How 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.
- LastPass: I started using LastPass to share passwords with various people who work with me on the blog (Kate, my old tech guy, my new tech lady, my sometimes virtual assistant) and love it as an easy, secure way to store my passwords and log in easily from different devices. I’ve also got the app version on my iPhone and iPad, and it has come in handy for those few times I want/need to log in somewhere from my iPad without going to the computer. LastPass Premium (which lets you sync on your apps) is $12 a year.
- Xmarks: I use this to keep my bookmarks synced among my different computers. I’m not a huge fan of it on my iPad, but then again, I’m also not a huge fan of opening 60 bookmark tabs at once on my iPad. Still, I think I do pay for Xmarks Premium, which is bundled with LastPass Premium for $20/yr.
- Pocket: Whenever I see an article I like I just add it to my Pocket reading queue, which means my phone and iPad always have reading material on them.
- Dropbox and Google Docs: This may or may not be secure enough for work-related stuff, but I use Dropbox all the time if I need a document to be readily accessible no matter where I am. I suppose I separate them like this: If it’s a picture or a PDF I’m more likely to throw it in Dropbox because it’s more easily deleted and I like to keep my Google Docs fairly lean and clean. If it’s something that I want to eventually finish with a full Microsoft program (Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) then I will move it around on Dropbox rather than going through Google Docs. But: if it’s a “living” document that is likely to live in the cloud and never be finished (such as our list of editorial ideas, or the Corporette tech changelog, or things like that) then into Google Docs it goes.
- Remember the Milk: I only use the free version of this (which allows you to sync only once every 24 hours between devices), but it works for me — I keep my to-do lists, various action items to remember, ideas for TPS and CB reports, and more on RTM. I use it mostly for blog-related stuff, but I have few separate lists for personal items.
- Pinterest and Evernote: If I see a recipe I like, or an idea for a gift/activity/etc., or something similar, I throw it into my personal Pinterest account — because it’s cloud-based I know to look there first. I use Evernote the same way but for articles or ideas. (For example, I keep reading articles about bloggers starting online courses or the like; I throw all of those into Evernote so they’ll all be in one place if/when I finally decide to think about that.)
- BFolders: It won’t sync on my iPad or iPhone (grumble), but I do use it to sync among my laptop, netbook, and PC — it’s where I keep all of my addresses, notes, ideas, and other stuff that I used to keep in my Palm Pilot (although the new Notes system in iOS 9 is getting much closer to something I like).
Readers, what are your thoughts: Do you like having multiple devices for productivity or work/life separation reasons? Or do you just feel overwhelmed by too many devices? What apps or services do you use to keep your devices aligned (or distinct!) with one another?
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