A while back I made a post about the tools that save my life. In it, I talked about the useful tools which help me work efficiently. We’re all busy people. We all need bits and bobs that make our hectic lives easier to handle. And in this world of apps and websites and programs and shares, and being the organization geek that I am, I’m always trying to implement new systems.


I’ve long known that it’s impossible to work in silence. The more silent my writing space is, the louder it gets. My head takes over, criticising every word I write, until I can no longer put anything down on the page. This is lessened a little by handwriting, possibly because the motor skill of writing by hand is somehow (whyyy?!) less automatic than typing. But either way, I can’t work in silence.

Coffitivity is the answer. It’s a nifty website that plays café sounds in the background while you work. You know the cliché of writers in cafes not writing, just pretending? If you’re an actual writer, I imagine this image makes you a bit squeamish. And so Coffitivity will allow you to take the useful noise levels home with you. If it’s the act of getting out of your house that helps… Sorry. I can’t help you with that one. Maybe on the next post.

This has really solved the problem of working when my boyfriend’s home too. He watches TV loudly, and I can no longer work…unless I put headphones in and Coffitivity my way through!

Nature Sounds
You’re on the tram, and there’s a bogan on the phone screaming about last Friday’s rager. You don’t care; you’re trying to concentrate on your book. Reading at the tram stop you got into a fantastic scene, but now Bogan Lady’s screaming in your ear and it’s a bit hard to concentrate. Other commuters are wearing headphones to block her out, but they’re just staring out the window. Listening to music while reading might be hard for you, because taking in two different streams of words is confusing and not helpful for concentration.

So? Nature Sounds! There’s chirping birds and whatnot, which are as bad as music. But I like to listen to heavy rain or waterfalls. It allows me to focus on my book, and turn an otherwise kind of pissed-off tram ride into reading time.

For more information about ambient noise, how it works, and other programs you can use, try here. Seriously, it’s changed things for me.

I have so many problems that are solved by Evernote, and only one that isn’t.

Evernote is a digital folder. It allows you to take notes, and organize them. You can categorize into ‘notebooks’, and order and view your notes however is most useful for you. You can tag your notes for easy finding later.

In motion: I have a Writers Bloc notebook, which contains a note with logins, a note with a to-do list, a note with contacts, a note with a blog schedule, a note with payment details, etc etc. I have a Quotes notebook, in which I log any quotes I want to save. I tag them, so that when I remember a vague “thing” later that I’d like to use somehow, I can just look it up.

Evernote does not contain a calendar. For my blog schedules, I just type out dates and separate weeks by dividers. So it’s not impossible, it’s just not TOTALLY streamlined.

What IS streamlined is multi-platform use. I use this on my phone and my laptop, and it syncs constantly so that all my content is always up to date.

Windows Live Mail
I have a big problem with push notifications. They’re great, because I have everything with me all the time!

But they also mean that I have everything with me all the time.

There’s no switching off from work, because it’s all mixed up with the things that aren’t work. Pushing all my emails means also pushing work mail. Until Windows Live Mail! This is probably too specific to my circumstances to be useful, but I’m sharing it anyway.

The majority of my Writers Bloc email now goes through a separate mail account, which goes through a separate email client, which I can turn notifications OFF – on my computer I need to open a separate program to access it, and on my phone I’ve usually got the notifications off so that I don’t get alerts when an email’s there. I don’t feel compelled to do everything NOW because I don’t know it exists now, and that’s really the best thing for me.


What organization and efficiency tools save your life?