Simple additions to your workflow that will increase your focus and efficiency

Technology has the ability to both make us more productive or less productive. It’s all about how we use it. Our devices offer us an endless supply of distractions that can keep us from accomplishing important tasks. But once you find the apps, plug-ins, or extensions that help keep your focus, you become less vulnerable to the many distractions of the internet.

This is my list of the top productivity apps/plug-ins/extensions that I use on a regular basis. Some of these have very similar competitors so don’t get…


A look at the pitfalls of the digital Swiss Army Knife in our pockets

We all love our smartphones. They’ve become the most indispensable pieces of technology. They’re with us at all times! Not knowing where your smartphone is can drive someone into a state of panic. There are so many life-changing things that our phones can be used for. But I’m always advocating for the best ways to use technology in our lives. An using your phone as an alarm clock is not one of those amazing uses.

What is an Alarm Clock?

Humor me as I get really philosophical here. What really is an alarm clock? We all have an image in our heads. Although maybe if…


Dad jokes aside, this journal has its ups and downs

I’m still in search of the perfect daily planner or journal. I usually use those terms interchangeably. But what I’m looking for is something that will let me plan out the actual hours of my day, while still giving me the freedom to think mindfully and assess my progress on larger tasks on a daily basis.

In the past, I’ve written about the Panda Planner. You can read that article for all the details, but I really enjoyed using it for a few months. It wasn’t perfect, but it had a lot going for it. However, it’s just in my…


The keystone habit that helps keep my productivity on track

Whenever I’m helping clients reach their productivity goals, I start with one big question. What time do you go to bed? That question is usually followed by another question. What does your nighttime routine look like? This may sound like an odd place to start, but I’ve found the answers to be key when unlocking untapped productive hours in a person’s day.

Simplification

Morning routines might get all the attention, but it’s what you do at night that helps prepare you for a productive morning. For too many of us, our evenings are spent in front of a screen. That isn’t…


It may sound like a gimmick but the Litter-Robot is amazing

I’m always looking for ways to save time. If there is a smart gadget or automated system out there, I’ve likely tried it. Smart lights, robot vacuums, voice-activated everything, that’s the world I enjoy living in. I’ve even written about my slight guilt over drinking out of a sophisticated mug that keeps my coffee at an optimal temperature via a connected app.

So why was I so hesitant to let a robot clean up my cat’s poop?

I can think of a few reasons. Let’s unpack them.

  1. Price — The Litter-Robot is expensive
  2. Laziness — Is it really that hard…


Are you still booking meetings the old-fashioned way?

In my work, I am constantly scheduling meetings with people. It’s typically with content creators spread throughout the world, or with coaching clients who don’t operate on typical 9–5ish schedules. Many of these folks are always on the go, sometimes hopping to different timezones regularly.

Maybe you can relate?

The old days

In the old days, scheduling meetings often worked like this.

  1. Email the person to ask them when they would be able to meet. They might respond in a timely manner, but probably not. It would often require a follow-up message
  2. If they respond, they may give you one or two timeslots…


Are your unused apps bringing you joy?

I’m on a never-ending quest to make my technology as mindful and efficient as possible. I love my gadgets, but I don’t want them overtaking my life. I’ve written about how I created a Zen experience on my Android phone. But regardless of what kind of phone you use, it’s important to regularly delete things, in particular, apps. Your phone storage should be treated like the physical storage in your house. I recommend keeping it tidy and employing the famous methods of Marie Kondo.

How many apps do you use?

How many apps do you think you use on a daily basis? On a monthly basis…


Using traditional keys just feels archaic these days

It seems like every few months, my home gets smarter and smarter. I end up buying some new gadget that promises to improve a tried-and-true method that people have been using for decades with no major complaints.

It’s happened to my lights, my TV, my home speakers, and my thermostat. Could it even happen to the doors of my house that are over 100 years old? Yep, it happened in the form of August Smart Locks and it has really changed my life.

How do smart locks work?

Of all the smart technology in my home, I feel like my smart locks are the easiest…


Reading mode is amazing, and your eyes will thank you

Our phones are always with us. And that naturally makes them a great option for reading books no matter where we go. I’ve written about how the best book is the book you have with you. It’s important to always have something to read so you aren’t tempted to go down a social media rabbit hole.

So how do you improve the reading experience on your phone? It’s by using something that is probably the most overlooked and unused feature on the modern smartphone. It’s called “reading” or “monochromatic” mode. You’ve probably also heard the term “greyscale”. Whatever you want…


How do we raise children in “smart” homes?

My daughter is coming up on two years old in just a few months. She’s a wonderful, happy, healthy kid who seems to be right on track in her development. Her vocabulary is growing every day. She says things like “mama”, “dada”, “meow”, and “woof-woof” (to address our cat and dog respectively).

But she has also started saying “Google” quite a bit. This isn’t baby talk “goo-goo-ga-ga” kinda stuff. She most definitely understands that word will summon some sort of magical pseudo-member of our family.

Smart Parents

Prior to having a child, I always felt a little guilty when barking orders at…

Chris Jennings

I write about the intersection of technology, productivity, and mindfulness. Get my weekly newsletter at iterate.substack.com

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