4 Ways to Upgrade your Day during COVID-19 with Technology

by Barrett

I put my technology to work and made these tweaks to help improve my family’s experience while spending more time at home.

Isn’t the promise of technology to improve the quality of your life? Well, now is certainly the perfect opportunity to make sure your tech is working overtime to help get you through COVID-19.

Here are four ways that technology helps me to maintain comfort at home and some sense of normalcy.

Continue Ordering Groceries Online
Yes, I was one of those people who didn’t want to visit supermarkets while COVID-19 was spiking in the greater New York City area.

Sure, it was difficult to find open delivery slots from the usual online grocery choices, but I was able to hunt down enough openings between FreshDirect, Whole Foods/Amazon and Peapod to keep our refrigerator sufficiently stocked from March to June.

When news of COVID-19 began leading the headlines elsewhere in the country, more grocery delivery times in our neck of the woods gradually appeared.

And I kept ordering.

No, I didn’t like the idea of someone else picking out my food, but I was willing to ignore my ‘hunting and gathering’ instincts because of the extraordinary circumstances. But a funny thing happened along the way… I realized that I was indeed able to get the majority of what I wanted without showing up to a market. And it didn’t really cost that much more.

Other than the original challenge of finding open delivery slots, online grocery delivery has become an amazingly convenient way to stock our house.

I know it’s not like this shopping option hasn’t been available for years. But I never gave it a chance. (I considered it an unnecessary luxury.)

But the truth is… it’s a real time saver. And you know what they say about time…

Buy a Chair with Ergonomic Support
Sitting all day can be a punishing experience for your body, especially your back. In the early days of COVID-19, I found that my lower back was stiff and achy. And I knew that the culprit was my old home-office chair, which wasn’t designed to provide sufficient ergonomic support. And it clearly wasn’t made to sit in all day.

So I decided that it was time to upgrade.

The choices for a better chair are endless, and they can get crazy expensive. (A Herman Miller Aeron, the gold standard, can set you back $1,400.) While the opposite side of the shopping spectrum is under $200, you should consider that you get what you pay for.

That said, there are solid chairs out there at more reasonable price points. I eventually zeroed in on the well-reviewed $349 Autonomous ErgoChair 2, which I bought direct. (Autonomous began in 2015 on Kickstarter.)

Compared to my old chair, it’s a dream to sit in! It provides all of the right supports to help keep me aligned throughout my day. And my lower back is incredibly happy with the proper lumbar support. (You can’t put a price on that!)

Set Up an Outdoor Movie Night for your Friends
You may recall that I launched the Lester backyard movie night series earlier in the summer, which mimics the idea of a drive-in movie, but without any cars parked in the middle of my backyard!

I bought a Nebula Mars II Pro, which is a small but powerful battery-run projector. I popped it on a tripod and taped a white sheet onto our backyard fence.

Then, it’s showtime!

You can stream Netflix directly from the Mars II Pro or you can hard wire it to your smartphone to access an almost endless supply of movie choices. You can also connect to the Mars II Pro via Bluetooth, but not all movie services will let you stream through to the Mars II Pro via a smartphone.
(Once you figure out these irregularities, you’ll look like a wizard having so easily turned your backyard into a movie theater!)

The Mars II Pro has two 10-watt speakers, which is impressive for this product category. That said, I’ve found that the summer nights have become increasingly noisy with various insect beasts proclaiming their existence. The last time we tried our outdoor movie night, the roar of crickets overwhelmed the entire experience. So, it was clear that I needed a louder portable sound system to work with.

So, I bought the AOMAIS Go Bluetooth speaker ($70.99 on Amazon) which projects 40 watts of power, and you can really appreciate the boost in sound.

It’s simple to pair the AOMAIS Go to the Mars II Pro. And even though it’s easy to carry the speaker around, it ironic that it’s about twice the size of the projector.

There are more powerful portable speakers out there, but they’re more expensive. The AOMAIS Go has enough oomph to do the trick for me.

Order More Bandwidth for your Family’s Streaming Needs
I imagine that you too may have faced a barrage of complaints from family members that your home Wi-Fi network can’t handle the increased load of endless Zoom meetings, online learning and Netflix streaming.

It’s probably not your Wi-Fi. It’s your Internet service plan. So, go check it and then upgrade your bandwidth to the next level. That should do the trick!

I was paying for the base plan of 100 Mbps. So I spent $10 more a month to double it to 200 Mbps. That stabilized things really quick.
(There are faster plans, but I say only buy what you need.)

As part of my review of our Internet plan, I also decided to buy a compatible modem with my Optimum service. Then, I returned the modem that I was renting, which will save us $10 a month.

I’ve effectively doubled our bandwidth without spending more on a monthly basis! Now, everyone at home is having a better online experience throughout their day.

Make those Tech Tweaks
Sure, our world is feeling a bit out of control these days. It’s more important than ever to do what you can to maintain a smooth home operation. Used most effectively, your technology can help you to do exactly that!