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If you spend a big chunk of your day online like I do—either at the office on a laptop or on the go with your phone—you know how time seems to just … evaporate. Simply going about your regular daily digital habits can really chip away at those waking hours. I’m talking about things like: logging into all my work and personal accounts, checking our bank balance, reading some news article I saw on Facebook, digging up that one email about my kid’s upcoming field trip (when IS that, again?!) … they just add up. And yet doing them gives me about the same level of satisfaction as the proverbial hamster on its wheel. To combat this “death by a thousand cuts” in productivity, I’ve tried MANY tools and strategies promising to make my online life easier. These five time savers have proven to be my most valuable, steadfast allies in the daily digital battle against the clock:
#1: LastPass password manager
I used to be one of those people who used the same password for every account, sheerly for convenience. Terrible, I know. After hearing one too many horror stories of sites getting hacked and personal information being stolen, I finally caved in and searched for a more secure solution. One of the developers at work told me about LassPass, so I checked it out. What I learned made me feel pretty silly for going along all those years playing password roulette with my one-password-fits-all approach. LassPass helped me:
- Access all my accounts and websites quickly and easily, without any of the frustration that gets my 70-year-old dad riled up while he searches for his “paper with all those passwords on it.” (Love you, Dad!) LastPass keeps all my passwords in one safe place.
- Pull up my passwords no matter where I am or which site I need to log into.
- Feel like I have my digital identity and security in good order, instead of feeling like a frazzled basket case just waiting to get hacked.
- Register on new sites with confidence, knowing I have strong passwords that I don’t have to remember or write down.
- Autofill online forms with my personal details (even credit card numbers), worry-free.
I’ve used LastPass for three years now, and it keeps track of hundreds of user IDs and passwords for me (and now, my 10-year-old who’s got her own iPod). I have the LastPass browser tool installed on multiple browsers, as well as the app for my phone, so it’s with me at work, at home, wherever I go. LastPass definitely gives me peace of mind and more time to do things other than … request a new password, check my email, click a link, set up a new password, verify my account, log in again … you know the drill.
Want to try LastPass for yourself? Get LastPass for Free and enjoy some password peace of mind for yourself.
#2: Bookmarks bar
We all have certain websites we check frequently. While browser bookmarks may have gone out of fashion (and I admit, they are pretty old-school), I stand by the wisdom of using a bookmarks bar. You know, the little strip at the top of your browser (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.) with shortcuts saved for your top sites? By not having to type in “amazon.com” or “app.asana.com” multiple times each day, I’m preserving more moments to do what I really want. (Ya know, like watching the latest episode of Ultra Spiritual Life on YouTube.)
#3: Save now, read later
I have a voracious appetite for reading, and the Internet is always more than happy to feed me more juicy content than I can handle. Unfortunately, I have to balance my passion for the written word with practicalities like working, taking care of myself and my family, and the like. Whenever I’m tempted to hop on the Reading Rainbow, but can’t because I need to go pick up my kids from school, I can use time savers like Pocket or Instapaper. With a quick click (on my laptop and phone), I can save videos, articles, anything I want to spend time on later. Then, when I’m waiting for an appointment or find myself with a few minutes to myself, I can pull out my phone and catch up on my reading.
#4: Search, don’t file
As much as I appreciate a well-organized filing cabinet or a finely labeled collection of bins, I no longer bother with the tedious effort of putting emails into folders. Why bother, when the search function on any decent email system works so much more efficiently? I used to be a big email-filer—for years, actually—but once I switched to the archive-and-search system, I found I didn’t use or miss my folder method at ALL. Search your entire email archive by name, email address, keyword, date, anything you can think of. It’s easy!
#5: Email and notification consolidation
Just because you sign up for accounts with untold numbers of sites doesn’t mean you want to receive a constant barrage of messages and notifications from them. Do I really need to know immediately when I get a new Twitter follower or like on my Facebook post? Must I get the daily email from Shoe Carnival informing me of their latest BOGO deal in my inbox? All these little pings and alerts can really add up to massive distraction and time wasted. Instead, I opt out of many email notifications altogether (I can just see them when I visit the app). For emails I want, but don’t need to see right away, I roll them up into one daily email delivered at the time I choose (I use Unroll.me). The outcome: more space and less interruption throughout my day. Have any of these tools worked well for you? Are there any digital time savers you swear by? Please share in the comments.