Useful Work Tech Tools Actually Worth Your Time

MAKE 2017 MORE PRODUCTIVE WITH THESE USEFUL APPS AND ADD-ONS ...

There are literally hundreds and thousands of productivity-enhancing apps, add-ons and other technology services that promise to make your working life that little bit simpler and a whole lot easier. I often try out new bits here and there that I hope might make life a little more streamlined and efficient. However, I also delete or dismiss many things along the way as I just don't find them all that enhancing or useful. Like me, the last thing any of us need is a whole load of unwanted apps, emails or services clogging up our already overloaded daily online lives.

 Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

Over time there are a few things that I've tried and continued to use and love. Apps and other online services that actually really help me out and I hope might do the very same for you. I thought I'd start sharing some of these as and when I have a list of favourites worthy of a mention. So starting today, check out my current recommendations, plus let me know any failsafe, can't live without apps or tech that you use on a daily basis that you think myself or other readers might also fall in love with.

1. Grammarly

As I often spend a large proportion of my day writing blog posts, proposals and lengthy emails this free spelling and grammar checker that you can install as an extension to Google Chrome (as well as use it in many other ways) is a godsend. I only use the free version and should probably think about upgrading to premium to get more of the very beneficial features. However, the free extension alone helps me out no end. 

Grammarly checks your grammar, punctuation and style as you write and if there are any mistakes to be fixed it will underline them in red and a little red circle will appear for you to click on to view and make changes to any errors. Seeing as Squarespace, the platform I use for this blog, has no built in spell checker I find this extension absolutely invaluable. It works across everything I do online and I love it. It also emails you once a week with a little update on how many words you've written which I think is quite a nice added and motivating feature!

2. Unroll.Me

One of the biggest distractions in my day, and I'm sure in many other peoples, is the dreaded email. I especially hate all of those nonsense emails that I get throughout the day from things I may have subscribed to ages ago and no longer have any interest in - or even from things that I'm interested in but don't want to be distracted by too many times throughout the day or week. Plus there are all the irritating things that you inadvertently get subscribed to just because you happen to have ordered or attended one thing, one time. This leads to way too much time just trying to clean up my inbox in order to even have a chance of tackling the actual important stuff! So step forward the very useful free services of the email 'unsubscription' service Unroll.Me which trust me is very, very handy.

Unroll.Me is a quick and simple way to clean up even the messiest of inboxes. Sign up with your email and it will instantly provide you with a list of everything that you have ever subscribed to. Simply go through the list and check the boxes to say whether you wish to add emails from each company to one easy daily digest or 'rollup' as they call it, whether you wish to unsubscribe altogether or whether you wish to keep the emails coming to your inbox as usual. This makes such a glorious difference to my daily email influx and is such a simple service that I've personally found incredibly beneficial.

3. Wordswag

The usefulness of the Wordswag app will depend on what you do for a living but if you spend a lot of time on social media, writing blogs or other articles online and like to share things like beautiful quotes or wish to overlay a title on a beautiful image as part of that, then this will come in incredibly useful - especially on the go from your phone. The app costs £3.99 but it's worth it. In my opinion this is one of the most user-friendly apps for words and imagery with some of the best results. 

4. Pexels and Unsplash

When I started this blog I really wanted to try and use my own imagery as much as possible. I love beautiful photos to accompany a post and spend far too long worrying about how something looks instead of just getting down to business! As time went on I realised that not having the right photographs was sometimes holding me back from just cracking on with getting my ideas down on the blog and out into the world. Plus as I often talk about work related subjects, creating my own suitable imagery can be a bit of a task. There are only so many ways that I can personally think of to photograph my own desk!

When I don't have personal, good quality images worth sharing to accompany an idea that I still want to share with the world, I now turn to either Pexels or Unsplash for royalty free stock photographs that are actually nice enough to headline a professional and creative post. These sites have really helped me out since using them and if you're in need of something similar I'd recommend trying them out. You don't even have to credit the photographs or photographer (I just do it to set them apart from my own imagery in line with my disclaimer!)

 

Which online tools or apps do you find most useful in your working lives? Anything you'd recommend me giving a go next for a more productive, inspired and creative 2017? I'd love to hear your favourites too!

Louise

 


Summer Season Blog Inspiration: Three Top Picks

I love reading other blogs for ideas and inspiration or just to connect with a voice that is able to motivate or relate to myself, my life, perhaps my fears and my personal aspirations. That's the beauty of blogging, the voices that get heard in a way that they might not previously have done so and the ideas that we can find in an instant and use to explore, learn and excite in our own lives.

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Whilst I know there's a lot of discussion out there in the blogging world about how much it has changed, the commercialism in some instances and the general number of us all and the wave of content coming our way, I still think that blogging is a wonderful tool both for the reader and the author. Recently I posted about cutting back and being more discerning about what I consume online, but that said (!) today I wanted to share some inspiring blogs that are currently making my personal cut. I hope they also offer something for you to enjoy as well. I've picked three of my current favourites, blogs that are bringing me ideas especially right now during the brighter summer months.

 

SUMMER BLOG INSPIRATION: THREE TOP PICKS

1. For staying stylishly inspired during the summer months (and all year round) I've been loving the blog Fashion Me Now by Lucy Williams. Lucy doesn't just blog about fashion, there's plenty of beauty, travel and lifestyle to feed on as well, but I do so love her style - she is a fashion editor after all. I have to admit I can often be found coveting her Instagram feed for outfit inspiration, especially if I'm about to go away somewhere as she seems to have that effortless beach chic and travel style down to an absolute t!

One of my favourite style posts of late has to be Return of the Noughties sharing some love for this forgotten fashion decade.

2. When my inner explorer is in need of new ideas both at home and away then I love to turn to A Lady In London by Julie Falconer. An award winning blog written by Julie who is originally from San Francisco but now based in London. Julie explores the world as well as her love for her new(ish) home town of London and I always enjoy her posts for the wealth of places to explore and discover. It's usually the London posts that inspire the most for me - top 10 lists of everything from beautiful museum cafes to famous and historic London toilets! 

This summer I'll certainly be looking to explore these 7 Best Summer Gardens to Discover in London.

3. When I'm feeling hungry and in need of incredible edible delights it has to be Eat Like A Girl by Niamh. The food photography on this blog will have you drooling from the outset and will inspire you to get into your kitchen and cook - or to get out and about and sample some of the delectable delights available in her favourite restaurant finds the city and far beyond. Recently Niamh has been sharing some unbelievably tasty looking BBQ recipes ready for the sunshine to make an appearance. The perfect pit stop for foodie inspiration all year round.

One thing I'll be cooking this summer is this Asparagus, Pancetta, Egg and Tomato Summer Tart.

 

Which blogs are you currently craving a daily dose of for finding summer motivation and inspiration? Let me in on your secret picks too and enjoy the sunshine - it's actually out here today so I'm off now to enjoy it!

Louise

 


Making Time For: Improving Photography Skills

IMPROVING BLOG PHOTOGRAPHY AND SOME USEFUL RESOURCES

Today I thought I'd bring you another instalment of my Making Time For blog series where I'm trying to share ideas and resources for things that I'm making more time for in my life and that maybe you might be inspired by too. Last month was all about reading and I'm happy to say that whilst I'm not yet on track to become bookworm of the year, I am definitely remembering to sit down and read on a more regular basis. I'll have some reviews for you soon but until then, for February, I'm sharing a little bit about blog photography. Namely how I'm setting aside time to improve and where I'm learning some nifty tips and tricks from!

Nikon Camera D5500

I must first mention a beautiful new camera that has come my way completely unexpectedly. Back in November I went along to the London Ski and Snowboard Show with Nikon. Everyone who took part and who spent the afternoon trying out the new Nikon D5500 DSLR Touch Screen Camera* was entered into a competition to win one of the cameras for themselves, following judging by photographer Dan Vojtech.

Now I never win anything, and I know people always say that but it's pretty true in my case! So as time passed I assumed that it had gone to someone else and forgot all about it. That's until a few weeks ago when an email dropped into my inbox explaining that I'd won! Two days later said beautiful camera arrived at my door and I've been loving giving it a thorough test run ever since. I must say a huge thank you to Nikon for their kind gift. It has definitely reminded me that I need to spend more time honing my skills instead of constantly relying on my current point and shoot technique!

So over the last few weeks I've been thinking very seriously about how I can improve my photography and where best to spend my time learning new skills. At the moment we're in the midst of moving house so once we're settled in a new location I think I'll investigate signing up for a local short course to get some more hands on experience. However I also love to get tips and inspiration from other bloggers out there so I thought today I'd share a few links that I've found very useful.

Plus I'd love to hear from you if you know of any great resources for taking basic photography skills to the next level? Let me know in the comments below if you have any posts or resources to share. Any additional help is very much appreciated!

 

USEFUL LINKS FOR BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY FROM FELLOW BLOGGERS

1. For all things blog photography related such as backdrop ideas, props, editing, exposure and pretty much anything else you can think of, a really great resource is the photography section of Pinkpot Design Studio. Full of creative inspiration and amazing tips Chaitra, the brains behind the blog, shares a wealth of information for budding bloggers and small business owners looking to use photography to enhance their brand and improve their own knowledge and skills.

2. Let's Talk About Flat Lay Photography is a really useful post from Rebecca over at the blog From Roses. I desperately wish I could create beautiful flat lay style images for this blog and I'm going to work at doing so over the next few months so watch this space.

3. How To Take The Best Photos In Winter by Jodie Loue has some very handy tips for dealing with low light during the darker wintery season. So if like me you're always chasing the light and are constantly perplexed at how best to handle it then this post will come in very handy.

4. A Beautiful Mess and Media Marmalade are two blogs that I love for very different reasons (one is all about creativity and one is primarily a fashion blog) however they both have great sections on photography with some really easy to pick up tips and tricks. Check them out if you're after advice and inspiration.

 

Where do you turn to when trying to learn new photography skills? Or have you written a post on this subject that you think might be useful?

Plus what have you personally been making more time for during the month of February? Anything new and exciting on your to do list? 

Share in the comments below and I look forward to reading your advice and ideas too!

Louise

 

*I was kindly sent this camera as a prize in a competition run by Nikon. I was not asked to write this as part of winning and have chosen to share this completely independently.


A Little New Year Blog-Loving!

Hello everybody and a slightly belated but very Happy New Year! I know it's been a little quiet around these parts. Thank you for letting me take some time out over the festive period. In truth I wanted to take a step back and look at where I was going and where I hope to head towards in 2016. There were many ideas in my head, many things I wanted and need to do in order to grow and improve, and for a few weeks I wanted to take time to process and make the right decisions. Which I think and hope I now have, and I'm looking forward to embracing a productive and challenging 2016.

New Year Blogging Inspiration

Anyone who follows @TheWhatNowBlog on Instagram will have also noticed that we took some time to travel over Christmas and New Year and had an amazing trip to India and Sri Lanka. More on that, with some photos and tips, for those who are interested coming very soon. 

For today, to kick off getting back into the blogging habit, I wanted to share a bit of blog love to inspire those of you looking for some new reads this January. Whilst I was away I still enjoyed reading fellow bloggers' posts and there are some stand out blogs that have really been keeping me motivated. So without further ado, here are some new blogger friends to consider adding to your reading list this month!

 

JANUARY BLOGGING INSPIRATION

1. READING MY TEA LEAVES: One of the things I personally want to concentrate on in 2016 is simplifying life and work, getting away from the unnecessary. We all have so much noise buzzing through our minds, so much clutter, too much 'stuff', and the truth is that it's really not necessary. It just stresses us all out and brings us down. So turning to Erin's blog that focuses on living a practical, purposeful and more simple life is just perfect for me. Anyone feeling the same is bound to enjoy a good old browse through this beautiful, minimalist and practical blog too. A Favourite Recent Post: Decluttering Resolutions For A New Year

2. FOUND SOME PAPERYou may remember me mentioning Uli from Found Some Paper before when she wrote a piece for this blog on how to be more creative on Twitter when searching for a new job. However I really can't get enough of Uli's blog and her creative thoughts and ideas. I always turn to her for something a little different as her posts about art, design and living a creative life offer much inspiration as well as variety from the often same, same and only a little bit different sorts of blog posts that can land daily into my feed. This year Uli is embarking on her own exciting new career path having left her job behind and setting up on a freelance basis. I admire her bravery and can't wait to see what the future holds as I'm sure it will mean great things. Check out her blog if you're looking for something to spark your creativity. A Favourite Recent Post: Found A New Trend On Instagram: Motion Portrait

3. FOREVER AMBER: Amber, a former journalist turned full time blogger, shares fashion, life, beauty and blogging tips on her blog Forever Amber. I love the way that Amber writes; personal, quirky and to the point. Her insightful posts are always beautifully crisp and inviting with great photography. I never find it a chore to read through her blog and can always find motivation and a bit of a pick me up when having a browse. I also really enjoy reading Ambers blogging advice. Here she always offers a non filtered approach to the blogging world and is very open with her readers about how she does what she does, sharing as much as she can in order to help others in a similar situation. A Favourite Recent Post: How To Beat The January Blues

 

Who's been inspiring you this January and motivating you through the start to the New Year? Share your links (your own or those of someone you've been loving reading lately) below and I promise I'll enjoy taking a look for future blog loving inspiration! Farewell for today.

Louise

 

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