Blog Post

3 Essential Web Working Tools — That Aren't Web Working Tools

ToolsWeb apps, computers and smartphones are all key tools in my web working arsenal, but using only those things alone, I doubt I’d ever get anything done at all. Instead, to help boost my productivity, I supplement the obvious utilities and devices with some perhaps unexpected ones, upon which my sanity largely depends.

1. E-reader

This isn’t a product placement spot, but I currently use a Sony Reader Pocket Edition (s sne). I live in Canada, and even though the Kindle (a amzn) just went international, we still got left out in the cold.

Regardless of what type of reader you’re using, whether it’s your iPhone or iPod Touch (s aapl), your notebook or desktop, or a dedicated device like the Sony or the Kindle, an e-reader is a great tool for someone who works online. Especially if your job involves writing. If you write a lot for your online work, you should also be reading a lot, and not just other online content.

But wait, you say, why bother with an e-reader when I have perfectly good traditional print books? For me, it’s a question of the rate of consumption, convenience, and efficient use of space. With my reader, I can get e-books from the local library, download public domain titles from Feedbooks and other sources, and keep it all close at hand without stuffing my small apartment full of traditional paper tomes. It’s always on hand for when I’m feeling less than inspired or have some downtime.

2. Web Radio

When you have unfettered access to your entire music collection twenty-four hours a day, no matter how large your library is, you’ll eventually crave some additional variety. I need music in the background while I’m working, and when I grow tired of my own stuff, I turn to internet radio for sustenance. Luckily, these days I don’t have to venture far before I find a wealth of different stations playing an infinite variety of music.

My current favorite web radio stations to frequent are the recently relaunched CBC Radio 3 streams. You can listen to live hows and music, or choose from Pop, Rock, Hip Hop and Electronic streams, or build your own playlist by tagging songs that you hear. And it’s all commercial-free because it’s a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation product, which means it’s publicly funded.

iTunes has a lovely selection of various kinds of web radio streams, many of which are also public stations and therefore ad-free.

3. Gym Membership

Or Wii Fit, or a daily walking route, or whatever excuse to stop looking at the computer for a while and get some exercise (Dawn uses iPhone app RunKeeper, for example). For me, that means a membership at the local YMCA, which is conveniently located one short alley away from my apartment building.

Once a day during the week, at about the same time, I put all my work on hold and go out for a 25 minute session on the treadmill. If it’s nice outside, I sometimes run around a local park instead. It replenishes my energy, prevents me from going stir crazy, and has the excellent side benefit of helping to keep me healthy.

Work is work, except when it isn’t. Being successful in a chosen career has as much to do with putting yourself in the right mindset and creating a lifestyle that best complements said career as it does with having the tools and skill sets necessary for the job itself. It can be awfully hard to identify what sort of leisure activities and contextual devices and services have a positive effect on your productivity, but by paying attention to what else is contributing to your good and bad days, you should be able to identify more things like those I’ve mentioned above.

What non-web working tools are essential in your daily life?

5 Responses to “3 Essential Web Working Tools — That Aren't Web Working Tools”

  1. I need to invest in an eReader. I have no desire for a kindle but I too could be listening to ebooks while working.

    I have tried the screen reader built into OSX and haven’t found the right settings to make it enjoyable to listen to. Maybe someone has suggestions.

    What software is available. I don’t mind paying but I don’t want another device like a Kindle, something I can install on my Mac or run in Virtualbox on Linux.