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My top tech finds to make life easier and better

By Sunday, May 24, 2015

Starry night sky with quote

My friends, and C. in particular, often laugh in wonderment that I now work in tech communications since I was such a late adopter of social media. (Seriously, I held out on joining Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. until about two years ago!)

To me, though, it makes perfect sense...I can be a skeptic for sure, but once I'm bought in, I'm all in. I believe that technology should make our lives easier and better, not just be about the latest gadget or site. I'm also continuously amazed at how technology has enabled the creation of businesses and careers, especially for women and regardless of age or location, that could never have existed even ten years ago. It truly does create a new world of opportunities for us all.

This idea has been the topic of many conversations for me lately, and as I thought about all the technologies that have changed my life for the better, even if just in a small way – I wanted to share my top discoveries with you. I'd love to hear what would be on your list!

  • I've already written about my experience with online personal styling site Keaton Row, but recently discovered a similar online styling service for men called Cladwell. Genius, and sorely needed!
  • Last month, I did the spring style challenge with Get Your Pretty On, which helped me learn to "shop my own wardrobe", add a few key pieces for the season, and provided 21 days of outfit ideas – a new take on the capsule wardrobe that I've started to embrace. The summer style challenge (which includes how to make packing for a vacation a breeze) will be starting in June, so check out the details if you want to join me!
  •  A cool new product that I discovered recently is called SheThinx, which are period-proof panties that look pretty and work amazingly well. Their mission is to help the 100 million girls in the developing world who fall behind in school (forcing many of them to eventually drop out) just because of their periods. Each pair you buy provides funds and jobs to women in Africa to make washable and reusable cloth pads that girls can use, so they don't miss school. Who knew underwear could have such an impact?
Beauty and Fitness
  • One thing that's been super helpful to me is the wealth of knowledge that exists for beauty product reviews and tutorials on YouTube. You can seriously find and learn how to do anything there. However, one thing it can't do is provide live interaction, so when I heard about HiLovely, a new site that allows you to book live personal beauty chats, I was intrigued. You can learn how to do a smoky eye, a new hairstyle, etc. from a professional, whenever is convenient for you. I booked a slot to learn some easy DIY updos that would improve upon my fallback ponytail, had a great time, and would definitely do it again.
  • Although I live in the Bay Area and have access to many things I wouldn't if I lived elsewhere, that doesn't mean they're necessarily affordable. I've been feeling a little stuck with my rowing regimen lately, and needed to tone up and trim down before my sister's wedding next month, so enlisted the help of an online personal trainer. I discovered Pavla of Perfect Lean Body through her YouTube channel and love her videos – they're challenging but clear and easy to follow...and effective. She offers several premium options, one of which is online personal training, where she customizes workouts and recommends meal plans for you based on your current fitness level, lifestyle, and goals. We communicate daily using WhatsApp, and that accountability and motivation, in addition to specific directives, has been key.  
Communication and Finance
  • Speaking of WhatsApp, it's been a great way for my large family to stay in touch and share group updates. I especially love getting pictures and videos of my niece, which definitely helps me feel more connected since we don't live nearby and only get to see her in person once or twice a year.
  • Slack is another communications channel that I now love. I mentioned it in my post about the Female Founders Conference, as it's continued to be a way to keep in touch with the women from that event, but C. and our friends also use it for the app we're developing together.
  • Online banking in general makes life so much easier, but Mint takes personal finances to a whole other level. It's been perfect for categorizing our spending, which makes achieving my New Year's resolutions actually doable.
  • Not only has spending less money on food been a priority, so has spending less time. Blue Apron continues to lessen the need to go grocery shopping while providing delicious and fun to cook meals. 
  • Another tool, recently discovered via the always inspirational The Lively Show podcast, is PrepDish. Run by a former personal chef, it provides a weekly grocery list and healthy meals (including both gluten-free and paleo options) with instructions for spending 2-3 hours on Sunday to prep everything, making your meals during the week super easy to prepare. Last week was my first time doing it and it was incredible how much time it saved. (The link above provides a free month trial if you sign up before June 14.)
Entertainment and Inspiration
  • If you've read this far, you've probably noticed how many of my discoveries have been found through another! Podcasts (my favorites are The Lively Show and Dinner Party Download, though there's been so much buzz about Serial that I must finally listen to that series) are a great way for me to learn about new things while I'm cooking or getting ready in the morning. 
  • Audible has allowed me to do the same with books, working through my massive to-read list on Goodreads. I just finished Creativity Inc., which is all about Pixar, and am now in the middle of Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before, which aims to help you understand how to master personal habits. An added bonus: Although I love reading, C. does not; however, he does like Audible – which means we can finally discuss books!
  • I grew up with five channels, no cable television, and thirty miles from the closest movie theater. That I can read about a show in my favorite British magazines (Red and Marie Claire UK) and then be able to find and watch it immediately (hello, my new obsession, Orphan Black!) through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Comcast On Demand, etc. is truly incredible when you think about it. 
Let me know what you think about my top tech discoveries – do you use any of these yourself? What else would you recommend that makes your own life easier and better?