5 items I can’t get through a work day without (under $50!)

Hello, friends! This space has been collecting dust for a while, and I hope you’ll bear with me as I clear out the cobwebs and let some blogging light back in again, so to speak. It’s a blogging tale as old as time, one you’re probably personally familiar with — life changes, work changes, and suddenly you’re not quite sure where blogging fits in.

The short story? I forgot that I started a blog simply because I had something to say. I forgot that I still have things to say.

But that’s a blog post for another day. Today, we’re keeping it simple around here. I’m following my own advice and blogging because I have something to share. Though, I have to admit, when Victoria suggested this month’s theme of “5 items under $50 I can’t live without” for our first ever link up series at <em>press, nothing immediately came to mind.

Then I started to take notice of the little things that brighten my day — particularly the ones that make my work day run a bit smoother and keep me seated at my desk, excited to tackle my to-do list. The longer I work for myself, the more I realize that it’s no small feat to peel yourself out of bed every morning and work, when your bed beckons from the other room, tempting you with just a short nap that will inevitably become a 3-hour heavy sleep session. (It doesn’t help when your dog is literally tucked into your covers, sleeping soundly on your pillow. Rude.)

Here are those 5 little things:

1. Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

Let me preface this one with a disclaimer: I am not a coffee snob. The baristas of Portland and Seattle probably still talk about that girl from Oklahoma who wanted an iced latte, of all things, when she could have had a pour over of the most rare and precious coffee beans with the most intricate flavor profiles! Seriously, just give me the iced latte any day. It’s not that I don’t like the flavor of coffee, I just prefer to mellow it out with milk and sugar. And I don’t care if it’s 10 degrees outside, I don’t want to wait 20 minutes to drink my coffee.

If I sound like you, then I highly recommend the Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker. It sounds fancier than it is. It’s really just a pitcher with a filter in the middle. Fill it up with water, fill up the filter with coffee grounds, insert, shake, and let it steep for 24-36 hours. Naturally, it requires quite a bit more planning ahead than your average coffee brewer, but the result also lasts longer. I use Dunkin original blend beans and grind them just before use for a richer flavor. Then I pour it through a funnel holding a paper coffee filter into a larger pitcher to get out the smaller grounds that get through the Takeya filter. Bonus points: the Takeya is now empty for a new batch! Rinse and repeat.

2. 24-ounce Tumbler with Straw

There’s nothing particularly special about this tumbler, other than the fact that I like the colors and it’s a good size. Admittedly, I’m not very good about drinking water, but this does help with my water intake, which in turn makes me more alert and productive. Something about having a dedicated glass for water helps me remember to keep drinking and refilling. Personally, 24 ounces is a good size for me because by the time I finish that it’s probably time to get up from my desk and move around a bit.

3. Todoist Premium

Todoist is basically how I run my life. I’ve paid for Premium so long I honestly don’t remember what features are included in free and which are for premium only. But I would pay for Premium even if it were exactly the same to support the app and help ensure that it never went out of business — it’s that essential to me. I had a brief affair with Asana and came crawling back to Todoist, screaming at them to take my money. It’s not that Asana was that bad; I just prefer the simplicity and intuitiveness of Todoist. Also, a Mac app proved to be non-negotiable for me — I have to be able to access my to-do list without opening a web browser, otherwise I get easily distracted.

My method for organizing my to-do list is pretty simple; each area of my business has its own color-coded project. For more simple organization, I use headings within the main list. If a project within an area has a lot of tasks, it gets its own sub-project. So my retainer clients all go on one list, with each person as a heading, since clients typically have 1-3 tasks under them at a time. This also gives me an easy overview of everything going on for retainer work. For design and development projects, each client has a sub-project, since there are a lot of tasks to complete the project. Each week I go through the projects and assign due dates for the Monday of the week I need to work on something, then on Monday I spread tasks out over the week in the 7 day view.

4. Echo Dot

This one comes in at just under $50, but they go on sale frequently for $10-$20 off. I have all of my office lights plugged into a Wemo Plug, and I start every day by telling Alexa to turn my office on for me. Sure, it’s not difficult to walk around my room and turn the lamps on. But if I’m being totally honest, I like that Alexa makes me feel a bit like I’m living in an episode of “The Jetsons,” which is not a bad way to start your day. I also use it as a personal assistant of sorts — an easy way to find out the current weather, set alarms and reminders, add items to the grocery list that syncs with the app, or play music for me.

5. Keyboard and Wrist Rests

Years of playing piano and flute, and then typing code on a keyboard for several hours a day finally took their toll a couple summers ago when my doctor told me the sharp pain in my hand and wrist was carpal tunnel. If you’re not familiar with the symptoms, I noticed a sharp shooting pain down the middle of my hand and into my wrist the more I curved my fingers, particularly as I tried to grip things. It also sometimes left my wrist throbbing or sore. It cleared up after using a wrist brace as much as possible and taking an anti-inflammatory my doctor prescribed, but I still feel some pain if I’ve been on my computer for long stretches of time (I actually consider this a good thing, as it reminds me to get off my computer more often!).

One thing that has become non-negotiable is a wrist rest for my keyboard and for my mousepad. I bought this set from Etsy, and it has served me well! You can choose the fabric, so it’s not an eyesore like most of the options on Amazon. This set in particular is filled with flax seed, which I like better than the memory foam options because I can move the seeds to bulk up the areas that need the most support. It’s crazy how quickly my wrist begins hurting when I travel without them, even though I’m usually spending a lot less time at my computer.

What items brighten your work day? Tweet me @elembee!

Check out what these bloggers had to say!

Indigo Row
A Touch of Teal
Sincerely, Dani Rose
Luv in the Bubble
Not for Wallflowers
Politics of Pretty
Monica Dutia
Rosé and Brosé
Beauty and Burberry
Victoria McGinley Studio
The Sasha Nicole
Bedknobs & Baubles

Photos by Thomas Vimare on Unsplash

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