30 Life-Enhancing Things You Can Do in 30 Minutes or Less

30 Life Enhancing Things in 30 Minutes

Many of us attempt to measure our happiness based on the duration of certain favorable experiences in our lives.  The longer a favorable experience lasts, the happier we think we’ll be.  But the truth is, life is simply a string of small, independent moments that are always changing.  Thus, a few minutes well spent here and there can make a big difference in what we get out of life in the long-term.

Here are 30 things you can do in 30 minutes or less that will have a positive emotional effect on you and those closest to you.  And yes, I realize some of these suggestions may lead to activities and projects that will likely take longer than 30 minutes to complete; but they still take far less than 30 minutes to start.  So go ahead and do the hardest part, use the next 30 minutes to START, and then pick up where you left off tomorrow.

  1. Learn something new by starting a free course at one of the hundreds of online self-education resources bookmarked here: 12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free.
  2. Watch one of the thousands of educational videos streaming at TED.com, Academic Earth, or Khan Academy.
  3. Read an online book list and find a new book to grab next time you’re at the library.  Here’s another list.  And another.  And another.  And another.  Or find a good read on Amazon’s Best Sellers List.
  4. Start reading a classic book online for free at Project Gutenberg, The Online Books Page, Gizmo’s Free Books Online, or the E-books Directory.
  5. Take a 30 minute break and work on something that’s meaningful to you.  Engage yourself in a meaningful personal project, or pull the trigger on [Read more…]

Top 40 Useful Sites To Learn New Skills

Learn New Skills

The web is a powerful resource that can easily help you learn new skills.  You just have to know where to look.  Sure, you can use Google, Yahoo, or Bing to search for sites where you can learn new skills, but I figured I’d save you some time.

Here are the top 40 sites I have personally used over the last few years when I want to learn something new.

  1. Hack a Day – Hack a Day serves up fresh hacks (short tutorials) every day from around the web and one in-depth ‘How-To hack’ guide each week.
  2. eHow – eHow is an online community dedicated to providing visitors the ability to research, share, and discuss solutions and tips for completing day-to-day tasks and projects.
  3. Wired How-To Wiki – Collaborate with Wired editors and help them build their extensive library of projects, hacks, tricks and tips.  Browse through hundreds how-to articles and then add to them, or start a new one.
  4. MAKE Magazine – Brings the do-it-yourself (DIY) mindset to all of the technology in your life.  MAKE is loaded with cool DIY projects that help you make the most of the technology you already own.
  5. 50 Things Everyone Should Know How To Do – While not totally comprehensive, here is a list of 50 things everyone should know how to do.  It’s a great starting point to learn new skills.
  6. wikiHow – A user based collaboration to build and share the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual.
  7. Lifehacker – An award-winning daily blog that features tips, shortcuts, and downloads that help you get things done smarter and more efficiently.
  8. 100+ Google Tricks That Will Save You Time – Today, knowing how to use Google effectively is a vital skill.  This list links out to enough Google related resources to make you an elite Google hacker.
  9. Instructables – Similar to MAKE, Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others as the tackle new projects and learn new skills.
  10. Merriam-Webster Online – In this digital age, your ability to communicate with written English is paramount skill.  And M-W.com is the perfect resource to improve your English now.
  11. Lumosity – Learn to improve your memory by playing a series of fun and educational brain training games.
  12. 100 Skills Every Man Should Know – Another compilation article with instructions to help you learn new skills.  This one says it’s geared for men, but I think most of these skills are applicable to women as well.
  13. 5min Life Videopedia – Lot’s of great tutorials and DIY videos.
  14. HowStuffWorks – Knowledge is power.  While this site isn’t exactly geared to help you learn new skills, it contains so much useful information that you’re bound to learn a skill or two while you browse.
  15. StumbleUpon – A collective set of recommendations from thousands of hours of searching by web users who share your interests.  It’s basically a recommendation engine.  Users add to this engine by providing their personal recommendations on what sites are worth your time.  If you select topics and tags of interest like ‘Self-Improvement‘ and ‘DIY,’ you’ll be learning new skills in no time.
  16. Work.com – An extensive directory of how-to guides for beginning entrepreneurs.
  17. Howcast – Hosts professional how-to videos as well as how-to wiki tutorials.  Howcast combines user ideas with the expertise of professional studio video to deliver what is nothing short of amazing, informative content.
  18. VideoJug – The video content on this site covers a variety of topics including informative ‘How To’ and ‘Ask The Expert’ films that guide you step-by-step through everything and anything in life.
  19. MakeUseOf – A booming daily blog that features cool websites, computer tips, and downloads that make you more productive.  Lot’s of insightful tips and tricks to learn.
  20. WonderHowTo – This site is focused on one clear organizing principle: aggregating and linking to truly great, free how-to videos from which you can learn new skills.
  21. SuTree – Another useful aggregator of how-to videos from all around the web.
  22. Zen Habits – The ultimate productivity and self-improvement blog.  Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives.  It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, and find happiness.  Lot’s of learning material here.
  23. Academic Earth – Online degrees and video courses from leading universities.
  24. About.com Videos – Another solid collection of how-to video tutorials.
  25. PCWorld How-To – Lot’s of useful tutorials and guides related to fixing and modifying computers and other electronic gadgets.
  26. Spreeder – This site is focused on teaching you one new skill:  speed reading.  And it does a great job of doing so.
  27. Woopid – Watch free technology training videos.  Get help and answer your computer and gadget questions with thousands of video tutorials for PCs, Macs, and various software applications.
  28. DIY Network – A go-to destination for rip-up, knock-out home improvement projects.  The site offers expert answers the most sought-after questions regarding creative projects for DIY enthusiasts.
  29. Scitable – A free science library and personal learning tool that currently concentrates on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.  The site also expects to expand into other topics of learning and education.
  30. All Recipes – A complete guide to recipes and cooking tips.  If you’d like to learn to be a better cook, this site is for you.
  31. 43 Folders – This site is more about inspiring you to follow-through with your goals than it is about learning new skills.  But I think following-through with your goals is a skill.  Most people never quite get there.
  32. Dumb Little Man – Another awesome productivity and self-improvement blog hosting lots of useful information.
  33. iTunes U – Hundreds of universities — including Stanford, Yale and MIT — distribute lectures, slide shows, PDFs, films, exhibit tours and audio books through iTunes U.  The Science section alone contains content on topics including agriculture, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and geography.
  34. American Sign Language Browser – Teach yourself sign language online.
  35. BBC Languages – Teach yourself a new spoken language online.
  36. Delicious Popular DIY – Lots of popular DIY articles bookmarked by users from all over the web.
  37. Khan Academy – Over 1200 videos lessons covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance.  Lot’s of educational material to help you learn new skills.
  38. The Happiness Project – Learn the skills necessary to create happiness in your life.
  39. How To Do Things – Another solid collection of how-to tutorials.
  40. ShowMeDo – A peer-produced video-tutorials and screencasts site for free and open-source software.  The large majority are free to watch and download.

Also, check out these books for more ideas on pertinent life skills:

Photo by: vramak

29 Semi-Productive Things I Do Online When I’m Trying to Avoid Real Work

Productive things to do online when you are bored and lazy

You don’t always have to work hard to be productive.  Productivity can simply be the side effect of doing the right things.

So here’s a list of 29 semi-productive things I do online when my mind is set on avoiding ‘real work.’

  1. Check delicious popular tags like ‘useful,’ ‘tutorials,’ ‘tips,’ ‘howto,’ ‘advice,’ ‘entrepreneurship,’ etc. for interesting, educational articles to read.
  2. Watch one of the thousands of educational videos streaming at TED.com, Academic Earth and Teacher Tube.
  3. Read an online book list and find a new book to grab next time I’m at the library.  Here’s another list.  And another.  And another.
  4. Read a classic book online for free at Project Gutenberg, Planet eBook, or the E-books Directory.
  5. Research a new Do It Yourself project at DIY Network, Instructables, eHow, or WikiHow.
  6. Add to, delete from, or just generally sort my ongoing to-do list at Remember The Milk.
  7. Create a cool graphical mind map of some of my recent ideas at bubbl.us.
  8. Email a close friend or family member I haven’t spoken to in awhile.
  9. Share my favorite mp3s, photos, videos, etc. with friends and family using Dropbox.
  10. Backup my recent photos, documents, and other important files online using Microsoft’s free 25 gig SkyDrive.
  11. Use Wikipedia’s random article function to pick a random article to read.
  12. Touch up on my math and science skills over a the Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, or LearningScience.org.
  13. Send a paper greeting card directly to a friend or relative at enGreet.
  14. Start learning a new language online for free at BBC Languages or Livemocha.
  15. Watch one of the insightful 6 minute and 40 second presentations at Ignite Show.
  16. Use Memorize Now to memorize a cool joke, or poem, or whatever.
  17. Use Media Convert to convert video files I have on my computer into a format I can view on my iPhone or iPod later on.
  18. Listen to an educational podcast over at Odeo or via iTunes on iTunes U.
  19. Read one of the academic journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals.
  20. Get a free college education online using this guide from Lifehacker (or read one of the other useful articles on Lifehacker).
  21. Inspire and spark my creative mind by looking at a rolling slideshow of the highest rated photos on Flickr for the last 7 days.
  22. Catch up on a short history lesson at HyperHistory or The Internet History Sourcebooks Project.  Or find out what happened today in history.
  23. Take a fun, educational online quiz at Quizlet.
  24. Play an educational online game at Lumosity, Sporcle, Games for the Brain, or Math Run.
  25. Add a little gentle rain to my environment using RainyMood.com and then simply meditate and relax in my computer chair for 10 minutes.
  26. Sell old stuff I no longer need on eBay and make a little extra cash.
  27. Find a new musical artist to listen to based on music I like at Grooveshark, Pandora, last.fm, or Deezer.
  28. Find out what’s happening in our world from quality international news sources like BBC News and Reuters.
  29. Write a blog post like this one.

Oh, and ever since I bought my new (super sexy) Apple iPad, I’ve been enjoying all of these sites on the go and catching looks from almost everyone who passes me while I browse.

So what kind of semi-productive things do you do online in your off-time?  Please share them with us in the comments section below.

Photo by: Colorblind Picaso Party Casino

Top 40 Ways to Take Notes Online

Ways to take notes online

Regular note-taking is one of the most productive habits a person can practice.  The ability to take notes online and access them anytime, from any location is priceless.  Over the last few years, I have personally tested nearly 100 different ways to do this.  Some of these note-taking systems are worth mentioning, and some are worth forgetting.

Here are the systems worth mentioning… a list of 40 useful online note-taking techniques and web applications, categorized and listed in no particular order:

Casual Online Note-Taking

When your note-taking requirements call for speed and simplicity…

  • Gmail Yourself a Note – I used to do this several times a day.  If you have a smartphone with email access, this is one of the quickest and most basic ways to create an online note on the fly.  I setup a special “to-do list” Gmail label (folder) for storing and processing all of my notes.
  • Delicious-Tag a Note – Quite frequently we find articles online that remind us to do something, or inspire us to try something.  Tagging these articles with a “personal note” tag and entering an insightful comment in each bookmark’s “notes” area turns Delicious into a productive note-taking (and collaboration) tool.
  • Tweet a Note via Twitter – Create yourself a separate, private twitter account with protected updates strictly for note-taking purposes.  Direct-message notes to this private note-taking account from any Twitter client (via web, iPhone, etc.).
  • Use Dropbox to Sync a Note Across Multiple Computers – Dropbox is a web-based file hosting service that uses networked storage to enable users to store and share files across the Internet using file synchronization.  So imagine creating a note-taking or to-do list document that was synchronized across all of your computes (work, home, etc.)  Every time you modify the note on one computer, the changes are instantly accessible elsewhere on your other computers.
  • Luminotes – This is one of my favorites.  It’s a simple and efficient personal wiki notebook.  The key feature of Luminotes is its ability to easily link one note or notebook to the next.  You can also attach small files to notes and share them with your friends.
  • Notefish – If you’re doing a lot of online research, Notefish is for you.  It’s a web application that allows you to take notes from portions of web pages by copying and pasting content into one handy online note page.  You can then organize the notes by moving them around, changing their colors and breaking them down into categories and titled subsections.
  • list.it – A pet project of MIT CSAIL researchers, list.it is a Firefox browser plug-in designed for simple, efficient online note-keeping.  Its key focus is on speed and simplicity.  If you register for their free sync service, your notes will be securely backed up online.  Also, if you install list.it on multiple computers, your notes will be mirrored to all of them.
  • Yahoo! Notepad – If you already have a Yahoo! account, you can give Yahoo! Notepad a try with your current login credentials.  It’s a very basic, straightforward online note-taking application.  Yahoo! also provides a widget front-end for Yahoo! Notepad.  This widget allows you to add, edit, organize and delete contacts from your Yahoo! Notepad directly from the widget.
  • 3tags – A simple online note manager that provides web users with a secure way to store and manage their personal information online.  Data security and user privacy are the key features.  In short, user data is encrypted before it is sent to and stored on 3tags’ servers.
  • WebNotes – With WebNotes you can highlight text and stick customized notes onto any web page.  All highlights and notes are cataloged and organized in folders within your WebNotes account.  Pages you take notes on can be shared through email or via online links.
  • TiddlyWiki – If you already run a web server and prefer to host your own note-taking service, TiddlyWiki is for you.  It’s a reusable non-linear personal web notebook that can be run locally or hosted on a web server.  It creates a single html file which has all the characteristics of a wiki, including all of the content, the functionality (editing, saving, tagging and searching).  My company used it as an online collaboration notebook for about 6 months during a product launch, and it worked well.
  • Mojonote – A simple online interface for storing and managing your ideas, goals, recipes, contacts, memos, notes, schedules, wishlists, playlists, etc.  Mojonote has a pretty decent calendar and ‘to-do list’ reminder system.  It can send you reminders via text message or email.
  • MyStickies – Great for online research, it allows you to place little yellow digital notes anywhere on any website.  MyStickies also offers a powerful interface to browse, search, sort, and edit your notes from any computer that has internet access.
  • Diigo – Also great for online research, it’s basically a combination of MyStickies and Delicious.  Diigo combines online sticky notes, website highlighting, and social bookmarking in one convenient package.
  • Fruitnotes – Allows you to create and organize notes online.  Fruitnotes’ key feature is it’s ability to accept voice notes by calling a specific phone number, though currently this feature is only available in the US and UK.  It also allows you to create a blog for sharing your notes and collaborating with other users.

Quick Online Notes for Public Sharing

When you need a quick, temporary online repository for notes and data that can be shared with others…

[Read more…]

15 Quick Fixes for Increased Computing Productivity

Computing ProductivityA combination of old and new, each of these quick fixes have one thing in common:  They will increase your computing productivity.  I personally use all of them on a regular basis.  There is nothing groundbreaking about this list, it’s just a short reminder of how simple it is to increase your productivity by enhancing the tools you already use.

[Read more…]