The like list: Recommendations for work and life

I hate being sick. Over the last few days I’ve had to cancel all my plans while I slip in and out of a nagging low-grade fever. That’s why there wasn’t an Otaku Links this week.

In a rare moment of lucidity in which I sit down to write this week’s Otaku Journalist post, I don’t feel like tackling anything all that in-depth. No, let’s talk about simple, happy things. Today let me tell you about the stuff that makes my life a little easier, even when I don’t feel great.

Here’s the Otaku Journalist recommendation list, full of my favorite stuff I’ve utilized this year. Most of these are not affiliate links, which is unusual for me, but it turns out my favorite things are not products so much as services. Check them out:

Crunchyroll. Of course this fantastic streaming service gets the first shout-out of the list, because I haven’t done much for the past few days except watch One Piece. I use Crunchyroll to review airing anime, but my real guilty pleasure is watching its immense archive of super old stuff, from Super Gals! to Endless Waltz. I can’t believe Crunchyroll doesn’t pay me to recommend their service, but at $60 a year, I don’t really need them to.

One Story. I love short stories, especially those of Philip K. Dick and Flannery O’Connor, but I had a hard time finding a literary journal that I could stick with—until I found this one, which simply selects and sends you one amazing short story per month. I’ve been a member for over three years now, so I’ve spent some of my sick days re-reading some of the 50 I already have. It’s $21 for a year, but I usually renew around the holidays when it only costs $12.

Shield Security. Over the holidays, somebody in France hacked Otaku Journalist, which was inconvenient, to say the least. Then my friend (and sometimes contractor) Crimm told me about this free WordPress plugin. It allows me to use two-factor authentication with all my sites, hide and spoof my login page, and a number of other hack-proof solutions. While I still hear about hacking attempts (the plugin notifies me ASAP), none have been successful since.

Google Drive. Speaking of amazing free tools. I use this to write everything from blog posts to books and keep them all organized. I love the “suggesting” feature for when I’m editing (or being edited) and want the writer to be able to view each suggested change instead of blindly accepting it. I love the offline feature, both for helping me focus without getting distracted by Twitter and for allowing me to retain backups on my machine no matter what happens.

Poppin Softcover Notebook. There’s still no substitute for the ultimate portable writing studio—pen and paper. (Though after this many years of primarily typing, my handwriting is a cramped chicken scratch.) I do the majority of my creative writing this way, otherwise I spend too much time falling down Wikipedia holes for “research.” I used to use Moleskine notebooks, but 1) I stopped being able to find their softcover version and 2) it costs $24! This is only $9. 

Get Bullish. Jen Dziura is the kind of woman who runs a business from her cell phone while being prepped for a c-section. I find her business advice both extremely unrelatable and deeply inspiring, because if I do barely half of what Jen does, I’m still ahead of the curve. I’ve also met dozens of entrepreneurs in my city through a mutual interest in Jen’s articles, sold one of my books through her shop, and will be attending her BullCon conference in DC this year.

Bad with Money Podcast. I find the gym extremely boring. But I still want to be able to open jars by myself, so I tough it out a couple times a week with the help of some truly interesting podcasts. My favorite is Gaby Dunn’s half entertainment, half education show about money smarts and the issues with today’s financial system. Weirdly it has not only helped me become a better saver, but has helped me find cool TV shows and books to read thanks to the many entertainment industry guests Gaby has on the show.

Baggu. $10 for a friggin grocery bag? Yes, but what if I told you I bought my Baggu bags six years ago now and they still don’t need to be replaced? They’re washable, waterproof, and can be compactly folded. I keep one in my purse at all times just in case I need extra storage.

Moo cards. My Otaku Journalist business cards (front side visible here) are thick, perfectly square cardstock art. I don’t mind splurging on eye-catching cards because I usually only hand them out at anime cons and as a result have a ton left from ordering back in January 2016.

The Billfold. This is my favorite regular read. Since becoming a freelancer I’ve not only become comfortable talking about money, but honestly started to enjoy it. I love the voyeuristic pleasure of learning about how other freelancers do money. Mostly I was lured over when Nicole Dieker, the geeky writer and musician behind Hello The Future, became an editor for this site. Actually, I have my first freelance article for them going up tomorrow—about my trip to Japan!

TSA Pre. I went to Anime Boston with my friend Andrew this year. As I zipped through TSA Pre, he had to take off his belt and his shoes and eventually get a pat down like a common criminal. Don’t get me wrong—security theater is stupid and I’m old enough to remember what flying was like before 2001. But sometimes you get tired of protesting the system and just want to get to your gate before literally everyone else. This was especially easy for me to get around to because my closest airport is walking distance, but I imagine eventually everyone will have TSA Pre and it won’t be any more convenient than anything else.

Quickbooks Self-Employed. I used to manage my finances entirely through Google Sheets, which meant I had to manually type in everything I spent, saved, and earned. Every time I’d fall behind or forget something, I’d have an accounting error that would be a huge headache at the end of the month or, worse, at tax time. For $5 a month, Q S-E connects with my bank, my credit card, PayPal, and everything else so I only have to check every month if I want! (I still check near daily because old habits die hard, but it hardly needs any input from me.)

Let’s Freckle. I hate tracking time and I hate invoicing, so this is a problem I’m happy to throw money at. I turn on my timer and get to work, pausing only to switch which client I’m working for—and just hit “stop” when I’m ready to log hours. When it’s the end of the month, I can send each client an invoice of all the hours I’ve logged, which is automatically generated for me. Before Let’s Freckle, I was so bad at time tracking I’m sure I undercharged all my clients because I despised the process and was too scared to check if I’d made an error in my favor.

Spearmint Altoids. OK, this last one’s an affiliate link. When you are with me and I offer you an Altoid, it is not because your breath stinks. It’s because I assume everyone likes these as much as I do. I usually have two tins in my purse at any time, and buy them in bulk (the way drugstores do) at least twice a year. They calm my stomach, they relieve my anxiety, they do everything except make my breath smell any better. (Except temporarily? Gum is way better for breath freshening.) I really hope I feel better soon because just the idea of one of these makes my sore throat burn, and I really miss getting my fix. Better than some vices, right?

This is a sick woman’s happy post. Please contribute by posting things that make YOU happy in the comments. Let me know if we have any favorites in common, too!

Top image via this post. Really just used it because it had Altoids in it.