Productivity is an elusive little guy. I don’t know about you, but I constantly hear people complain that they need to be more productive and they don’t know-how. Although there are many different ways to motivate yourself, there’s a lot of tech out there that can make it easier.
Consistently being productive is all about creating the right environment and maintaining the right mindset throughout the day. While it’s up to you to create that good mindset, we think we can help with the environment part. Here are some of the best organizational tools to help you create a peaceful work-focused environment, help you stay productive, and keep you motivated.
One of the biggest productivity suckers is audible distractions. When you can hear your coworkers chatting, traffic sounds from outside, or your kids watching a movie at full volume, it ain’t easy to stay on task. Investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds makes it easy to cancel out some of those noisy distractions (and do wonders for your productivity).
- Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones: Noise-canceling headphones are one of the best gadgets you can buy for yourself if you want to be more productive. These headphones from Sony have active noise cancelation (ANC), so you won’t be able to hear anything but the music you’re jamming out to while you work. And if you need to be able to hear when people are trying to talk to you, Sony’s got you covered. There’s a built-in feature that you can toggle on and off in the app (Android/iOS) that automatically senses outside voices and turns down your music. As incredible as Sony’s headphones are, they’re a bit pricy; if you want a good pair of noise-canceling headphones that don’t cost as much, check out the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones.
- Jabra Elite 85t Earbuds: Over-ear headphones (like the ones above) are always going to be more comfortable than in-ear headphones. But if you’re looking for something more discreet and still has excellent noise-canceling features, the Jabra Elite 85t earbuds will do the trick. The Jabra Sound+ app (Android/iOS) allows you to adjust the active noise cancelation and hear-through levels, letting you customize what you do want to block out (annoying noise) and don’t (your coworker who’s talking to you). Want to save a little dough and don’t mind skipping on active noise cancellation? You can’t go wrong with the Skullcandy Sesh Earbuds; they’re wireless, come with a charging case, and, even without ANC, will still help you focus more on your music than the distractions around you.
- Magicteam Sound Machine: If you can’t listen to music while you’re working because you find it too distracting, try a white noise machine. This one from Magicteam has 20 different non-looping sounds to choose from, including rain sounds, ocean sounds, bird sounds, and white, blue, pink, and brown noise. There are a whopping 32 different volume levels as well, so it’s easy to tailor the machine to your specific needs.
To help boost your productivity, you need to have a set area in your home where you do your work, or at least most of your work. For most people, this area is a home office or your desk. From there, all you need to do is decorate your desk with everything you need to get things done. If you’re in an office, you’re all set with your canvas; you simply have to give your area a productivity upgrade.
- FLEXISPOT Standing Desk Converter: If you like the idea of a standing desk but don’t want to spend all that money on something you’re not sure you’ll like, try out this standing desk topper for your desk. This converter sits on top of your desk, with a built-in height adjustment that takes it from 4.7 inches to 19.7 inches above your desk. Plus, it ships almost fully assembled, so you don’t have to do much work; the only thing you have to do is attach the keyboard tray if you want it in your setup. If you find that you love standing while working so much, consider investing in a long-term standing desk, like this one from Vari.
- LIFELONG Laptop Stand: For people who favor laptops over desktops, a laptop stand is essential. You can adjust the height and angle of this laptop stand to fit your preferences. You can use it while standing or sitting down or change it up as you need throughout the workday. A laptop stand that’s angled means you won’t have to strain your neck and can save you a lot of aches and pains, especially if you spend a lot of your workday at your laptop.
- Fluidstance Slope: If you know someone who has their life together, they probably own a whiteboard. Okay, maybe not, but having a whiteboard on deck is a great way to constantly jot down whatever pops into your head and quickly rewrite your to-do list if your priorities change. The Fluidstance Slope reinvents the classic whiteboard that usually goes on your wall; instead, it looks like a monitor stand that’s made entirely out of heavy-duty steel, so it’ll work with any magnets and dry-erase markers you already have. Having a sloped whiteboard on your desk that you can see at all times will inspire you to keep getting work done and track any crazy, random ideas that enter your brain.
- Vaydeer Monitor Stand: This may not seem like the flashiest purchase, but a monitor stand can make a huge difference in your productivity levels. From a physical standpoint, monitor stands put your monitor at a more comfortable height for your neck and back. Unsurprisingly, when you’re not in pain from working at your computer, you’re more motivated and ready to work. From a technical standpoint, this monitor stand has four USB 3.0 ports for charging and data transfer, and can wirelessly charge your phone. Monitor stands also give you a little extra room on your desk, which, in turn, makes it easier to keep things organized.
- SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive: Traditional USB storage drives are a thing of the past. This flash drive from SanDisk still lets you plug it into a USB port if you want, but you can also use it wirelessly. This particular model has 32GB of storage, though there are other options up to a 200GB drive. With this drive, you can easily access your files from multiple devices. With SanDisk’s wireless flash drive, you can even stream videos and music to up to three devices simultaneously.
- TP-Link Archer AX50: If you work from home, investing in a quality Wi-Fi router is a must. This Wi-Fi 6 dual-band router allows you to connect more devices and experience faster overall speeds. Anyone working from home probably relies on the internet to get a lot of their work done, so if you frequently encounter pages that take forever to load or videos that buffer, it’s well worth it to upgrade your router. NETGEAR’s Nighthawk RAX50 router is another excellent option, but it costs twice as much. It will give you added cybersecurity protection for your network, however, and it packs a ton of advanced technology inside that’s designed to provide you with super-fast internet in every corner of your home.
- TP-Link AC750 Portable Nano Router: Not everyone is lucky enough to use a direct Ethernet connection to their computers for speedy internet. If this is the case for you, consider investing in a portable router that can act as an additional access point right next to your computer. As a bonus, if you ever need to travel for work, you can bring this bad boy along to ensure you always have fast internet speeds no matter where you are.
For many of us, simply knowing what needs to be done and actually getting things done are two different beasts. Planners, unique timers, and other organizational tech make it easier to stay productive. And, by laying out what you need to do in an organized way—and sometimes even by gamifying your daily work experience—you’ll get more done.
- TickTime Timer: This is a flip induction timer, meaning that all you have to do to start the timer is flip it to the side you want and set it down. There are eight total sides to this timer, including six preset timing modules, a countdown timer that starts at 99 minutes, and a counting timer that goes up to 99 minutes. The preset timing modules include options in 3-, 5-, 10-, 15-, 25-, and 30-minute increments. Bonus: with the 5- and 25- minute timers, you can easily use the Pomodoro productivity technique if that’s your thing.
- Luxafor Flag: Though it’s a simple piece of tech, Luxafor’s LED Flag comes in handy whether you work in the office or from home. Using red, green, blue, or any other customized color on the LED flag, you can let the people around you know when you’re available or when they should avoid distracting you. You can attach it to your laptop or your desktop monitor so that your coworkers or family members can easily see it. All you need is a nearby USB port to power it up; no batteries are necessary.
- Rocketbook EveryDay Planner: If you love reusable tech that helps the environment, you’ll love this neat planner from Rocketbook. Inside, there are 48 pages with eight different templates, including lined pages, dot-grid pages, list pages, custom tables, a 3-month overview, and weekly, monthly, and yearly planning pages. Using Pilot Frixion pens, highlighters, or markers, you can write, erase, and reuse the pages as many times as you want to. Essentially, this is the only planner you’ll ever need to buy ever again. There’s even a digital copy function that allows you to easily upload your notes to the cloud service of your choosing, like Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote, or iCloud.
- Trello: Although it’s frequently used by teams, Trello can also be useful to individuals. Using Kanban-style organization, Trello makes it incredibly easy to see everything you need to do. I’m talking long-term goals, recurring tasks, in-progress items, things you want to do for fun—whatever you want to keep track of. Another great alternative is Asana, and it offers a different organizational style you might prefer over Trello.
- Elisi: If you prefer something a bit more personal for planning your goals and tracking your progress, try out the Elisi app (Android/iOS). Naturally, Elisi makes it easy to get things done and reflect on all you’ve accomplished, but the app also makes it easy to create and stick to healthy habits. There’s a calendar view, group tags to help you organize to-do items, and a habits tab to see how long you’ve kept up with individual habits. Bonus: It’s free to use.