Simplify your electronic life
October 12, 2012 by
Categories: Personal, Self

The technological era that we live in is praised one moment and cursed the next.There were fears early on in the development of the internet that on-line chat rooms were going to be the downfall of civilized society because people would have no contact with each other. Now, what we’re finding out is that most people use instant messaging and other forms of electronic communication as a way of maintain connection to those they care about. Most recently, people everywhere are developing a love-hate relationship with Facebook, but since everyone is on it, what’s the alternative? It’s a great way to keep in contact with others, without really having to keep in contact.

There are blogs to read (and write), pins to pin, statuses to update, tweets to tweet…there is no doubt we are a well-connected society and it is easy to get overwhelmed with everything we want to keep up with. Those that know me know that I love technology. However, I remember the words of Richard Carlson (as in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff), that given all of this time-saving technology we have (and keep coming up with), where is the time saved?

Because of my love of technology, though. I do have a few tricks that I use to be able to keep up with things. Before I share, though, I do have to say that this is only intended to help you keep more in touch with the things you enjoy on the internet. The only true way of reclaiming your “time-saved” is to start cutting out unnecessary items (but not CollectiveInquiry, of course!). I have gone through some pruning of the things that I keep up with, and sometimes they’re replaced by other items. It’s up to you how to balance, but these are some tools I use to simplify.

1. RSS feeds. These are a life saver. For those familiar with feeds, use them. If not, read on. Anytime a blog or website updates it’s content, it will send out the content on the site’s RSS feed. You will need a reader. Since my life is intertwined with Google, I use Google Reader, but there are other alternatives (just do a search for RSS readers). I have the app on my phone and I can pull it up when I have a free minute, and I can see which of the blogs I follow have been updated, and I can even read their posts. If I want to make a comment, I can go to the full website to do so. The easiest way to subscribe to an RSS feed on a site is by looking for an icon like this: 

Here at CI, we have one of those at the top of the page. Go ahead, click it!

2. An app that I have been using that is also quite helpful is Pocket. Now, I use Android, but I know that this app is also available for iOS as well. This is an app that is similar to an RSS reader, but requires you to do the leg work. In other words, when you are browsing the internet and find a story of interest, but don’t have time to read it all, you can send it to Pocket, which will save it for later. The advantage of the Android version is that I can have the app read the articles I’ve stored in it. So, I can take an article from Google Reader and send it to Pocket. Then when I am in my car, I can have the article read through my stereo.

3. In my job as a researcher, I am constantly having to send several versions of manuscripts back and forth between people. The solution I have found is using Google Docs(I did say my life is intertwined with Google). All of my documents (word documents, spread sheets, presentations) are all in one place and I can share them with others to make changes or comment. It has been a huge time saver and has made collaboration much easier.

Image by star5112

4. Google Hangouts. Yes, again with Google. If you haven’t tried out Hangouts, it works very well for video conferencing. We have used it here at CI with no problems. It allows for all five of us to meet, even though we may be separated by geography.

5. Although it’s something that I don’t use yet, I am excited for it. Apps such as Siri or Google Now (and others found in the respective app stores) have a promise to make life easier by having our very own personal assistant. I haven’t found an app yet that delivers, but each new version offers a bit more than the last. I believe we have some amazing things coming down the road very shortly.

So there is my list of what I use to keep things together. Much of my life is organized electronically (I gave up paper-based planners years ago) because I tend to be more organized that way. If you live your life paper-based, that’s great. How do you stay organized? How do you simplify? For those that also you electronics, what apps and services do you use to make things easier? Do share!

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2 Thoughts About Simplify your electronic life

  • Marilyn Fowler
    October 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm Reply

    Thank you, Trent, for the comment you left on my blog, Life’s A Bumpy Road. And I’m glad it led me to your blog.
    I’ve always been an organized person, so I appreciate your thoughts about organizing more efficiently with technology. I’m an old lady, but with a heart still young enough to accept change and move along with it as best I can. So I’m learning. Thanks for your help.

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