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.

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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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What Are Your Favorite Podcasts for Working Women?

podcasts-working-womenIn the past we’ve talked about our favorite magazines as well as summer brain candy books, but we haven’t talked about podcasts. I’ve been getting more and more into them (on walks, or while prepping/cooking dinner via my Echo), so I thought an open thread would be fun. (Another fun question: would you ever be interested in a Corporette podcast? Would you like interviews with working women, “Ask Kat” questions, general discussions about some of the stuff we talk about here on the blog? I actually just made a guest appearance on a podcast on Thinking Like a Lawyer, the podcast from my friends over at Above the Law, discussing whether the office thermostat was sexist.)

So let’s hear it, ladies — what are your favorite podcasts? What do you recommend to other working women? What is a must-listen? Another question: do you try to get career advice and the like during your podcasts, or prefer to listen to fun topics or general interest stuff? 

For my $.02 — these are some of my favorites:

Kat’s Favorite Podcasts

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Managing Your Personal Brand Online

manage personal brand - google resultsWhat will potential employers find when they Google your name — and what can you do if you don’t like what they’ll see? How can your own website help you manage your personal brand online? Reader T wonders…

I have a question about personal websites for lawyers and professional women.

Before law school, I had a reasonably lengthy career in an unrelated (and somewhat internet-based) industry. This means that when you Google me, you get a million hits unrelated to law, and can find lots of things I’ve written about pop culture, television, and movies. I’m not embarrassed by that work at all, but I know it can read as non-professional. So when I went to law school, I created a personal website that included both material from my previous career and information about my work as a law student. But now I’m graduating and going to clerk, and I’m worried about projecting professionalism.

Should I take down my personal website altogether? (Does a lawyer really need one?) Continue to include both my legal resume and my pre-legal work product? Scrub the non-legal stuff? Scrub the legal stuff and have it only relate to my previous work? Any advice is appreciated!

This is a really interesting question, and one that I see being more about controlling your past on the Internet and less about the propriety of personal websites (which we’ll get to in a second). Who among us, after all, hasn’t written pages upon pages upon pages of commentary on a show you really liked back when, say, you were a senior in high school and didn’t have anything else to focus on? Just me and VR.5? OK then. (Amazingly it all seems to be gone now, a mere 20 years later — I swear just 5 years ago there were still hits.) But my point is: stuff is out there. And it’s incredibly hard to take down — so hard that I generally don’t recommend trying unless you know the site owner(s) personally.

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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.

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Faxes from Older Colleagues: Should You Reply by Email?

replying to faxes with emailDoes a faxed letter from a colleague require another fax in reply, or is it acceptable to respond with an email message? What if the differences in communication are due to an age difference between you?

Reader M wonders:

I’ve got a question about professional correspondence. I work in a boutique transactional law firm that rarely handles any matters in court, and if so, it is uncontested and just needs to proved up. I find that when older attorneys need to communicate with me on something, they tend to prepare actual letters and then send it via fax. Is it unprofessional for me to respond with an e-mail? Our office is mostly paperless and even the courts have gone to an e-filing system, so printing a hard copy of a letter just seems unnecessary. If I keep the language in my e-mail formal, is that enough?

Interesting question, M!  We’ve talked a lot about correspondence, including when to use last names, the best way to send thank you notes after interviews (and when to send follow-up emails), hyphenated names and email addresses, and conveying tone in emails. I’m really curious to hear what the readers say about this dilemma.  For my $.02:

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