12 items under $20 that boost your productivity!

12 items under $20 that boost your productivity!

Besides using apps and tools to boost your productivity, something I discussed in this video, there are actually a couple of physical objects that help me work smarter as well.

In this post, we'll discuss the cheapest yet most effective items I use to work as productively as possible.

1. Strive To-Do Notebook

By far, my favorite and probably most-used item on this list is, in fact, my very own Notebook.

The Strive to-do journal is something I use daily to write down the most important tasks I need to accomplish.

Here’s how it works.

Every day, I open up my Notion to see all of my upcoming tasks and to-dos; I then pick 3 to 5 items from my list and write those, together with some tasks I specifically have for today, in my notebook.

Now, this notebook is designed based on the highly productive and proven Now, Next, Not Yet framework.

So first, I write down the date and pick my mood.

Then I’ll head over to the NOW section where I write down 1 or max 3 of my most important tasks for today.

You know, I’m a big believer in focusing on just a couple of main tasks for each day, and to me, I’m fulfilled if I can accomplish those.

Next, I start writing down the second important tasks in the NEXT section.

And some additional or “might do” tasks in the Not Yet section.

During my day, I can write down some thoughts and ideas in the little corner on the right, and at the end of the day, I have a nice overview of all the things I’ve been working on, and I can even give this day a rating for future reflections.

Absolutely love this notebook, and if you want one, I obviously have a special discount for you!

Deal: With the code YOUTUBE you can get 10% off, and I’ll make sure to add a personal handwritten note to your order as well!

2. Pen

What would writing in your notebook be without an awesome pen? The Uni-Ball Air Micro is, by far, my favorite!

I did a pen test a couple of weeks ago, and this pen was, by far, the winner. It’s super smooth, it has a nice black color, it doesn’t smudge, and it really writes nicely, especially on the Strive to-do Journal paper.

3. Organizer

Staying organized helps you stay focused. And this is one of the reasons I’m using organizers.

So, for my bag, I’m using a little organizer wallet which is very convenient for storing all my essentials, such as cards, cables, and more.

I have it permanently in my bag, and I can simply take it out of it and have everything I need right here in this wallet without it being all over the place in the bag itself.

Some of the things I keep in this organizer are my AirPods and my favorite pen, and I always have this little docking station with me that allows me to connect my Laptop to HDMI, and USB, and it fits my SD cards as well. There’s some spare change in my pocket, a marker, some sticky notes, and finally, an extra charger for my iPhone.

This little organizer makes sure I’m always prepared, especially when traveling.

Now, besides an organizer for your bag, I recommend using an organizer for your desk as well, as a cluttered desk can be a major distraction and will influence your productivity.

It can help keep your space clean and tidy, allowing you to focus on your tasks.

4. IKEA Plant

Adding a plant to your workspace will actually reduce stress and improve your productivity.

This is a scientific fact. Apparently, researchers measured a 15% increase in productivity when using plants or greenery in your office!

So, by simply adding some green into your room and especially on your desk, you will feel more relaxed, as I experienced myself, in fact, and it’s also a nice add-on to the scenery of your desk.

Now, I’m using these fake IKEA plants, which will only cost you around a couple of dollars.

The benefit of using real plants is that those will increase the air quality as well, but the main reason I chose to go with fake plants is that:

A) they will always look nice

B) I don’t have to take care of them.

I guess, despite the scientific fact that greenery around you will boost your productivity, it’s just a simple and nice way to make your workspace just a little bit cozier, which I find one of the reasons to make work more fun, and when work is more fun, we tend to be more productive :)

5. Sticky notes

Sticky notes are a great way to jot down quick notes and reminders and just stick them wherever you need them.

You can add them to your notebook, for example, or stick them to your screen if you need to be reminded of certain tasks.

There’s a good reason why Sticky Notes are a great choice: they're small, portable, and can easily be removed without leaving a mess, and, on top of that, they’re cheap!

By the way, this is the proper way to peel sticky notes ;).

6. Make Time Book

If there’s one particular productivity book I’d recommend to learn how to work smarter and be more productive, it’s this book Make Time.

This is written by Jake Knapp, who also wrote the book Sprint, which is one of the highly efficient methods big corporations like Google work with.

What I really like about this book is that it provides you with 100+ productivity tips and tricks, and when I was reading this book, I first felt a little overwhelmed, but luckily, and this is something the authors address in this book as well more often: it’s not created for you to apply all of these productivity methods. In fact, you probably will only use 2 or 3 from this book, which is absolutely fine!

There’s a lesson in every method and framework they discuss in this book, and it will definitely help you improve your own routines and habits, and the nicest thing about the book is that it’s super well-written with a lot of visuals.

7. Alarm clock for Pomodoro technique

One of the most effective methods for boosting my productivity is the Pomodoro technique.

You set 4 blocks of 25 minutes with a 5-minute break in between, and you start working on one dedicated task in each block.

Now, besides using apps on my computer to keep track of my Pomodoro sessions and, especially, the timer, I’m also using this physical alarm clock every now and then. Especially when I’m writing down my tasks in my notebook, it’s the perfect way to keep track of time during my Pomodoro session.

I don’t know; it just feels really good to work with a physical clock.

BONUS! I can also definitely recommend using my free Notion template, which has a built-in Pomodoro timer.

8. Water bottle

Staying hydrated is important for maintaining energy and focus. So a water bottle can actually help you stay hydrated easily throughout the day.

I’d recommend using a water bottle that fits nicely on your desk, so I went with this black-colored one, but you can find tons of water bottles for under 20 dollars on Amazon.

A recent trend is to work with these transparent water bottles so you can actually see how much water you have left to drink, which is actually not a bad idea since it’s super important to keep track of your hydration during the day, as studies show that: dehydration Impairs cognitive performance.

It’s also a great way to make sure you leave your desk and screen every now and then to fill it with water, which in fact, improves your productivity as well.

9. Blue Light Blockers

If I had to name one hack that has improved my productivity over the last couple of years, it would be using these blue light blockers.

Studies have shown that blue light coming from your monitor will affect your eyes, sleep, and health in general.

Now, to me personally, before using blue light blockers, my eyes began to hurt a little at the end of my work day and at first, I thought there was something wrong with my eyes, so I went to see an optician.

But, it turned out, my eyes were just irritated by the light from my monitor.

So I did 2 things to prevent this.

The first one is that I’m now making sure to leave my screen every 1 to 2 hours, but moreover, I’m using my blue light glasses after 3 pm.

Wearing these glasses in the afternoon really gives my eyes some rest, which is super helpful!

10. Portable Laptop Stand

During my day, I like to switch between workspaces, something I’d recommend doing as well, by the way, but when I just work on my laptop, without it being attached to my monitor, I use a laptop stand.

This makes sure I’m always working in the right position, and I can definitely recommend using a portable laptop stand like the one I’m using if you’re working in different locations as well.

It’s super easy to set up, and it’s foldable, so it fits nicely in my bag.

The only downside of using a laptop stand is that you will have to use an external keyboard and mouse.

11. Phone Charger Stand

Now, when I’m in focus mode, I don't want my phone within reach, so I’m using this wireless phone charger that ensures my phone is always charged, and it’s also a nice stand for my phone, actually, which makes my desk super tidy.

The big benefit of leaving your phone on a stand like this, I just tend to grab my phone less than before when it was just lying around on my desk.

This makes me focus even more on what I actually need to do.

12. Headphones

Item number 12 is, in fact, an item you’re likely not getting for under $20 dollars.

So why it’s in this list?

Well, the importance of listening to music, and specifically to focus music, is, to me, one of the greatest productivity hacks. When I’m putting on my headphones and start listening to Brain FM (use code MIKESTRIVES for 20% discount), a music app I can definitely recommend; I just feel on top of the world and ready to get things done.

So although this should be a list of 12 items below 20 dollars, I want to add this last item, headphones, to the list as well, as I think, if you’re talking about productivity, they’re simply indispensable.

Now, I’m using Airpods Max, but you can get great headphones for a lot cheaper, especially when you’re on the lookout for deals and discounts.

Hopefully, by watching this video, you saved some money on other items, so you’ll have a budget left for proper headphones as well.

Stay productive! 🫵