Below are some of the gadgets I like that have helped me be more productive. They range from voice assistants to kitchen gadgets. I wouldn’t normally think of kitchen items, but that’s the room where I spend a chunk of time. In fact, it’s where I listen to most of my podcasts.
Disclosure: Some of the items with a mean that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I first saw one of these sous-vide sticks at a startup conference. What shocked me was the size as when I watched various cooking shows, it seemed like these systems were large and expensive. This one was not. It’s about the size of a tennis ball can. The premise behind sous-vide cooking is that you can get a consistent cooking temperature using a circulating water bath. This method means you also have more wiggle room when it comes to timing. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve wrecked a dish because I got interrupted.
I put the Anova on my wishlist and watched the price come down as competitors entered the market. I also bought a refurbished one. The only downside I see with my model is the Android app loses Bluetooth connectivity when I walk away from the kitchen. However, I don’t really use the app. Instead, I’ll set my timer using Alexa.
There are a number of Alexa products, but the one I find most useful for the price point is the Alexa Dot. I also own an Echo, but I don’t find it has the same ROI for the way I use it. Granted the Echo does have better sound so if you’re an audiophile, you’ll probably find it more useful.
Amazon also has a huge number of skills that integrate with the device. Simply stated a “skill” is a small program that gets triggered when someone speaks the correct words. For example, “Alexa, play my flash briefing”. Most of these skills are done by 3rd parties such as news organizations or other websites. And many are solo efforts by people playing around and adding functionality.
There are countless ways to use this device and everyone has their favorites. Here are some of mine:
- Adding items to my To Do app – ToDoIst
- Setting alarms for focus time or cooking
- Converting recipe measurements
- Turning on the lights
- Playing my flash briefing and podcasts
I’m also using this device a lot while I’m recuperating. I’ve used it countless times to turn on the lights, set reminders and add items to my shopping list. The light feature does require I have a connected device like the Hue lights.
I was fortunate to get one of these devices as a gift last year. At first, I didn’t think I would use it as much because I have a number of Alexa devices. However, they do differ. I don’t think you need both so choosing one platform would be enough I think. I think your decision should also take into account any TV connectivity. For example, the Google Home works nicely with Chromecast. Conversely, Alexa works better with Amazon Fire TV. Sadly, I can’t give guidance here since I don’t own a TV.
What I do appreciate about Google Home is it’s research capabilities. It’s so easy to ask it questions, get facts, ask for synonyms etc. One drawback for me was the setup. On my previous router, I had to turn a feature off to get the device to work. I didn’t have this issue with my new router.
I’ve been a user of HeartMath products for almost a decade. I’m now using an emWave Pro device. Each morning I attach a small clip to my earlobe, shut my eyes, and start a session on my computer for 20 minutes. The device records various aspects of my heart coherence. At the end of 20 minutes, I’ll get a score and I can see my chart. What’s really interesting is observing the chart and feedback. It gives me a good sense of how stressed I am. Based on how I’m feeling, I may do another session later in the day, but I always start my day with this tool.
At the time I bought the software, there was no phone version. These days, I’d probably be inclined to get the unit that works with your phone. It’s more portable and looks to give you a lot of the same data. If you’re a practitioner, then my version would make more sense.
I love these lights for so many reasons, including their hands-free convenience. I probably wouldn’t have gotten them if it weren’t for the Alexa integration. I looked into several brands but decided to go with these from Philips as they routinely update the software. This was an important factor for me. The lights are not cheap, but the starter pack seems to offer the best value. They also go on sale at various times throughout the year.
The downside, apart from the cost, is they sometimes go wonky when the power goes out. We had a series of outages this winter that caused some pretty interesting events. For example, before the power went out, all my lights came on. That can be a bit disconcerting if you don’t know it’s going to happen. And then Alexa got confused and I had to relink the devices. However, I would still recommend them.
Update: The Hue software now has an option to return the bulbs to the last known state. IT sounds like this feature will solve my previous issue.
When the Amazon Kindles first came out, I was not a fan. I thought it was an overpriced tech toy. I’ve since changed my mind, although some Kindle versions are really expensive. I’m still using my old generation 3 one which doesn’t have backlighting. These days I consume a lot of books and prefer the convenience of having so many on one device. I also appreciate how I can highlight passages, look up words and add my notes. I’m also a fan of whispersync which allows me to sync my books across multiple devices. My local library also allows me to check out certain ebooks from Amazon.
The downside is you don’t get that same tactile feeling of turning pages. And, the concept of lending a book is not the same as handing someone a physical copy.
And be sure to also check out our gift guide.