A Day of Time-Savers: Apps and Gadgets to Speed You Up

A Day of Time-Savers: Apps and Gadgets to Speed You Up

Jeff Heaton
Aug 18, 2011

Twenty-four hours rarely feels like enough to get everything done. It seems we've just woken up when suddenly it's time for bed again. So in order to save time, stay efficient and squeeze a little more enjoyment from the day we employ a variety of gadgets and apps. Here's a roundup of some of our favorite time-savers.

Wake up!
It's awful, that jolting feeling of the loud-buzzing, bell-ringing clamor of most alarm clocks and apps. It makes us slam the snooze button and throw the clock across the room. If you can wake up that way with a big grin on your face every day, more power to you. But for the rest of us there are some better options:

WakeMate (iOS, android, blackberry): a wrist band you wear during sleep that pares with your phone to read the signals your brain gives off and wake you when you're sleeping the lightest. It uses a 20 minute time frame so set the end of it to when you want to be awake by.

Alarm clock free (iOS): it lets you fade in the alarm, look at local weather and temperature and, for 99 cents, play audiobooks, playlists and other media.

Public Radio app (iOS): If you like waking up to morning edition you can use this to fade into your day for a gentle, informed wake-up.

or there's always the wake n' bacon...

Time saved: 15-30 minutes

Hot Eats
Some people skip breakfast, but that's a terrible start to the day. There's always cereal and milk or microwave oatmeal, but this is Unpluggd! We like a hot breakfast and we'll find a way to do it as quickly as your soggy bran flakes.

Toaster/egg poacher: This combo device will deliver toast and poached egg at the same time. Just get some precooked bacon in the microwave and you're set.

Coffee grinder/brewer: Fresh grinds make great coffee so why waste time every morning grinding and then brewing when in an all in one can have it ready as soon as you wake up. Real Simple likes the Krups KM7000 because it isn't as loud.

Toaster radio: Living in the UK? You can combine your toast with your favorite news programs at breakfast with this toaster radio combo.

Time saved: 20 minutes

Get somewhere
As we at Unpluggd well know, commutes are a bunch of factors beyond your control crammed together to make a short trip into a grueling grind. A few devices and apps can alleviate this either by pointing you around traffic or making the trip a little more enjoyable.

Beat the traffic (iOS): This app helps you pinpoint traffic to avoid using maps and even cameras.

Inrix (android): This is an app similar to Beat the traffic but for android devices.

Traffic GPS: These GPSs are great if you don't want to use a cell phone. They also tend to be more accurate and full featured as this is the aim of the device. Garmin's nĂ¼vi 3790LMT is light, thin and uses FM radio to transmit data so it's free for life.

Time saved: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Do Work
Once you make it to the office much of what you use depends on what you do. There's a whole universe of apps and gadgets related to work, but there are some commonalities. Efficient organization for example. Going paperless with your files keeps everything no further than a flick of your finger, ensures you don't lose those important thoughts, saves a tree and saves you space. To that end there are a few apps and gadgets to digitize your stuff.

Scanner: to get rid of your paper you'll need to turn it into bytes. There are tons of them out there, but a mobile one is nice because you can make anything usable any time. The Fujitsu ScanSnap models are nice.

Evernote: There are many database solutions for keeping your data but few are free. Evernote is cloud-based, works on most smartphones and is free for a basic account.

Desktop databases: If you're worried about security, don't have a smart phone or don't like Evernote's interface there are many desktop options like SOHO notes and DEVONthink for Macs and Myinfo and AskSam for PC.

Time saved: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Work Out
Going the gym or running is fun for some, a necessary evil for others. Both groups can benefit from a little tech magic.

RunMeter/WalkMeter (iOS): This iPhone app that tracks your running or walking progress and integrates google maps to give you data, a visual route and route suggestions. If you bike the company also makes CycleMeter.

Runkeeper (android): This is an Android App for runners that keeps your stats on Runkeeper's servers for an overview of your running life.

Absolute Fitness (android): This app can keep track of your whole workout life from nutrition to an exercise log and stats and graphs.

iPump (iOS): This app helps you create workout sessions to ensure growth. It's very visual and can work with any skill level.

Time saved: 10-20 minutes

Get Some Sleep
A long day, hopefully made shorter and more efficient by our apps and gadgets, deserves a restful sleep. Common sense helps, like don't drink a gallon of coffee right before bed. But sometimes the common doesn't cut it. Which is when we found these gadgets helpful.

a Sleep 3 (iOS): An app that offers a sleep timer, sleep sounds, chromotherapy and bevy of other options to help you snooze.

Pure Sleep (android): A feature-rich app, this one gives you a variety of sounds to fall asleep to including nature and Binaural tracks.

Time saved: 30 minutes - 1.5 hours

That being said, there are many reasons you might not be able to get to sleep. If it's a very regular thing it might be worth it to see a doctor. Or, dare we say it, turn off all your gadgets (gasp!). But who would do that?

***Total time saved: 2 hours 15 minutes - 4 hours 40 minutes***

(Images: Flickr users h.koppdelaney and Marcin Wichary under Creative Commons.)

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