Top 5 Websites that Make Life Easier

website ideas

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

To end the week just wanted to share the Top Websites that make life easier …at least for me and maybe for you too! Would luv to hear about your fav websites that make your life easier.

Why are these websites tops in my life?

  • Reduces the amount of stuff I have to memorize  – especially when they are non-critical things like birthday lists, books I want to read, size dimensions of something I’m looking to buy
  • Access is Free
  • Mobile App too
  • Simple to use!

Here are my Top Websites and why they make life easier

Evernote is my mental filing cabinet! Lists of all kinds like booklists, gift lists, furniture dimensions, photos of things I want to remember- like a great Anthropogy display so I can re-create a piece, photos of things I’d like to buy later. This is also my go to source for the list of computer programs, websites etc to load anytime I get a new computer or my old ones needs a complete restore (I wish it didn’t happen that often but between work and home seems to alot!)

Teuxdeux to do lists – super simple and when I don’t complete it, it automatically keeps moving to the next day!

Mint  I luv this website for managing all my personal finances and accounts. I was skeptical at first but now prefer it over Money or Quicken. Luv that I can get access it anywhere anytime!

Picasa I’m not ready to tackle Photoshop yet so this works awesome for editing photos, tagging, collages and special effects!

Yelp for more than just restaurants -luv the great reviews on salons, handymans, sports rentals, tours and anything else I’m looking to buy!

Enjoy Websites and Apps that make life easier savings you time to do other things you really enjoy!  Let me know your favs!

 

Podcasts and 5 Reasons They Will Make Your Day Rock

podcast listen

podcast listen (Photo credit: Terry Freedman)

Picking up from yesterday’s post and the theme for this week – how to get more out of technology -no extra gadgets or techno speak required! Today is all about Podcasts and how they will make your day rock!

First the 5 second primer for newbies…

  • You can listen to Podcasts on any computer or your i gadget (phone, ipod, itouch etc) and Android gadget which means you can usually also listen to them in your car. (if you don’t know about the car plug-in option drop me a note!)
  • Podcasts can be found on itunes or on several of the Google apps for Android which you can download for FREE 
  • 99% of the time Podcasts are FREE 
  • There are tons of Podcasts in a rainbow of categories – promise you will find something you like!
  • Podcast definition

Now …The Top 5 Reasons why Podcasts will make your day rock…

1. LISTEN when you can’t read  Podcasts are great for your drive time, waiting in line, working out, cleaning your house and working in your yard which means you start to look forward to these otherwise times of torture

2. GET SMART  I luv them because they are a quick hit of smarts! Catch up on the world news, learn a language, business and finance tips, science advances, new foods etc. Basically I feel pretty worldly, cultured and caught up since I just don’t have the time to read things like the latest business book or the online news

3. SHORT Most Podcasts are usually 10-20 minutes you can fit them in anytime! In my mind they are like reading a magazine with all its short bits of info that you can pick up anytime.  You don’t have to have to re-listen to the previous minutes to remind yourself what it was you were listening to

4. AUTO UPDATES Why not use technology so that you get fresh material loaded all the time! The subscription option means you don’t have to go back and load each and every Podcast episode you want they are just pushed to your ‘library’

5. SAVES YOU MONEY Podcasts on finance and personal investing give you great tips on saving money plus in my book it’s also a great replacement for XM radio. Yes I know it doesn’t give you everything XM does but it’s darn close – but maybe that’s because listening to live sports isn’t at the top of my list!

What Podcasts are on my short list lately? Right now Podcasts on business, finance, arts and creativity top my listen list.

TED Talk Audio –  Speakers from the from the TED conference! Amazing cutting edge, innovative, mind-blowing new ideas!  One presenter shared her new process and program  developed to get more people to learn the Chinese language easier and faster – absolutely brilliant!

Studio 360 from PRI and WNYC (Public Radio International) What’s happening in pop culture and the arts.  My first GET SMART moment was listening to Mel Brooks and his 10,000 year old man skit that apparently is the bible for many comedians! Really – I luv live  improv comedy and have never heard this. Where have I been!

HBR Ideacast (Harvard Business Review) Awesome interviews with people like Maya Angelou and great topics that are like Cliff Notes to the latest business and thought leaders.

Money Girl Very practical tips on money and finances. Everything from Yard sales to life insurance

Seth Godin’s Startup School This is only a limited set of Podcasts from his startup school about a year ago. If you’re thinking of starting a new business or have one that needs a super charge well worth your time!

Enjoy your time listening to a few Podcasts and make your day rock!

Digital Decor and Lifesytle Magazines and 5 Reasons to Love Them

The June/July 2010 issue of Lonny

Time is always scare so this week is devoted to sharing a few ways I’ve found to get a bit more out of technology.  Promise no techno mumble or extra gagets required! Just simple things that can DELIVER!

Today’s post is all about online magazines that deliver the look and feel of decor and lifestyle print mags all for FREE and SAVE TIME! I don’t mean the print magazine that also have an online website- I mean the digital magazines that are only published online!  What’s so great about them?

Top 5 Reasons to read a digital magazine published online…

1. ACCESS anytime anywhere you have web access…no renewing your subscription, no lost mail, no duplicate issues!

2. EASY SAVING YOUR FAVS! No need to dog ear the corners of your fav pages you want to save and rip out later…you can save it directly to your bookmarks, web reminder or notes site or some of the online mags offer a favorites list you can create!

3. LINKING! All the products and people in the online magazines are linked to their source! This always feels like a 2 for 1 deal to me.. the magazine article plus see the styled product or designer and with just one click I land at the website. You save time with the direct linking if you want to purchase or learn more!

4. VARIETY Online magazines I think offer a lot more variety with a range of writers and artists around the world, articles not just on the biggest trends and designers, but also up-and-comers, unique and lesser known products too!

5. MORE CONTENT Luv an online magazine? All of them have extra content on their website blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to get more personal and get late breaking news!

Lonny Magazine was probably the first decor & lifestyle magazine and my absolute fav – likely because it was created by some of the same people who were at Domino  before it folded!  Remember Domino was the magazine that provide mini post-its to flag your pages to save!

Rue Magazine is decor, fashion, shopping and all things lifestyle!

Matchbook Magazine is East Coast meets West Coast decor, lifestyle, fashion with sprinkles of culture too!

Enjoy spending your spare time catching up with an online magazine and getting all those extra features that save you time!

(p.s. I’m not affiliated with any of the magazines or receving any benefits from this article.)

Little Black Book of Best Blogs

Best of Blogs

So you’re reading my blog which means you likely read others and there are millions! If you spend time reading on-line sometimes you find it’s 2 hours later and have no idea where you’ve been or remember that really great blog an hour ago – and no you haven’t been drinking!

Sometimes you may be taking that mental break and just need a “picture book” since pictures speak louder than words why not.  So in the hopes this will save you time in finding what you want to read and follow – besides this blog of course – here’s the Little Black Book of Best Blogs.

Two of my current favs are…

The Satorialist – Amazing international “picture book” of everyday people fashion – fashion is not pre-req to check out this blog!

The Everywhereist – cheeky witty writting on worldly travels (Wow I just used the word cheeky and I’m not even British but I fits too well)

So here’s the Best of Blogs from a couple primo sources. Hope you find a couple you luv and that the list saved you enough time so you can read more!

 

 

 

See the City Sites in an Hour!

Lucerne, SwitzerlandIn a new city with limited time to see it? Or maybe you just want to see it at your own pace.   On vacation and business travel I’ve found the best way to see a new city is a morning run or walk. Yes, this means your spare time does double duty – a workout and city tour all in one!  I luv seeing new cities in the morning best. The city is quiet which makes it easier to navigate and any crazy people aren’t up an out yet.  By running or walking you get to see nooks and crannies you can’t see from a moving vehicle.  It’s also a great time to get a flavor of the everyday life.

Whether you run or walk it’s always easy to take your ‘fitness equipment’ with you – a pair of running shoes-  it doesn’t take up much room in your travel bag. I’ve found the hotel front desk is a great source for recommending running paths and never steers me into the wrong parts of town.  In fact some even provide pre-printed running maps!

Last week I was on business travel in Lucerne, Switzerland for 4 days. My first time in the country with the likelihood I wouldn’t return, at least anytime soon.  I wanted to be sure I saw beyond the hotel walls.  Working days were long, which meant leaving at 7:30 am and arriving back at the hotel after 9:30 pm.  I checked a couple websites on ‘the places to see’ in town and most were just blocks from the hotel. Two mornings I decided to get up a bit earlier, lace up the shoes and throw on a warm layer of clothes.  The first morning was an amazing run along Lake Lucerne (Lake Luzern).  The path was paved and lit, the Lake amazingly beautiful and serene.  It also gave me the chance to see the historic Grand Hotel National -at least from the outside!

The second run was along the River Reuss, across the longest canopied wooden footbridge in the world – the Chapel Bridge and next to the watchtower, one of the most photographed sites.  On my running loop I also had a chance to see one of the Nine Towers that is part of the old city wall and run through the cobblestone streets of old town. These two early morning runs covered at least 6 tourists sites on the must see list in an hour! Talk about making the most of my time.

Chapel Bridge Lucerene Switzerland

Chapel Bridge, Switzerland

Old Town Lucerene, Switzerland

Old Town, Lucerne

Need more reasons to spend your spare time taking a leisurely run or walk through the city? You find great local shops with handmade goods like Change Maker, plus you are guilt free in trying delicious little treats like Luxemburgerlis (a Lucerne macaroon)!

Luxemburgerli, Lucerene Macaroons

 

Hopefully I have convinced you enough to skip that extra hour of sleep – you can sleep when you get home- and spend your spare time taking a morning run (or walk) through a new city!

 

How to Make More Time

How to Find time

It’s already January 1st and everywhere I turn people are planning their resolutions for the rest of the year. It’s usually never quite a fresh slate since there are things you are going to have to keep doing but you can always choose how, if and when you do things!  Every year the top resolutions usually have some form of “exercise more, lose weight, learn or do more xyz, eat healthy”.  Almost all of these involve time. In my experience it’s always the lack of time we point to as the reason for not doing something we truly wanted to do.

So…. here’s an approach I found usefully as you make those goals with yourself.  It’s super easy – you can do it in 10-15 minutes and always go back if you want to spend more time!

(1)  Make a list of things you “wish you had more time to do“. If you can be specific, it’s even more helpful to keep you focused on what really matters to you.

Here’s a few ideas to get the juices flowing from my list:

  • Have more picnics with the family – at least once a month ( I won’t care if the food is grocery store pre-made, fast food or home-made)
  • Make a new dinner at least once a month
  • Time for a one-hour yoga class twice a week
  • Sleep 7 hours
  • Read 1 book a month

(2) Make another list of “how you really spend your time“. This is a little more challenging. Don’t worry about listing every nickel and dime of time but buckets of things and think through a couple of months.

Here’s a few ideas for this list as well:

  • Planning and making dinner for family every night
  • Gardening
  • Car maintenance every quarter ( oil change, tire rotation, wiper replacements)
  • Work 8-5p M-F
  • Laundry (collect from rooms, sort, wash, fold & put away)
  • Walk dog

Now comes the fun part! First, go through the second list on how you really spend your time and make a note for each item based on the following criteria:

A = Delegate
Can someone else in the family do it – or at least help, can you pay someone else to do it or can you exchange with a friend to do it.  If you exchange with a friend will it save you time if they are faster and enjoy something more than what you are exchanging to do.

B = Do less well
Yes this means you have to check-in with yourself and have a discussion on whether you really need it done to the gold standard you set for yourself.  My “do less well” was gardening.  I would luv to grow many varieties of veggies, but decided I’d be happy with the veggies that are easy to grow, my family really likes and I only plant a few. In my landscape beds, I also only plant perennials, succulents and fruit trees since it requires less time and is just as satisfying for me.

C = Limit distractions
These are the things that seem unexpectedly to suck your time without much return. Things like work email after hours (generally the non-critical kind), internet searches, blog reading and Pinterest top my list.  Don’t get me wrong I haven’t cut these out of my life but for me I usually set a time limit.

Second, go back to your list of Wish you had time to do and see if any of the criteria apply (Delegate, Do Less Well, Limit Distractions).  I found that Reading 1 Book a Month could be a “B-Do less well ” since I’d consider listening to a book on CD or itunes.  I also don’t think it’s “doing less well” since listening is a good skill and it gives a bit a variety.

For me, I also found prioritizing and picking a few key items on the Wish you had time to do list helped narrow it down.  So now you just have to stick with your new way of thinking (A,B or C) about how you spend your time to make time for things on your Wish you had time to do list!

Enjoy making more time for things you want to do this year!

Time for Holiday Treats?

homemade holiday treats

 

Finding extra time for holiday treats is always a challenge. This year instead of baking every last item on the list, it was time for a new tradition to enjoy more time with family and friends- or just time to relax.  The new tradition? Bake only one treat until it is eaten up, and figure family and friends will be baking and sharing a few of their treats!

Why the new tradition?
1. Baking takes time – enjoyable for the first couple batches but then it does get to be a chore by the 10th cookie sheet of the 4th variety

2. Having 2-3 dozen of a million different treats means you don’t get a chance to savor it -you keep thinking you have to eat and eat so you don’t miss it.

3. A family pact to make our favorite holiday treats throughout the year! This means baking time is enjoyed, treats are enjoyed and you don’t get that crazy holiday sugar coma!

So what was on my baking list this holiday?

  • Frosted sugar cookies – I cheated a little and used pre-made sugar cookie dough but with real butter cream frosting who cares about the cookie part
  • Gingersnaps – old family recipe that is good anytime of the year
  • Mini muffin tin pies – We can never eat an entire pie and no one can agree on the same kind, so it was easy to create just a couple apple and blackberry mini pies in muffin tin sizes

What did family and friends share?

  • Peanut butter kiss cookies
  • A too cute Reindeer cider mix-in
  • Fudge
  • Nanaimo bars
  • Homemade Caramel & Chocolate sauce

and so many more that it was nice to have just a piece and the rest stayed at their house!

Hope you found time to enjoy a holiday treat this month!

 

 

 

Save Your Ideas and Time!

Deco File Box

Ok I admit I love the touch and feel of paper magazines. In this day and age this is likely ‘old school’ but nothing compares. Yes, magazines are my quick fix when I don’t have time to read more than a page or two in my book. It’s the perfect amount of reading over my breakfast coffee or before bed when I invariably fall asleep way too soon.

Magazines are completely satisfying as I look for great ideas, fold corners, circle items or make notes on the pages I tear out to save. Now you are starting to think that if I save them, and you’ve read my about me page, they wouldn’t possibly just end up in a tall stack collecting dust. Right you are! Since I do save quite a few pages on my favorite topics there is a system, or really what’s the point in saving. Notebooks I’m sure are great for some but for me it’s a cute small file box with about 10 hanging files. One box only! You can imagine how this could get out of control.

Just 10 topics that help me file my pages away quickly without it hanging out on the to do list for months. Of course pages with more than one topic always create quite the decision process! Since my file box is all about my interests (and not so much the family), I narrowed it down to; gifts, beauty products, fashion, bedroom & dining deco, kitchen & bath deco, closet & entry ways, internet sites, book recommendations, home accessories and organization.

In case you’re wondering, yes I actually do use it. Holidays and birthdays have me leafing through my gift folder for something unique. My latest urge to DIY or redecorate has me sifting pages in the bedroom, kitchen or closet folders for inspiration.

Since I have limited space for saving, one box remember, I’m trying the ‘new school’ web method. One of my favorite online magazines Lonny (formerly the editors from Domino – if you remember that one) has a great marking feature and every product on every page can be marked and stored! It’s the next best thing to post-its! The best find is my organized file cabinet and idea board internet style on Pinterest. Likely you’ve been to Pinterest before and been sucked in with all the pictures.  It’s a fun alternative to the file box, although I’m not sure I’ll entirely give it up because I have a thing for paper. It’s definitely someplace I go when I want a break and look for inspiration which has me adding to one or more of my lists!
Hope this gives you just a bit more spare time!

Make Extra Time in Your Day?

 

DIY pottery platterAlways game to try something that will me feel like I have extra time, I followed the advice in a recent article.  The article said that if you do something different, out of the ordinary by your own standards, it will feel like you added extra time to your day.  Sign me up for extra time!

Time to test the theory. I agreed to join a few girlfriends Friday after work for DIY pottery painting and wine. I’ve never taken the time to hang out at one of these DIY pottery painting shops because well, they usually take a lot of imagination and time, neither of which I can make magically appear.  I think if someone had mentioned wine earlier maybe I would have tried it sooner.  After the usual workday and getting  everyone off to their Friday night destinations, I joined the girlfriends at 6pm. 

I was a bit worried I’d have to dream up something creative on a Friday night after a long week.  Luckily at this place you don’t have to bring an ounce of creativity to make something you’d actually want to keep.  They provide the step by step instruction, pattern and all the necessary equipment. The result of my extra time research was the party platter. We finished our DIY painting project in about two hours. The girlfriend chat probably made our lesson extra- long since we had to wait for paint to dry at certain times. No we didn’t actually make any ‘watch the paint dry jokes’ but we did catch up on a lot of laughter.  By the time I got home I couldn’t remember my work day.  I did feel like I somehow crammed an extra half- a- day in after work for a lot of fun “me” time.  Fun for me usually doesn’t make it to the top of my list.  But, from now on I’ll be planning something different more often.

In case you’re thinking of “beating the research” and planning a lot of different things in your day to always feel like you have that extra time, the article says it’s not so.  When you plan to do a lot of different things in a day it just turns into normal and then so does the time in your day.

I hope you find something different and get extra spare time in your day!