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Zotemo bike bell/Hidden drawers/Roadmap to saying NO



October 18 · Issue #223 · View online

A weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff. For a searchable archive of past issues check out

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Recomendo is published by Cool Tools Lab, a small company of three people. We run the Cool Tools website, a podcast, a YouTube channel, and a couple other newsletters: What’s in my bag?, Book Freak and Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales. We hope you’ll check them out.

Essential bike bell
I am saddened by how few bicycles have bells. A bell, even a small one, will throw a warning further than your voice. No matter what your mood, its sound is polite and cheerful. A small one weighs little, and takes up almost no space on your handle bar. I prefer a bell with an external striker, like the brass Zotemo ($12). Its all-metal construction won’t wear out. Operated by your thumb, it’s loud! One quick ding on the Zotemo from a long ways off, and pedestrians instinctively know a bike is cruising behind them. A bike without a bell is like a car without a horn. Get a bell. — KK
Hide drawers underneath your desk
I’ve had my IKEA BEKANT Motorized Standing Desk for almost 3 years now with no issue, my only complaint being it has no drawers. Luckily, I found these self-adhesive small hidden drawers (TuTuShop Under Table Drawers, $15/2pk) that I was able to stick underneath the table to keep my favorite pens and sticky notes close by. To see how I install and use them check out this week’s Recomendo Short on YouTube. — CD
5-step road map for saying no
There are often good reasons for saying “no” to a request. You might be overcommitted, you might be the wrong person to do it, or you might not want to do it. This article presents a good guide on saying no. — MF
  1. Remind yourself that time is valuable and once it’s spent you absolutely can’t get it back.
  2. Ask yourself: “Would I be willing to do this thing tomorrow?” It’s easy to sign yourself up for something in April when it’s only September. Do your future self a favor and try this little exercise.
  3. Respond quickly. Don’t leave people hanging once you know you’re saying no.
  4. Own your “no” if it’s not a priority (because something else actively is): “Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’m not going to be able to take this on, but I wish you the best with X.”
  5. Reframe your “no” to assuage your guilt (if it’s something you genuinely wish you had time for). Acknowledge that this commitment is significant to you, even if you’re not taking it on. A good sample script: “This is so important that it deserves someone’s full energy, and since I can’t do that because I have XYZ other things, I would be dishonoring the importance of this event/role/weekend getaway by saying yes.”
Rating local air quality
iPhones have a built in Air Quality Index (AQI) which will tell you the air quality in your present location. Go to the default Weather app, and just below the week forecast is the AQI, which is measured by local sensors. —KK
$10 Adobe Illustrator clone
Adobe Illustrator is mission-critical for my work so the monthly subscription to Creative Cloud – which costs $53 a month and also includes Photoshop, Acrobat, Premiere, Audition, and InDesign, all of which I use frequently – is worth it. The problem is a Creative Cloud subscription works on up to 2 computers at a time, and there are times when 3 or even 4 members of my family need to use it. So I bought this Mac app called Amadine, which is a very nice clone of Illustrator. One of my daughters uses it now and likes it just as much as Illustrator. I tried it and agree, it’s excellent, as are the tutorial videos for it.  It’s usually $20, but it’s on sale for $10. A great deal. — MF
Life Assessment Checklist
Johnny Webber (@johnny_webber) posted a Life Assessment Checklist on his blog to help you identify the things you might need to work on. I quickly went through and discovered that: (argh) I really have to commit to stretching everyday. I don’t have a 5-year career plan! Do I really need one? And, I’m not sure if I can confidently say I contribute to my community. Does Recomendo count? These are all things I will reflect on. — CD

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