This is a story about how you can use your gadgets and apps to make your day easier. For me, It’s also the story about how my investment, both in time and money, have paid off. Working smarter is no longer a vision, it’s a reality.
When it comes to working smarter, 2016 was the year everything came together for me. It started with the Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker. In the spring, I got the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Later I bought the Samsung Gear S2 Classic smartwatch. During the summer, I took the final step in moving my GTD setup from Iqtell to Todoist. At the same time, I started taking all of my notes with the Livescribe 3 smartpen.
In between all of this, I constantly tweaked Evernote and my IFTTT recipes. The result of all of this was great, but for a gadget loving productivity nerd like me, going fully digital was a captivating experience in itself.
Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker
Let me start with the beginning, the Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker. Due to a serious issue with my back and neck, I’m having trouble finding a fitness regimen that works for me.
I wanted to keep an eye of my movement as well as my heart rate. I tried to use the built-in step counter on my Samsung Galaxy S5, but it turned out to be impossible to carry the phone everywhere. After some googling, I went for the Fitbit Charge HR.
Since this is not a fitness blog, I will keep my review short and simple. It is a very good fitness tracker. Both the heart rate monitor and the step counter seems to be pretty accurate. The battery life is great. The Android app and web page gives me a really good overview, and I find that using the Fitbit Charge HR makes me more aware of my health.
The only bad things I have to say about the Fitbit Charge HR fitness tracker is that there is no battery indicator in the tracker. You have to check the app to see the battery level. The call notification function sucks. Plane and simple.
Fitbit has just released a new version of the charge HR. If they have managed to improve on these points, this should be a really nice piece of gadgetry.
This brings me over to the other thing on my other wrist…
Samsung Gear S2 Classic smartwatch
One of my first posts on this blog was about the process of buying this watch. Since I bought this, I have added some wristbands in different colors. I really love how easy it is to change both the wristband and the watch face, making it possible to mix and match with the rest of my attire.
Besides showing time and being a part of my color coordinated attire, I find that having a watch that shows calendar reminders, emails, and text messages are very convenient during a hectic day.
I can keep an eye on what is going on when it suits me and without having to make a show. Lately, I have started to use the watch as a remote control for playing musing and audio books on my phone.
The only negative thing about this watch is the step counter. It is notoriously bad. I have a lot of good things to say about Samsung, but their fitness tracking products, both the hardware and the software, just don’t make it to the finish line. The Fitbit does the job so much better.
A new way of handling notes
My latest addition in the gadgets department is the Livescribe 3 smartpen. I use it for taking notes, both at work and on other occasions. The notes are transferred to my phone using Bluetooth. From my phone, I can easily convert my handwriting to text with about 98% accuracy.
The text is shared to OneNote if it is work related, to Evernote if it’s personal. All of my to-do items goes straight to Todoist.
Taking notes that end up on Evernote or OneNote as a searchable text is neat in itself, but the possibility to link notes to other notes – and to Outlook calendar items, creates a whole new level of control.
I would say that both the smartwatch and the smartpen really deserves the word “smart” These two gadgets has been a major help in my quest to be working smarter.
How I organize notes, files, and pretty much everything
For me, the concept of working smarter has a lot to do with removing friction. What I mean by friction are all those often small issues that make things difficult or time-consuming.
Over the years I have been trying out different ways of organizing notes in Evernote and files on my hard drive. The goal has been to make it as easy as possible to find things when I need it, not having to search or browse in multiple locations. Searching is becoming better and better, but it still requires you to remember the name or content of the file correctly.
Using something akin to what in GDT is called contexts has been the most successful way of making logical places for everything.
If that, then this
IFTTT is not only a smart service enabling me to automate actions based on events, it has also become the logic I use when I decide how and where to store a piece of information. The key to working smarter is to simplify where possible. I use different tools, but the structure is the same in all of them.
In the post 7 tools for capturing and storing reference information, I’m describing how I store all kinds of information. In the post 10 tools to help you get productive and in control, I’m describing how I use 10 different tools to increase my productivity.
How to start working smarter
I hope that this post has given you some inspiration and ideas on how you can start working smarter. What is considered as smart by one person, may not be smart for others. Below I have tried to compose a list of the core elements most people should follow.
- Decide where you want to store the different kinds of information.
- Keep the number of tools to a minimum, but don’t be afraid to start using a new tool if the “output” is significantly better compared to the tool you use today.
- Look for tools and solutions that can be connected by services like IFTTT.
- Allways be on the lookout for ways to improve your setup.
Did I miss something? Do you have some tips that could help other people start working smarter? I would love to hear from you.