Happy Monday everyone. We’re kicking off this week with a guest post about how tech can help you stick to those January resolutions, from Jo Gifford, digital media genius and lovely tweeter.
Have your New Year’s resolutions already faded into the ether? Is your willpower for that diet, marathon training plan, novel writing goal or general world domination starting to dwindle?
Go easy on yourself. Let tech do the legwork for you to help your productivity, information overload, focus and, in general, sanity. Reduce the noise, step away from the screen, and re-discover your goals with some free time to actually do them.
1. Automate daily habits and tasks
Taking the monotony out of daily repetitive tasks frees up both your time and inclination to do something else.
For daily digests of RSS feeds, newsletters or hot topics to keep abreast of, set up filters using IFTTT to aggregate them all somewhere that works for you, be it Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox or wherever else tickles your fancy. You can browse and comment, share or act on anything in your own time in a more organised way.
For habits and daily activities, Routines is a lovely little app with friendly, easy to set reminders to tick off and feel a sense of direction and accomplishment. Set the reminders to vary how strict the timeframe of the action is and how aggressively you wish to be reminded, and keep on track with getting things done.
2. Reduce inbox overwhelm
Inbox overwhelm is the antithesis of sanity and productivity. By setting up some smart tech systems and habits you can step away from the inbox and break the reliance on instant response requirements and general “noise”.
Scoop is an excellent add on for Gmail that literally scoops up promotional emails and smartly presents them to you in one daily digest, not unlike an inbox VA.
Sanebox is another excellent option which allows emails to be diverted from your inbox and re-presented to you when you need to see them again, dictated by you with a simple click to file the email. Lovely.
Use IFTTT to collate reading material or emails you need to respond to or read later by storing them in relevant files which dump them into corresponding Evernote notebooks or a Google Docs location.
Canned responses by Gmail in combination with Sanebox and IFTTT filters allows set responses to be sent out to emails with certain criteria, filed, ordered and re-presented to you when you need.
Awayfind lets you step away from the inbox safe in the knowledge that if the urgent information you need to react to comes in, you can set filters for a text message instant alert.
How does that inbox seem now you are in charge?
3. Get smart with social
Setting up smart social media sharing workflows is another sanity saving trick.
Buffer is an excellent resource for sharing content in one dedicated social media portion of time, with the updates flowing throughout the day to avoid an obvious dump of information on your feed.
Collating tweets or updates from users relevant to your niche that you need to follow can be easily set up in IFTTT straight to a spreadsheet. Simply read, paste and click to schedule relevant content for your audience throughout the day while you are free to pursue those lifelong dreams…or, indeed, get on with some work.
Set up workflows to collate and file tweets you favourite and instagram pics you like to store information and resources for an appropriate time so that social interaction time doesn’t lead you on a bottomless pit of web browsing.
See? Social doesn’t have to be a time vacuum.
4. Go paperless
Living without a constant pile of paperwork and general “Stuff” is a breath of fresh air. Use Evernote to photograph sketches, letters, business cards, Post It Notes, kids artwork, invitations, and any other ephemera which clutters up your desk.
Free yourself from mountains of letters and find your way around information so much easier.
5. Talk to yourself
What if you could be productive even in the outside world, away from the screen? Taking time out to enjoy fresh air or a change of scenery doesn’t mean ideas can’t be captured on the go; dictate memos, blog posts and emails into Evernote to transcribe later, or use Dragon Dictation to record your thoughts and ideas to be dealt with when you plug back in – whenever you choose that to be.
Wishing you a productive, sane and tech powered 2014.
Jo Gifford is a designer, writer, blogger, illustrator & creativity addict; she teaches creative ideas for online content creators, business owners & self employed mums via her Access All Areas programme and one to one sessions.