There are very few things I can't live without and I really believe that "buy all this stuff to simplify your life" is just a savvier, more wholesome-sounding way of promoting materialism. That said, there are products, services, and websites that make life easier to navigate. So in the spirit of a new year and setting new goals and creating better systems or routines, here are five things or 'lifehacks' that I've found make life more enjoyable for me:
1. PANDORA PREMIUM: On a good day, my evening routine includes a cup of chamomile tea, a candle with a relaxing scent, and the Autumn in New York or John Coltrane station on Pandora. The upgrade allows me to listen to unlimited music each month and is ad-free (I'm personally not a fan of Spotify, so I no longer use it).
2. THE DAY DESIGNER: I've tried a zillion day planners, goal and to-do apps, and calendars. The Day Designer is the most in line with how my brain works. Created by Whitney English with the aim to help you create a well-designed life, this planner makes annual goals doable by breaking them out in quarterly, monthly, and daily to-dos. The daily pages include the day's top 3 so you can prioritize (these are the "rocks" in the well-known jar analogy), as well as both a time schedule and to-do checklist (for the pebbles/sand).
3. 25iq: This is the only blog I read religiously. Tren Griffin writes about business, tech, the financial markets, and other things. His "A Dozen Things I've Learned from ______" posts are full of valuable, thought-provoking insights that often challenge and sharpen my perspective.
4. SODASTREAM: I kicked my soda addiction several years ago by switching to sparkling water and this machine makes it easy and is much cheaper than buying LaCroix every week. Sometimes I'll add a little lime juice, but mostly I just drink it plain. I thought I was addicted to the caffeine in soda, but it turns out it was the fizz and texture of the carbonation I craved (I get my caffeine fix from my morning coffee).
5. REPRIORITIZING MY HOME SCREEN: I talked about this yesterday on Instagram: About six-ish months ago I added my meditation and gratitude apps to the home bar of my iPhone, in place of my email and calendar (as shown in the image above). I also moved my email and work apps (Dropbox, Slack, etc) off the home page of my iPhone so that they wouldn't be the first thing I focused on whenever I picked up my phone. All my social media apps are buried in a folder on the very last page so that I can't mindlessly flip to them. These were all tiny edits that resulted in big habit changes as well as clearer, more focused thinking that ended up making my work (and everything else) better. This system may not work for everyone, but it was a great improvement for my daily routine.
PS: I was super skeptical of meditation for the longest time, and really didn't come around to trying it until I read up on the actual science behind it. If you're looking for something to make 2017 better, I recommend giving meditation a shot. Even 3-5 minutes a day is useful, and brain-imaging technology can actually see changes in your brain's activity after a few weeks of just twelve minutes of daily meditation.
*None of these are affiliate links, just things I enjoy and think you might, too.