Friday Roundup: Creative Hacks You Need
It’s Friday, and that means a lot of things.
Full moon + eclipse! Weekend! Tomorrow I eat $1 oysters!
And also: The Friday Roundup!
This week’s roundup is good, y’all. I’m going to say that every week, but every week is going to be good.
We’ve got ways to search the web without having to do stuff, a tweet hack, thoughts for your brain, new music, and a way to unblock creativity!
And a bonus item! Woooo! So let’s get into it.
1. Omnibox: Maximizing the Search Bar
Learning how to maximize your computer skills is a way to maximize your efficiency.
Efficiency=Time Not Wasted=Better Life
I’m going to spend the most time on this one because I really, really think it will help improve your life. It’s the little things.
When you have to move your hand to your mouse, then find the perfect pinpointed area to click, then wait on a new window or tab to load, then move your hands back to type? Well, friends, that is wasted time.
And we don’t have time for that.
Most of us are probably aware already of general keyboard shortcuts for PC and Mac. If you’re not, you need to be. (Take the hassle out of scrolling between tabs, changing fonts, closing windows, etc. SERIOUS time-savers. Now, do it.)
That is not the topic of #1.
Oh no. I have found and even bigger way to maximise shortcuts, and that is through Omnibox customization. What is “Omnibox?” I know it sounds scary. But you’re probably already rocking it if you use Chrome—it’s the web address/search engine bar . . . and so much more.
Using Omnibox, you can specify easy shortcuts to search on any webpage that has a search function without first opening the page.
It’s a must-have writing hack.
For example: If I’m writing and need to thesaurus a word, I press “ctrl+t” (open a new tab) then type “th + [word]” and immediately Thesaurus.com opens up with synonyms for the word I’ve queried.
This is a shortcut for any of us who do work online and are easily distracted (is that you? And you? And you? And you?)
If you’re working on something and have to switch tasks, the small amount of time it takes (hand movement + typing web address + waiting for page to load) is the perfect amount of time for you to lose focus. Utilizing the search bar to make shortcuts removes only a couple of steps, but we only need a couple of steps to get distracted.
There are tons of ways you can personalize the Omnibox. Use it for thesaurus, dictionary, language translation, Yelp, Youtube, and much more.
Here is how you can personalize the google search Omnibox for a Thesaurus option:
1. Right click on the address/search bar
2. Click “edit search engines”
3. A new page pops up. Scroll down to the bottom of the box headed “Other search engines” to find three empty boxes
4. Where it says “Add a new search engine”, type “Thesaurus.com”; “Keyword” tpye “th”; “URL with %s in place of query” type “http://thesaurus.com/browse/%s”
Now when you open a new window/tab and press “th”–>hit the spacebar–>type your word, it will be automatically queried on thesaurus.com. You might see that there are already several saved search engines in the list, so go through and edit to your liking.
For example, ebay.com and yelp.com were in mine, so I edited them (simply click the middle box) so that all I have to type is “ebay” or “yelp” in my search bar and it will automatically search the site. Makeuseof.com offers some further thoughts on this and Minterest.com has additional options you can use.
I talked last week about Buffer and how I use it to post to Twitter. I don’t love the idea of more social media, but I realize ambivalently that it’s an important way for me to stay engaged, meet new people, and support my writing community.
Because I am loathe to open the Twitter website (distraction), I found another tool that enables me to tweet with even less work.
Once you install it (easy breezy), you can type “tw” into the search bar, then type your tweet and it’s posted immediately.
When you’re a writer and you’re “hit by the muse,” you want to have that pen and paper ready immediately. Chromnitweet is getting hit by a tweet and immediately being able to post it.
3. Sikane and Sun Volt
I’m not going to get into a list of reasons of why music is important because we hopefully already know this…
But I will say I’ve noticed with my increased solitude that it’s important for me to play music to keep myself from getting too deep into the quietloud rabbit hole of my mind.
NPR First Listen has some great releases this week, so this is a two-for-one Roundup item: Sun Volt should be listened to while imagine rolling country roads and lazy afternoons, whereas Sikane is your morning and night feel-good amp up.
4. Feelings are Habits
The question of romance has popped its head around the corner of my life recently, so I’ve been thinking a lot about how not to fuck things up. There are a lot of destructive patterns I’ve had in past relationships that I don’t want to bring into a new one, but as we know, patterns are hard to break.
This quote really hit home:
“Because feelings are habits, they wind around old behaviors like iron filings around a magnet. Anything we do often enough we will come to feel comfortable doing. The worrier is comfortable worrying; the workaholic, working; and the liar, lying. But no matter how comfortable we feel, it doesn’t necessarily follow that these behaviors will lead to a full spiritual life based on positive self-esteem. It’s important to know how we feel. But it’s even more important to know that our feelings have memory but no conscience.”
“Feelings have memory but no conscience.” I love that.
When we realize that feelings are largely habitual, it frees us to recall that habits can be changed and that feelings don’t have to be regarded as hard facts. Sometimes they are just itches we have to refrain from scratching.
The quote is from Earnie Larson & Carol Hegarty’s book of daily meditations called Believing In Myself. Super cheesy title, but it’s nice to have quick inspiring thoughts to wake me up and to read before bed. It’s officially a part of my morning routine.
5. Blocking Blocks
A big thing for me over the past two weeks was finishing (and not being able to finish) this post on meditation. I quickly overwhelmed myself since I don’t feel like an expert on meditation who has any right to talk about it.
A voice kept telling me that I wasn’t justified in writing it without tons of research and blah blahhh.
Anyway, I think it was just my ego wanting to make myself unassailable and invulnerable. The fact is, I just want to share my experience, but I was still having a lot of trouble getting myself to the keyboard.
When we get creative blocks like this, we can’t let them win. Otherwise, they will learn that winning is possible and start coming back more often. The solution?
I jailed myself.
I went to the library, holed myself up in a cubicle, and did not allow myself to leave until the post was done. And hey, it worked. I think mostly because I got really hungry by the end.
So when you’re feeling creatively blocked, CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT.
That’s the roundup, y’all! Anything you want to add? Leave a comment!
And hey, you deserve a bonus: