suddenly occur (and that will be sent to the warranty supplier instantaneous). Until these exciting IoT integrations will take place, you can use whatsapp to increase your productivity. Read on.

Up until recently, my suggested productivity tip hasn’t been possible due to the lack of the following features:

Cross-platform versions

A relative “old” feature, the ability to work with the same whatsapp from any device connected via telephone number (and not an email account) has improved the usability of whatsapp significantly. Now, people can send long chats or have several simultaneous conversations, with personal or professional people (and soon businesses) and thus increase the person productivity. This feature has its own limitations, because the border between your personal and professional lifes are further intermingled and the clear separation is getting smaller and smaller.

File attachment

This is a big feature that made whatsapp such a versatile app. The ability to send any file to another person or group and getting an affirmation that the other side received the file, has made the choice of using whatsapp a preferred method when the need for speed and affirmation is needed. Furthermore, sending whatsapp messages are perceived as much more personal and thus more effective in reaching and delivering to another person. Just think how part of the recruitment process will change once every company will have its own Whatsapp number. Already today municipalities have several whatsapp numbers for their different department so to staty in touch with the citizens living in the city

Pin it.

Recently a new feature was introduced with the app: ability to pin selected chats so they will be kept at the top of the chat list. This fabulous idea, adopted from chat rooms and forums, enables the user to quickly respond to “hot” chat histories with the important people or groups in their lives.

Send to yourself

This feature, which I guess has been for a long time ever since the first day of the service, is quite trivial – the ability to send yourself texts. Some might ponder what’s so special (or important) about this feature, specifically since it is present in SMS texts as well as in email services. The difference is in the media, since whatsapp is used across work and personal life, it is on the phone of most cellular users and in many cases also on their desktops/laptops. Thus it will be easily reached, especially since we are constantly using whatsapp for all our communication peers and loved ones.

Managing notes in Whatsapp

I have started using whatsapp for keeping notes (and fetching them blazingly fast) in the past months. It started with documenting an idea for a post blog, then keeping selected posts images handy to share and advertise with whatsapp groups.

Here are several things that you can do today to improve your note taking methodology and increase your productivity:

  • Whatsapp has a very effective search engine and it can search within chats and across them, thus can connect between chats on the same topic.
  • Using hashtag or the strudel sign can help categorize actions or ideas according to a tag/category (such as with Getting Things Done methodology). Using the search engine to quickly locate these messages.
  • My recent post on my self chat list is the room location of a dear person which is hospitalized (I have forwarded it from a chat group).
  • Another use is to document your car’s parking location (accurate to 10-20 meter when the GPS signal is excellent).
  • Interesting articles can be copy-pasted with a sentence describing what’s interesting about the article.
  • Clipping pictures of book’s covers you might want to read .
  • Keeping a reminder* about an important file or type of info.
  • List of locations worth to eat/drink etc.

And if you decide that the note is absolute, then just delete it. And as said, you can do this practically from any place as long as you have an operating network.

One of the most important aspects of note taking (as I wrote in the past here and here), is the accessibility of writing down ideas or tasks and thus helping clear your mind from keeping them and free it for creative thinking. And whatsapp is extremely accessible these days.

There are several limitations to using whatsapp for note taking, the main one being the ability to attach a timely reminder, obviously, since this is not the main function of the application (though one can think of several good reason to include such an option in future versions of the application).

So, next time you pickup your phone to answer a whatsapp message, remember that is not just a messaging app.

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