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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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                        1 How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 2 Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials 3 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed 4 12 Rules for Self-Management 5 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques

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                        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

                        How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

                        Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

                        “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

                        But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

                        Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

                        1. Always Have a Book

                        It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

                        Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

                        2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

                        We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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                        Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

                        3. Get More Intellectual Friends

                        Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

                        Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

                        4. Guided Thinking

                        Albert Einstein once said,

                        “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

                        Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

                        5. Put it Into Practice

                        Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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                        If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

                        In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

                        6. Teach Others

                        You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

                        Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

                        7. Clean Your Input

                        Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

                        I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

                        Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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                        8. Learn in Groups

                        Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

                        Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

                        9. Unlearn Assumptions

                        You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

                        Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

                        Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

                        10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

                        Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

                        Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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                        11. Start a Project

                        Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

                        If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

                        12. Follow Your Intuition

                        Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

                        Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

                        13. The Morning Fifteen

                        Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

                        If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

                        14. Reap the Rewards

                        Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

                        15. Make Learning a Priority

                        Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

                        More About Continuous Learning

                        Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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