AntiSocial turns off the most distracting sites you specify for as long as you like, between 15 minutes to 8 hours. You cannot get on without rebooting your computer.
Rescue Time tracks your time usage through each day, and tells you how much time you spent actually writing, and how much on facebook, twitter, blogs, newspapers, magazines, websites. Try it.
The results are shocking. It also blocks every site it thinks distracting, but you can unblock it. If serious, use Antisocial as well. Both these have free versions, though I use paid versions.
My productivity has increased since I have started using them, though I still have WAY to go!
And, oh, the joy and peace of working with 100% focus!!
2 A pedometer.
I’d recommend my Omron pedometer. It tracks my daily steps, startling me with the realization of how sedentary I’ve become. 10,000 steps are meant to be optimal for physical health. I started building up at 4000 and have reached 7800 steps a day (and I need to walk outside for that; won’t get it in the course of my daily life!)
It’s changing my life. For instance, when we travel, we used to try to park as close to the museum or botanical garden or church as possible to save our strength for the attraction. Now, I don’t care where we park; it’s going to be challenging to get my 7900 steps anyway—which is about 4 miles! Similarly, if I haven’t got my goal steps by the night, I walk around tidying the house until I get my steps, and walk down with each stray item, instead of leaving them by the steps. You get the picture.
3 Audible.co.uk or Audible.com.
I’ve always loved audiobooks, and at times when I’ve been depressed, or low-energy, or ready to give up writing, they have helped me fall in love again with books, and words and writing.
Audiobooks help enormously with writing style, as you subliminally pick up style, rhythm and tone. Stylists, in particular, come to life on audiobooks—such as Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Chang-Rae Lee or Kazuo Ishiguro.
I download Audible books to my iPhone, and play them from my pocket as I walk around the house, or walk outside. I probably listen to more books than I read as I use fallow time to do so.
Our family subscribes to the 24 book plan, for £110, about 4.58 a book. Not dirt-cheap, but not expensive either if you consider the pleasure a book gives you.
4 Satnav—We got ours a few years ago, and it’s magic. We go to Europe a lot, and really enjoy driving without continually looking at maps or getting lost.
Well, the satnav does get us a bit lost, sometimes, or into “no-drive without permit” zones, but basically, the pleasure of being able to get step by step driving directions in unfamiliar medieval cities or metropolises—for that I could forgive my satnav a lot.
5 MiFi—A little gadget that creates a portable hotspot wherever I am, so that I gets fast WiFi on the go. It certainly makes travel more fun, as I love researching things, and, besides, don’t have to be parted from my blog or my social media networks of friends and acquaintances when on the hoof. It’s an amazing thing. Ours is from 3 and costs £9 a month. We recommend the gadget and company.
6 I use a little worship timer which I bought from Catch the Fire which beeps every ten minutes and reminds me to pray and be thankful. It keeps me positive, happier, and far more energetic. Brother Lawrence would have loved it, I think.
7 My iPhone.
I’ve had it since 2009, and it still seems magical to me—a phone, a camera, iPod, email, facebook, twitter… It also has the Runkeeper app which tells me the speed at which I am running, or not running; my Bible on text and audio, and audiobooks. Amazing. All this is a sleek palm sized gadget. I totally understand the outpouring of grief at the death of Steve Jobs.
8 Other favourite bits of technology—my laptop, and digital camera. I might have added my iPad and my Kindle, except that daughter number 2 and 1 stole each of these on the day they entered the house, and I’ve hardly been on them. Perhaps I’ll recapture them before my next tech update!
What are your favourite gadgets and apps? I.e. what should I ask for for Christmas?