In this day and age, you can’t escape technology. We all carry around computers in our pockets, and most jobs require at least some sort of tech gear. Whether you work as a desk jockey or in a trade, you probably need gadgets to stay productive. Here are a few of the best ones you should not live without.
1. A good flash drive
These days, most of us store our data in the cloud. Regardless, you probably sometimes transfer documents from one device to another. Time recommends getting a good flash drive to get the job done. This SanDisk model represents the gold standard, but you may also want something like this, which attaches to your keyring. For real MacGyvers, you can even buy a Swiss Army Knife with a USB drive attached.
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2. For better web conferencing, add an external webcam
Whether you conference for work or want to chat with faraway friends more clearly, think about getting a good webcam. Wirecutter recommends the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. Its stellar image quality and easy-to-use software makes it stand out above the rest. Only the Logitech Webcam C930e carries slightly better image quality. That one provides less manual control, costs about $30 more, and works best for corporate environments.
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3. A backup hard drive
Let’s face it: hard drives fail. Yes, even the one holding all of your files, photos of your kids, everything. Invest in an external hard drive like the Western Digital My Passport. Make sure the model you get comes with more storage than your current computer, so you can back everything up. You can thank us later.
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4. A small power strip for working on the go
If you travel a lot or just need to plug multiple things in at once, you know the outlet struggle gets real. Pack a small power strip like this one and never compromise on your power again. It works great for small office spaces, too. If you plug in a lot of USB-powered devices, look for one that also features USB ports, to save on snaking cords.
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5. Get a good mouse (trust us)
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, you do not have to settle for a trackpad or standard-issue mouse. Tech Radar tested a number of them, and found the Logitech MX Anywhere 2 works well for most people. Mac users will love the Apple Magic Mouse 2. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, or other repetitive-motion strains, a new mouse might make a big difference.
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6. Spring for a new keyboard
Wirecutter suggests upgrading your keyboard, for a variety of reasons. They come in different speeds, feel different under your fingers, and can even last longer. The testers recommend a mechanical keyboard for more durable, responsive, and customizable options. than other types of keyboards. They agreed that the WASD Code 87-Key works well for most people, and also weighs in at a good price point.
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7. Stay on task with a time-management app
If you have a hard time tracking your time, look no further than Wunderlist. It comes in iOS, Android, Mac, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 10, Chrome, and even Apple Watch applications. Although it comes in both free and paid tiers, testers found the free version works just fine. Once you start managing your time this way, you will never go back.
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8. A paper journal — yes, really
Inc suggests the Habit Nest Morning Sidekick Journal because it works just like the productivity apps you know and love. It helps you track tasks you want to complete, as well as keep a record of achievements. Who doesn’t love a little positive reinforcement? It also helps you unplug once in awhile, which will keep you fresh when you log back on.
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9. Try tracking your time
For optimal productivity, Business.com wants you to keep better track of your time. A lot of free programs exist to give you a good idea of how you use your days. You can’t fix it if you don’t know it, so try diagnosing your productivity to improve it. Learning a few hard lessons about how you use every moment will ultimately help you get better.
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10. Never forget your passwords again with this app
Do you have so many passwords that it gets hard to keep track? Welcome to the internet club. Never waste time resetting them again with this app. 1Password helps you keep track of all of your passwords, securely and easily. Just memorize one password to open the app, and 1Password automatically gives you access to any of your other connected accounts. Even better, when you need to make a new one, 1Password automatically generates a secure key.
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11. Get out of your seat with a good standing desk
The Fully Jarvis Bamboo is the Wirecutter recommendation for full-size standing desks. The desk comes in at half the price of less stable models, and even adjusts for standing-to-sitting work. You can also add keyboard or pencil trays, monitor arms, or other gizmos to maximize your workspace. In addition, it looks clean and modern, with lots of surface area for everything you need to get the job done.
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12. But if you must sit, use this chair
If you stand up after a long day at work and your back groans with relief, you need a better chair. The Steelcase Gesture comes expert recommended as the best office chair for most backsides. Its ball-and-socket armrests, designed similarly to the human shoulder, makes it more adjustable than most chairs. That means that you will likely find a better way to make it fit you, no matter how you sit.
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13. Shut out the world with headphones
If you work in a noisy office, a cafe, or just want to surround yourself with the ambient noise of your choosing, you need some good headphones. Wired suggests the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphones for canceling out the world. These headphones, will they certainly do not come cheap, will create your own little sound wall. The beautiful audio makes your favorite tunes sound heavenly, and the over-ear cushions keep your head comfy. What cubical chatter?
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14. Digitize your notes
Reviewed.com knows you sometimes need to write longhand, but transcribing is such a pain. If you ever need to share your notes with someone, you know the hassle of typing them up. Take that problem out of the equation with the Smarson SmartPen. It automatically turns your paper writing into a digital file. How cool is that? This gadget saves time and effort, which gives it high marks in our productivity books.
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15. Consider a reception service
Sometimes, we just need a few more hours in the day. Since we have not yet figured out how to bend time, Business.com recommends a virtual receptionist if you or your company can’t afford an in-house one. A virtual receptionist service can also handle your appointment scheduling, lead-generating, anything you need to maximize your business. Now that’s what we call working smarter, not harder.
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