Dear Lifehacker, My smartphone -- if not my laptop, tablet or something else entirely -- runs out of battery regularly. I often forget to charge, but even when I do remember, I still end up dangerously close to empty. What can I do to ensure I actually charge my gadgets and maintain enough battery power to get through each day? Sincerely, Energy Inefficient
Batteries are fickle things, and they lose their ability to operate at full capacity pretty quickly. While you can't ever ensure your gadgets keep a charge every single day, you can take measures to make that the more likely scenario. First, let's deal with your memory problem, then take a look at how you can optimise the battery life of the gadgets you're using.
Always Remember to Charge Your Gadgets
Remembering to charge your gadgets requires two simple things: easy access to power and a good memory, even if it isn't your own. Don't worry if you haven't got either -- that's an easy problem to fix.
Set Well-Timed, Location-Based Reminders
If you can't remember to charge your devices, let your devices remind you. All you have to do is set a few reminders to go off regularly at important times as well as when you're at a specific location that's good for charging. First and foremost, ensure you have a charging reminder around your bedtime. If you charge your devices every day, that's the time you'll want to remember most. It's easy to forget when you're sleepy, so alerts will keep you on task. Not everything happens at the same time each day, of course, so location-based reminders can be of great assistance throughout the day so you get an alert when you arrive at the office, at home or anywhere else with consistent power. iPhone users can set location-based reminders through the standard reminders app. You just tell it to remind you at a specific location and then enter an address. Android users can set location-based reminders through the Google Maps app by tapping a location and choosing to set one. Alternatively, apps like CheckMark and GeoNote offer that feature to-do list style.
Your devices can't remind you to charge them if they're out of battery, of course. If you've got a desktop computer or other device with constant power, set alerts there too. That way it'll be much harder to miss. If you don't, put a sign in your bathroom that says "charge your gadgets" (or something like that). Paper doesn't run out of battery, and presumably you'll at least brush your teeth right before you get to bed.
Put Chargers Everywhere
Personally, I'm neurotic about keeping my gadgets fully charged. I prefer to never think about the possibility of a depleted battery, so I make power available everywhere I go. You can do this cheaply and easily with inexpensive multi-port USB chargers placed in your bedroom, living room, the kitchen or anywhere else you spend more than an hour at a time on a given day. If you spend 30 minutes or more each day in your car, get a dual-USB car power adapter for on-the-go charging as well.
Laptop power adaptors cost a bit more, so you can't buy too many of them without spending a fortune. Refurbished ones, however, get the job done just as well and cost a lot less.Alternatively, OEM and universal laptop chargers (like this one) offer steep discounts as well. Mac laptop owners should look for refurbished adaptors from third-party resellers.
Plugging a bunch of chargers into your wall means you'll draw power unnecessarily throughout the day. While this power draw is pretty minimal, even if you had devices connected 24/7, you might want to consider conservational outlets that prevent this problem if you're concerned.
Create a Modular Charger That Travels Anywhere
You can place chargers everywhere in your home and in your vehicle, but you can't always control the situation at a hotel, your office, or any other temporary location. I solved this problem by building a seven port USB travel charger. You can carry it with you, it manages all your cables, it features two ports that rapidly charge your devices, and it's great for at home as well when you're not on the go.
Get an External Battery
You won't have constant access to outlets, so your situation may warrant an external battery. You can use it to charge individual gadgets, but if you make the travel charger mentioned above you can actually connect it and use it to charge/power an array of items. Either way, it doesn't to have one of these for emergencies if you're always running out of battery despite your best efforts.
Optimise Your Gadgets' Battery Life
We've talked a lot about optimising the battery life of your gadgets, and it's pretty simple: turn off services you don't use. Don't need Bluetooth? Turn it off. Are you letting lots of apps access your GPS and use your location? Turn off the ones you don't need. Do you leave your screen on full brightness when you don't need to or keep Wi-Fi active when it's not in use? Don't! Use only what you need to use and you'll squeeze a little more life out of your batteries. For more information, check out our guides to saving battery life on your smartphones and laptops.
Hopefully these tips will help you keep your batteries charged. If not, you might be a little too connected. When your battery can't last you the entire day, you're charging regularly, and the battery is in good condition, you're probably using your devices too much. Take a break. You and your gadgets will be better off for it.