Technology can make you feel happy or create anxiety and stress. It can help you feel connected or isolated and lonely. It can help you expand your knowledge or impair your cognition. The difference is in how you use it. In this article, we share tips on how to make better use of technology—specifically the internet and apps—to save time, improve well-being, and take back control.
Use software to automate repetitive tasks
Technology enables you to delegate dull, repetitive tasks to robots so you can focus on deep, creative work. Zapier integrations are a perfect example: they save you time (around 10 hours per week, according to Zapier) and free you from grueling work no human should ever have to do. Best of all, with over 3,000+ app integrations available, there’s a Zap for nearly everything: posting content to your social media pages; creating to-dos; compiling survey information; sending emails; creating email lists; sending reminders, and more.
Meanwhile, OCR PDF editors such as PDFpen turn static content from photos and scans into digital, editable text. Businesses and professionals can use optical character recognition to input the information from invoices, receipts, business cards, and other paper documents into the computer in seconds, eliminating the need for manual data entry.
And speaking of data entry, TextExpander helps you communicate more, and better, with less typing. Turn your most frequently used information, phrases, and responses into shortcuts, then watch as one, two, or three keystrokes turn into entire emails!
Use apps to free up mental space
“The mind is for having ideas, not holding them,” said productivity guru David Allen. Take tasks and projects out of your head and put them in a task management app like Todoist, OmniFocus, or Things. While you’re at it, give up memorizing multiple passwords forever. With a password manager like LastPass or 1Password, you only need to remember one.
Use tech to improve mental health
Need to clear your head? Try a guided meditation from Insight Timer, Calm, or Waking Up. Want deep, meaningful conversation? Try a serendipitous encounter on Warmspace. Feeling isolated and unproductive working from home? Caveday and Focusmate can help you get things done and feel less alone.
Use apps to track hours worked
Time tracking apps Toggl and Harvest show you how much time you spend on specific tasks. Meanwhile, setting a timer on Google or Alexa helps you break down your day into focus sessions with healthy breaks in between.
Use technology to improve physical health
Workout apps like Glo and DownDog help you exercise from anywhere, while tracking apps like FitBit and Strava let you know just how much exercise you got. Food logging app Noom helps you lose weight and teaches you to make better food choices. Flux reduces eye strain by adjusting your computer display to the time of day.
Use technology to limit internet use
Want to cut down on screen time? There are apps for that, too. The Moment app tracks your phone use and gives you tips on how to reduce it. News Feed Eradicator makes social media feeds disappear, and Freedom blocks distracting websites, all in the service of helping you focus.
The importance of using technology intentionally
While technology exists to help us, it can also take over our lives. The best thing to do is to use it intentionally. Here’s what that might look like:
- Opening Facebook with a goal in mind (e.g., contacting someone); once the task is completed, closing the app
- Allotting 20 minutes a day for checking Instagram
- Checking email twice a day as opposed to every time an email notification comes in
The Center for Humane Technology, an organization dedicated to promoting good use of technology, also recommends:
- Turning off notifications on your computer and phone
- Removing distracting apps from your phone
- Setting boundaries on internet and phone use, e.g., No screen time before 9 am and after 6 pm; no phones allowed at the dinner table.
- Fully disconnecting 1 day a week
For more on making good use of tech, check out: