In 2017, pretty much everything we do is tethered to technology. Even when we're not obsessing over our phones, laptops, or tablets and staying connected with email and various social media channels (because it's always plural), we're writing about, thinking about, and talking about tech. Some of us love it, while others feel the opposite. There's a reason so many blockbuster hits are sci-fi films like Iron Man and The Matrix. Even Spike Jonze's indie romantic dramedy Her pivots around the paradox. Dystopic sci-fi moment aside, the truth of the matter is that whether you love it or hate it, knowing how to use technology as a tool rather than letting it be a distracting toy will make living in the digital era a lot easier.
And as a millennial who's had devices fully integrated into my curriculum and professional life from a young age, I've learned how to use technology to my advantage. While there have certainly been some pitfalls along the way, technology can seriously expedite projects, enhance work quality, and ease communication. With this in mind, I compiled a list of eight apps, tools, and tips that show how technology can help your career while also promoting a healthier lifestyle so you're not always glued to the screen.
Scroll through to find out how to stay focused, simplify your workflow, and enhance the quality of your work so that you really get the most out those devices you've invested in. The best part is that they're all affordable or free.
Screen Savers for Sore Eyes
Have you ever noticed your eyes getting sore at the end of a day when you've been staring at the screen? By the time the week comes to a close, eye strain and dryness get so severe that you're not as efficient while working because physical discomfort is, well, distracting. According to the Vision Council, 91% of people between the ages of 18 and 39 experience eye strain and dry eyes from digital devices. There are a few things you can do to make it better, like minimizing bright overhead lighting to reduce the glare on your screen, increasing the font size, and taking breaks throughout the day (taking your gaze from a desktop to a smartphone doesn't count).
Another amazing feature is the relatively new "Night Shift" mode on the Mac. While it's been a feature on the iPhone for a while, it wasn't always available on our bigger screens. It makes the light from our screens easier on our eyes when in a darker room, but it can also slowly transition your screen from exuding a blue tint to a less harsh, warmer yellow tint to promote healthy energy levels.
Stay Plugged In While Disconnected
One way to enhance your productivity is to use your technology to block out distractions so you can focus on the task at hand. For example, Quiet is an inexpensive app that blurs out anything other than the specific thing you're working on, whether that be a word doc or an article you have open in a tab. So for anyone who doesn't like or believe in multitasking, this app will help you give your undivided attention to one thing at a time.
If you're someone who would benefit from having more structure to keep you on task throughout the day, download Pomodoro. It allows you to create a to-do list, assigning each activity a certain duration that includes intermittent, timed breaks throughout. And if you're a bit of a workaholic, give Breaktime a try. It will disable anything you aren't working on to keep you focused, but it'll also interrupt after a certain amount of time to remind you to take a break.
If discipline is hard for you, let technology do the work instead. To block distracting and time-sucking websites from all the browsers on your Mac in one simple click, use Focus.
Writing and Editing Tools
Write! is an app that was designed to make it easier for you to focus and stay on task while writing and editing. As described on the app's website, "all of the notes and buttons fade out gently as you begin typing." With fewer visual distractions on your screen and a sleek, minimal design referred to as "dark" mode, this would be a great app to download if the bright interface of most writing apps makes it difficult for you to focus or strains your eyes.
Another great writing and editing app that you can download online for free is called Grammarly.
You can also use the dictation tool on a Mac, just like on the iPhone, if you want to get some of your ideas down quickly before going through and polishing them into an email, pitch, or written assignment. If you're a developer, Mou has a lot of positive reviews in the App Store, with users claiming that it takes the distraction and clutter out of CSS and HTML coding.
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Ystudio Classic Sketching Mechanical Pencil ($150)
If you're going to get organised, you may as well do it in style, right?