Been Looking For Me?

You haven’t heard from me for awhile but I’ve been busy! I’m making great progress on my ebook about prayer and technology and I’m also preparing to launch my podcast, Looking For More.

Before I finish my book, I would like to find out how others incorporate technology in their prayer life.

Would you be willing to take a minute or two to fill in my survey on your use of technology (or lack of) in your own prayer life? It would be really helpful to me. You can do so anonymously unless you choose to give me your email address in the last question. The link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/36BK5BW.

Thanks!

Time for Thanksgiving

3 tech tools to help you find time for what's important

People eating a pie and drinking cranberry compote

With Thanksgiving weekend upon us most of us will spend time with family and friends. Our time is one of the most precious gifts we can give but most of us struggle to find the time we want to spend with loved ones and friends.

Although many people complain about how modern technology robs us of valuable time and has replaced face-to-face interaction, it can also do the opposite. I would like to share with you three tech tools that are helping me find more time for the most important tasks and the most important people in my life.

  1. RescueTime (www.rescuetime.com) – Do you know how much time you waste online checking email, Facebook and surfing the net? Do you know where you are spending most of your time when you are on the computer? RescueTime, the best time management app according to PCMag.com, will analyze how and where you spend your time when online. You can choose what it monitors and also what activities and websites you consider to be good use of your time. A report of your time will be emailed to you daily, weekly or monthly. I prefer the weekly report and find that it is frequent enough to help me adjust my use of time.

Here is what I learned last week about my time spent online over the previous seven days. I spent 17 hours and 22 minutes online which was 5 fewer hours than the week before. My productivity score was 82% which is about 5% lower than the previous week. I spent on average 7 minutes a day on tasks considered to be “distracting time”. The largest chunks of my time were spent on Gmail and Word documents. With this information, I can adjust my priorities and use my time even more intentionally.

Most of us don’t need more time. We just need to use our time more effectively. I’ve heard that what isn’t measured won’t be changed so this is a great tool to give you the facts about your use of time online so that you can make changes to help you use your time more wisely.

RescueTime has a premium version but the free version is excellent and will meet the needs of most people.

  1. OneTab (www.one-tab.com) – This free Chrome and Firefox extension is easy to install and is useful for anyone who does research online. Instead of having many tabs open at the same time, just click on OneTab and it will convert all your tabs into one list. Having fewer tabs is less distracting and will save up to 95% of  your computer’s memory. Your tabs are safe using OneTab. Even if you accidently close OneTab all your tabs will be there when you open it again. There are many different functions available including putting your tabs in categories and prioritizing them. This tool will speed up the time you spend searching online by keeping your tabs organized.
  2. Scripture Typer (https://scripturetyper.com) – This is a skill builder app rather than a productivity tool but it will save you time in memorizing scripture. For decades I have been memorizing scripture and have tried many techniques. I have bought Scripture memory systems and have set up my own system with verses handwritten on recipe cards. I have taped them on my bathroom mirror for easy review and carried them in my purse or pocket where they got dirty, torn and often lost. I even organized them in a recipe box according to date in order to review them regularly and I still don’t remember a lot of the verses I worked on. This app makes learning scripture more interesting and more engaging than any method I have used.

Adding a verse is easy. You have a choice of ten Bible translations that will automatically import your text once you type in the reference, or you can type in the complete text if your favorite Bible version is not listed.

To learn a verse, practice typing it by typing just the first letter of every word, then the first letter of every other word and finally typing it on a blank screen. Once you have reached at least 90% accuracy the verse will be scheduled for review.

The built-in review is one of the best features of this app. The frequency can be tweaked to suit your schedule and needs. You can choose to receive an email regularly with the verses to be reviewed for that day or week. (I choose just to check the app each day instead of adding more emails to my inbox.)

This app is easy to use and comes with several lists of verses if you are unsure what verses you want to memorize. I enjoy using the record option where you can record yourself reading the verse you want to memorize. Using as many senses as possible will speed up the time required to commit these words to memory.

This is a mobile and web app that works on many devices. It costs $9.99 which is more than what I usually pay for apps. However, this is a skill I have been trying to develop for decades and so for me, it is worth the money. I also wanted to support the creator of this app after reading about him and the app in the July 2016 issue of MinistryTech Magazine, formerly Christian Computing Magazine.

These apps are helping me spend time on what is important this holiday weekend.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

 

Paper Versus Screen

Why print books have an advantage over digital books

Woman reading a few books on the floor

Readers love books – real books, the ones you can hold in your hand. In spite of the popularity of ebooks, most readers still prefer to read print books. Is this just resistance to change or is there something deeper behind this? Are the benefits of reading (see previous post) the same for both?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself in order to understand why I waffle back and forth on the issue of print vs digital books.

I have overstuffed wooden bookcases as well as a disorganized library of ebooks. (I read most of my ebooks on my iPad using the Kindle app. I also read a few using Vyrso.) I enjoy both print and digital but which is better?

TWO REASONS I PREFER EBOOKS TO PRINT BOOKS

  • COST – Not only are ebooks cheaper, you can easily find discounted and even free books through sites such as bookbub.com and gospelebooks.net.
  • CONVENIENCE – I like the convenience of a portable library when I travel. It provides instant access to a variety of books without taking up space in my suitcase. Also, I find it easier to read newspapers on-line. There is no cumbersome paper to hold, fold or pile up.

THREE REASONS I PREFER PRINT BOOKS TO DIGITAL

  • COMFORT – Curling up in a comfortable chair with my iPad just is not the same as doing so with a book. Also, reading from tablets, smart phones and computer screens can cause eye strain and headaches, symptoms of computer vision syndrome. (One benefit that devices do have over print books is the flexibility to change font, page size and format.)
  • PLEASURE – What is pleasure reading for you? Sunning yourself on a beautiful beach with book in hand? Soaking in the tub with a good novel? Reading in bed on a lazy Saturday morning?

Reading for pleasure for me engages as many senses as possible. I like the feel of a book in my hands – its texture, weight and the thickness of the pages; the sound of flipping the pages; the smell; and the sensation of cracking open a brand new book. There are attempts to create some of these sensations with ebooks. (Check out the iPad book page flip/turn).

I do enjoy reading magazines on my iPad. Being able to zoom in on images to examine the finer details or to access additional content through videos and other media are a treat to the senses.

  • SHARING – My greatest frustration with ebooks is not being able to pass them on to friends. I was surprised to discover recently that it is actually possible to share Kindle books but the sharing is limited to a one-time fourteen-day loan per book.

Prayers for Boys and Girls

It’s also hard to share a book that has significant or sentimental value to you if it is not in print form. To the left is one of my most valued books given to me by one of my first Sunday School teachers. It is worn on the edges and inside the front cover, my name is awkwardly printed in pencil. The copyright year of the book is 1957 (before I was born, in case you are wondering!) I can’t imagine an ebook ever evoking such strong sentiment as a book such as this.

THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE PRINT HAS OVER DIGITAL

COMPREHENSION & RETENTION – Generally, I prefer nonfiction over fiction. Learning, studying, remembering and integrating new information into my life and writing is very important to me. There are studies that show that readers using print books understand and remember more of what they read than those who read books on screens. (The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens)

There are several reasons for this:

  • Limitations of a screen – The visual limitation of what a reader sees on a screen interferes with comprehending what is being read. A reader cannot flip back or ahead or skim easily through a digital book. According to a 2013 article in Scientific American, the ability to touch and turn a physical page contributes to understanding and remembering what is being read.

Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text…  (The Reading Brain in the Digital Age).”

  • More Physically & Mentally Taxing – The stress on the eyes, the limitations of working with a screen and the movement required to turn the pages on a device require more of the reader than when reading a print book. By limiting the way people navigate texts, screens impair comprehension”(The Reading Brain in the Digital Age).

I find this to be particularly true when reading deeply (more on that later) and reading to proofread or edit.

  • More Distractions – One of the reasons I enjoy reading online and on my iPad is that it is quick and easy to look up definitions, place names and to follow links related to the content.  However, I often find myself following interesting links that lead me far from the content I started with.

In Teaching With Interactive Picture E-Books in Grades K–6, when researchers compared children reading conventional books with children using interactive electronic picture books, they found that the former group learned more than the latter group.  The conclusion was not that ebooks were bad for children but that “the act of reading on tablets is something different from reading traditional books, not better or worse”.

THEY ARE DIFFERENT

The quote above is probably the most helpful comment I came across in my research. Understanding that reading books on a screen is different than reading print books explains why many people enjoy both, but for different reasons.

We are not likely to see any significant changes in print books but I am excited about the possibilities with ebooks. Peter Meyers, author of Breaking the Page, believes that as long as ebooks are produced as replicas of print books, they will never reach their full potential. He shares fascinating ideas to improve ebooks so that readers will enjoy them more and retain more of what they read.

I look forward to those improvements so that I can enjoy deep reading regardless of whether the book is in print form or read on a screen.

In my next post, I will explain what deep reading is, how to do it and why it is important for those who want to grow deeper in their faith.