21 Ways to Reduce Mental Stress Using Your Phone's Camera

Simple ways to reduce your mental workload.

Posted May 19, 2016

Unsplash, Creative Commons Zero.
Source: Unsplash, Creative Commons Zero.

I love finding simple ways to reduce my mental workload.  Here are 21 ways to do that using your smartphone's camera.  

Using your phone's camera allows you to snap a picture and be done.

You'll release yourself from needing to hold information in mind. You'll also save on doing more processing of information than is necessary (e.g., why scan or fax a document if you're able to just snap a picture of it as an alternative?)

See which of the following solutions could ease your overworked mind.

1. Where in the parking garage did I park my car? 

When exiting your car, take a pic of the sign showing which floor/section you're on.  

2.  Maps.

This strategy is particularly useful for vacations or if you're somewhere unfamiliar.  Use your phone to take a photo of a display map


- store locations at an unfamiliar shopping mall,

- the subway map when you're inside the subway station in a new city,

- the map of a park upon entering the park.

3. Signs showing times, dates, locations or phone numbers.

For example, you see a sign at the library advertising baby story time.  You snap a picture to remember the details of when and where it's on.

4. An item you want someone to buy for you.

Your spouse is at the store and you remember you forgot to put something on the shopping list.  Instead of trying to explain which type of almonds you want, snap a photo of the packet and send it via picture messaging.

5. Your spouse or roommate asked you to buy dried apricots and you're standing in front of that section of the store only to realize they have four different kinds.

Send the picture and a txt to ask "which ones?"

6. Recipes.

Anything you see and you want a record of it, take a photo.  For example, your friend makes her mother's salad dressing recipe.  Instead of writing out the recipe, if the friend has it written down somewhere, take a photo of it.  If you have recipes that people ask you for regularly, write them down once and send a photo of the recipe whenever you're asked for it.  This is easier than a 2 step process of saying you'll email the recipe to your friend later.  

7. Charts and graphs.

For example, your pediatrician has a graph of your child's weight and height over time. You'd like a copy, so you take a photo of it, for yourself and Grandma.

8. "Are you interested in this....?"

If you see something you think might be of interest to your spouse or a friend. 

9. An item you might want to buy later.

You're out shopping for sneakers and see a top you like. You don't want to a make an impulse buy. Snap a photo of the label with the product number so you can easily order it online later if you decide to get it.

10. The tag on items you may want to buy again.

You buy an item and think you may want to reorder the same item in the future.  Snap a photo of the tag, box label, and/or receipt so you have the style number without needing to keep the tag or box. This saves the frustration of attempting to find the same item again when the store sells 10 similar items that are hard to differentiate on their website.

11. For parents: a photo of what needs to go in your child's backpack each day.

If you want your child to be responsible for packing their own backpack but worried they might forget something, put a photo next to where the backpack hangs that shows the items that need to go in it e.g., lunch box, drink bottle....

12. For parents: photos that show the sequence of a task.

If your child is learning to do a task that requires several steps, take a photo of your child doing each of the steps.  Print the photos, order them in sequence, and display them, to help your child learn the sequence.  For example, tying their shoe.

13. Sign showing business hours.

For example, at a food truck, where online information may be out of date or hard to find. 

14. Anything you find inspirational.

For example, a quote written on a cafe chalkboard that you want to remember and will later by wracking your brain about. 

15. For parents: a photo of how something should look.

For example, if you tidy your child's shelves for them, you might want to take a photo to show them how the shelves should look when tidied.  Your child may be more willing/able to put their things back on their shelves if they have a visual reminder of where each item needs to go.

16. Membership cards.

For example, if you use AAA discounts when you travel but sometimes forget the physical card, you'll at least have a photo of the card.  Email it to yourself with "AAA member number / membership card" in the subject line, so whenever you need it, you can pull it up in your emails.

17. Business cards.

Instead of taking a physical business card, you can take a photo of the card and reduce your clutter. For example, if your OB's office has cards of recommended pediatricians. 

18. Documents that need a physical signature.

Often companies will request a document be filled out and faxed. In my experience, you can typically attach the document to an email or secure message instead.  Make it even easier by just taking a photo of the document instead of messing with your scanner.

19. Depositing checks.

Your bank probably has an app that will allow you to deposit checks by taking a photo of the front and back within the app.  Since this is very quick, you'll probably find you deposit checks sooner and get that task off your mental to do list.

20. When you want to repair, replace, or re-do something in your home.

For example, we got burgled and a glass door was smashed.  Three different companies told us we would need to replace the whole door frame, before one was able to tell us, based on an emailed photo, that they would almost certainly be able to replace the glass only (at a much lower cost.)  

Several times a year I also take a photo into Home Depot or Lowe's to say "this is what we have, this is what we're trying to do, what do we need?" 

21. Anything you want to throw away that has printed information you might need e.g., notes or instructions.

For example, scraps of paper where you've written something down. Email yourself the photo of the note with a logical subject line. 

Wrapping Up:

Use the list above as a reference and/or starting point for your own ideas.  When you start using your phone's camera to relieve mental pressure and stay organized, you'll find that you begin to notice many, many more opportunities to do so.  

Technology can create stress but it also offers ways to reduce it. The beauty of using your phone's camera is that you already know how to use it and don't need to learn a new app.  

What's more, you'll always know where to find the information you've snapped since it'll be in your "camera uploads"  (or similar) file on your computer, and automatically date-stamped. Therefore you can retrieve the information you need by date.   If you find you need more space on your computer, you can easily move photo files to the cloud (I use Dropbox's Selective Sync feature) without needing to spend additional time or effort organizing/deleting.

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