I'm not a particularly greedy or wantful guy, although if I found a few hundred grand lying around I could probably find something to spend it on — car, home reno, new furniture and maybe some new clothes to replace a selection of duds that makes me immune to panhandlers when I visit Vancouver.
All that said I would forgo all of the material things in the world to get the one thing I really want, which is time. Between my job, family and other commitments, I could probably measure my hours of spare time each week in mere hours. Finding those hours is hard, and when I do get them I'm never too sure what to do with them. Should I exercise? Recreate? Pursue one of my many hobbies and interests? Read? Catch up with friends? Catch up on movies and television shows and video games?
Time management was never one of my strong suits, but it took years of being time-deprived to realize it.
Technology, which was supposed to make our lives easier, sometimes seems to complicate things more. Does Facebook give us more time or less? Is camping out on Reddit.com for an hour or three time well spent? Does the convenience of doing things like watching television shows any time and anywhere take up time that might otherwise be free to do the things we would honestly rather be doing?
Just as technology can add to the problem, however, it can also help.
Here's a list of Christmas technology that can actually make your life easier next year and give you the greatest gift of all — time.
Divvy (www.mizage.com/divvy/) — While I write this column I have five programs and 14 different windows open on my computer, and that's on a Friday. Catch me on a Monday and it could be double that.
What Divvy does is make it easy to organize the windows on your desktop so you're not constantly bumping windows backwards and forwards, resizing windows or shuffling them around. You can assign sections of your screen for every program, create shortcuts or simply move around windows on the fly in a way that makes you more productive and keeps important windows visible. At $15, it's a bargain that's guaranteed to make you more efficient. More efficient equals more time.
Logitech (www.logitech.com) — Ergonomics is the science of reducing muscle strain and fatigue through design, and Logitech are the masters when it comes to making ergonomic office tools. You'll have to figure out your own best system, but they have adjustable mice, trackball mice, trackpad options and more for every setup and size of hand. Also check out their keyboards — including a washable keyboard you can eat around without worrying about sticky keys and a solar-powered keyboard you can use with any tablet or phone — and universal remote controls.
Pomodoro (whatever app store you use) — Millions of people have used the Pomodoro system to become more productive, and there are a lot of different work timers available for our phones, tablets, computers, etc. that let you use the Pomodoro system. If you've never heard of it, Pomodoro recommends working in timed bursts with breaks in between to maximize productivity while building free time into your workday to do other things.
Epic Win (www.rexbox.co.uk) — Epic Win is not a new "to do list" app for the iPhone, but it's extremely effective for some people that are prone to procrastination. It works by turning your life and daily chores into an adventure game of sorts, rewarding you for success and punishing you for missing deadlines and being lazy. The app was so successful that there are knockoffs out there like Chore Wars that give you points and achievements for getting off your ass.
Outlook.com (www.outlook.com) — If you're shopping around for a better email client, I've been raving about Microsoft's new Outlook.com, an upgrade to Hotmail that is awesome for managing your email and calendar, contacts, SkyDrive files, etc. Altogether I think it's the best looking email program going these days with a neat, clean-looking interface that make email management a pleasure.
Portable Technology — For me, finding time is all about multitasking. If I want to listen to music, I do it while I'm working or snowboarding. If I'm exercising on the elliptical, I'm either reading or getting caught up with music or movies online. If I'm watching television, then I'm also playing guitar or checking out Facebook. There are a lot of neat new devices that make all of this portable, like the 3M Streaming Projector with its built-in Roku video streamer that lets you broadcast television or movies on any wall — one of many small projectors available that can handle everything from gaming to 3D movies.
To add portable music to the picture, the Jawbone Jambox comes highly recommended. It's rechargeable and connects with devices wirelessly. Combined with a portable projector, you can turn your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. to turn any room in a game room, conference room, home theatre or whatever you need.