We aren’t unique in the San Francisco area in that we often struggle with the fact that our lives have become increasingly complex, with constant demands on our attention and time. Sometimes it seems like the speed of life is accelerating every week.

There are so many tech products out there that promise to help us become faster, smarter, and more capable. But how many of these inventions truly enhance our lives and how many increase the complexity?

The Simple Pleasures

The truth is that what we crave are fairly simple things that can rarely be obtained with better, faster, more hyped-up technology. Everyone has their own list, but some of the biggies are time spent with loved ones, peace and quiet, space for creativity, good food and drink. For some it is just the sheer pleasure of being left alone. What device or application can actually deliver such riches?

Well, while you can’t download a month’s worth of peace and quiet just yet, there are some applications out there that were designed to help you simplify your life and remove distractions. None of these applications are a panacea for the stresses of modernity. However, if you don’t have the luxury of unplugging completely, at least you can subtract the distractions, so you can finally find the space and time for the stuff that counts.

Reduce Background Noise and Relax

Sometimes you just need to get rid of the background noise in order to calm your head and concentrate. Here are a few white noise applications that can help.

Simply Noise
Some of the benefits claimed by this app include “Melt Away Stress,” “Increase Focus,” and “Pacify Children and Pets.”

White Noise
This highly popular white noise app promises to soothe you (and your children) to sleep at night.

Free Your Hands

Dragon, Siri, and other dictation apps free your hands from typing and release your gaze from a tiny screen. This helpful article reviews a range of speech recognition applications.

Avoid Distractions at Your Computer

If there’s work to be done on your computer, chances are you’ve battled the siren song of social media. The following applications help you avoid distractions by blocking certain websites, social media platforms, or avoiding the web altogether. These are especially popular with writers and literary types.

Self Control

Freedom

Anti-Social

Avoid Ads and Search Anonymously

As the NSA leaks have revealed, privacy isn’t just for the paranoid anymore. Use a search engine that doesn’t track your search history, and free yourself from those obnoxious ads that follow you everywhere.

Duck Duck Go

Cut Down on Shopping

If you’re the kind that cringes at the thought of yet another trip to Safeway, you might benefit from automating the ordering and delivery of your groceries. Here’s an article about how one person implemented this solution. You could also join a CSA and get a box of delicious local produce delivered to your house every week.

On the other other hand, shopping might might be a high point of your day. In which case, this item is certainly not for you!

Erase Your Footprints

If you’ve ranted in one too many forums or somehow managed to get a bad reputation online, this article gives some good advice on how to erase your digital trail.

Automate Your Home

At some point, you may arrive at the need to erase yourself. Ahem, what we mean is, go away on a vacation, get off the beaten path..take a break from the rat race. If you have the luxury of making this choice, then you might need the assistance of an app that automates your home while you’re gone. Here are a few…

Revolv

Nest

Smart Things

And now, for a little inspiration as you embark upon your quest for simplification. Consider these wise words by the great American writer Henry David Thoreau:

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone.

 Henry David Thoreau

 

 

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