15 things your smartphone can do to improve your life with multiple sclerosis
Your phone is always in your pocket so why not make it work harder for you? There are heaps of features that you might never have thought about that can make your life easier.
1. Take advantage of do not disturb mode
Finding it difficult to concentrate? Take advantage of the do not disturb mode on your phone. It will pause your notifications and help you focus. You can set it a timer for it too so you won't forget to switch it back on.
Instructions for setting it up on Apple and Android are here.
2. Make your own how-to guides using photo albums.
Your camera can help you remember how to do things that you might struggle with on a day when you have a foggy head. You can create albums with step-by-step photos or videos of how to do something for example making your favourite meal or how to access Netflix.
3. Create a library of familiar faces
Take advantage of facial recognition and take the pressure off meeting people.
You can turn on the 'People' function in your photos and it will automatically recognise faces and group them together. You can add names to faces in the album and hey presto you've got your own face library which you can check before meeting people.
4. Use checklists to remember your favourite recipe
If making meals and remembering recipes is sometimes tricky did you know you can create checklists in the notes on your phone?
- Write, or copy and paste, the ingredients and steps
- Change the bullet points of line breaks into check boxes
- Make your recipe and check the steps and ingredients off as you go
Once you’ve finished you can just uncheck all the steps at the end and the recipe is ready for next time.
5. Save your parking space and beat parking lot panic
Everyone, with or without MS, has felt the panic in a big parking lot when you can’t remember where your car is. Google Maps has a ‘handy find and save parking locations’ feature. You can add garages and regularly used parking lots too. Activate this setting and you’ll be given an option to navigate back to your car.
6. Use notifications to remember your shopping
How often have you got back from the shops only to remember that you forgot something important off the list?
Google Keep (which is the default notes app on Android but can be downloaded for Apple) has an amazing location based reminder function.
You can make a note of something you need e.g. buy bin liners and set your phone to remind you when you're next at the grocery store. It works for any location so you
7. Make voice notes your best friend.
It might feel a bit weird at first but voice notes are an excellent way to stay in touch with people. Use the microphone icon on WhatsApp to send notes.
You can pack in more information and don't have to focus on typing. It also makes you feel closer to someone if you can hear their voice. You can ask family and friends to use voice notes too if you're too tired for a phone call but want to hear from them.
8. Download a language learning app.
Learning a language may feel daunting when you're struggling but there are proven benefits to doing it. There are fun language apps like Duolingo which make it feel like a game and it could have a positive impact in your cognition - and you'll feel like a pro on your next vacation.
There are tonnes of breathing timers out there to download or just use your timer on your phone. They’re designed to help you calm down and focus. Ideal for those days when you're experiencing mood swings or you're getting frustrated by feeling tongue tied.
Open your app or set your timer and just breathe.
Try 4 seconds in, 7 second hold, 8 seconds out.
10. Take screenshots on your photos and favorite them.
Been emailed a booking confirmation number? Need to keep hold of a cloakroom ticket? Take a screenshot or photo of it and use the star button to favourite it. No more getting flustered searching through your emails or scrabbling through your bag at the front of a queue.
11. Shift your night shift.
Night mode on your phone is designed to block disruptive blue light and help you get a better night's sleep. The thing is the auto setting doesn't usually start until 10pm which is a bit too late. Bring it forward by 4 hours and feel the benefits when it comes to bedtime.
13. 12. Use speech-to-text on your keyboard.
If numb fingers are making typing difficult you can try dictating your messages. Sometimes messages come out with a few mistakes but you can let the recipient know that you're not typing!
14. Make Siri, Alexa or Google your friend.
Can't quite get out of bed in the morning and you're using the time to consider what you're going to wear today? Ask your smart speaker or phone what the weather's going to be doing today and make the decision before moving.
15. Use your messaging apps with a keyboard.
If you're prone to hand problems, you might find using a full keyboard easier than your smaller phone. You can install WhatsApp on your desktop or laptop so you can stay in touch. This also works with iMessage and Facebook messenger.
...and of course try Emilyn - MS Companion. It's completely free and will be your MS symptom tracker, filing system and diary all in one place.