Between today’s incessantly beeping smartphones and the urge to check Facebook every 20 minutes, technology can monopolize our attention. But with a bit of smart curation, you can turn some of these gadgets to your advantage to help get work done faster.
Whether you’re looking for an easier way to send that signed notice to your boss, or just want to stay focused on work when browsing the web, consider adding these tips to your list of efficiency-boosters.
Repurpose your iPad as a second monitor
Add up the dozens of tabs crowding your web browser, the splayed photos from last month’s vacation and the overflowing email inbox you’re catching up on, and there’s never enough screen space. It’s especially cumbersome if you’re trying to do those things on a small laptop.
That’s where your iPad can come in handy—by doubling as a second monitor. Using the Duet Display app ($14.99), you can turn your iPad into a second screen for your Mac or PC. All you have to do once you’ve pulled it down and set things up is plug the iPad into your laptop using the iPad’s charging cable.
Configure Chrome to preempt procrastination
Everyone needs a mental break during the workday, whether that’s watching cat videos on BuzzFeed or chatting with friends in Google Hangouts. But if you’re using Google’s Chrome browser, there’s a clever way to make sure you don’t sink too much time into activities unrelated to work.
Try using the StayFocusd extension, which makes it possible to set time limits for specific websites. 10 minutes is the default option, and once you’ve hit your allotment, the website will become temporarily inaccessible.
Have Siri remind you to followup on something later
We’ve all been there: you glance down at your phone to see a dinner invitation from a friend or an email from a colleague, mentally commit to respond later, then forget to. Apple’s voice assistant Siri can help. Next time you check an email that you can’t respond to in the moment, tell Siri to “remind me about this later.”
Apple gave Siri a new feature in 2015 that allows the virtual assistant to set contextual reminders based on what’s being shown on screen. That means Siri can also remind you about websites you’ve browsed in Safari, texts in the Messages app and other types of content.
Schedule time-sensitive emails in Gmail
Perhaps you want to follow up with a colleague, but you know he or she is on vacation and it’s probably better to send an email once they return. The Boomerang add-on for Gmail lets you write your emails and schedule them to be sent at a later time.
After installing the plugin, just click the “Send Later” button that appears below the “Send” option. From there, you can choose to send the email in an hour (or more), in a few days, or choose a custom time and date.
Use your smartphone to scan documents
Even if you tend to use email for work-related documentation, there may be occasions when sharing hard copy paperwork becomes necessary. Try a free app like Evernote Scannable or Adobe Scan to scan documents, receipts, business cards, forms and more by using your smartphone’s camera.