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Becoming Untethered: 2 Steps to Simplify Your Work

While IT professionals and enthusiasts might understand the reasoning and logistics behind the transition to cloud computing, for the user, it’s just a matter wanting to operate in the simplest possible way.

“Untethered,” for most of us, isn’t technical jargon for how hardware communicates, shares or connects, but rather the ability to work unrestrained, able to jump from one activity to the next without cumbersome hardware and software slowing us down.

In the end, however, it isn’t just the technology that must evolve and set the stage for a new way of working. As users, we must embrace change as well and be willing to move away from old ways of thinking and working. We can begin by moving to a more simplified cloud-based setup.

Step 1: Gradually Move to the Cloud

One of the best ways to simplify the way we work is by reducing our reliance on location-dependent software and hardware. Over the years, I’ve gradually moved away from using a single computer; now the bulk of my work is available online, and where I once worried about the inevitable computer crash that would create days of additional work and headache, I can now simply move to any other computer with an Internet connection and barely miss a beat.

With the advent of services like Google Docs (s goog), it’s much easier to stop thinking in terms of the solution and instead focus on the medium or output. Instead of using local programs for things like documents and spreadsheets, for example, we can opt for online applications, like Office Web Apps (s msft), Google Docs and Zoho, that can handle these types of files.

Step 2: Minimize

To create a centralized “dashboard” for your work, begin weeding out extra steps that might currently exist in your setup by trying to moving away from using solutions that only handle particular problems or tasks.

Simon wrote about this from a developer’s standpoint in a GigaOM Pro article, Enterprise 2.0: Web Apps and the Patchwork Quilt Problem (sub. req.). As a user, you can adopt a simpler way of working by taking a minimalist approach to software and hardware. Instead of using a separate application for each problem, figure out ways to re-purpose what’s already in your toolbox, or adopt different tools that can address more of your needs.

You might currently use ten separate programs to manage an equal number of smaller tasks, and although this approach might be effective at alleviating specific pain points, it creates an often greater problem of tracking the applications being used, as well as syncing, searching for, and accessing information across multiple platforms. By reducing the number of tools you use to the “lowest effective dose,” you can greatly improve productivity and the ease in which you work. Zoho, for example, offers project management, web conferencing, invoicing and a host of other business solutions in one stop.

One word of caution: While I’m trying to keep my day-to-day tools and apps be kept to a minimum, I’m still very aware of the risks of relying on a single solution. It pays to back up important work and information in a second location, in order to not become overly dependent on any one platform.

As we transition to cloud computing, our main goal is to keep things simple and to make the process of work faster and more effective, and while technology is gradually improving to make work and life easier, as users, we still have to learn to embrace the change to achieve it.

Do you think technology has made work easier or more complicated for the end user?

Photo courtesy Flickr user ralphbijker

2 Responses to “Becoming Untethered: 2 Steps to Simplify Your Work”

  1. (No offense) i think your are solving a real problem with the wrong solution.

    I would advice: use the best tool. If it is not a web app install it in a virtual machine vmware, virtual box, virtual pc, etc).

    Backup your data onsite and offsite. For offsite backup use an online solution. Consider the virtual machine as data (must be backuped). Data must be keept outside the virtual machine.

    Each setup must be KISS.

  2. Interesting article, and very interesting questions: has technology made work easier or more complicated ?

    I would say that technology has made easy work easier (with lots of small, specialized tools for simple tasks), but I’m not so sure about more complex work ? Technology has made “impossible” work possible, but not easy ?

    You’re able to do more powerful things today thanks to technology, but that also means that it is often difficult to do it. People expect everything to be “easy”, but keep forgetting how much “magic” they’re able to do with technology.

    Web tools and services are, in a way, one step forward and three steps back currently. Lots of small, easy tools, but once they get more powerful, they are often more complicated to use than the “good old” desktop applications.

    Combining the functionality from 10 small tools into one powerful tool *will* add complexity, but you will probably work faster and more effective once you’ve invested the time to learn it properly.

    The web is still “growing up” and playing catch-up with desktop applications; some tools will make work easier, and some tools will make work more complicated (but more efficient); we’ll need to use our brains in the future also :-)