The vast range of devices and technologies in our lives means that we have huge numbers of networks and connections to manage, impacting on both working productivity and leisure time. To get the most from these devices requires us to embrace new tools and techniques. We need to become masters of automation and consolidation so that devices work for us, instead of the other way around.

The Problem With Ubiquity

Technology is more accessible than ever with incredible power concentrated into devices the size of your palm. These are networked to a range of other resources – including cloud-based services, e-commerce stores and other devices such as printers.

The variety of these devices continues to grow: we’re already seeing wearable devices like ‘smart’ watches and ocular aids. This ‘Internet of Things’ is developing into a whole new generation of items – from cars to fridges to your desk at work – all relying on network access to function properly, whether to the Internet or local networks. It’s no surprise that some countries now have more mobile broadband subscriptions than inhabitants.

We have to monitor bandwidth costs, track passwords, and control access to exclude intruders – all the tasks normally associated with our IT professionals. These additional responsibilities can render us even less productive and happy than without our devices.

The ‘Dark Art’ Of Automation

IT professionals do little day-to-day maintenance by hand – it’s far more efficient to automate device and network management tasks, so looking at the functions of business-grade products may offer inspiration for your own automation regimes.

Security software is the most common example: if you have installed a firewall on your computer, you’ve already begun to automate. When setting up your network choose preferences, products and apps that (for example) automatically run updates or alert you when bandwidth consumption is reaching capacity.

Consolidate Your Connections

Consolidation by grouping similar items minimises time spent managing them. It helps track certain types of data – including financial, medical, and other important sensitive information – and makes it easier to keep it secure. Also, consider storing information assets using ‘vault’ software on your PC (which encrypts data and prevents unauthorised transfers), and think twice before putting it on your mobile devices – is the risk worth the convenience?

Consolidating tasks which require the same actions or thought processes creates economies of scale that render your devices more productive. Setting a specific day every month to run all app and device updates, for example, will reduce time spent updating them individually. Using the same day for backups also makes it easier to recover from system failures or data losses. Even checking emails – the mainstay of mobile devices and remote work – can be made more productive by checking and replying only at certain times per day.

As the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes a reality, basic network administration skills will become critical. Use the wealth of information available from vendors, tech experts, and other users to not only help you solve problems but also improve the way you manage your multi-device life. Your devices will become more useful and you will be more productive.