What can you do in 10 minutes? In regards to technology, a whole lot! Let’s do some quick decluttering that is as simple as clicking the mouse’s button. 10 minutes starts now. Here we go!
Delete 5 emails from your inbox that you no longer need. To do this quickly, pick emails that don’t require much thought, like e-vites to events that have passed, e-newsletters you’ve already read (or will never read), and emails from retailers featuring expired coupons or deals.
Unsubscribe from 1 email subscription you don’t read. It’s as easy as scrolling to the bottom of one of those emails and hitting the Unsubscribe button. Follow the link, confirm your un-subscription, and close that tab.
Erase 5 photos from your phone. I was scrolling through the photos on my phone the other day and realized I have so many pictures that were taken to simply include in a text message. These photos weren’t particularly sentimental, so I erased them (i.e., snapshots of the meal of I was eating at the time). This saves space on my phone as well as my computer (since I back up my photos every so often).
Delete 3 files from your desktop. A lot of files downloaded from the Internet are saved to your desktop or perhaps you save things there to retrieve them easily. This makes sense, but it also means your desktop can get cluttered very quickly. Scan your desktop and get rid of three files you can do without.
Close unused tabs and/or programs. Running multiple programs at a time slows your computer down, so shut down any applications that you are not currently using.
If you have a Mac, right click on the application icons in your dock to make sure they are fully shut down. If one of the options in the menu that pops up is Quit, then click that in order to close that application.
Do the same for the tabs that are open in your Internet browser that you don’t need to see anymore. If you want to remember the page, then simply bookmark it and then close it.
I started using Dropbox a couple years ago when my Mastermind group wanted to share files (like word documents and mp3 files), some of which were too big to send via email. After the initial installation and set up, we saw how much easier Dropbox was than trying to email or FTP files back and forth. Plus, a couple of our members had some challenges with keeping on top of their email, and this provided a platform where all our information was in one place. And, best of all, it was clearly named and organized in the same way.
Since then, I realized that I needed a streamlined system on the cloud so no matter where I was or which device I had with me, I could access my information. So, I began shifting my current digital filing system over to Dropbox.
It’s quite simple really – after installing the free software all you have to do it drag and drop the file(s) into the desired Dropbox folder. On a Mac, open the “Finder” window and look under “Places.”
Or, on the right side of your desktop toolbar a Dropbox icon will appear. Click on the icon and select “Open Dropbox Folder.”
Dropbox organizes the folders and files in the same way your computer files and folders are set up – as nested directories. You can sync to individual computers, phones, and tablets. Your information is also stored on the Internet. Log into your Dropbox account via the web and voilà, there are all your files!
Dropbox has made file sharing for my collaborative partners and me tremendously easier than it used to be. Here are some of the ways I use Dropbox:
- My current Mastermind group and I use Dropbox for sharing audio files, pdf files, photosn and word documents. This is extremely handy since we all live in different parts of the country.
- One of my colleagues and I share our marketing materials for our retreats and classes through Dropbox. Previously, we used Google Docs (now known as Google Drive), and perhaps because of the different operating systems we were using, files never came through true to form when we used it. We have no such problems with Dropbox – files always open as they should.
- I upload my Quickbooks or other financial files that my accountant needs to Dropbox. No more driving to the other side of town with a memory stick or having him come to my office to get the needed information.
People save 1 billion files every day to Dropbox’s online storage service says its Chief Executive, Drew Houston. To date, Dropbox has over 100 million users and has paying customers in more than 200 countries. It’s offered in eight different languages including English, Spanish, Castilian Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Italian.
Installing the Dropbox software is free and currently works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry. At the time of this writing, Dropbox has a few different pricing options:
- Free Level Storage. Store up to 2GB for free.
- Pro Level Storage. Starts at $9.99/mo for 100 GB. Upgrade your storage to 200 for $19.99/mo or 500 GB for $49.99/mo.
- Team Level Storage. Starts at $795/yr for 1 TB and up to 5 users. Includes centralized billing and administrative tools.
Dropbox also offers referral rewards. Refer your friends and get extra storage space (up to 16 GB) at no additional cost to you.
Do you use Dropbox? How has it saved you time, money and hassle with your projects?
Last summer, I began the daunting task of uploading all of our CDs to my computer. Our CD collection was in no way large, maybe 12 feet long if all the CDs were lined up together, but it was still quite a time investment to get them all uploaded. I found myself wondering if I would ever listen to this music again once it was digitized. I did not feel drawn to listen to most of it again, but part of me felt guilty about getting rid of the CDs without uploading them.
I have enjoyed being able to listen to some of the music via my iPhone, especially on long car trips, but I found that I got bored with much of the music. I wanted to expand beyond what I currently owned, most of which was bought 15-20 years ago.
A few months ago, my husband convinced me to give Pandora a try. He and his coworkers use it to get through boring work days, and he told me how easy it was to listen to the music you actually wanted to listen to. Pandora has a fascinating history. It’s based on the Music Genome Project, a comprehensive music analysis project that began in 2000. Here’s more about the project from the Pandora website:
Together our team of musician-analysts has been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every track – melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics … and more! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.
So, I tried the free version and was impressed at how easy it really is. Enter a song, artist or genre, and create a station. From there, you can refine your station by giving “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to individual tracks. You can also refine your station by clicking on the +Add Variety button, then adding more artists or tracks to add a more diverse selection to your station.
Pandora also offers in-depth information about the track and artist. Tap on the arrow in the upper right corner to expand the information.
I initially installed it just on my phone, but learned it’s also available for other devices. You can access it via the web or install the app on your computer. Pandora is available for streaming to over 200 devices, including some vehicles. I also discovered we’re able to access it through our television.
Currently Pandora offers two options:
- Free version: Ad supported (audio and visual)
- Paid version: $3.99 per month with unlimited access and no commercials
Four dollars a month seems like a reasonable price to pay for commercial-free music listening to me.
I find myself listening to Pandora for music most of the time now, and the CD tracks uploaded to my iPhone only for the audiobooks/courses I have. If I had discovered Pandora before I started my CD digitizing process, would I have been willing to just let them go instead of uploading? Maybe!
Would YOU be willing to let all your old CDs go without digitizing them if you knew you could have access to a service such as Pandora? Is having access to something good enough or do you feel you still need the have the physical object?
Greetings OTR blog readers … I hope all are well today. It’s good to be back as a contributing blogger to OTR. As some of you may recall, I was a contributing blogger here about two years ago, writing about time management and tech. When Deb asked me to contribute again, I was happy to do so. Ironically enough, I’ll start this post off with an e-mail I sent to her last night:
It’s 1:06am. I just laid my head back in this chair back, closed my eyes, and started listening to a good friend’s podcast. As many do, podcaster’s announce the date of their podcast edition in the beginning. My eyes IMMEDIATELY POPPED open and realized I didn’t send the blog post yesterday. I will send it today after church. Please forgive me.
Time Management #FAIL :-) Stay tuned…and thank you.
It’s very interesting that I did NOT add this task to my calendar a month ago because I thought I’d remember. In fact, I added it to my calendar yesterday morning, but when the alert came up, I canceled it, which resulted in the email to Deb.
Moral of the story: Using technology to manage your time and tasks works great (I can attest to it), but only when used as designed. I’ve got a busy work and personal life — I’m a husband and father of two, a software systems engineer, church musician, songwriter/producer/recording artist, head of the STEM committee at my children’s school, in a band, and have a few hobbies — so even though last night was a fail, the only way I can keep track of all of that is to really rely on a combination of time management principles and productivity apps.
Speaking of which, since I’m an iOS device user (iPhone and iPad mini), I’ll leave you with a review that I recently read about the app, Producteev. I haven’t tried that app yet, but check out the review to see if it might work for you. I’ll share my personal reviews of apps I use in upcoming posts.
Until next time, peace and blessings unto you.
Hey all you iPhone users out there, read this!
Here are 10 awesome iPhone shortcuts that can come in handy and simplify your smartphone life.
1. Organize Apps Into Folders – Stop scrolling through pages and pages of apps on your iPhone. Instead, organize the apps into folders that are quick and easy to find. Simply hold your finger down on one of the apps until they are all shaking. Drag one app on top of another to put them in a folder together. For example, I did this to group my social media apps together, my health apps, my productivity apps, my financial apps, and so on.
2. Create Albums In Your Photos App – See the plus sign in the top left of the below picture? That is for creating albums in your photos app and keeping your pictures organized. Go to your Photos app, select Albums in the top left, and you’ll see the screen with the plus sign. From there, follow the prompts to add photos to your new album.
3. Take A Screenshot – All the pictures on this page were taken using this little trick. It’s so useful! If you want to take a screenshot of what you currently see on your iPhone, simply hold the Home button (round button below the screen) and push the Lock button (button on the top edge of the phone). Snap! The screenshot is taken and it ends up in your Photos app.
4. Save An Image From The Web – If you’re surfing the web using the Safari app and you come across a photo you want to save, hold your finger down on the image. A menu will appear with options, and one of them is to save it. Hit the Save Image button and it will appear in your Photos app.
5. Turn Off Auto Correct – Let’s avoid those funny, and sometimes awkward, text messages that have fallen into the hands of auto-correct. To turn this feature off, go to Settings, then General, then Keyboard. Lastly, slide the button next to Auto-Correction in to the off position.
6. Customize Alert Sounds – Also in Settings, you can customize your alert sounds so that you can decipher what kind of message is coming in without looking at your phone every time it makes a noise. Once in Settings, go to Sounds, and then customize the sound next to each alert option.
7. Turn Off Your iPhone – I didn’t know how to do this when I first got my iPhone, so this tip may sound really easy but is useful nonetheless. Press and hold the Lock button (button on the top edge of the phone) until an option comes up to power off. Do the same thing to power it on.
8. Search The Entire iPhone – Instead of scrolling to the right to the next page of apps, scroll to the left. A blank page will appear with a search bar at the top and the keyboard at the bottom. Type in what you’re looking for, and a search will be done of your entire iPhone.
9. Current Snapshot – Drag your finger from the center of the top of the screen in a downward motion. A page will appear with the current weather, appointments for the day, notifications from social media and game apps, the stock market ticker and any other “news” for you.
10. Create Keyboard Shortcuts – Want to streamline typing on your iPhone keyboard? Create shortcuts so that your phone will automatically expand “omw” to “on my way!” Go to Settings, then General, then Keyboard. Scroll down to Shortcuts and select Add New Shortcut… then follow the prompts from there.
You’ve been through the routine. You open your text app or your email app, type in the recipient’s name, write a message, select a single photo and send it. Then you repeat this several times until you’ve shared all the photos you wanted to share. Humph!
Come on, it’s 2013! You should be able to share several photos in the same message. But wait, you can!!
The following step-by-step instructions show you exactly how to do this with your iPhone.
- Go to the Photos app.
- Make sure it says Camera Roll at the top if that’s where the photos are that you want to send. To get to your other albums, hit the Albums button in the top left corner and select the appropriate album.
- Hit the Edit button in the top right corner.
- Select the photos you want to share by simply touching each one.
- Hit the Share button on the bottom.
- Choose how you are going to share the photos (i.e. email, text message, Facebook, etc.) and follow the prompts from there.
It’s important to note that you can share 5 photos at a time via email, and you can send more than 5 pictures via text message. I was able to send 10 photos at one time in a text message! Also, don’t forget you can share with multiple recipients at the same time as well.
This little trick is handy in so many ways. It simplifies the process of sending photos of your kids to your parents, sharing pictures on Facebook, or emailing pictures of your work to a potential client. Any way you use it, you are saving time, effort, and money. How lovely!
“In the survey of 319 college students, Becker’s team found that those who used multiple media devices the most were almost twice as likely to report depressive symptoms as those who used a second screen the least. They also found a similar increase in social anxiety symptoms between those two groups.”
Can Multitasking Make You Sad? | LiveScience.com | 12.6.12
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“Two out of five said they “would feel anxious, like part of me is missing,” if they couldn’t use their smartphones to stay connected. One in four people in Gen Y say they check their smartphones so much throughout the day they lose count.”
Why Smartphone-Obsessed Generation Y Can’t Put Down Their Phones | Mashable.com | 12.12.12
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Emails require a daily process and a monthly purge if you want to keep your inbox at bay. The first thing you need to do is employ a process for dealing with your daily messages. Read How to Process E-Mail in Four Simple Steps first and then follow that with this article.
Schedule time once or twice a month (every month) to do the following tasks. Be sure to put it on your calendar as well. I know it’s digital, but it deserves just as much attention as the physical items taking up space in your life. Digital clutter is still clutter, so let’s purge!
1. Delete emails related to completed projects. While a project is in process, it makes sense to keep the drafts and other reference materials necessary for getting to the finish line. Once it’s been completed, go back and erase the messages that are not necessary for reference anymore and won’t be in the future.
2. Delete emails related to events that have passed. This task has the same concept as number five. Before an event, you’ll usually keep emails related to it for reference. Once it has happened, no need to keep them anymore. This applies to parties, travel, concerts, meetings, and weddings — anything that you have already attended.
3. Unsubscribe from junk subscriptions and then delete the emails. On a daily basis, you probably only have time to delete the junk emails, so take the time to unsubscribe from them during your monthly purge. This will lessen the amount of emails coming to your inbox dramatically.
4. Change the settings on the subscriptions you want to keep. Like to see what’s on sale at Macy’s every once in a while? No problem. Don’t unsubscribe completely from their email list. Just change your settings so that you receive emails less often. You can usually do this by hitting the “Unsubscribe” button on the bottom of their email, and then a list of frequency options or categories will come up.
Combine these tasks with the four simple steps to processing your daily email, and you’ll be a master at managing this constant incoming source of digital clutter. How fantastic!
Image Credit: iStockphoto.com