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Columns | Fall 2018

Let's Talk Tech

Technology Tips and Tricks

For an invention that was supposed to make all our lives easier and more efficient, the Internet mainly seems to serve as an overwhelming time suck. Electronic tasks and to-do lists are never ending, as are the e-mails, reminders, pings, and notifications. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hard to keep up with all the new changes, services, and techniques. Social media blackouts and “no-phone time” are becoming popular as people try to quiet the endless noise.

However, as we all know by now, the Internet with all its blessings and curses is here to stay. With that knowledge, I have collected just a few tips and tricks to help you navigate and manage some basic tasks. There are many wonderful resources and tools on the Internet, many more than I could possibly list here. For the purposes of this column, I have highlighted only services that I myself, or in one case a very good friend, have used more than once.

First, did you know you can pre-schedule Facebook posts? This feature has been available for years but is an easy feature to miss. When you write a post, simply click on the little arrow to the right of Publish. This is a dream come true when you have events or announcements coming up and want to post them at the optimum time—and ensure you won’t forget or be too busy doing other things. You can schedule posts several months in advance, making show announcements a breeze. You can also use the scheduler to keep your presence on the platform regular, even if you don’t have the time to check the site every day.

Speaking of time, have you heard of Toggl?

Toggl is a free extension that helps you track your time. This is helpful if you are doing any kind of Internet-based contract work, but also if you just want to have a better idea and therefore better control over how you are spending your time online. It is simple and easy to use, and did I mention it’s free?

The last tool I’ll mention is my personal favorite: the browser extension Boomerang. If you don’t use Gmail, this should convince you to make the switch!

With Boomerang, you can write e-mails and schedule them to be sent at a later date. You can also direct emails to return to your inbox, either because you haven’t been responded to—or you haven’t responded. This is a wonderful way to keep up with those tasks you have to do in a week, or those questions you can’t answer just yet. Never again will you forget to respond to someone or check in about a later project. I find the reminder aspect particularly useful, as it is all too easy to send an e-mail and then forget it ever happened. Boomerang will quite literally change the way you e-mail, for the better!

CMN members tend to wear many hats. We are performers, educators, therapists, songwriters, organizers, parents, artists—the list goes on. However, despite our multitalented make up, we all have gaps in our skill sets. This is where three of my favorite websites come in.

Upwork is a wonderful site for visual artists, designers, illustrators, coders, and app developers. Freelancers bid for jobs, and the pay scales run the gamut. Need a poster done, some illustrations for a new book, or perhaps animation for a video? This is the place to go. Upwork keeps things safe and professional, and the broad range of artists means that you will always have choices.

Fiverr is like Upwork, but I find it is especially useful for administrative tasks, such as organizing information and creating spreadsheets (for example, when planning a tour). Copywriting, editing, video help, market research, and virtual assistants are all available here, and they all have at least one service that costs only $5. Worth a try, don’t you think?

Last, I have recently begun using Rev for my transcription needs. They are unbelievably fast—you’ll usually get your product within twenty-four hours—and they are cheap! They’ll transcribe any video for $1 a minute and provide your files in any format you need.

This list barely scratches the surface when it comes to Internet-based tools, but I included each one because I know that they work, and most of them have saved me time, headache, and stress—usually all three! I hope they can do the same for you.