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Two new tools and why I like them so much

Spend a week with me and you’ll know this for sure: I like my resources and my gadgets. This has changed in the past years. But I still sometimes get excited when a new tool comes along. I tend to blog about it then. This is one of those times! For learners, doers and for those who need a bit extra coaching for their habits – this duo could work really well.

Tool One: Beeminder, the harsh habit tracker

A technique I tried on several occasions to get things done involves a goal and some pain. Set a goal and define stakes in advance. Have others decide whether you reached the goal or not – that is, whether you deserve punishment or you’re off the hook. Trust me, few things motivate more than the prospect of making a major donation to a political party you hate.

Tim Ferriss advocates this in Four Hour Chef and now, there’s a web app that takes care of the measuring and the money-grabbing. It’s called Beeminder, and its description as “the harsh mistress” is totally spot-on.

Beeminder is not the first solution to offer this kind of thing (compare StickK if the bee does not do it for you). I liked two things about it: the first thing is its blunt, honest admission that your money will be used to make money for the Beeminder. No charity stuff (which may make you feel good about missing targets). I fail, they profit. The second thing did it for me, though: it was the measuring and integrations.

Beeminder plays along with Runkeeper so I can track how often I exercise. It syncs with Duolingo – welcome back, Portuguese, now that my money is at stake! There are more apps available – and its IFTTT integration makes it extremely powerful.

One of these apps, which I found through their website, turns out to be another of my new favourites.

Tool Two: Draft – the writing tool I needed

You don’t need to be a serious writer to appreciate a good writing set-up. Maybe you’re just keen to learn new things and would really benefit from seeing improved versions of your notes. Maybe in your mission for improving productivity you want a tool that plays well with your notes and storage.

Draft does it for me. Taking notes from Evernote? Check. Saving as a variety of formats, in Dropbox or back to Evernote? Check. Publishing straight to a blogging platform of choice? Check.

All online, working great in several browsers, and looking amazing. Made me enjoy Markdown again. And since it syncs with Beeminder, I’m sure to use it much more often (or pay the price).

The premium version of the app will cost you $39 per year and give access to more support, professional editing experts and previews of new features.

When new tools work, they deserve to be celebrated

A few days ago I told you about some things I no longer have time for. Gizmos and apps were on this list. Now here I am, excited about new gizmos and apps. What gives?

I think it’s great when you find something that fits into a gap you’ve been noticing around you. I needed an objective, online tool that measures my progress and keeps me committed to goals – and Beeminder was a brilliant find that I didn’t know existed. I didn’t really need Draft, but when I saw what it could do with my text, I realized how much easier writing can be from now on.

Perhaps in a few years’ time each of these tools will be replaced by something else. But for now, I’m happy to share them with you and recommend them – to makers, writers and learners.

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