Streamline your life: Technology as a tool

There’s no doubt we live in the AGE OF TECHNOLOGY.  Sure, a lot of us, usually the older generations, wish we could return to a simpler time when people weren’t staring at their phones all day and things of that sort, and as much as I agree with a lot of it, that’s not the point of my article today.  The technology we have at our disposal today is vast, and in my opinion, HIGHLY underutilized.  

We have “phones” in our pocket (which are actually sophisticated computers), GPS systems built into cars, digital means of paying bills and much more that are used more and more each day with generations growing up with them, but just because you own the technology and have it available doesn’t mean you’re utilizing it to it’s greatest benefit to you.  My hope with this article is to maybe realize more ways we can streamline our life to take some of the guessing work out of planning and hopefully free up more time that you can dedicate to more beneficial pursuits. 

Let’s focus on probably the most popular piece of technology today, THE SMARTPHONE.  Unless you’re making a point of not getting wrapped up in the life of always being on your phone and own a flip phone, you probably have a smartphone of your own.  It’s hard to deny the benefits of a smartphone and how much time is saved, but also how much time it drains with non-productive activity.  This goes along with the “balance” that I talked about in my previous article My 6 Elements of how to live a life fulfilled , but I’m going to talk about the time it CAN save this go around along with it’s benefits.. 

For the ease of reading and your own attention span, I’m going to just list out some of the apps and tips that I use in my own daily life and other methods that I’m simply going to speculate on since I by no means apply all of this advice in my own life as I am no more perfect of a human than any of you.  

Before listing these out, you must remember that simply downloading or having these apps available to use does just about as good as buying a book on a diet and not implementing it actually.  You must also train yourself via habit or sheer determination to actually apply them in your day to day life.  One way I do this is with reminders on my phone.  

Reminders: Nearly all smartphones have a reminder feature, whether it be on your calendar, a native feature on your phone or one of the many apps that exist for such a purpose.  Reminders are a very easy way to not only remind yourself about important tasks that you must do for work (like a meeting with finance at 2pm), but it can also be used to motivate yourself and remind yourself that you are trying to do better in life and in specific areas (like take your vitamins or a reminder to work on that book you keep putting off).  One I use personally is a daily reminder that tells me to go and talk to each one of my kids individually if only for a moment as life moves quick and small important things like this can be neglected. 

Calendar: The calendar features on your phone or email are used by many for work, but I believe it is neglected when it comes to personal things.  If you treat the important things in your life like you would for deadlines that you must meet for your job, your life can be just as organized if not a little more manageable.  Not only can you use the calendar feature for reminders like I mentioned above, but you can also coordinate with those in your life more effectively by sharing your personal calendar with those that would benefit.  One example of this would be to share your calendar with your spouse in conjunction with reminders for events like school plays, or medical appointments.  This will limit the time spent sending texts and forgetting things that may or may not have been communicated a few times prior.  

Maps and Navigation: I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us use the GPS feature on our phone pretty regularly, if not, you should.  I’ve noticed that even those who use the navigation features on their phone or other apps don’t always use them to their fullest.  Doing simple things like saving destinations that you have typed in your phone multiple times can help minimize time and frustration when you have to head there next.  Also sharing your location with someone who is expecting you can be made much easier by using the “Share ETA” option on most smartphones instead of wasting time typing out where you’re at and how long you think you’ll be.  There are also many other features in navigation apps that can make your life easier if you take the initial time to discover them.

Travel: Other than navigation (mainly driving) there are other great travel related apps that you can utilize to your benefit that only take a little time to download and set up.  If you travel regularly for work or pleasure you know how it goes; you have to book your flight, you get there, where is a good place to eat, where is the nearest hotel, what events are happening nearby that I can check out?  Apps like Southwest (for flying), Uber (transportation), Yelp (where to eat),  Airbnb (for lodging) Local, by Facebook (for finding events happening nearby) can answer most of your travel related questions with just a few short clicks instead of riffling through multiple google results. 

Health and well-being: Convenience and time saving apps and methods are great, but benefiting yourself from a health perspective is equally if not greater in importance.  No only can you set a reminder like I talked about above to work out, but you can also have an abundance of workout videos, health trackers, diet monitors and running trackers to help you gauge your performance and ensure you’re on track.  Besides just physical health, you can also work out your mind with other apps for meditation and mind exercises to keep you mentally sharp. 

A lot of what I’ve said above might seem like common sense or things you may have already known about, but I guess the main idea of this article is to remind you that by doing a little work up front and thinking ahead for the purpose of streamlining your life and day to day activities you can make a huge impact in how you operate your life by saving valuable time and utilizing the tools that you’ve already paid for.   Embrace technology and use it to its fullest, but also do not become reliant on it.  

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