I've been bimbling around the interwebs a lot of late and these particular thingies have been of use... Oolite
Courtesy of Gothick (again) this open source version of Elite, named Oolite, has, much to my self-esteem's detriment, reminded how flipping hard the first few excursions into the Elite universe are. On multiple occasions. Don't get me started about pirates, the uselessness of the initial ship set-up and the stress and utter buggerance of having to dock your ship to a station manually. Seriously, don't.
But what a game. All these years I have missed Elite and playing this has confirmed that it isn't all nostalgia. The graphics may be basic but the magic is still very much there. Not to mention the extensive list of expansion packs which just extends the Elite universe that little bit further.
As you may know from pervious posts I work, study and write best when surrounded by general hubbub and the sound of people talking. To this end I have a list of people on Youtube that I 'listen' to whilst doing whatever it is that I am doing. It is also why I like writing and thinking in cafes and the like.
This simple free app sits in the Mac menu-bar and, well, plays the sounds of a cafe in full flow. There are three settings: Morning Murmur, Lunchtime Lounge and University Undertones - the middle of the three being my current favourite.
Jazz and Rain
In a similar vein, one of the things that relaxes me is the sound of the rain. The Jazz and Rain website does two simple things - it plays jazz and the sound of rain whilst you do whatever it is you are doing. I don't really use the former but the latter is very much my bag.
As an aside - I really like having both Coffitivity and JazzandRain running at the same time... just because...
I am not sure where I picked this one up from (a writing forum, I think) but Workflowy is an online personal organisational tool. I don't use it for task-lists and the like (which it is mostly meant for) but I do find it incredibly useful for drafting outlines and plots for novels and short stories. It is very easy to use and the simplicity aids its intent. Give it a try.
I haven't actually tried this one out yet but the simplicity and flexibility appeals to me. I am, despite my almost constant use of digital and electronic tools, pathologically inhibited when it comes to using any such thing for to-do lists. I just can't do it.
BulletJournal is pen and paper based and is structured around three main bullet types (Tasks, Events, Notes). The other key components are the indexing and referencing systems, and the calendar/planning system. It looks like it will take a bit of work initially, but habit and practice will even that out. I am going to have an extended experiment and will let you know how I go.
Morning Pages - the Artist's Way
I am not a big fan of much of this methodology (the main theme is the close relationship between creativity and God) but I have found the daily Morning Pages exercise immensely helpful and liberating in the past.
Simply put it is three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, which you do first thing in the morning. Over time certain patterns and themes appear out of the morass of chaos which then feed into other exercises. For me the simple act of writing longhand for 3 sides first thing helped settle and clear my mind in readiness for the rest of the day. Have a look and the link above and give it a go.