Cool tools in my office 💯
Beyond sites and apps: things that help me focus
Little things around my office are surprisingly crucial to my productivity. Here’s why: when work is tricky I’m distractable. I’ll take whatever help I can get to stay on track. The following objects are my unsung workday heroes.
I set timers for 1, 3, 5, or 10 minutes by flipping this palm-sized cube on a side. It also has a stopwatch mode and a Pomodoro timer for 25-minute work sprints. It beats online timers because I don’t have to keep an app or browser tab open, and I can tap the cube to adjust the timing. Caveat: It’s $40; beeps may annoy those nearby.
How it’s helpful: The visible countdown keeps me on task when I might otherwise be tempted to float over to email or Web scrolling. It also gamifies the process of completing tasks: can I write this email in five minutes? Can I summarize this report in 20 minutes?
This provides a solid Internet connection even in remote corners of my pre-war apartment with its impenetrable walls. It took 3 minutes to set up. There were no confusing settings to adjust, which was a relief after wrestling with other confusing routers. You can connect a series of these units to extend coverage across a big home, or just use one.
I like the thick 80g paper and well-constructed binding. It has 187 numbered pages, including eight perforated detachable sheets and a blank table of contents for easily organizing notes. It comes with stickers for labeling and archiving. I like the dotted pages for sketching out ideas, drafting outlines, and scrawling ideas. It's well-made and a pleasure to write in. Caveat: At $17.50 on Amazon, it’s far from the cheapest option.
The Artfan Bullet Dotted Journal is a more affordable alternative. It’s just $6.29 yet feels sturdy, with 124 sheets of thick, dotted grid paper. It opens flat, has an inner pocket and an elastic closure.
This is the first pen I’ve used that actually erases without smudging. It works well with the Rocketbook reusable notebook. I also use it on ordinary paper. A pack of three is less than $5 and I like using multiple colors so I can separate pros and cons (green and red) or facts and quotes (blue and purple) or otherwise color-code my notes.
Luxury Tools 💎
This purchase early in the pandemic let me stand or sit comfortably at home, making a huge difference in comfort over thousands of hours of work. You can adjust its height quickly with the touch of a button.
Caveats: It requires setup, has to be plugged in to move up or down, and it costs $200, but it’s a terrific standing desk. Alternative: I also recommend this $99 wooden stand I bought on Etsy to convert an existing table into a standing desk. It’s durable, portable, height-adjustable and easy to set up.
I bought this smart ring nearly three years ago because I wanted to measure my sleep quality and fitness during the pandemic and I didn’t want a screen on my wrist. I’m still wearing it because it’s helped me analyze how my eating and exercise habits impact my rest. It provides other useful metrics too—how much I’m walking and working out—which help motivate me to stay active. Here’s my original post on why I like my Oura and how I use it. Caveat: a $6/month subscription is now required to access your complete data, in addition to a $259 or $309 ring.
If you make recordings, lead online meetings or workshops, or otherwise rely on sound for work, this $249 mic is worth a look. I use it for audio and video recordings as well as online classes I teach and Zoom meetings. It’s easy to plug into your laptop or you can connect it with an XLR cable to pro audio equipment.
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I’m experimenting in this post with affiliate links to support the sustainability of Wonder Tools. As always, I only write about what I actually use and I share my independent take on whatever strengths and limitations I observe. All content represents my own personal view with no external input.