Advances in new technology often make our lives easier, but can also require more of us. That we are always connected means increased demands, and these demands mean that we need to find ways to work more efficiently. Here are five recommended pieces of technology that will allow you to work smarter in your day-to-day tasks.
Evernote is an indispensable piece of technology that serves as a universal notebook and scrapbook for your ideas. It provides one consolidated places to keep important links and articles, notes that you have taken on a mobile device, and even physical documents that can be captured and put through OCR on a mobile device. Evernote has been enormously popular and thus attracted a very active community. This community has created a range of tools and add-ons to Evernote, from voice dictation of notes to contact management to expenses. Of all the technology tools mentioned here, Evernote is the most highly recommended, for its flexibility and multitude of uses. Even if used for only one task, Evernote is worthwhile just for the ability to scan physical notes and store them in the cloud using a mobile phone.
Dropbox serves a similar function to Evernote, but instead of being a repository for documents, it can serve as a central storage for important files. This Y-Combinator backed startup has grown very quickly, partly because of its seamless integration with many other tools and technologies. For example, Drobox's camera upload feature allows photos from your mobile device to be automatically synced to all your devices and computers the moment they are taken. Using Dropbox as a backup for important files can ensure they are accessible from anywhere, and allow you to easily share files with friends or co-workers.
IFTTT stands for "If This, Then That" and it offers a way to integrate workflows between web applications. For example, using the previously mentioned tool Dropbox, you could set IFTTT to automatically upload any pictures that are sent to Dropbox to Facebook or Flickr. IFTTT supports a number of channels of communication, so the combination of tasks that can be strung together is endless. IFTTT can send you an SMS reminder if the weather forecasts rain for example. IFTTT is also a great way to connect internet services to mobile devices or even physical devices without any knowledge of APIs, creating an Internet of Things.
An important part of increasing your productivity is understanding not just how to work faster, but what things to work on. TaskRabbit is a tech startup that makes the process of delegation that much easier. Simply use the web application to schedule and pay for daily chores, and the TaskRabbit service connects you to vetted people to help. This can free up your time to work on the tasks in your life that will have the most impact. TaskRabbit can take much of the complication out of finding help for tasks that might otherwise require riskier and more time consuming options like Craigslist.
Project management can be a complex task, particularly with remote teams, and Basecamp, a tool from 37Signals, looks to simplify it. Basecamp provides a clean, simple web-based interface for managing complex project with dependencies and remote team members. Much of the standard project management toolset is included, from file sharing, to time and task tracking, messaging and whiteboards. Basecamp offers a simpler, more intuitive interface than most traditional project management suites, and much like the other web based technologies here, there are a number of associated tools that allow for integration between them and other web APIs.