Jayne Beilby
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We all have extensive to-do lists -- and while they're there to help us, sometimes they actually prohibit us from making progress and remaining productive. But by using technology smartly, you can reduce stress and free up mental and digital space to focus on what is important to you.  

How can you get your technology to work for you rather than overwhelm you? Here are a few tips and tricks.  

1. Stop the emails at source

Cull your junk email with unroll.me.  Enter your email address and it scans your mailbox.  It will ask you if you want to keep your subscriptions, roll them up on a summary or unsubscribe. I got rid of 43 subscriptions instantly!! Genius.

2. Photos

As with emails, stop them at the door. You do not need 30 of your child at the park. You took those last weekend, and the one before that… Remember why your childhood photo album is so precious. It’s because photographs themselves were rare and precious. To avoid inundating yourself with photos, you may want to ask yourself, “would I take this picture if I had to buy film and pay to develop it?”

If you have excess photos and videos to delete, start with videos (they take up most space). It may help to begin by deleting the oldest; we sometimes have less emotional attachment to events the further away from them we get.  

An addictive task (which can be done while watching TV) is tagging faces. If you combine this with selecting the exception, you can make your own album to print.  If not, you can just upload the photos to a company like TweedWolf.com or Milk.com and let them do it for you.

3. Calendar

Create a family calendar so you’re not emailing each other events and bickering when someone forgot that Fred’s birthday was at the same time as Sally’s swim class.

Share it with your significant other and you can both use it to add kids’ classes, parties, appointments, school holidays and anything else that is a shared responsibility.

4. Alerts

Turn them off.  They are an unnecessary distraction, spike adrenalin and cause stress levels to rise. And what woman needs that?!

5. Apps

Do not get sidetracked with the latest app if it’s of no use to you!  Most people use between 6-10 apps each week, yet have 50+ on their phone. Delete the ones you do not use and consider getting rid of social media apps.  At the very least, bury Facebook and Instagram in a folder called ‘Time Wasting’ to reduce temptation! And don’t worry; you can always reinstall them if you miss them!

6. Back Up (Not sexy, but absolutely essential!)

You don't want to lose those precious memories, so synchronize your phone with the cloud.  With computers, the rule is to store information in 3 places, so you NEVER have to worry about losing data. Buy an external hard drive and set Time Machine to backup and also synchronize with the Cloud.  If you check your cloud settings, you may well find your stuff is being backed up already.  

7. Out of sight

Create a space where you can put devices out of sight. My junk drawer became my ‘device drawer’ and my children love putting my devices away. The world does not stop turning -- and if people really want me, they call, so I just leave my ringer on.  And remember, “monkey see, monkey do.”  If you’re permanently attached to a device, is there any wonder your little monkey wants it, too?

8. Alarms

Try not use your phone as your alarm - studies show that you turn to the most important thing in your life when you wake up. Make it a human!

Do use it as an alarm to go to bed - there is a lovely feature in Clock called Bedtime. The alarm sounds are happy and a nice reminder to stop surfing/binge watching and get some sleep!

I also suggest setting an alarm to go off 10 minutes before you need to leave the house in a morning. This is now called the ‘Shoe Alarm’ in my house, and my children put their shoes on without being asked. Well, some of the time, anyway…

9. Bedtime

The blue light emitted from devices fools your brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. This interferes with your circadian rhythm and keeps you awake. Let’s face it, we don’t need anything extra interfering with our precious sleep! Go to settings, Brightness, and select ‘Nightshift’ and you screen color is automatically adjusted from cool to warm.

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Jayne Beilby is the founder of Tech Tonic, whose mission is to create calm from technical chaos. You can find more tips and tricks on Tech Tonic’s blog.

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