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The 50 Most Productive Christmas Gift Ideas For Your Friends

The 50 Most Productive Christmas Gift Ideas For Your Friends

Some friends are just impossible to buy for, but if you want to give the gift of productivity this year, here are 50 killer productive Christmas gift ideas for your friends!

Gifts to get more done

‘Getting Things Done’ book $10

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    In my opinion, if there’s one book that will make your friend more productive, it’s Getting Things Done by David Allen. If you want to give the gift of productivity this year, I can’t imagine a better book or gift.

    Aeropress coffee maker $26

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      You haven’t tasted coffee until you’ve tasted coffee from an Aeropress. This extraordinary simple coffee maker forces hot water through a filter to produce an espresso-style shot that you can combine with milk to make into a latte, or combine with water to make an American coffee. Great for traveling.

      Variable temperature tea kettle $56

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        Did you know that different tea needs to be brewed at different temperatures? For example, green tea needs to be brewed at a lower temperature so it doesn’t taste bitter. This fancy kettle heats water to different temperatures depending on what tea your brewing!

        Tonx coffee subscription $24+

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          If you have a friend that loves coffee, Tonx might just be the perfect gift for them. This subscription coffee service will deliver a fresh bag of beans to their door every other week (you can pick what size of bag they’d like).

          Blue Apron Subscription $60

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            For your friend who has very little time, Blue Apron is the perfect gift. The service will deliver fresh ingredients to your friend’s home, along with an easy-to-follow recipe and pre-portioned ingredients.

            2014 dry erase calendar $24

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              This massive, 2014 wall calendar is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to become more productive and organized. The calendar has a vertical or horizontal orientation, is beautifully designed, and starts on Monday.

              Evernote moleskine notebook $30

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                If you have a productivity-loving friend, chances are they’ll love the Evernote classic notebook by Moleskine. The notebook was designed by both Moleskine and Evernote to work with the app, and features “Evernote ruled” and “Evernote squared” page styles with dotted lines designed to ensure a clean image when you digitally capture your notebook.

                Chalkboard paint $10

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                  If your friend is a visual thinker, they’ll  love this gift. Rust-Oleum chalk paint converts any surface–metal, wood, drywall, plaster, and concrete included–into a usable chalkboard surface.

                  Ghost whiteboard $10-105

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                    Much like the aforementioned chalkboard paint, Ghost Whiteyboard converts pretty much any flat surface into a dry erase board, but without altering its appearance!

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                    Field Notes Expedition 3-Pack $10

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                      This might just be the most rugged notebook out there. The Field Notes Expedition 3-pack are waterproof, tear proof, and even resistant to fire and acid. You know, for all those times you dump acid on your notebooks.

                      Waterproof notepad $8

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                        This awesome waterproof notepad will help your friend capture all of their awesome ideas that they come up with in the shower.

                        Simple Hacks

                        CableDrop cordlets $10

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                          These things are genius, and I love them. After you mount a CableDrop to your desk, wall, or other flat surface, you can store your cables without having to worry about them falling to the floor every time you untether.

                          Lace anchors $10

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                            Lace anchors eliminate bows and knots from the inside and outside of your shoes allowing you to simply slip your shoes on on every time. An ingenious buy for $10.

                            The Wally Bottle Opener $10

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                              This simple yet elegant stainless steel bottle opener fits perfectly in a wallet or purse, until it’s go-time. At $10 it’s an awesome gift idea for any beer lover in your life.

                              Hide-a-Spare-Key Fake Rock $6

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                                Instead of keeping a spare key under your doormat like a chump, stash your key inside this authentic looking rock!

                                Obol $15

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                                  Who doesn’t hate soggy cereal? The “Obol” keeps your milk and cereal separate so your friends can focus and be productive without worrying about soggy breakfast cereal.

                                  Pocket Cutlery Set $12

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                                    Great for picnics, road trips, and hiking, this swiss army knife-like apparatus features a fork, knife, spoon, and bottle opener all in one compact device.

                                    Flask tie $27

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                                      This stealthy tie holds up to 8oz of your favourite beverage to keep your favourite drink close whenever you need it.

                                      USB drink cooler/warmer $19

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                                        This USB-powered, one-can/cup holder keeps a drink cool or warm for you. Everyone in your friend’s office will be jealous.

                                        Freehands gloves $20

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                                          If your friend lives someplace cold, these clever gloves will let them use their smartphone in the winter. Each pair of gloves features a forefinger and thumb that folds back, allowing you quick access to your pointing devices.

                                          Tech gifts

                                          Photojojo iPhone and Android Lens Series from $20

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                                            These camera lenses attach directly onto your iPhone or Android device and will allow your friend to take way better pictures. Photojojo offers individual lenses (fisheye, super fisheye, telephoto, wide angle, macro, and polarizing), as well as lens kits which contain several lenses.

                                            White noise generator $55

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                                              White noise has been proven to help you focus better. The long-named, Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner, produces a comfortable background sound that helps anyone be much more productive.

                                              iTunes Gift Card / Google Play Card

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                                                As much as some friends love and use their phones, they often really hate buying apps. But your phone can make you way more productive–the Apple App store features tens of thousands of apps in the Productivity category alone! Gift cards are often a bit of a cop-out when it comes to buying a gift, but for some friends an app gift card is perfect.

                                                Jawbone Mini Jambox $150

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                                                  At $150 the The Jawbone Mini Jambox isn’t cheap, but for a music loving friend, it can’t be beat. In my opinion, this is the best sounding portable speaker that fits in your pocket.

                                                  Jawbone Up $129

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                                                    The Jawbone Up, like the Nike Fuelband ($150) and the Fitbit Flex ($99), will track your friend’s sleeping routines, workout activity, and even eating habits with its build-in accelerometer, and will provide your friend with powerful data so they can improve their habits and become more productive.

                                                    Evernote pro subscription ($45)

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                                                      If you have a friend that relies on Evernote to be productive, gifting them Evernote Premium will give them the tools they need to become way more productive. Evernote Premium features offline notebooks, much smarter searching (including inside of PDFs), enables collaboration, and will up the monthly upload capacity on your friend’s account.

                                                      Scansnap scanner $160

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                                                        This portable scanner is the most expensive item on the list, but if you want to drop $160 bucks on a friend who deals with a lot of documents, I can’t imagine a better gift. This scanner automatically converts all scans to a PDF, includes auto-image correcting, is great for traveling, extracts the most important information from business cards, and a whole lot more.

                                                        Pivot power genius $30

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                                                          Power strips can be annoying, but this is definitely not one of them. It pivots, zig-zags, and bends to fit around furniture and tight spaces and make make more room for your friend’s larger power adapters.

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                                                          USB rechargable batteries $19

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                                                            These AA-sized batteries will recharge from a USB port, and are perfect for traveling. They can be recharged hundreds of times, saving your friends time and money.

                                                            WeMo Insight power switch $60

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                                                              It doesn’t look like much, but this item is my personal favorite out of all of the ones on the list. This wifi-enabled power switch connects to a Wifi network, allowing you to remotely turn devices on and off, and read how much energy a device is using in real time. You can even set up notifications, like for when your laundry is finished.

                                                              WeMo light switch $50

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                                                                This wifi-enabled light switch will allow you to turn your lights on and off from across the room, across the city, or half-way around the world.

                                                                WeMo baby monitor $70

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                                                                  Made by the same company as the WeMo Insight and the WeMo Light Switch, this baby monitor connects to wifi and turns your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch into a portable baby monitor. The device can even send push notifications based on certain triggers.

                                                                  Simple Braun alarm clock $50

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                                                                    Technology can be needlessly complicated, but this alarm clock isn’t. It tells the time, has a nice back light and works as an alarm. It’s also won numerous design awards and, in my opinion, looks simply stunning.

                                                                    8000 mAh Dual Port Battery Pack and Charger $36

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                                                                      For your friend who is always on their phone or tablet. This relatively inexpensive USB charger is the perfect gift for your friend who is always on the go, and always in need of more juice.

                                                                      Wake up light $90

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                                                                        Alarm clocks are jarring, but this wake up light will wake your friend’s body up naturally and slowly. It’s been scientifically shown to make waking up more pleasant, and includes two natural wake-up sounds.

                                                                        Bluetooth handset gloves $60

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                                                                          These gloves might look a bit dorky when in use, but they have a freaking bluetooth headset built in! They connect wirelessly to your phone, and let you talk on the phone when you expand your forefinger and pinky.

                                                                          Coin $100

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                                                                            Coin allows you (or your friend) to combine all of your cards into one easy-to-use, convenient card. It’s secure, and even locks when your phone is out of range.

                                                                            Powerpod $89

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                                                                              The PowerPod not only converts one outlet into six, but also doubles as a stylish storage tray for pencils and other small desk items.

                                                                              Self-improvement

                                                                              Meditation cushion $45

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                                                                                It might sound strange that sitting on a cushion and doing absolutely nothing will make you or your friend more productive, but trust me, it will.

                                                                                Lynda gift subscription ($25-375)

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                                                                                  Lynda is a subscription website that will give your friend access to over 2,000 high-quality online video courses. Why not give the gift of learning this year?

                                                                                  Audible.com gift membership ($45-150)

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                                                                                    If you have a friend that loves books, they’re bound to love audiobooks as well. Audible is my favorite audiobook website. You can gift memberships that range from $45 for three months ($15/month), to $150 for 12 months ($12.50/month).

                                                                                    Fun stuff

                                                                                    Paper notifications $10

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                                                                                      These are so fun. All day you receive notifications on your phone, but now you can put them on anything! The perfect way to leave a note for someone.

                                                                                      A Tenota Tea Note $5

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                                                                                        For $5, the Tenota tea service will send a bag of tea to your friend along with a customized note!

                                                                                        Netflix gift subscription $8-96

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                                                                                          After your friend is done being productive for the day, how about a nice Netflix subscription for them to kick back and recharge their batteries to be productive the next day? Netflix subscriptions can be purchased for 1, 2, 3, 6, or 12 months.

                                                                                          Hometown Aerial Map Jigsaw Puzzle $45

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                                                                                            Let your friend explore whatever area you pick with this puzzle. Just type in a ZIP code and choose a puzzle size, and The New York Times Store will print off a customized puzzle with a satellite view of that location! Pretty cool stuff.

                                                                                            USB powered lightbulb $12

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                                                                                              This simple USB-powered lightbulb will provide your friend with a nice dose of extra light wherever they travel! The light is an LED so it will illuminate for a long time, and the light even glows in the dark when you’re not using it.

                                                                                              Radioactive elements coaster set $20

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                                                                                                Why not learn a few elements while having a drink or two? These cool coasters even light up when you put a drink on them.

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                                                                                                Trending in Productivity

                                                                                                1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

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                                                                                                Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                                                                                                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                                                                                The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                                                                                                What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                                                                                                Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                                                                                                Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                                                                                                According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                                                                                                Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                                                                                                Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                                                                                                Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                                                                                                The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                                                                                                Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                                                                                                So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                                                                                                Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                                                                                                One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                                                                                                Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                                                                                                Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                                                                                                The Neurology of Ownership

                                                                                                Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                                                                                                In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                                                                                                But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                                                                                                This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                                                                                                Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                                                                                                The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                                                                                                So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                                                                                                On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                                                                                                It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                                                                                                On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                                                                                                But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                                                                                                More About Goals Setting

                                                                                                Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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