Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

CardNinja is a great minimalist tool

As the year begins, I am looking for ways to move gradually toward a more minimalist lifestyle. I recently ran across an item that can help - it's called the CardNinja and it is designed to add a wallet-like pocket on the back of your smartphone so you can slim down what you carry.

The CardNinja attaches to the back of your phone (or directly to your phone case) with some strong, yet safe adhesive. It holds fast, but can be removed without damaging your phone or leaving behind a sticky residue.

CardNinja has a flexible (stretchy) pouch on it and will hold 6-8 cards and some folded cash without interfering with the use of your phone. The profile is slim, so you can still put your phone in your pocket or purse and barely notice that the CardNinja is on there. Check out my gallery for some pictures.

I started out with a sort of teal-colored version and just ordered a black one so it will blend in a bit more in a business environment (there is a wide variety of color and designs to choose from).

It you're looking to slim down what you carry and possibly do away with your wallet, check out the CardNinja.

The Best Battery Case for iPhones

I don't often declare "bests" when it comes to gadgets, but I have tried a whole slew of battery cases for the iPhone series of phones, and I believe I've found an excellent choice. It's called the "BoostCase" and it is way less bulky and obtrusive than some of the alternatives (such as Mophie and other "battery jackets.")

I first started using a BoostCase when I had an iPhone 5 - it was purple, and I loved it. I've since used BoostCase battery cases on an iPhone 6 Plus and my current phone, which is an iPhone 6s (my last two were black).

What's the big deal?

First, let me tell you about my relationship with battery cases:

  • I like to use a case on my phone.
  • When I travel, I often run out of power on my phone and want an extended battery.
  • I don't want to put up with a bulky batter case all the time, but I also don't like changing cases or carrying multiple cases around.
  • I also need to have the battery case handy when I need it - and that is often not predictable.

The BoostCase works within all of those parameters. This is a two-part case.

  • One part functions like a normal case and is thin so I can leave it on all the time (that's the bit on the right).
  • The second part is a battery 'slice' that attacked to the normal case very securely, plugs into the Lightning port on my phone and has enough juice to recharge my phone at least once (that's on the left).

Yes, I know Apple just released their own battery case. Yes, I know there are a lot of options out there. But I'd venture to say that if you try the BoostCase, you'll be happy.

By the way, it comes with a microUSB cable (you can charge and sync through it), as well as a tiny adapter so you can plug thicker headphones in when the battery slice is attached.

If you're looking to boost the battery life of your iPhone, check out the BoostCase line of products.

Life Over Work: How You Can Balance Your Lifestyle

Stress can often times feel suffocating. It destroys relationships with both friends and family, and can leave you uninspired, and even hopeless. Don't let the stresses of work take over your life. With some simple steps you can detach your mind and body from work so that you can live a simpler, less stressful life when you go home to your family.

Make Home Feel Like Home

Don't let your home become a work space. That's what your office is for. Don't let your house become cluttered with projects, papers, invoices, and documents. These work-related items are constant reminders of what you've worked on or what you need to do tomorrow and in the coming weeks. With those reminders come stress and the thought of the future or past. Stay in the present by eliminating these reminders.

Boundaries and compartmentalizing things can help, as well. When I used to work from home, I used a spare bedroom as an office. This helped in a couple of ways - first, I was able to keep all my work-related stuff in that room so it didn't intrude into the rest of the house. Second, it provided a physical boundary that helped enforce the separation - when I went into that room, I was "at work" and when I left I was "at home." That kept me from working all the time, and also helped my family because they knew when I was available for home things and when I wasn't. Tricks like this help ensure that you feel at home when you aren't supposed to be working. 

If home still doesn't relax you, consider treating yourself to an act of self appreciation. Live a little with a gourmet gift basketfull of chocolates, cookies, or even some spa accessories, if you're a fan of baths.

De-stress Your Schedule

Most people don't schedule in downtime. Their daily planners or Google Calendars are filled with appointments, deadlines and obligations. Nowhere does it say spend a night out, or relax with a drink and watch a movie, or simply read. Schedule time for your hobbies, interests, time with the kids, or even volunteering. Selfless acts such as this can make you feel like something larger, and take your mind off the negative aspects of your own life.

More Meditation

Balance doesn't mean an equal amount of work and relaxation. Balance is achieved within the mind as much as with your schedule and actions. Meditation is a skill that can be learned and when learned is a practice of acceptance of the way things are, rather than the way you wish things were. A healthy habit of meditation, especially when you first wake in the morning, can start your day off right so you lead a more balanced day, even while at work. Studies have concluded those who meditate often respond better to stress, both physically and mentally.

I used to think that meditation was not for me, and was skeptical of its value. That has changed and I'm now a convert. Meditation isn't some new-age, religious kind of thing to me - it is a great way to slow down, focus, and mentally recharge.

If you're skeptical about meditation, or simply don't know where to start, Headspace is an accessible and friendly place to start with a free 10 day trial that introduces the basics of meditation. If you find this isn't enough, there is a subscription option that unlocks a plethora of guided meditations that focus on everything from stress and anxiety to creativity and relationships.

Exercise

Physical activity is proven to relieve stress. It pumps up your endorphins, which make you feel better and be generally happier. Exercise can take many forms. While the feel-good endorphins exercise releases are known as a runner's high, any exercise can give you the same effect. This includes a game of soccer, some ultimate-Frisbee, or a brisk, 20-minute walk around the block. Of course exercise is always more fun with a friend. Seek encouragement and partnership if motivation is a large obstacle for you - a workout buddy not only makes things more fun, it introduces some peer pressure that makes it more likely you actually go out and do something.

From my posts here, you may also realize that I'm a fan of exercise tracking gadgets. Not only do they help you track exercise and sleep, many of them can also notice when you've been sedentary for too long and remind you to get up, get out, and move around. That is a great way to make sure you don't get too focused on work and forget to take care of your physical health.

What about you - have you discovered techniques that help you lead a more balanced life? Leave a comment with your insights.

Hey - it's the future! Is it what you expected?

In the second “Back to the Future” film, the three central characters played by Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly), Christopher Lloyd (Doctor Emmett Brown) and Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells) travel to October 21, 2015 in aflying car to save Marty’s kids from potential disaster.   Except for a few key oversights (the internet, mobile phones) and some rather ambitious future predictions, aspects of the world dreamed up by the writer Bob Gale are not far off reality.

OK - it is now October 21, 2015. It's the future - is it what you expected? What’s reality and what’s not? Check out this handy graphic for a taste - this is a great analysis, courtesy of Reed Elsevier's SciVal Trends Module:


Can't afford a standing desk? Build your own for under $22

Lately, I hear about standing desks all the time - from podcasts, random conversations, and so forth. Recently, I started using one at work (we have a bunch of the ones from Varidesk at our office), and I love having the ability to stand up while working, particularly on conference calls.

If a standing desk sounds interesting to you, but you don't want to break the bank, here is a great option: build it yourself!

I got a tip about this from another person located in Portland, who kindly sent me a link to this infographic. Enjoy! If you decide to do this, let us know how you like the results.