Monday, June 29, 2015

Using Technology to Enjoy a Little More Sunshine This Summer

By Kim Tarasiewicz

As we move into summer, everyone wants more free time to enjoy the wonderful weather and outdoors. And believe it or not, technology can help with that. While technology can keep us connected when we might wish to be off the grid, it also allows us time to work when we are able and not miss important calls, meetings or emails.

At Furia Rubel, we savor our vacation time as much as the next person and we have found some tech tools to save time and be more efficient – and in my case, provide more of my beloved beach time.

Here are some favorites:

IFTTT is an app that lets you combine all of your favorite online technologies. The acronym means “If this, then that” and it allows you to create your own recipes such as “If I post a picture to Instagram, then add it to my Dropbox.” Imagine the time you can save not having to log into each separate application. Even better, you can sign up for a free account and connect your services.

Workflow (for iPhones) and Llama (for Androids) both allow you to connect applications and then combine actions to create automatic tasks. For example, you can set your phone to automatically be on silent when your calendar has you scheduled in a meeting. Or on a personal level, every time you order pizza with an app, it automatically sets a reminder time to pick it up.

Gmail labs are special settings that add helpful features to your Gmail. By going into the “settings” icon at the top right of your Gmail and clicking on "labs," you can manage your email more efficiently. As Gmail states in the disclaimer at the top, these tweaks aren’t permanent, but they are fun to experiment with. "Canned responses" is a great tool for all those times you use the same wording in an email. You can create several and use when needed. And of course the “unsend” feature recently was introduced into the Gmail mix, so when you accidentally hit the send button before attaching your document, you don’t have to send another email with the apology and a big “Oops.”

Carrot is a task application that rewards you when you complete items on your list, but will chastise you when they are not finished on time. As Carrot says, “Greetings lazy human. Slackers make me upset.” It is a fun way to get things done during the day. And if you like an app that interacts with you, it has an alarm, fitness, weather and calorie counter version too.

So get out and enjoy summer this year and experiment with some new technologies and applications. You may find a few that can increase your productivity, making everyone happy. In what other ways do you save time and work and live more efficiently?

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