Consumer Watch: How to use technology wisely

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by Andy Treinen

WHAS11.com

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 20 at 2:37 PM

(WHAS11) -- Modern technology is supposed to make your life better, not busier. So why is it that so many people feel more time-crunched and tech-dependent than ever before?
 
It's a problem our parents wouldn't understand, but today's amazing technology is also capable of wrecking our productivity and waiting our time. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are simple ways to kick your worst time-wasting tech habits. "Number one on the list search sanity," said Jennifer Jolly from Tecca.com.
 
Jolly is a tech lifestyle expert. She says we spend up to 70 minutes every day randomly searching the web - in essence, wasting time.  But today's technology makes searching so much easier with news aggregator's like Wavvi and Tune-in. They combine all your viewing and listening interests at single sites.

If you're still tempted by Facebook or Pinterest, RescueTime.com blocks out distractions at crunch time.

"That gives you a dash board view of all things distracting you on line. Is it Facebook, is it Pinterest, is it A.I.M. what is it that's sort of sucking you in and sort of sucking all your time away," said Jolly.
 
Jolly claims Google may not be your best bet as a search engine. She says Bing is more efficient. You can find out by taking the bing-it-on challenge at bing.com. Type in topics and see which search engine works best for you.

“One of the best habits we have as Americans is our ability to try something new. If your bad habit is biting fingernails and that was eating up 8 hours of your week would you want to change that? Absolutely," said Jolly.
 
If your personal e-mail is a hot mess Jolly says sanebox.com is a great way to clean it up and organize and for combining social media efforts she recommends Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. They will take some time setting up, but with these few simple tech tweaks you can save time, money and most of all sanity. 
 

Time Suck Trap #1: Search Insanity
According to recent internet use statistics, people waste as much as 70-minutes a day surfing the web for information. Why? Maybe we're just stuck in a Google-rut. Collectively, we visit Google 7.2 billion times a day and make around three billion queries. Yet half the time, it seems we never find what we're looking for in the first place.
 
Time Saving Solution: try a new search engine.
The folks at Bing recently dared me to take this new BingItOn Challenge. Like the old Pepsi blind taste-test, it pits search results from Bing against results from Google. It's unbranded and there aren't any ads, so you don't know which is which. You put in five queries then declare a "winner" based on your preferences. Bing bet that I would be so surprised by the results, that I would change to Bing as my primary search engine. Bing it on, I thought, as skeptical as ever. But guess what? They were right. Bing won. Again and again and again. What I liked most about it was that the results seemed more relevant, more tailored to me and my interests. While replacing any bad habit with a good one takes a little time to get used to, I've already saved about 30-minutes a day by using a new search engine to track down information. I pass that dare onto you now - to give it a try yourself.
 
Time Suck Trap #2: Social Media Madness
Americans spend an average of — get this — 100-thousands YEARS worth of time EACH MONTH on Facebook. Add to that Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and mobile games like Words With Friends, and it’s easy to see why you can’t get anything done.
 
Time Saving Solutions: automate everything!
Use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite to post to all your social media sites at once. It also lets you pre-schedule social media posts, so that you can batch it all into a few hours, to go out over a month's time or even longer.
 
If that’s not enough to keep you from reading, liking, commenting, Pinterest-ing all of your time away, use an app like RescueTime. It measures all of the different things you do on your computer, and gives you detailed reports about where you're spending your digital day. You can also use it to block yourself from sites that you're tempted to visit, but know you shouldn't.
 
Time Suck Trap #3: Email Overload
Has your inbox become a landfill, overflowing and overwhelming? The average inbox receives 100 emails per day. Of those 100 emails, only 42% are considered important.
 
Time Saving Solution: Mailbox Management This is another example of how it pays off to use modern technology to manage modern technology. I use a service called Sanebox. It sifts, sorts, and stacks up email according to what’s important. It’s easily customizable and learns from your actions, automatically putting your newsletters in one box, store promotions in another. My favorite feature is that it sends suspected spam to the Black Hole, where it belongs. It doesn't ditch an email unless you say it's okay.
 
Sanebox says it saves people an average of 2 hours per week from digging through their inboxes, though if you get a ton of emails, I think it saves closer to four.
 
Time Suck Trap #4: News Blues
Now here's an interesting habit I had no clue was wasting so much of my time — fishing around for news. According to the Pew Research Center, people spend about 70 minutes a day getting news from TV, radio, newspaper and now online news sites.
 
Time Saving Solution: automate everything.
You can get all your print and online, everything that you need to feel informed, in about 10 minutes using a new app called Wavii. This service lets you keep up with everything you care about in a personalized news feed, and automatically creates status updates for your favorite politicians, celebrities, gadgets, and more.
 
If you still prefer radio for news, or just like to have music playing in the background all day, use the ultra-time saving service, TuneIn. It lets you hear what's happening, right now, from anywhere in the world, all in one place. The free service gives you a simple and streamlined way to listen to the music, sports, news and podcasts you like. You just personalize your Favorites once, so you don’t have to waste time channel-surfing every time you want to listen to something you like. You can also use this in the car, on your smartphone or tablet, so not just when you're sitting in front of a computer.
 
Time Suck Trap #5: Ding’s, Ring’s & Annoying Things Everytime you get a notification alert, those ding’s, ring’s, clicks, or pop-up Instant Message bubbles your smartphone or computer, it takes your attention away from the task at hand. It might not even make a sound, maybe your smartphone screen just lights up when you get an email, new Facebook comment, or it's your turn to Draw Something. Either way, those distractions kill your concentration and drain your battery.
 
Time Saving Solution: turn them off.
It sounds so very simple, and it actually is. Whenever you download a new app, it asks you whether to allow "push notifications." Hit "don't allow." If it's already on your device, go the start or settings menu, find the notifications center in the drop-down menu, and select "no" for everything you don't want to bug you throughout the day. It's fine to schedule time to play Words With Friends, IM with your BFF, or scan the latest cute-kitten video's on YouTube. But set boundaries and time limits on those activities, so that you get in, get out, and get on with a more productive digital day.

 

 

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