Let’s be real: You may or may not keep the New Year’s resolutions you made, but the start of a new year is as good as any opportunity for a fresh start.
So whether you’re headed to the gym for the first time in six months, or you’re planning to make some headway on your to-do list, here are a few things to help you along. They’ll let you focus more on getting things done and less on getting ready to get things done.
A notebook and pen for all those notes and to-dos
You probably already use a to-do app to stay organized, but there’s a good case to be made for using a paper planner. You don’t have to give up the convenience of an app, but our brains engage with pen and paper differently when we take notes in a meeting or brainstorm new ideas.
So if you, like me, plan to bring a nice pen and notebook to more meetings in the new year (even as we resolve to deal with fewer meetings, if we can), Wirecutter has us covered with recommendations for quality notebooks to jot our thoughts, ideas and doodles in. If you want a 2019 paper planner, here are the best ones to look for.
You’ll need something to write with, of course. I am a big fan of fountain pens, which have a bit of a cult following even among those more accustomed to typing than writing. If you want in on the trend, Wirecutter suggests (as do I) the Lamy Safari — it’s a great gateway fountain pen. If you want something a little more traditional, here are some other pen options, and even some pencils.
A gym tip you never knew you needed
If going to the gym, or just working out, is a priority this year, you don’t need me to tell you what sweats to buy, or that you’ll need gym clothes. But make sure you get a good gym bag, pack it with your gear and leave it somewhere conspicuous.
My best “make sure you actually go to the gym” hack has always been to pre-pack my gym bag with the things I need for a good workout (you know, a good water bottle, workout headphones, a quick-drying towel) and leave the bag somewhere I’ll virtually trip over. When I drove to work, I kept it in the back seat, where I normally toss my laptop bag after a long day, which reminded me I should hit the gym before returning home. Now that I commute by train, I leave it next to the door so it stares at me when I walk in after work.
Go ahead and get all the new gym gear you want if it’ll help motivate you to work out, but don’t trust yourself to remember to use it. Give your willpower a little boost from past you. Future you will thank you for it.
A few upgrades for a good night’s sleep
If there’s anything I would recommend we all do in 2019, it’s get not just more sleep, but better sleep. What good is getting 10 hours of sleep if you still wake up feeling like everything hurts and you’re dying?
If you need help sleeping better, we have you covered. We have a complete guide to getting a good night’s sleep, and even some upgrades to help you get better sleep, like white noise machines and sleep tracking apps.
Another key trick is finding a good eye mask. Wirecutter likes the Nidra Deep Rest, which I can also vouch for, especially when traveling. If the whole “eye cup” design puts you off, it also mentions the Alaska Bear, which is super soft and flat, and the mask I use when I’ve lost the Deep Rest somewhere under my bed or between my pillows.
The new year is also a great time to refresh your bedding, so consider grabbing some fresh, crisp sheets and new pillows. You can probably even find some linen sales right about now — they’re usually called “white sales,” and January is full of them. Total darkness, crisp bedding and a fluffy pillow will make sure that the hours you do spend in bed are quality ones — ones you can regularly wake up refreshed from this year.