Trust me, I’m no stranger to discussing the tragic downfall of our narcissistic, over-indulgent, socially inept, headline-skimming civilization as shaped by our passive surrender to our technology (Text Neck is an epidemic, people). But, I’m a storyteller and as such, I love reading stories. And never in the history of mankind have we been able to share and absorb stories in the way we do now. My job in digital marketing doesn’t help the obsession, either. It’s my duty to be up-to-date on the currently trending videos and Bey gossip, along with current world affairs #amIright? I often get lost in the soft glow of my screens, exploring the depths of Buzzfeed News articles, perusing the archives of typography blogs, and binge-listening to NPR podcasts. It’s glorious and I love it. There, I said it. I fucking love the Internet, okay?
Can we all just admit how great it is to be able to read and devour so much great information on a daily basis? Great. Now that we’ve cleared that up… let me help you make your Internet consumption more organized.
The digital revolution has allowed us to consume information in such abundance that it’s overwhelming. To stay organized and relatively sane, I’d like to share my top five favorite tools to keep your digital life in order. Note that I am not being paid to endorse any of these companies and I do not take responsibility for feeding your Internet addiction.
While we all publicly pretend like it’s shameful to waste time spiraling down the rabbit hole that is your social media news feeds, you know as well as I do that we privately relish in doing so.
“It’s my duty as a marketer and Millennial to be up-to-date on the currently trending videos and Bey gossip, along with current world affairs #amIright?”
Use for: super easy bookmarking
When I first became a blogger, I found it challenging to deal with the pre-built Bookmarks options available in your browser, which is essential for keeping track of ideas and websites that I admire. It’s sort of sad that I can’t quite configure my browser settings to truly understand how they function properly– but really, who does? I blame it on the Dark Ages of the Internet– the dial-up modem era– during which time I can only assume that I tried to use Bookmarking for the first time, only to be met with confusion. Enter Pocket.
Pocket is an app and a website that offers the most seamless way I’ve found to Bookmark my favorite articles. It’s also synced with Twitter, Feedly and a few other tools that I use on the daily. Basically you copy/paste URLs of articles that you want to save and reference again later. You can categorize your articles and archive old articles you’ve already read. The articles are also readable without Internet access via the app, which is perfect for my commute on the train. I also installed it as a Google Chrome extension which makes it super easy to save when perusing on my computer. Below is a snapshot of my actual Pocket dashboard. I’m sure there might be a better way to organize the articles within the app, but I’m too lazy to dedicate that much time to my bookmarking game.
Use for: subscribing to your favorite websites
It seems like such a short time ago that Google decided to retire its RSS feed function. This was a proper first-world tragedy to me at the time as I had painstakingly curated numerous feeds of posts being published by my fave websites altogether in one place. But, then came Feedly. While Pocket is for saving only content worth remembering, Feedly is for skimming the headlines of new content being published on your favorite websites across the Internet. The dashboard is beautifully designed and easy to use. You can categorize your website feeds and adjust how you browse headlines (below is an example of the “magazine” view). By organizing all your feeds into one place, you can skim all your content all at once sans advertising, and Bookmark your favorites via Pocket. Here’s a look at my dashboard:
Use for: saving and sharing files
Isn’t it funny how long we’ve been able to send files via email? Right now we live in a time where Internet users can be divided in two camps: those who are still struggling to figure out what the paperclip-shaped attachment icon in their Hotmail dashboard is for, and those who have moved on to more seamless cloud-sharing applications.
It seems to me that Dropbox has almost become a universally adopted tool, but maybe that’s might only be true for the design community. There are a lot of other great file-sharing tools out there (Google Drive and Box, for example… the latter of which is not a nickname for Dropbox as I originally thought), but there are a few features that Dropbox offers that has the one-up on some of the others, for my use anyway. Dropbox is for uploading, organizing, transferring and sharing files like photos, videos, documents and more. I pay for the upgraded version because I tend to work with a lot of high res images and video so it only makes sense. The key to maximizing your Dropbox usage is to make sure to download the app in addition to using the browser login. Working in social media means that I have to snap and share a ton of photos and videos constantly. Using the Dropbox app is helpful for uploading photos en masse to folders that my staff also has access to. I think that Box and Google Drive offer the same options, but I find that the average use has an easier time navigating, if not stumbling, around Dropbox to successfully download files that you’re trying to share with them. Less questions for me, which make it worth recommending. Even if you’re not in digital marketing, I find Dropbox a much easier way to share files vs. the dreaded email attachment.
Here’s a look at the Drobpox online dashboard… pulled from Dropbox’s website [and without their permission… I hope they don’t mind seeing as how I’m totally endorsing them].
Use for: saving notes, voice memos and more
I can’t get enough of this app. Evernote is the best place to organize all of your notes and ideas, especially if you compulsively write at the volume that I do. They recently announced a partnership with Google Drive, and has offered the ability to collaborate for a while now. All notes can be tagged and organized into folders, and the app syncs to your online dashboard. You can also add reminders and tasks within your notes directly, upload images, sketch and allegedly, you can also transcribe voice memos… although I haven’t yet tried this feature. I find this better than the default “Notes” iPhone app that we all tend to use, primarily because it’s super easy to pull up your notes online or on your computer if you download the app to your desktop, too.
Use for: project planning
One day I’ll write my manifesto all about the evils of email communication and the inefficiencies that our inboxes have brought upon our work lives. While I’m not trying to damper this oh-so-helpful blog post with a rant, suffice to say, I loathe my inbox. Enter the game-changer that is Asana.
This app can be used in so many ways and honestly I’m still sorting out how to use all of its features. In short, you can create projects with categorized tasks, assignees and deadlines and within each task. You can upload attachments, create sub-tasks, and write public comments to communicate with your team members about the specific task at hand. Asana syncs up with Dropbox and Google Drive and offers a number of other add-ons. You can drag and drop tasks across your calendar and also view the entire team calendar (if you want to grant that level of access). For someone who manages multiple projects that involve between three to six people, this has seriously been a godsend to my work life… although you could use it for personal projects as well. I can’’t recommend this product enough.
What did I miss?
I’d love to know what apps have made your digital life easier and more organized! If you liked this article, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends.
Mani O’Brien lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of The Stellar Blog. She believes in good old-fashioned quality when it comes to producing content.