Listy McListerson

I love making lists. Scratch that: I NEED to make lists. Sometimes I don’t know where to begin with a task if I don’t have a list telling me what to do.

I still love a good ol’ paper list, but I also have three different list-making apps that are invaluable when I’m on the go. Paper lists often get lost but my iPhone is essentially always nearby, so it’s easy to jot things down in a few seconds when I remember something we need at the store or a work task that needs to be completed.

Below are my top three can’t-live-without-them apps that I think any list lover will find useful.

Top Three Apps for List Lovers

TeuxDeux
I use TeuxDeux as my daily to-do list for work. There is a mobile app as well as a desktop interface that perfectly serves my needs, and bonus: it’s sleek and beautifully designed (by the fabulous SwissMiss). It’s always open in a tab in my browser while I work, reminding me of today’s tasks that need to be completed, and I can also see the next 5 days at a glance. It’s simple to add tasks, move them around, and strike through them when I’m done (the best part for any list-making addict, amiright?) There is a place to add “someday” tasks or lists, but otherwise it is pretty fuss-free and simple. The mobile app is great for adding things that I think of when I’m away from my computer, but I definitely use this app the most when I’m sitting at my desk. There is now a $24 fee per year, which is rather steep, but after already having been sucked into it while it was free for several years and not finding a better replacement, I decided to pay for it in order to keep being able to use it.

KeyRing
Nick and I use KeyRing to keep records of all our rewards or club cards on our iPhones (so we don’t have to carry them around in our wallets or on our key rings), and we also use it to keep track of three shopping lists: grocery, Target, and Trader Joe’s. We add items as we find that we need them and the lists are synced, so whoever gets time to go to the store first can pick up what we need. I love that you can also connect a photo to an item on the list — if Nick is going to Target and doesn’t know what kind of moisturizer I need, I just take a picture of the item I’m running out of at home so he has it to refer to on the list.

Wunderlist
We used to use Wunderlist for our shopping lists before we discovered that we could use KeyRing for that purpose (which makes the most sense at places like Giant where we need to scan our club card — the app is already open if we are also using it as our shopping list). However, I still use Wunderlist for personal lists, like packing lists for weekends away, thank you cards that need to be sent, party planning prep, etc. It has a nice looking interface, which of course makes me enjoy using it!

What list making apps do you use?

productively unproductive

Modern technology helped to keep my sanity intact in the early days of motherhood. Hours and hours spent nursing and unable to move were made less monotonous by the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest apps on my iPhone. I could text and email with friends without having to be in front of a computer. I watched the complete “Friday Night Lights” and “Felicity” series’ on Netflix, either on our living room television (via AppleTV) or my iPhone with earbuds in, depending on where I happened to be nursing Graham or where he fell asleep on me.

iPhone selfie (while tiny Graham slept on my shoulder)…
in between checking Facebook and Instagram, I’m sure

Don’t get me wrong: there were lots of moments of quietly admiring my little one and watching him peacefully nurse or sleep in my lap. Those moments of early bonding were very important and we had no shortage of them… but when you’re nursing for what feels like 12 hours a day (actually, according to BabyConnect I believe our max was nearly 8 hours spent nursing over a 24 hour period), you also still need something to make you feel connected to the outside world when your life as you once knew it has been completely turned upside-down. When I otherwise might have felt overwhelmed by the monotony, I was able to stay connected to some sense of normalcy by seeing what friends had been up to, ask questions of my mom friends when I was dumbfounded by my new responsibilities of being a mother, order diapers or other sanity-saving baby gear on Amazon in a matter of seconds, or just get lost in the sweet and honest relationship of Eric and Tami Taylor for 42 minutes at a time.

As with most things, though, there is a good side and a not-so-good side.

While modern technology made me feel connected when I needed it most, it also continues to keep me connected when what I need most is to be disconnected. When catching up on some blogs today (on my iPhone while nursing Graham, natch), I came across this post on Unclutter and it immediately struck a chord with me. “We’ve Cured Boredom and That’s Not Good.”

Yes.

In particular, this quote by Scott Belsky stood out:

Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction. Our cars now have mobile phone integration and a thousand satellite radio stations. When walking from one place to another, we have our devices streaming data from dozens of sources. Even at our bedside, we now have our iPads with heaps of digital apps and the world’s information at our fingertips.

(I encourage you to read his full article entitled “What Happened to Downtime: The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space” via 99U when — you guessed it! — you’re avoiding boredom on the mobile device of your choosing.)

This insight from the original Unclutterer post also resonated with me:

It’s impossible to generate a truly creative thought while the incessant barrage pelts us. It’s like complaining that we’re not dry while standing in a rain storm. You won’t dry off until you go inside and get away from the falling water.

What has prevented me from boredom while nursing my little one has also infiltrated what used to be my sacred moments of introspection, brainstorming (intentional and unintentional), plain old quiet, and general unplanned creativity. I’m filling up any limited quiet time I do have — what with an infant around now, and all — with a whole lotta noise. In the last few years, I have probably had more ideas for products or projects than I care to admit that I have not pursued because my mind was too distracted by so much figurative noise to really focus on them. In being what I feel is “productive” with my downtime, I’ve become unproductive where it matters most: my creativity. My mind no longer really has any isolated time to just be. And I’d like that to change.

I’ve seen online friends commit to having social media-free weekends; perhaps I need to give that a shot (though it seems inconceivable to me — probably all the more reason I need to try it). It needs to go beyond weekends for me, though. I need to change my habits for the long term. While there is so much good that has come from the connectedness of technology and social media, I desperately need to find the balance of reaping its benefits without letting it infiltrate every waking moment and limiting my true productivity and potential.

When I close the Instagram app, I need to not immediately open it again out of habit (I have done that more times than I care to admit without even realizing it).

Have you become productively unproductive due to modern technology? If so, what have you done (or what do you plan to do) to take back some quiet time for your mind?

I Kindle, you Kindle, we all Kindle: sharing books on your Amazon Kindle

[That’s four “Kindle“s and the post hasn’t even begun!]

When blabbing on and on about my new Kindle, I got some comments and tweets asking about sharing books between Kindles, so I thought I’d delve a little further to answer your questions.

I was unsure about electronic readers from the very beginning because I thought it meant always having to buy books and not being able to share them like I’ve always been apt to do. Plus, I’ve always liked books themselves. When my mom and step-dad gifted me a Kindle, I was still admittedly a little hesitant about it. I had heard that you couldn’t share books between Kindles, but you could share them on Nooks (though there is a time limit on lending books, and you can only lend each title once). It wasn’t until I did a little Googling and found this post that I got really, really excited about my Kindle.

image source

The short of it: you cannot share or lend books to just any other Kindle user, but you can share an unlimited number of books (for an unlimited amount of time) with up to six Kindles on the same Amazon.com account. For some people this may be a drawback, because they may want to share books with friends without necessarily sharing an Amazon account (where credit card information is stored). If you have family members or other trustworthy friends with Kindles, though, it is an amazing way to share. Case in point: my mom has had her Kindle since last Christmas and has over 20 books already purchased in her library. By adding my Kindle to the same account, I had immediate access to all of her books, and it’s totally legal. Here’s how it works.

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birthday wish

T-minus nine days until my 30th birthday, people. NINE DAYS. Excuse me while I observe a moment of silence for my twenties.

*there they go…sniff, sniff*

Anyway, onto the more important issues: what I want for my birthday. Yes, I’m approaching 30 and I still make a birthday list. What? I’m not greedy — I just don’t want my loved ones to waste their money on things I won’t like! I’m being a courteous gift recipient by making a list.

In reality, there is really only one thing I want. And I can tell you now that it’s not gonna happen, but it’s the first thing I think of when I start dreaming of birthdayland.

image source

I really, really, really want a digital SLR camera.

I love my Panasonic Lumix TZ-5, but I want a “real” camera. One that I won’t feel the need to replace in two years; one that I can build on and improve with lenses, that I can use to learn to be a better photographer. I’ll never be Annie Liebovitz, but I’ve always liked photography and I’m dying to learn more.

It’s not going to happen for my birthday, which is okay, and I’ll be saving up my own pennies to buy one eventually… so when that day comes, what should I get? So many choices! Tell me what you recommend and why!

M.I.A.

Sorry for the blog absence over the last week and a half! My computer unexpectedly got a wee bit sick after the Thanksgiving holiday, so I was left without my dear MacBook Pro for a whole FIVE DAYS. Let me tell you, five days without my computer felt like I had lost an appendage.

Sure, I work on a computer all day at work… but so much of my life depends on technology, even outside of work, which became even more apparent last week as our lone personal computer was in the shop. Those Christmas gifts I had been working on designing? Totally put on hold. Holiday cards? Haven’t had time to design them yet. Blog writing? Ideas swirling in my brain but no way to post them. Blog reading? I won’t even tell you how many posts are unread in my Google Reader. Sure, I had my iPhone to satisfy my basic internet needs (and yes, I NEED the internet!), and I love my iPhone, but I can only tolerate that small screen and keyboard for so long.

I have always embraced the latest technologies and internet trends (i.e., blogging), but sometimes I feel like technology just makes life so much more complicated. I have so many blogs and websites I like to keep up with, but often it feels like I simply can’t keep up with them all; it begins to feel like work to keep up with them all, instead of feeling like it’s something I do for pleasure. I consider deleting some from my feed, but then I’m afraid I’ll “miss” something. There is just such a vast amount of information out there, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming.

I love that technology and the internet makes life easier in so many ways, but I also feel like it has just created so much more for me to do! Do you have a love/hate relationship with technology?

*Sidenote: if you have a Mac, make sure you get AppleCare. Totally, totally worth it. A new logic board, which normally would have cost me upwards of $35o, was totally free.

QuickVoice for iPhone

I always have my best blog ideas while driving. Except, well, I’m driving, so I can’t exactly whip out a pen and paper to write down my idea (and by the time I reach my destination, I have usually forgotten what my idea was. I have a terrible short-term memory like that). Now, though, I’ll be able to just press a button and record a quick thought on my iPhone with the help of the QuickVoice app (which is free!) without getting into a fender bender. Seriously, is there anything this phone can’t do?