For every new computer, gadget or service there are several different stages of ownership. Unfortunately, the first and happiest phase – the honeymoon – doesn’t last forever. Eventually, devices can slow, services get outdated, and in the end, the ailing technology begins to work against you.
Stay ahead of the curve and prevent reduced productivity by maintaining your machines, upgrading your services and adopting new technologies. Here are five ways to make technology work better for you.
1. Go paperless
Reduce the desk and office clutter by cutting down on the paper scattered about. Tablets and other devices are making it easier than ever to go paperless. For example, a digital scanner can turn paper into PDF files, allowing you to take on clients, no matter where they are. “I have clients nationwide and internationally, and now I’m able to prepare their taxes and do their accounting without having to meet face to face,” says accountant Andrew Poulos.
2. Embrace cloud storage
At least 77 percent of cloud-familiar consumers aren’t backing up their most important items, according to a recent Harris Poll online study, which means they’re missing out on an opportunity to have their files with them, anywhere they are. Using a service like OneDrive allows you to save photos, videos and documents organized all in one place, accessible on any of your devices, anywhere.
3. Upgrade as needed
A simple upgrade can add years of life to your existing devices. For example, adding memory or storage to desktop computers will make them perform better and last longer. Or, instead of upgrading your hard drive, try a network-attached storage device, which will let multiple computers on your network easily connect to shared storage.
Updating your operating system is also smart, but if you use an outdated system like Windows XP, it is easiest to upgrade to a new computer entirely. “In April, Microsoft will no longer provide support for Windows XP,” says Kristina Libby, the company’s director of public relations. “We understand the upgrade process sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are great offers and deals for consumers out there, and retailers, like Staples, who offer trained staff to help you choose a Windows 8.1 PC or tablet that’s right for you.”
4. Pack more power
The more you use a mobile device, like a tablet or smartphone, the faster the battery will drain. So make sure you have plenty of power to keep your electronics working. That’s what San Francisco-based DataSong does, equipping everyone at the marketing analytics agency with portable USB-powered batteries. “Having power banks to charge our phones in an emergency has been incredibly productive,” says Traci Lee Chu, the company’s vice president of marketing. Frequently on the road or working on site with clients, DataSong staffers use the backup power to keep their smartphones and tablets connected to the company’s big data apps.
5. Leverage the right email tools to keep you organized
Email is one of the most used technology services. In fact, the average person will receive more than 10,000 emails this year, according to The Radicati Group, Inc. Fortunately, you can take control of your inbox and increase your productivity with a number of tools and features so you can easily manage and get to the mail that matters to you most.
The first step most users take when cleaning their Inbox is to get rid of emails that they don’t want. For these emails, features like Sweep in Outlook.com allow you to easily delete (and, if you want, block) emails in bulk by deleting a large number of emails from certain senders, keeping only the latest and most relevant messages. This is especially helpful for daily deal mails, or if you want to easily unsubscribe from unwanted mail altogether, try using the simple one-click unsubscribe feature.
6. There’s always a solution
Technology, like any tool, should make your job easier. In general, if you find your devices and services are slowing you down instead of speeding your productivity along, stop and assess the problem. From simple workflow tweaks to total system overhauls, there’s always a solution to get you back on task and make you more efficient than ever.
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