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  • 3 ways technology assists your personal productivity

    • By dj miller
    • |
    • Friday, March 7, 2014

    3 ways tech help you be more productiveTechnology is great for a number of things. Streaming video, sharing photos,  connecting to social media, and free-to-play games are all excellent time wasters.

    When it comes to actually getting the job done, though, most people would argue the contrary. It's often blamed for crushing productivity levels. Of course, these arguments are valid. Social media and mobile gaming apps are notorious for gobbling up hours upon hours of time. But really, technology can actually help you boost your personal productivity. You just have to channel the technological potential of your devices and your personal aspirations toward your goal. Read on to find several ways it can help.

    It Keeps You Organized

    Too often, one of the biggest concerns for those who have trouble reaching their goals and getting the job done simply need to organize their lives. Smartphones and tablets all come with integrated calendar and email apps that you can sync together to help you keep appointments, due dates, and general reminders in place.

    Tracky, of course, is a personal productivity solution since it's hosted in the cloud and allows you to manage your life and your work in one digital home. Plus, its mobile-friendly design makes it accessible from any internet-ready device. You can even email reminders, documents and tasks into Tracky with your own Tracky email that will post directly to your personal account.

    Evernote is another resource through which you can combine everything that's important to you and organize it in a way that makes sense to you. 

    It Helps You Sleep

    There have been a lot of studies about the importance of sleep to overall health. Being sleep deprived — even if it's just by an hour — can greatly reduce your productivity and emotional well-being. Even so, 60 percent of adults report that they have problems sleeping a few nights each week. Using certain forms of technology before going to bed can have a significant impact on quality of sleep. Other technological developments are designed to do the opposite.

    Philips Wake-Up Light

    This innovative alarm clock mimics the effect of the sunrise each morning, gently easing you out of your slumber, and making you better equipped to take on the day. Some models even come with an iPod/iPhone dock, which allows you to use music from your iTunes library as your wake up tone. It comes with an app that tracks your sleep routines too.

    Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

    This pillow has two ultra-thin speakers built into it that help drown out distracting sounds that keep many people awake. Simply connect the included audio cord to your device, and play your favorite tunes or meditation music as you drift off into dreamland.

    Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock App

    This ingenious app uses the accelerometer in your iPhone to track your sleep patterns and wake you up while you're in the lightest portion of your cycle. The result? Less morning grogginess. Simply place your T-Mobile phone face down on your bed when it's time to go to sleep. It will record your movements and compile easy-to-follow graphs that show the effectiveness of your sleep routines. This app makes it easier to pinpoint your problem areas and improve them.

    It Gets You Where You Need to Go

    The world of technology has come a long way when it comes to personal navigation devices. Gone are the days when you'd have to print out turn-by-turn directions from Google or Yahoo Maps to get where you need to go. There's nothing worse than getting lost on your way to an interview, or spending half your afternoon looking for your destination when you could be running errands.

    But the advent of the navigational and GPS tracking systems we know and love today don't just come in handy for picking up the dry cleaning. It's used by all kinds of industries, some of which include airlines, shipping, government, cable companies, and more.

    It's most certainly true that technology can swallow up hours of your time that could be better spent doing other things. Realistically though, it can only do so if you let it. With a little will power, the right technology can help point you toward a higher productivity level, and a much more fulfilling life.

    DJ Miller is a gadget geek, writer, infographic-maker and lover of Mystery Science Theater. He is also a novice comedic who spins humor into advice columns on his personal site.

  • Four Tips For A Stress-Free International Trip

    • By sarah
    • |
    • Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Guest post by: Lauren Hamilton

    You’ve waited so long for this vacation. Put in extra hours, saved your pennies, sweated double time in the gym for that skin-baring swimsuit, or poured over guidebooks to research the local must-see spots.  

    1. Don’t take everything. One week prior to your trip, pack your bag. Then take half of what you gathered and put it back in your closet. Do it! Yes, even that extra sweater that looks so good. Now, do it a second time. I promise you, you wont need all that stuff. Travel is about experiencing what’s around you, not what’s on you. Select a few tops and bottoms that can be paired with each other on different days, and whatever appropriate layers you need, a pair of comfortable shoes (not just sort-of-comfortable), and a scarf or hat. You’re set. And now you don’t need to worry about those pesky overweight baggage charges or having to lug around a cumbersome bag.

    2. Prep your important documents. Passports get lost, bags get stolen, alarms get slept through, and foreign ATM machines sometimes refuse to work with your card. Having copies of critical information, phone numbers for your bank’s international help line, spare cash and traveler’s cheques, and a list of important login and password information in the hands of a trusted emergency contact back home can mean the difference between a ruined vacation and a disaster averted. Research the visa requirements for your destination country, and plan ahead by applying early if necessary. Bring an envelope of passport-size photos with you—ten is a good number for heavily regulated countries.

    Do your homework: in some countries, to get a permit for government-regulated trails or tours you must supply copies of your visa and passport, so having multiple photocopies of these are useful to speed up the process in-country. Travel forums such as The Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree are a fantastic resource to get first-hand information from travelers who are in the country now, or who have been recently and may have the most up-to-date suggestions for certain areas that you want to visit. Always get a second or third opinion, especially when it comes to safety and cost.

    3. Embrace solo time. This applies if you’re traveling with your partner or friends, and if you’re traveling alone already. Coordinating a trip with one or more companions can be both fun and challenging. You might not always want to be doing the same thing at the same time, and that’s OK. Take some time out each day, if you need it, to go for a walk by yourself—on the beach, down the alleys of the city where you’re staying, into the markets—determine a time and place to rendezvous later, and then go on your way. The freedom to walk in any direction you choose, while observing quietly and thinking anything or nothing at all can be a valuable practice in refreshing yourself to get the most out of your day with your travel mate. If you’re already journeying alone, you might feel daunted by the solitude. But remember how inundated we are daily by communication from all angles—some of it quite unnecessary. Revel in the gift of self-exploration and meditation in a new setting, which can help to free you from routine thoughts and set the wheels in motion.

    4. Mentally prepare yourself for the unexpected.

    This might sound like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed travelers completely lose their composure when unforeseeable and unpreventable delays throw a wrench in their plans. In other cases, the comforts of home simply aren’t available and an inability to adjust to a different way of life causes a bad mood that simply isn’t necessary. Remember that experiencing something new and unfamiliar is part of the reason for traveling in the first place—otherwise you could just be comfortable somewhere closer to home!

    It can be hard to stay calm and positive when something goes wrong, especially during a vacation that is only a certain (usually short) length of time, might have cost a lot of money, and that was built up so much in your head. Being in a foreign location can add extra stress when cultural and linguistic differences make communication a challenge. But if you can adopt a sense of humor about these challenges, you’ll avoid adding another ten pounds to that pile of bricks on your shoulders—you know, the one you were trying to shed with this vacation?

    The bottom line is that a trip abroad will be a learning experience whether you want it to be or not. By doing the legwork to prepare for the unforeseen, and choosing to keep an open mind, you can ensure that the lessons learned will be positive and enriching, rather than part of a trip you wish you’d never taken.

    Lauren Hamilton is a professional blogger who enjoys providing consumers with travel advice. She writes for SouthAmerica.travel, a leading South America Travel company specializing in 4* & 5* Peru Tours.

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