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Six Must-Have SXSW Apps

Six Must-Have SXSW Apps

SXSW, in case you aren’t in the know, is one of the bigger conferences/festivals that happens every spring in Austin, Texas. In 2013, the core SXSW events brought 41,700 people together, and over 150,000 people attended at least one SXSW event.

The Interactive portion is often referred to as “spring break for geeks,” and the Music and Film portions are places where you can see the next big thing before it’s the next big thing. But the whole experience can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Use this list of must-have apps to keep from getting overwhelmed.

The official SXSW app

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Mobile Guide to South By Southwest

    The main benefit of the official SXSW app is that it’ll let you create a schedule on the site by browsing the sessions and shows available, which then syncs to the mobile app. The app then also shows you the location of the sessions or shows, and can also show you where other attendees are at, including your friends. If you don’t want to try and keep track of everything on post-it notes, this is the way to go.

    Transportation: Car2go and Ridescout

    Transportation is a broad category, and also a vital consideration for making your way around an unfamiliar city. That’s why I’m giving you two apps and two runner ups:

    Car2go is a car-sharing service. You reserve a car from the app, pay by the minute while you use it, and then park it and leave it anywhere in the service area (which includes all of downtown). The app is free, but the service costs: $0.41 per minute with a maximum of $14.99/hr (both rates pretax).

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    car2go

      Ridescout puts all the relevant transportation info at your fingertips, on a map. You can see bus routes, driving/walking/biking time estimates, nearby car2gos, and also fare estimates for taxis. This is a free app available for both iPhone and Android.

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      RideScout

        Runner-ups: Uber or Hailacab. If you aren’t using Car2go and don’t want to take a bus, you can check out Uber—they regularly have free ride promotions running during SXSW, though it can be hard to find a driver during peak hours. If all else fails, there’s the Hailacab app, but be warned: you will pay a premium for cabs during SXSW, with long wait times as a bonus.

        Uber

          Finding new events and secret shows: Likter

          Trying to find secret shows or parties, or want to do something spur of the moment? Likter is a social network that lets you post real-time news with a superlocal focus. You can attach photos, audio, and video to your posts, sharing that yes, the line here really is nonexistent, and no, this band really isn’t worth listening to. And if you show up and find out that someone else posted bogus news? You can vote their note as false, so that others aren’t duped. Don’t forget to check out all the SxShortcuts to keep up with.

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          Likter

            Communication: GroupMe

            Keeping track of a group of friends is hard; until GroupMe came along, you just had to put everyone in a group Facebook message thread, and hope for the best. GroupMe solves that problem elegantly—it lets you keep up with groups of people and it was a total lifesaver for me last year for seeing who was where, when. You can attach and send photos, videos, and images, as well as showing group conversation members where you’re at on a map. It’s free, available for any kind of device, and it also works over SMS, so you can add friends into a group conversation even if they don’t have the app.

            GroupMe

              Sharing the best food: Foodspotting

              Foodspotting

                Austin is widely acknowledged as a foodie town—including a lively food trailer scene—but how do you know which places near you are worth visiting, which are overpriced, and which specific dish to order? You can slog through Yelp reviews on your phone (not the fastest or easiest way) or you can download Foodspotting and see what people like near you. This app is focused on the positive and is dish-centric rather than restaurant-centric—so you’ll know exactly what people near you are loving, which is great for last-minute snacks.

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                Last Updated on October 15, 2019

                To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

                To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

                We are all about doing things faster and better around here at Lifehack. And part of doing things faster and better is having a solid personal productivity system that you use on a daily basis.

                This system can be just about anything that helps you get through your mountain of projects or tasks, and helps you get closer to your goals in life. Whether it’s paper or pixels, it doesn’t really matter. But, since you are reading Lifehack I have to assume that pixels and technological devices are an important part of your workflow.

                “Personal Productivity System” defined

                A personal productivity system (at least the definition that this article will use) is a set of workflows and tools that allow an individual to optimally get their work done.

                Workflows can be how you import and handle your photos from your camera, how you write and create blog posts, how you deploy compiled code to a server, etc.

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                Tools are the things like planners, todo managers, calendars, development environments, applications, etc.

                When automation is bad

                You may be thinking that the more that we automate our systems, the more we will get done. This is mostly the case, but there is one very big “gotcha” when it comes to automation of anything.

                Automation is a bad thing for your personal productivity system when you don’t inherently understand the process of something.

                Let’s take paying your bills for example. This may seem very obvious, but if you can’t stick to a monthly budget and have trouble finding the money to make payments on time, then automating your bill payment every month is completely useless and can be dangerous for your personal finances.

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                Another example is using a productivity tool to “tell you” what tasks are important and what to do next. If you haven’t taken a step back and figured out just how your productivity systems should work together, this type of automation will likely keep you from getting things done.

                You can only automate something in your personal productivity system that have managed for a while. If you try to automate things that aren’t managed well already, you will probably feel a bit out of control and have a greater sense of overwhelm.

                Another thing to remember is that some things should always be done by yourself, like responding to important emails and communicating with others. Automating these things can show your coworkers and colleagues that you don’t care enough to communicate yourself.

                When automation is good

                On the other hand, automation is a great thing for your personal productivity system when you understand the process of something and can then automatically get the steps done. When you know how to manage something effectively and understand the step-by-step process of a portion of your system, it’s probably a great time to automate it.

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                I have several workflows that I have introduced in the last year that takes some of the “mindless” work from me so I can be more creative and not have to worry about the details of something.

                On my Mac I use a combination of Automator workflows, TextExpander snippets, and now Keyboard Maestro shortcuts to do things like automatically touch-up photos imported from my iPhone 4S or open all the apps and websites needed for a weekly meeting to the forefront of my desktop by typing a few keys. Once you open yourself up to automating a few of your processes, you start to see other pieces of your system that can benefit from automation.

                Once again; none of this works unless you understand your processes and know what tools you can use to get them done automatically.

                The three steps to determine if something is “ripe” for automation

                If your workflow passes these three steps, then automate away, baby:

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                1. You can do this process in your sleep and it doesn’t require your full, if any form of attention. It can (and has been) managed in some form prior to automating it.
                2. The process is time consuming.
                3. The process doesn’t require “human finesse” (ie. communicating and responding to something personally)

                Automating your personal productivity systems can be a great for you in the long run if you are careful and mindful of what you are doing. You first need to understand the processes that you are trying to automate before automating them though. Don’t get stuck in thinking that anything and everything should be automated in your life, because it probably shouldn’t.

                Pick and choose these processes wisely and you’ll find the ones that take up most of your time to be the best ones to automate. What have you automated in your personal productivity system?

                Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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