(BPT) - No one wants to see a cloud on a sunny summer day, but when it comes to how technology can make your life better, a different type of cloud can actually brighten your day. Cloud storage - often referred to as just 'the cloud' - makes it easy to work at home or from anywhere, plus it makes it a snap to plan summer activities. Here's how you can make your experiences less stressful and more meaningful with a few technology tips and tricks.
1. Use telecommuting tools
Just because the kids are on summer break, mom and dad don't get to stop working. Not only do you have to manage the camp carpool, you also need to review that work presentation and provide feedback to a colleague. Many companies allow employees to telecommute during summer months, if it doesn't disrupt operations. Streamline your day by using a free service like SkyDrive to update documents and communicate in real time. SkyDrive and Microsoft Office work together, so your documents are always with you, whether you're 10 or 10,000 miles away. You can work on Office documents together with teammates, even simultaneously, online. Remember, forward your office number to your smartphone and be active on an instant messaging service - other employees will appreciate your availability even when you're not physically present.
2. Create a defined schedule
Juggling the kids' summer activities with work obligations can get complicated, so it's important to create a schedule that everyone can access and share. If your kids or spouse are home, set expectations about when you're in your office and when you need uninterrupted time to work. Assign activities to children such as reading books, creating crafts or quiet play. Make your office off-limits so you can focus when necessary. Use the new, modern Outlook.com calendar that can be shared with the family and syncs to any device; that way, you, and others, can keep track of all your commitments - both work and personal - so you never miss a beat.
3. Vacation planning 2.0
The annual summer vacation is fun for the entire family, but planning it can be a nightmare. Technology tools can make it much simpler. Use your smartphone to keep all your to-do and packing lists handy - you'll never forget anything again. By using personal cloud technology, you can share travel ideas and trip updates in an instant, so everyone always stays in the loop. Utilize SkyDrive and Microsoft Office to work with others on travel schedules and itinerary ideas, even if the other party is across the country. Finally, don't forget to download a few fun, new apps for the kids to keep them occupied while in the car or plane.
4. Share summer memories
Uploading and sharing personal travel photos is tons of fun. Perhaps you want to share them with everyone through social media like Facebook and watch the comments roll in. Maybe you only want to send a few select images to the grandparents and other key family members - simply upload the images to your personal cloud and then send a link to your photos or entire albums via email. Sending a link to photos stored in the cloud allows you to get around certain file or email size limits, so you can share as many pictures as you'd like. Only the people you choose to share these with will get to see those beautiful photos of your precious summer moments.
5. Get the face-to-face connection
Need to connect with a colleague while working from home or with a family member while traveling? No problem. Whether it's your boss or your mother who lives across the country, use simple, free video chat services like Skype to virtually connect face-to-face. Skype is currently rolling out in Outlook.com inboxes across the U.S., so video chat is a snap when you work from home. You can connect eye to eye with your colleagues, while the kids will love video chatting with relatives and friends they miss.
These five technology tips can help you make this summer your best one yet. Whether you're working from home or simply cutting down on the work it takes to plan a vacation, the cloud can make your life easier.