Harness the power of your smartphone

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If you have a smartphone, you know it does far more than just make calls. You likely already use it to snap photos of loved ones or share pictures on Facebook. But there are many other surprising ways to put your phone’s photo capabilities to good use. They’re quick, easy, and—most importantly—they help you get more out of your day. 

  • Digitally File Important Documents
    Skip the hassle of digging through file folders to find your most important paperwork. Instead, try keeping copies of your documents, like birth certificates, passports, and titles, digitally organized in one place. The fittingly named Scanner for Important Documents app ($1.99; available on iTunes) turns your phone’s camera into a scanner and then files your documents using a simple interface that lets you categorize and view all of your documents right on your phone. 
  • Enhance Your Memory
    It’s totally normal to forget things from time to time, but you can use your smartphone’s camera to help give your memory an edge. Do you tend to forget where you parked? Snap a few photos before heading into the store. Want to remember the name of that great wine you had at dinner last week? Snap a pic of the label while you’re at the table. You can even bring your picture-based note-taking to the next level with an app like Evernote (free; available on Google Play and iTunes), which will organize everything, from your images to voice notes, on your smartphone and make them searchable for future use. 
  • Stay Financially Organized
    Turn a pile of crumbled receipts into organized financial data with Shoeboxed (free; available on Google Play and iTunes), an app that allows you to take photos of your paper receipts so you can organize them, track daily spending, and even save them for future use (it’s very handy for expense reports and during tax season). 
  • Reduce Stress
    Spending time in nature has been shown to help calm nerves, but even if you don’t have time to get outside you can still reap the benefits. One study found that just viewing photos of natural environments can help reduce stress. Keep photos of your favorite vacation spot handy on your phone to tame frazzled nerves throughout the day. Take a few minutes to look at them, while focusing on the sights, smells, and sounds of the memories created at that location. Better yet, surround yourself with your favorite images all day long. Use the Shutterfly app (free; available on Google Play and iTunes) to turn your personal pics into customized posters, blankets, mugs, and other items right from your phone. 
  • Prioritize for the Future
    Researchers found that when people looked at photographs of themselves “aged,” they were more likely to save for retirement. Try using the AgingBooth app (free; available on Google Play and iTunes) to see yourself years from now. Simply snap a picture of your face, select it in the app and see your transformation instantly. Once you’ve seen yourself in the future, it’s the perfect time to start planning for it. 
  • Improve Productivity
    If you think that checking out silly cat photos or cute babies is unproductive, think again! A study from Japan found that after people looked at endearing images, such as puppies, they were more focused and were better at completing work tasks. If you don’t already have enough cute photos of your pets or grandkids on your phone, try Cutest Animals (free; available on iTunes).