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The Lifehack Last-Minute Gift List for Productive (and Potentially Productive) People

The Lifehack Last-Minute Gift List for Productive (and Potentially Productive) People
Last-Minute Gift List for the Productive (and Potentially Productive)

    With less than a week left before Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of lifehack.org’s favorite gift ideas. Everything on this list would get a hearty smile from the productive person on your gift list. Most of the items shown here are available through Amazon, for fast delivery by Christmas if you hurry. Links here lead to Amazon.com and prices are given in US Dollars (insert deflating US dollar joke here, e.g. “divide by 48,000 to get price in your local currency”).

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    Gifts that Get Stuff Done

    gtd
      Getting Things Done: Unabridged Audiobook by David Allen ($27)David Allen reads his productivity masterpiece. Perfect for introducing the disorganized people in your life to GTD principles, or for periodic inspiration for committed GTD’ers.
      4-hour-work-week
        The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy FerrisAudiobook version of Timothy Ferris’ acclaimed book. This was easily the most inspiring book I read this year, and will be greatly appreciated by the entrepreneurs (and would-be entrepreneurs) in your life.
        red-moleskine
          Limited Edition Moleskine 2008 Daily Planner ($24)It’s RED! Everyone loves Moleskine products — the creamy paper, the high-quality feel of the covers, even the hokey backstory. The planner has dated pages to help keep your loved one organized next year. And it’s red!Couple it with the red limited edition pocket diary for collecting thoughts on the go!
          space-pen
            Bullet Space Pen ($17)Capture your thoughts anywhere with the GTD-approved Space Pen. Cap clicks to back end to make a full-sized pen, writes at any angle, all-around useful pen. Also in chrome.Also check out the Lamy Pico pen, which expands to full size with a click and is recommended by David Allen.
            labeling-system
              Brother P-Touch PT-18R Rechargeable Labeling System ($102)Forget “label makers”, this is a Brother P-Touch PT-18R Rechargeable Labeling System and demands to be known as such. Sits in its recharging cradle when not in use, ready to be taken anywhere to make labels. Two-line preview, templates, symbols, everything a labeler needs, quick at hand. Connects to a PC, too, for specialty labeling.

              Style

              leather-messenger-bag
                David King Leather Porthole Brief ($110)Gorgeous Italian leather bag with room for a 15″ laptop, organizer pockets, id window, magnetic snap closures, and removable shoulder strap. Available in black or cafe (light brown).
                business-card-case
                  Leather Business Card Case ($22)This high-quality Napa leather business card case has two pockets and holds up to 30 cards. Available in 9 colors, from the professional to the playful.
                  front-pocket-wallet
                    Bosca Old Leather Front Pocket Wallet ($50)This is the wallet I us — I got one for my father for his birthday last year, and liked it so much he gave me one for Christmas! Soft, buttery leather (in dark brown or cognac) makes it a pleasure to handle. Has three credit card pockets, an ID card window, and a flap inside for keeping receipts, post-its, business cards, and other small papers; the back has a money clip for holding your cash. Perfect for anyone with a 6″ thick wallet ripping the seems out of their back pocket, Bosca’s front pocket wallet helps get rid of the clutter and carry only what you need.
                    bella-messenger-bag
                      Nicole WeatherTac Computer Messenger Bag ($69)Stylish, cool messenger bag with foam laptop compartment and plenty of other pockets for digital accessories, notepads, pens, and everything else. Intended for ladies, but I would totally carry this!
                      jimi-wallet
                        Jimi Wallet ($15)The wallet rethought! Stripped-down, molded plastic in several colors, carries a couple cards and some cash, and can be carried in your front pocket or on a lanyard around your neck for security.

                        For the Productive Person’s Office

                        wood-block-clock
                          Wood Block Clock ($20)I love this clock that looks like a block of wood with the date and time (it switches back and forth) appearing to float inside. It would look great in anyone’s office; since it doesn’t have an alarm, it’s probably not as useful as a bedside clock.
                          canon-laser-printer
                            Canon imageCLASS MF4150 Laser Duplex All-in-One ($200)A 21 ppm black-and-white laser printer, a scanner/copier with 35-page document feeder, full duplex printing so you can print on both sides automatically, and it’s under $200? Buy one for your sweetie and buy another for yourself!
                            stowaway
                              StowAway Bluetooth Keyboard for BlackBerry/PDA ($30)A full-size keyboard that folds up to about the same size as a PDA. Connects to most recent BlackBerry, Palm, and Pocket PC PDAs and SmartPhones, though you may have to download drivers from iGo.
                              lapinator
                                The Lapinator Lap Desk ($30 – $35)Thin and lightweight, the Lapinator is specially designed to block laptop heat without being bulky. A great gift for anyone who uses a laptop outside of the office — on the sofa, in the park, in bed, etc.
                                stapler
                                  Chrome Stapler ($19)Forget the red Swingline from Office Space — it’s old news, now (unless you have matching Moleskines). This is a chrome-plated, heavy-duty, 20-sheets-at-once, serious monster stapler! Imagine your gift partner’s look of satisfaction when she or he loads it up and gives it a hearty *whack* — brings tears to your eyes, don’t it?

                                  Gadgets

                                  eeepc
                                    Asus eeePC ($400)The tiny eeePC is perfect for working on the move — it’s longest side is less than 9 inches and it weighs 2 lbs. The 4GB flash hard drive might seem small, but the idea is to make use of web-based storage; the Linux-based desktop includes direct links to web services like Google Docs and Skype, which works perfectly with the integrated webcam.Lifehack.org leader Leon Ho has one, and he thinks it’s the bee’s knees! Perfect for mobile workers and your favorite lifehack.org gift list compilers :-)
                                    eye-fi
                                      Eye-Fi Card ($100)Install the included software on your home PC, put this 2GB SD card in your camera, and start taking pictures. The Eye-Fi uses your wireless network to automatically transfer pictures to your PC — as you take them, if you’re within range of the network, or as soon as you get home and turn on the camera if you move out of range. It will also automatically upload pictures to your preferred sharing site, if you want.Great gift for photo enthusiasts (but make sure their cameras use SD cards!)
                                      mogo-mouse
                                        Mogo Bluetooth Mouse & Bluetooth Adapter ($67)This credit card-sized mouse is surprisingly comfortable to use. It fits inside your laptop’s PC-card slot, allowing you to store it easily when on the go and to recharge it in minutes when the batteries run low.Available for a few dollars less for people who don’t need the bluetooth adapter.
                                        cordlesswave-flat-400
                                          Logitech Wave keyboard ($49 -$10 rebate)With it’s slightly padded body and keys ergonomically placed to conform to the hand’s curve and fingers’ spread, the Wave is a super-comfortable keyboard. This is what I want beneath my fingers when I have to spend long hours typing, instead of torturing my hands and wrists on the cheapie that came with my PC.
                                          kindle
                                            Der Kindle ($400)The most divisive gadget of the year, and also the second-hardest to get (after the Wii), but what a great gift for the über-reader in your life. Unfortunately, they’re backordered until after the first of the year, which means you have to do the picture-of-the-gift-in-the-card thing; for people who read a lot, it’s worth waiting a few weeks to get their cool new Kindle.Or you could get them a Sony Reader, which is also pretty cool but lacks the wireless link to Amazon’s store.
                                            olympus-voice-recorder
                                              Olympus VN2100PC Digital Voice Recorder ($50)With 64MB of built-in memory, this digital voice recorder can record up to 36 hours and download to your PC. Great for making quick voice notes on the go or for dictation.

                                              Just Plain Fun

                                              ugly-wage
                                                UglyDoll Wage ($18)Keep in the office for when it’s all too much. Perfect for your wage slave friends who dream of freedom someday.
                                                spy-video-car
                                                  Spy Video Car ($115)Remote control car with wireless mounted night-vision camera that broadcasts to included LCD goggles. Find out what’s happening anywhere in your domain!
                                                  lightwedge
                                                    Lightwedge LED Booklight ($22)Perfect for readers, the LightWedge covers the whole page in even, bright light — with little glare or leakage. Maybe not as fun as an RC car with a spy camera — unless you’re a hardcore reader!
                                                    t-for-trash
                                                      “File Under T for Trash” Stamp ($7)Give this to your fellow GTD’ers to help them keep up with the “delete” part of their inbox processing. Other stamps are available, but not all of them are as, um… family-friendly as this one is.
                                                      nuns-having-fun
                                                        Nuns Having Fun 2008 Wall Calendar ($15)Let me make myself perfectly clear, here: this is a 2008 wall calendar, which people need. It has pictures in it of nuns, having fun. Swinging, running, dancing, just being gosh-darn jolly. Which, as far as I can see, you also need.Buy one for yourself and one for every other person you know. Unless they’re a nun — nuns don’t need the calendar, they live it.


                                                        That about wraps up (pun not intended, but heartily appreciated!) the 2007 Lifehack.org Last-Minute Gift List for Productive (and Potentially Productive) People. Be sure to check out the excellent responses other lifehack.org readers are giving to this week’s “We Ask, You Answer” question: What advice do you have for someone looking to find something for that one difficult person on their list, the one they’ve been putting off until now, it’s almost too late?

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                                                        Have a happy holiday (if your significant holiday has already passed, then have had a happy holiday)!

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                                                        Last Updated on November 12, 2020

                                                        What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It

                                                        What Is Speed Reading and How to Successfully Learn It

                                                        You have so many books waiting for your attention, but you just don’t have enough time! Don’t you wish you could read faster without compromising your knowledge intake? This is where a valuable learning technique comes to the rescue: speed reading.

                                                        Speed reading is the top skill to learn in 2020. Read on to find out all about this amazing technique!

                                                        What Is Speed Reading?

                                                        On average, an adult can read somewhere between 200 to 300 words per minute. With speed reading skills, you can read much fasteraround 1500 words per minute.[1] Yes, that sounds impossible, but it’s true.

                                                        In order to understand how this skill works, you first need to know how the reading process works inside a human’s brain.

                                                        The Reading Process

                                                        The first step is for the eyes to look at a word. This “fixation” on every word takes around 0.25 seconds.

                                                        Next, you start moving your eyes to the following word. It takes 0.1 seconds for the brain to move from one word to the next. This is called “saccade.”

                                                        Usually, you take in 4-5 words in your head, or a sentence, at once. After all the fixations and saccades, the brain goes over the entire phrase again in order to process the meaning. This takes around half a second.

                                                        All in all, this means average people read 200 to 300 words in a minute.

                                                        Speeding up the Process

                                                        The concept of speed reading is to speed up this process by at least 5 times. Since the saccade period cannot be shortened any further, speed reading emphasizes quicker fixations.

                                                        To accomplish this, scientists recommend that the reader skips the sub-vocalization: when the readers actually say the word in their mind, even when reading silently.

                                                        Basically, speed reading is the technique of only seeing the words instead of speaking them silently.

                                                        Do not confuse this with skimming. When a reader skims through a text, they skip the parts that their brain considers to be unnecessary. You may skip important information in this process, and skimming does not allow the brain to retain what has been read.

                                                        Why Speed Read?

                                                        Speed reading is not just quick, but it’s also effective. This skill saves a lot of of time without sacrificing information.

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                                                        Also, it has been proven to improve memory. The brain’s performance improves during speed reading, which allows the reader to remember more information than before[2].

                                                        Since speed reading stabilizes the brain, the information is processed faster and more efficiently.

                                                        Believe it or not, this technique leads to improved focus, too. As the brain receives a lot of information during speed reading, there is far less chance of distraction. The brain focuses solely on the job at hand.

                                                        Since the brain is, after all, a muscle, the process of speed reading acts as an exercise. Just like the rest of your muscles, your brain needs exercise to grow stronger, too.

                                                        A focused brain means improved logical thinking. As your brain gets used to receiving and organizing so much information so quickly, your thinking process will become faster. As soon as a problem is thrown at you, your brain will quickly put two and two together. You will be able to retrieve stored information, figure out correlations, and come up with new solutions, all within seconds!

                                                        Still not convinced? Read 10 Reasons Why You Should Learn Speed Reading

                                                        Greater Benefits

                                                        With a healthier brain, you can expect better things in other parts of your life, too. A boost in self-esteem is just one of them.

                                                        As you begin to understand information at a faster pace, you will also begin to figure out more opportunities all around you.

                                                        With the ability to deeply understand information in a shorter period of time, your confidence levels will quickly grow.

                                                        Moreover, all the aforementioned benefits will relieve you of stress. With all these advantages, your emotional well-being will be healthier than ever. You’ll feel less stress since your brain will learn to tackle problems efficiently. Speed reading will lead to a relaxed, tension-free lifestyle!

                                                        How to Learn to Speed Read

                                                        Speed reading is a superpower. Fortunately, unlike other superpowers, this one can be learned!

                                                        There are different techniques that can be used to master this skill. Opt for the one that best suits your learning style.

                                                        1. The Pointer Method

                                                        The person who is credited for popularizing speed reading, Evelyn Wood, came up with the pointer method. It is a simple technique in which the reader uses their index finger to slide across the text that they’re reading.

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                                                        As the finger moves, the brain coherently moves along with it. It is an effective technique to keep the eyes focused where the finger goes without causing any distraction.

                                                        Readers have a tendency to back-skip. The pointer method prevents this from happening, thereby saving at least half the reading time.

                                                        2. The Scanning Method

                                                        In this technique, the reader’s eyes move along one part of the page only. This can be the left or right side of the text but is usually the center since that is the most convenient.

                                                        Instead of pacing through the entire text from left to right, the vision shifts from top to bottom.

                                                        This method involves fixation on keywords, such as names, figures, or other specific terms. By doing so, the saccade time is minimized.

                                                        3. Perceptual Expansion

                                                        Generally, a reader focuses on one word at a time. This technique, on the other hand, encourages the brain to read a chunk of words together. In doing so, this method increases the reader’s peripheral vision.

                                                        Here’s the thing: even though the fixation time remains the same with perceptual expansion, the number of words that the eyes fixate on increases.

                                                        Basically, the brain receives 5 times more information within the same amount of time.

                                                        This technique is the hardest to master and takes the most time to learn. You’ll need help from speed reading tools in order to practice the perceptual expansion method.

                                                        However, once you master it, this technique will offer you the fastest reading pace with the maximum knowledge intake.

                                                        The Best Speed Reading Apps

                                                        The easiest tool to aid any process in any part of life these days is your smartphone.

                                                        You can use mobile applications to learn speed reading on the go. It has been proven that regularly practicing speed reading is the fastest way to learn this skill.[3]

                                                        Here are a few great options to look into:

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                                                        1. Reedy

                                                        If you own an Android smartphone, you can download Reedy to your mobile. Otherwise, get the Chrome extension on your laptop to enjoy speed reading with Reedy.

                                                        This app trains readers to read faster by displaying words one by one on the screen. Instead of having to go through lines or long texts, Reedy prepares the user to focus on one word at a time.

                                                        Although this isn’t an effective method to learn speed reading long texts, it is a great way to start.

                                                        2. ReadMe!

                                                        Whether you’re an android or iOS user, you can take advantage of the ReadMe! application. This app even comes with some e-book options to practice speed reading on.

                                                        Start by choosing your desired font size, color, layout, etc. Other than that, there are different reading modes for the user to choose from.

                                                         

                                                        If you want to practice reading sentence by sentence or in short paragraphs, you can choose the focused reading mode.

                                                        The beeline reader mode changes the color of the text to guide the eye to read from the beginning to the end at a certain pace.

                                                        Lastly, there is the spritz mode in which the app focuses on chunks of words at once. This controls the reader’s peripheral vision. However, this mode is not fully available in the free version of the app.

                                                        3. Spreeder

                                                        Spreeder is available on both iOS and Android. However, users may also gain benefits from Spreeder’s website. This application lets the reader paste in any text that they would like to speed read.

                                                        Starting off at a rather low speed, the app flashes words one by one. Gradually, as the user becomes more comfortable, the speed increases.

                                                        Slowly, the user is trained to speed read without having to skip any words.

                                                        This app is different from the rest because it tracks the user’s reading improvements, recording the overall reading time and speed.

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                                                        The Controversy Surrounding Speed Reading

                                                        Truthfully, speed reading does sound too good to be true. It’s hard to believe that it is humanly possible to attain such a fast pace without compromising the quality of information you receive.

                                                        Perhaps as a result, there are people who do not trust the process of speed reading. They believe that when you read through a text at such a high speed, speed readers cannot develop good comprehension.

                                                        It is true that speed reading will be of no use if you do not understand the text you’re reading, no matter how quickly you did it.

                                                        Similarly, if you were to read slowly and still not retain or understand the information you read, that would be useless, too.

                                                        However, there are a few factors to consider here. When reading at a normal pace, there is enough time in between every step of the process for the brain to get distracted.

                                                        Conversely, speed reading leaves behind no time for the brain to focus on something else. It is unlike skimming. No part of the text is skipped, which means that the brain receives every single bit of information.

                                                        If you’re still not convinced, take a look at this video to learn about reading faster:

                                                        Conclusion

                                                        Keeping all of this in mind, speed reading cannot be labeled a hoax or a failure. Science has backed up this technique, and numerous readers have been using this skill to improve their learning ability and reading comprehension, even when reading for pleasure.

                                                        At the end of the day, it is your decision whether or not you want to trust this process.

                                                        However, if you decide to take advantage of the opportunities speed reading provides, you will find a world of possibilities opening up to you.

                                                        We live in a fast-paced world. Consuming information faster will help you keep up with that pace and find further success.

                                                        More on How to Read Faster

                                                        Featured photo credit: Blaz Photo via unsplash.com

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