Life today can be pretty hectic and keeping on top of everything a chore. From emails and appointments to keep, Twitter accounts to update, pictures to post on Facebook to the simple task of just managing your time effectively there are all sorts of demands on you that can make the everyday a little bit overwhelming.
A laptop with Windows 8 isn’t going to make everything better, but with the right use of applications you can, at the very least, help to keep yourself more organised and up-to-date. The built-in People, Mail and Calendar applications are just a selection of Windows 8 tools that can assist you when it comes to managing and organising your life.
People is perhaps the best tool for helping you to keep on top of things that’s ever created for Windows. Here, in this one simple application you can keep track of all your friends, family and work colleagues from a multitude of different social networks and email accounts. The People app lets you add accounts from Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Outlook, Google, LinkedIn and others. This brings together all your contacts in one place.
Click on ‘What’s new’ and you can see any and all updates that the members of your People app have made since you were last online and, best of all it doesn’t matter which account they updated – you see the latest tweets, Facebook status updates and more all from the People interface. You can favourite, retweet or reply to a tweet or like and add a comment to a Facebook post all without having to leave the People app and launch your web browser. It’s an essential hub for all your contacts and makes managing the wealth of data that you get from multiple sources much easier to digest and respond to.
The default email application in Windows 8 is Mail. It’s brand new and has been redesigned to complement the new Windows 8 look and feel. Everything has been simplified and now reading and composing messages is easier and more streamlined. If you have multiple accounts you can view all of them in the single Mail window with ease.
The interface really is very easy with just three icons in the top right that offer new message, reply or delete, the menu bar of old has been stripped out. The three column display shows your inbox and associated folders to the left, email details such as sender and subject line in the middle and the message itself is displayed to the right.
Mail makes it incredibly easy to manage your emails - just open the application and fire up the Settings charm to get access to the management features. You can turn push notifications on or off and limit email downloads to a certain time frame as well as choose an automatically added email signature. You can also have notifications switched on or off so you can take a break from the incoming work messages or, alternatively, always be on top of your email. The beauty of the Mail app in Windows 8 is the shear simplicity it offers, allowing you to get on top of your messages.
Much like Mail the Calendar application in Windows 8 offers a very clean and simple interface that makes adding and removing items easy. The simple design also means that you’ll be able to see what’s on for you at-a-glance. No need for you to drill down through tons of useless information, the calendar app just shows you exactly what you need to know. Each of the day, week or month views shares the same clean and simple design though you can take control of the colour schemes for your calendar.
To add an event you simply double-click on the day and enter the relevant information – if you have a smartphone the entries can be instantaneously synced with that too, so you’ll always have your calendar with you. If you add an event on your phone the calendar app will also pick it up and enter it automatically. For even more organisation you can show events on the lock screen so you can see what you’re supposed to be doing even when your laptop is locked.
As well as giving you tools to help manage the information overload through email and social media status updates there are some other cool apps that come with Windows 8 which can help to make you more organised. The Weather app can find your location and give you an hour-by-hour forecast so you’ll always know if you can risk leaving the house without your jacket and umbrella. The Weather app is beautifully designed and as well as the simple forecast you can use it to see temperature, rainfall and cloud cover satellite images.
Maps powered by Bing help you to plan anything from a short journey to the shops to a cross-country jaunt of many miles. There are live traffic updates showing the most congested routes and you can swap between a traditional map view and overhead satellite views to help you see exactly what’s what. Finally, the travel app, which on the surface, looks like just a bit of fun allows you to explore far off places from the comfort of your laptop.
Don’t be fooled by the fantastic 360 images and panoramas of the most popular travel destinations, this app can help you organise a trip too. Travel guides, restaurants, hotels and useful information such as currency, time difference and native language are all just a click away. Of course, these little applications are fun, but they serve a useful purpose too and can help you get things done without having to do all the research yourself or rely upon a web search that inevitably returns a host of potentially unrelated hits.
All the applications mentioned here are launched simply by typing their name at the start screen. The more you use and sync the data between your People, Mail and Contacts apps the sooner you’ll be completely organised and able to master the information overload that occurs today. The other simple applications included in Windows 8 like Maps and Weather can also help you to be more organised and ready for anything that the day throws at you.