Technology can be a blessing and a curse. Our iPhones and iPads and Facebooks and Snapchats connect us and keep us “close” in a fragmented world where family and friends live miles and miles apart. But they also distract and detract from the relationships around us–too often, we’re focused on a buzzing text message instead of the person in front of us. And while the laptop allows us to work from anywhere at anytime, it also makes it possible to work in places and times that maybe we shouldn’t–like on vacation, or in bed.
So, the trick with technology is to maximize its benefits while limiting its drawbacks. To make use of the tools that can make life easier, fuller, better, while also recognizing the ways that technology drains time or energy that you’d like to spend in other ways.
A compilation of useful internet things that may make your life somehow easier or better:
Our bodies’ circadian rhythms are affected by light, and exposure to “blue” light (such as a computer screen) after dark has been shown to disrupt the circadian rhythm, and can make it hard to fall asleep. (Ever heard that you’re supposed to forgo screen time for an hour or two before bed?) Despite that, many of us still use a laptop before bed, and even after we get into bed.
Enter f.lux, a software program that gives your computer screen a warm glow after dark. Set your timezone and f.lux will automatically adjust the hue and brightness of your screen to match the time of day (blue during the day, orange at night). Also available for smartphone.
How to get it: Download f.lux
Keep revolutionizes online shopping by helping you save and sort products from any online retailer. Install the Keep It button in your Google Chrome browser to easily save items to your Keep account. Then, look back through the products, organize them into lists, compare and contrast, and decide what to get. When you’re ready to check out, Keep OneCart allows you to buy items from any store on the internet all in one transaction–so you only have to enter your shipping and billing information once. Available for web and smartphone.
How to get it: Sign up for Keep
This website and smartphone app boosts productivity by helping you organize your work, make shopping lists and to-do lists, and sync them across your devices. You can also share lists and notes with other users–for example, a grocery list, or a project you’re working on. Set due dates and reminders so you stay on top of everything. Web and mobile based.
This Google Chrome extension is designed to increase your productivity by limiting the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites (think Facebook). Configure your settings to block or restrict the amount of time you’re allowed on certain websites throughout the day (once your time has been used up, the website will be inaccessible to you for the rest of the day).
How to get it: Download the free extension from the Chrome Web Store
This bedtime calculator helps you determine what time you should go to bed in order to feel well-rested at the time your alarm goes off in the morning. This convenient tool is based on a simple concept: sleep cycles are about 90 minutes, and since waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you tired and groggy, you can plan accordingly to wake up between sleep cycles, feeling refreshed and alert!
How to get it: No need to download or install, just access the calculator online at Sleepyti.me
In a world where fewer and fewer people carry cash, this app allows you to easily make and receive payments–sync the app with your bank account or debit card, and send money to other users instantly, for free. (Like the money you owe your roommate for utilities. Or your portion of the bill at a restaurant that doesn’t split checks.)
The Tina Times already featured the wonders and benefits of SuperBetter in this post. (You should read it. If you haven’t already.) SuperBetter is a positive living tool developed by game designers in conjunction with doctors, psychologists, and medical researchers. The premise of this free online “game” is to help users build personal resilience to improve their capacity to achieve a goal or overcome a challenge, particularly in relation to health. SuperBetter is “about claiming your power — the power you have to impact how you feel everyday, and to decide for yourself how your life will unfold.”
How to get it: Set up a SuperBetter account