In our crazy world of multiple devices, how can you block out the noise and get stuff done? Well, if technology creates these distractions, surely it can help manage them. Here’s a list of tools and tips that will help manage your productivity, online footprint and make you more effective. Consider it a functional, easy guide to digital detoxing, or at least, managing your habits.
- Use self control (and Self Control). No matter who you are or what you do, there is no anonymity online. But the fact that we’re not face to face with people when communicating on the web gives us the feeling that we are. There are two types of people who have self-control issues: One feels anonymous and posts what they wouldn’t normally. The other can’t stop themselves from surfing, procrastinating, and doing anything but working. If you fall into this category, there’s an app called, wait for it, Self Control, which limits your use of email and social media. The free app locks you out of designated sites for pre-determined periods, while still giving you broad web access. Time for a time out. Literally.
- Filter Search with Custom Curation Apps. There’s a lot of white noise out there in the land of search. But with custom curation tools it’s easier to get what you need. Two services help filter search results so you don’t spend excess time sifting through pages. Montreal-based Spundge is a startup created by journalists that filters search results by topic. Gravity is a filter service that personalizes curation, using semantic and artificial-intelligence algorithms to make affiliated news sites personally tailored to your reading interests.
- Think Counter Intuitively. Aram Nadjarian, managing partner at L.A.-based public relations firm Mozaic Media & Communications says you may have to think counter intuitively to increase productivity. “Sometimes, taking scheduled breaks and physically removing yourself from your primary workspace is critical,” Nadjarian says. “Let technology work for you.” Staring at your computer screen won’t make that email appear any faster. So take a break, get up and leave the office. When you come back, that message might just be waiting in your inbox.
- Project management software. Tools like BaseCamp, file sharing and storage service SugarSync or content management systems like Trello are low cost and easy to access. They offer everyone from entrepreneurs to nine-to-fivers much needed organization in their daily work lives and a streamlined process to keep you connected and working more efficiently. These days, work teams are often in the cloud as much as in the office. These tools, like the free phone service Skype, are perfect for bringing a team together.
- Go On a Social Media Diet. Social application dasBoom is a new data tool that enables a visual display of users’ social feeds (such as Facebook). Now you can focus on easily scanning through just photos, videos, friends, without being distracted by the rest of the “noise” on a public timeline. Think social filtering, simply drag-and-drop the annoying friend or post into a “hidden” bucket and you’re set. DasBoom founder Shivani Khanna says unlike Facebook, his service does no building assumptions to determine what is important to the user. Right now it’s only available for Facebook, but will soon expand to Twitter and LinkedIn.