My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t-Live-Without Tools & Resources

Okay, so maybe I can actually live without these things in the sense that I won’t actually die if they disappear from my life. But this list includes many of the things that make my work easier, my life more worth living, and that help me be an actual grownup from time to time. Or at least look like one.

Organization 

  • My bullet journal. This is my brain that I carry around outside my head. Now that I’ve started doing this, I don’t know that I actually could survive without it. That link will give you the basic overview, but these essential links will help you break it down and adapt it to your needs:
  • Evernote. This one might fall under the heading of “Well, Duh!” but I’d heard about it for years before I finally started using it so maybe I’m not the only holdout. This is a great digital companion to my analogue Bujo. I use it for article research, drafting blog posts, collecting links I want to share or refer back to later, among other things. My favorite use for it, though, is saving stripped-down versions of blog posts with the Chrome extension to read on my phone later.
  • Trello. I don’t use this as much these days, but this app really comes in handy for organizing and tracking big projects, especially if there are multiple people involved.

Productivity

  • The Pomodoro Technique. In a nutshell, you set a timer to focus on a task for 20 minutes, then when the timer goes off you take a five minute break. Rinse and repeat until your task is finished. This is highly adaptable and you can find online timers all over the place. One of my favorites is a Chrome extension called Strict Workflow that cuts off your access to social media and other distracting sites while the timer is running. If you have ADD like me, this will be a huge boost to your ability to focus.
  • #EntVibes. This is a YouTube channel that features music tracks designed to boost productivity and creativity (it’s a lot like Focus@Will, except it’s free). Combine it with the Pomodoro method and you’ll knock out your work in no time. Or at least it will seem that way.
  • Coffitivity. If music doesn’t do it for you, this little app will transport you (in your imagination, anyway) to a crowded coffee shop where you can lose yourself in the conversational buzz. You’ll have to provide your own coffee for the other kind of buzz.
  • Simply Noise. Notice a theme here? While background noise really helps boost my ability to concentrate, my brain gets bored if I listen to the same thing over and over, so every now and then I need to switch it up. This app does what it says on the tin — it plays white, pink or brown noise to drown out distractions and boost focus. Bonus: the brown noise also helps relieve headaches.

Writing & Blogging

  • An AlphaSmart. Guys. Seriously. If you write at all, you NEED one of these. I got one for my birthday this year and you wouldn’t believe how much it has increased my word count. This little word processor takes up about as much space in your bag as a laptop and weighs about half as much. It runs on AA batteries (that last forever) so you never need to find an outlet. The small screen makes editing difficult so it’s perfect for powering through fast drafts. And the best thing is that there is NO INTERNET to distract you. Actually, maybe the best thing is that these babies start at around $30 on Amazon Marketplace (you can also find them on eBay).
  • Write or Die. If you don’t have an AlphaSmart and you just HAVE to write on a computer, the Write or Die app (there’s also a free online version) is probably the next best thing for boosting word count. You won’t actually die if you don’t write, but there WILL be consequences.
  • The Hope Writers Podcast. Hope Writers is actually a writing coaching/teaching community and it looks great and I want to sign up someday but it’s not in the budget right now. But they have a podcast, which is free, and I’ve learned a lot just listening to it.
  • An editorial calendar. This is something new I’m trying and I don’t have a definitive one to recommend, but I can already see how finding the right version is going to help me be more intentional and organized about this blog. I knew that if one was going to work for me it had to be able to be part of my bullet journal, so I used Tiny Ray of Sunshine’s bujo editorial calendar as a jumping off point and adapted it from there.

Doing Life

  • I start every day off with coffee and devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries and InCourage so I can person better.
  • I recently discovered the Lazy Genius Collective and I think she’s changed my life for the better.
  • UFYH. The F there stands for a naughty word, so if your sensibilities are too delicate for that, maybe stick to the Fly Lady instead. But Un”Fuss” Your Habitat just might change your life if even just the thought of cleaning your house leaves you feeling overwhelmed and depressed.

I realize this is not a massive list, but feel free to bookmark the link (just please don’t share it — it’s for subscribers only, because y’all are special) and check back from time to time. I’m bound to have forgotten something and this list is sure to grow. And if you have a potentially life-saving resource that I failed to mention here, feel free to mention it in the comments!

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