The way we see it, there are two prime audiences for a productivity gift guide like this one:
- Gift-givers who are trying to figure out what to buy for the person who has everything. Your recipient is a productivity enthusiast, or you know they are trying to become more productive. What is a gift you can give them that is thoughtful and useful?
- People who are trying to give gift ideas to friends and family. People (like myself) who are impossible to buy for. When we get the dreaded question “please, give me some ideas!” what do we say?
If these categories sound familiar, the 2020 edition of our Asian Efficiency Productivity Holiday Gift Guide will help you find the perfect gift.
Since we have helped thousands of people with their productivity, readers often ask us for our favorite productivity gifts. The team has selected holiday gift ideas that we’d love to get, or we have given successfully.
We’ve also included a few recommendations from members of The Dojo, our premium productivity community. There are many smart and productive people in there with great holiday gifts.
What Makes A Great Productivity Gift?
You may be familiar with The TEA Framework, our productivity framework that will help you improve your productivity by focusing on one (or more) of these three areas:
An excellent productivity gift is useful and will also help with the recipient’s time, energy, or attention. Maybe it will help save time or reduce hassle. Perhaps it will boost energy by improving health or fitness. Or maybe it will reduce clutter and distraction.
Productivity gifts are gifts for busy people: gifts that make life easier or just a little bit better.
With that in mind, here are our latest picks for productivity gifts. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
Having things lying around on your desk leads to clutter, and clutter leads to distraction and lack of focus. Simultaneously, as Professional Organizer and Productivity Consultant Amy Payne said in her podcast episode, you want the things that are useful to you to be close at hand. A nice headphone stand will achieve both: you can have your external headphones out of the way but still close at hand.
Recommended by: Marmel
Many of us are now spending way more time than we ever thought possible sitting on Zoom or Microsoft Teams calls. For those who have a nice natural source of light nearby, that’s no problem. But many of us are stuck in less-than-ideal light situations. Maybe you’re stuck at the back corner of your living room. Or perhaps, like Brooks, your office is in the basement. If you have a bad light situation, you won’t look your best on a video call. Fortunately, there are easy and inexpensive lighting solutions. Embrace your inner Youtuber and brighten up your video.
I once came >>>><<<< this close to losing my wallet once at the Austin airport. I left it behind at my go-to ABIA taco stand, and while the tacos were delicious, even they wouldn’t have made losing my wallet 3,600km from home bearable. If you want to avoid taco-related wallet loss in the future, Eckster makes nice looking wallets with an optional solar-powered tracker card. Dojo member Giacomo Pasini liked his so much, he added a key tracker too.
Recommended by: Giacomo
Many computers and tablets ship with USB-C ports (in some cases only ship with USB-C ports). The problem? So many of our devices still have good old USB-A plugs. When you add ethernet cables, monitor hookups, and SD cards, hooking up a modern computer to anything is a one-way trip to dongle town. The solution? A hub that plugs into your computer or tablet’s USB-C port and gives you all the ports you need.
Recommended by: Brooks
Have you ever experienced this? You hear about an app, or a tool, or a productivity method for ages, but you think, “That sounds fine, but I don’t really need it.” Then you give it a try, and you don’t know how you ever lived without it. A second monitor is like that. Once you go dual-screen, it is tough to go back. While a monitor may not seem like the most exciting gift, we guarantee the recipient will thank you for years to come.
Recommended by: Marmel
I love paper books. I like reading them, I like the look of them on my bookshelf, and — I know this is weird — I even like the smell of them. Even with all that, I still love reading books on my Kindle. It is insanely light, the battery lasts for ages, you can read it in the dark without harsh blue light, and you can carry thousands of books on it. Reading doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition, and if your gift recipient is a reader, they will love the Kindle. I have and like the Kindle Paperwhite, while The Productivity Show guest Charles Ngo swears the Kindle Oasis is worth the upgrade.
Recommended by: Brooks
Clutter doesn’t just happen on the desk. Having to dig around your bag for a cable or adaptor is a waste of your time and attention. Having an organizer that you can put inside your bag gives you confidence that you won’t leave any essential cables or wires behind when you go out for the day or vacation. Best of all, you can easily swap your organizer between bags.
Health & Wellness
Theragun is a commercial-grade percussive therapy device. It will help you reduce muscle soreness, improve mobility, and increase relaxation. The Pro is the top of the line model that Thanh uses, but also available are the Elite and Prime models that have a few fewer features and less power.
Recommended by: Thanh. Marmel has one too, and after compiling this list, I (Brooks) bought one as a Christmas gift “for my wife.” This list isn’t supposed to be costing ME money!
Many people feel a dip in energy once fall and winter hit. The lack of light and poor weather can make us feel sluggish and unfocused. Even your mood can impact your productivity. Many people find that a UV light therapy device does wonders to improve their sleep, mood, and energy.
Recommended by: Thanh
Sleep is a massive driver of energy, which in turn is a huge driver of productivity. You may not know this, but blue light (the kind of light that blasts out of phones, tablets, monitors, and TVs) can disrupt your sleep. You (and your gift recipient) want to optimize your sleep as much as you can, and one way to do that is to use blue light blocking glasses. Wear them when you are using a device with a screen, especially in the evening, and chances are you will have a better sleep.
Recommended by: Thanh
We all know that sitting for long periods every day is terrible for your posture, energy, and general health. Using a standing desk at least part of the time is a big help, but imagine if you could also strengthen your core at the same time. That’s what using a balance board with a standing desk will do.
Recommended by: Dojo member Hayley
Do you have another productivity gift recommendation?
There is something to be said for giving experiences instead of things. We believe in that too. However, when more and more of us are working from home, the number of experiences we can give is limited. If physical gift-giving is thoughtful and can improve productivity, we think there is a place for it.
Is there a gift idea that we missed? Have you given or received a winner productivity gift in the past? Leave a comment below and let us know.