Do Multiple Devices Boost Your Productivity — or Your Overwhelm?

multiple-devices-boost-productivityHow many devices do you have? Does having multiple devices boost your productivity — or just add to the feeling of being overwhelmed? Reader A has an interesting question:

So I was wondering, how many pieces of technology do you and your readers have? I am increasingly getting overwhelmed by it all. I have a desktop both at home and at work of course, then an iPad, then a MacBook Air, then my personal iPhone, and my work iPhone!! Too much I am thinking. So, if you had to ditch one (or more than one), what would it be? I would think the home desktop; yet, it is a pain to connect remotely to my desktop at work from my laptop or others. What then?

Interrrrrresting question — I’ve talked about my being overwhelmed by information, but not about device overwhelm. I’m curious to hear what readers say here, but I may have some solutions for you to help prevent device overwhelm… (That said, if possible I would ditch one of your two iPhones if at all possible — but if you’ve maintained two for so long I’m guessing it’s because there is a valid reason for it, and of course work/life separation is important.)

There’s a lot of interesting reading about how having different devices can actually boost your productivity; as this Wired article describes, it helps you focus by associating certain tasks with certain screens. (Question for the hive: does anyone have a multiple-monitor setup? How do you like it?) Here’s how I use this method:

  • I use my desktop almost exclusively for daily blog stuff.
  • I use my laptop (which doesn’t do well without a power cord) as a standing workstation (I just set it on top of our credenza), usually when I’m opening a zillion bookmarks and shopping for TPS reports or the like.
  • I use my iPad for work email as well as for focused writing with my Bluetooth keyboard. (OK, I also use my iPad for fun web surfing while watching television.)
  • I still use my netbook for work whenever I travel. (It’s very clunky but gives me a PC experience.)
  • I’m pondering getting a Kindle because I’ve learned that I simply do not read books and other long-form things on my iPad but would like something to bring to my bedside table. (Although really, if I could find the cord for the Orbo my son hates I could use that as a Kindle!)

That said, I do depend on a few different services to keep everything aligned among my devices, and I highly recommend them if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

[Read more…]

Tool of the Trade: Morphine Plugin for Chrome

Tool of the Trade - Morphine | CorporetteI have written before for my love of focus-boosting tools like Leechblock and RescueTime, but I’ve been using a new one that I like, and thought I’d share: MORPHINE. When I switched to Chrome a while back, I was bummed to find that my beloved Leechblock was only available on Firefox. (Firefox kept crashing, everyone said Chrome was faster, and I know most of you view the site in Chrome, so I wanted to switch over to make sure the experience was the same.)

I looked around and found this great little plugin, Morphine, which I now use all the time, primarily for Facebook (SUCH a distractor for me!). The idea is that you only “earn” time with the URLs you put in Morphine after you’ve been using the computer for more productive purposes for a certain amount of time. Perfect. I used to have it set to 1 minute of play time for every 10 minutes of work time, but that left me with far too many minutes in my bank — so I switched it to 1 minute of play time for every 60 minutes of work time. That was a bit too little (I’ve decided I need at least 3 minutes to look at Facebook, even using the Social Fixer plugin, because when I try to sneak a peek for one minute, and inevitably try to refresh it for another minute more, it would take me at least 30 seconds to find my place scrolling down the page. (Lazy load, you kill me!)

Ladies, what are your other favorite productivity products, especially for blocking internet distractions? (Any favorite Chrome plugins to shout out?)


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Apps for Working Women: What Are Your Favorites?

apps-for-professional-womenLadies, what are your favorite apps for working women?  I rounded up some of my favorite Android apps  a few years ago, but now that I’ve switched over to iPhone (in December 2014), I’ve been collecting an ever growing list…

  • Pocket.  After our post on information overload, I did such a good job of getting my Pocket cleaned up, primarily thanks to dumping stuff that was “for later” in Evernote.  (At one point I went from something like 1250 articles to read later, down to 200 articles.) Then I got pregnant and had another baby, and it’s out of control again. The app has stopped counting, though, so I’m not sure how bad it is — I just opened the app on my phone and it said it was downloading a 158 new ones.  Sigh.  At least I’m never short on reading materials…
  • CalenMob.  I love my Google Calendars, and have several — a personal one, one to schedule Corporette stuff, one for my sons’ stuff, etc. — and it never seemed like iPhone’s native calendar did a good job of syncing them.  CalenMob bridges the gap for me. There is a free version and a “pro” version for $6.99 — I just bought the pro version.
  • Sheets. Excel seems to be my default program of choice these days, so I like being able to edit everything in Sheets.
  • If This Then That.  I’m still playing around with this one, but Lifehacker is perpetually in love with it.  What recipes are you guys using?
  • Key Ring.  Handy for when you have a bunch of store cards/loyalty cards and don’t want to carry them all with you, so you can scan the bar codes and so forth into the app.
  • Pinterest.  I love this for collecting visual ideas — decor things I want to try, outfits I like, etc.  You can follow us at
  • Evernote.  I use this like Pinterest, but for articles.  I’m still figuring out how to make the most of it, to be honest, but it was a great way to unload my Pocket reading list when I first started.
  • Dropbox. As I mentioned at CorporetteMoms in our post on organizing family photos, I love Dropbox — we first started using it back when I was on Android and my husband was on iPhone (and I’m also just generally suspicious of Apple’s iCloud stuff), and the love continues.
  • Sleep Cycle.  I’m still searching for the best “hack your sleep” app; at the moment I like Sleep Cycle.
  • Seven.  This app is great if you want a really focused workout — it’s a seven minute HIIT workout, inspired by a NYT article.  Do multiple cycles to get the most effect, of course, but even one cycle can help.  I also just downloaded the app Seconds to try to find a way to put HIIT intervals on top of music (but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet).
  • DarkSky.  Wondering what the weather will be like in the next HOUR? Dark Sky is great for that — it was designed by two people who were driving cross country, and happened to get stuck inside the rest stop without umbrellas when one of those out-of-nowhere storms hit.  Would it last ten minutes or an hour?  They didn’t know, so they created an app for it.
  • Other basic must-haves: Seamless. Fresh Direct. Open Table. Shazam.  I don’t read a ton on Kindle (see my out-of-control Pocket list, ha) but I have that on there too.

[Read more…]

Tool of the Trade: Fiverr

FiverrWhat new tools and tricks have you found that help you get your job done quickly and efficiently — or your life to run more smoothly in some fashion? We haven’t had a Tool of the Trade feature in too long!

My latest find is Fiverr, which, admittedly, may have limited use if you’re working with proprietary documents and the like — but if not is my favorite tool for fixing software problems, PDF problems, and more. Here’s the premise:  Various freelancers (from all over the world) offer a variety of “gigs” for the starting price of — you guessed it! — $5.  I’ve had someone:

  • clean up a massive Excel chart that was wacky
  • type 10 pages of handwritten notes for me
  • create a 3D image of a book
  • merge a JPG and PDF into one doc
  • fix/correctly resize a million PDF pages so I could get a book printed at Lulu (I forget if their size requirements were wacky or if the PDF pages I had were wacky. Random backstory here: when I lost a ton of weight on Weight Watchers back in the day I had printed out all of my food journals and kept them all in a huge redweld, always intending to get them bound somehow (both to commemorate the achievement and to be able to refer to them again).  There must have been more than 400 pages!  I sweet-talked my husband into PDFing them for me (thank you, hunny!) and eventually decided to get them printed at Lulu.  The bound book was something like $27 and was SO much better than the velobinding I’d originally been intending.  I know: it sounds like a lame project but I’m actually really happy with the finished product, which is about 1/4 the size of the redweld (and way prettier).)
  • help with a Photoshop issue for a personal business card
  • fix a Photoshop/JPG issue with sharpening/color correcting a photo of my husband and me that just didn’t look right in Shutterfly no matter what I did

Seriously, any time that I think of something that needs to be done and is not something I’m eager to spend hours poking through Google pages and arcane software menus — and can outsource easily without sharing too many passwords/giving permissions — then I check on Fiverr and sure enough, someone is offering to fix it for $5.  (You can also hire a ton of freelancers through eLance and O-Desk, but I’ve had mixed success with some of the freelancers I’ve hired through those.  (But then, I’ve also looked for bigger jobs/more complicated tasks through those.)

Readers, have you tried to outsource any tasks (either personal or professional) to freelancers?  What tasks would you outsource? Has anyone had success with someone cleaning up their iTunes library (mine is a mess!) or editing/organizing/tagging old photos or anything like that?  


Tool of the Trade: Hukkster

Kat's Latest Favorite Shopping Tool: HukksterI’ve shared some of my favorite online shopping tools with you already (Shop It To Me‘s addictive emails (also new: their sleek new iPad/iPhone app), Shopping Notes, and ShopSense) but I don’t think I’ve written a few words on one of my favorite newish shopping tools: Hukkster.

Basically, you set up an account, and download a bookmarklet to your web browser.  Then, as you go about your online travels, when you see a product you really like, you click the bookmarklet, and (after you sign in), you get a dialog (pictured below) asking you what size, what color, and what level of sale you want to know about (“on sale,” 25%, 50%).  [Read more…]

Open Thread: The Best Products for Summer

silver-liningsIt’s May 1, and here in NYC the sun is shining, things are in bloom, and it seems as if Bare Leg/Flip Flop Commuting Weather has finally arrived.  (Of course, we all know that you’re not supposed to walk for miles in flip flops, but everyone here does anyway.)  I was thinking it might be fun to have a conversation of some of the best products you’ve bought that can help working women through the summer and changing seasons.  Some ideas:

  • Silver Linings, which are shoe inserts with antimicrobial silver ions to help de-funk your shoes (or keep them from smelling in the first place)
  • Zakkerz, which help you temporarily hem your pants with magnets
  • Sunscreen in a brush — I haven’t tried this yet, but I just ordered some for my son (Tickle Time) and noticed while researching it that bareMinerals makes some as well.  Given that I hate the greasy feel of sunscreen on my face, I’m looking forward to seeing how this works.
  • A wrap.  I’ve sung the praises of your basic wrap before, but I think they’re particularly great for the office at this time of year.  A) If you’ve layered a blazer on top of a dress or lightweight top and are still freezing, you can add a wrap on top of the blazer.  B) You can use it to cover your legs if you’re freezing in a skirt.  C) Add length/coverage to your skirts while you’re sitting (I explain this more fully here).

Readers, which are some of the products you count among your best summer finds?