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The Lifehack Last-Minute Gift-Giving Guide

The Lifehack Last-Minute Gift-Giving Guide

20091217-gift

    Christmas is just over a week away, and no matter how organized you are, I bet there are a few people on your list that you just can’t figure out a gift for. In the spirit of giving, then, I offer these suggestion – each of which is, as of 12/16, available to ship in time for Christmas. (All prices are in US dollars.)

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    kindle
      Kindle
      It’s no secret that we’re fond of the Kindle ‘round the Lifehack halls. A single device that can carry a library of books, magazines, newspapers, and blog content? What’s not to love – and what could be more Lifehack-y? This year, the Kindle got improved battery life, PC and iPhone companion apps (with a Mac app on its way), native PDF support, and a big brother in the form of the Kindle DX. If you really love someone, you’ll get them a Kindle! (You reading this, dad?) ($259; $489 for the DX)
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        Flip MinoHD
        Shoot incredible-looking high-def video with this camera that’s so tiny you’ll never have a reason not to carry it along with you. With 8GB of built-in memory, you can shoot up to 2 hours of video; downloading to your PC is as easy as plugging in the flip-out USB jack. ($229 list; on sale for $199 at Amazon right now)
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          Lilliput Mini USB Monitor
          This 7” monitor is so cool I can’t even stand it. Powered entirely by USB, the monitor sits next to your main monitor to hold… well, whatever you want. Photoshop tools, Windows gadgets (or widgets, or whatever they’re called these days), your todo list, notes, your media player controls – I’m sure your loved ones can think of something to do with the extra real estate. Works with Windows PCs or Intel Macs. ($79.99)
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            D-Link DIR-685 Xtreme N Storage Router
            You know what’s ugly? A wireless router, that’s what. Who wants that thing sitting on their bookshelf or entertainment center? Well, this router solves that problem with a built-in 3.2” digital picture frame, showing off your favorite photos as it serves up your web pages and print jobs. Oh, by the way – you can also add a 2.5” hard drive, making it into a network-attached storage drive that can backup files from all the computers on your network, or act as a media server sending music and video to any PC, Xbox, PS3, or other plug-n-play device on your network. You’re forgiven if by now you’ve forgotten that it’s still a router. ($249.99 list; $214.17 at Amazon)
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              Logitech V550 Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks
              I’ve been using one of these for about 6 months now, and I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s on the large side for a notebook mouse (which is good, since I’m on the large side for a person) but still quite a bit smaller than a typical desktop mouse. The USB dongle is literally a USB plug and about 1/4” of electronics, so it doesn’t stick out of the side of my notebook and get in my way. The scroll wheel is a hefty metal job which you can press down on (hard) to release a clutch that lets it roll freely – so you can shoot up and down long documents with the flick of a finger. The scroll wheel also tilts left and right (which I have set to go “back” and “forward”, which is AWESOME for web surfing) and a little button behind the scroll wheel can be set to your choice of about a dozen different functions. Some kind of secret Santa’s elves technology allows it to go for a year on a single change of batteries, which ain’t half bad! ($39.95)
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                OGIO Hip Hop Messenger Bag
                I’ve been lusting over this bag at my local Best Buy for a while (‘cause I’m fly like that!) but can’t convince myself I need yet another shoulder bag. (Yet. I’m weak, I’ll cave eventually). Made to hold a 15” laptop (and I just happen to have a 15” laptop…) this messenger-style bag has about a million pockets and sleeves to hold just abut everything – pens and pencils, airplane tickets, your media player, a water bottle, a kazoo (what, you don’t carry one?), a Yeti, tractor tires – everything! (OK, maybe not quite all of that; still, it’s impressive.) Available in a bunch of colors (there are several listings, you might have to click around to find the one that has the perfect color for your geek sweetie). ($45.99)
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                  Powermat
                  The dream is here – wireless charging! Just set an iPhone, Blackberry, or other device on the Powermat and it charges wirelessly, using the power of children’s dreams (I assume – I’m a little fuzzy on the science). Of course, you also need receivers for each device, so here’s the deal: get this for your spouse with a receiver for their phone, and you know, just happen to order an extra one that fits your phone, and it’s like a double-Christmas just for you! ($99.99, plus $30/receiver)
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                    Swiss+Tech Utili-Key
                    The perfect stocking stuffer, this key-shaped (and key-sized) multi-tool opens to expose a Phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver, a super-tiny glasses screwdriver, a bottle opener, and plain and serrated cutting surfaces. Naturally, it slides onto your key-ring so you have everything you need, any time you need it. I bought a stack of them for all my family members who scoff at the idea of carrying a Swiss army knife. ($7.95)
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                      Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuk
                      Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibraryTV shares the secrets of his success in this slim, accessible volume. In two words: CRUSH IT! Find your passion and just go for it, all out, no excuses. Of course there’s a little more to it than that, or it would just be an inspirational poster. Perfect for anyone in your life facing the consequences of the economic downturn, or just looking for a little more meaning in their lives than pushing papers for the next 30 years. ($19.99 list; $11.69 at Amazon)
                      Underwear Repair Kit
                        Men’s Underwear Repair Kit
                        What could be more productive than getting every last bit of use out of your underwear? The Men’s Underwear Repair Kit contains iron-on patches, replacement elastic, safety pins, white-out, and 32 pages of instructions – everything you need to get years and years of wear out of your tighty-whities. ($10.95)

                        Got any special gift ideas of your own? Share them with us last-minute shoppers in the comments!

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                        The Gentle Art of Saying No

                        The Gentle Art of Saying No

                        No!

                        It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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                        But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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                        What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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                        But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

                        1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
                        2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
                        3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
                        4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
                        5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
                        6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
                        7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
                        8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
                        9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
                        10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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