I’m unlikely to work myself into a lather about whether my outfit is green enough for Saint Patrick’s Day. Actually, I have freaked out over not being able to find emerald-colored tights. But in general, I’m happy to hot-glue some pink hearts on a wreath, throw on a crimson cardigan, then eat at a non-Romance-language restaurant with my husband (to avoid waiting three hours to be seated -- but don’t take this tip from me and go clogging up the best Indian restaurants Feb. 14).
So January, February and March become less about special days and more about improving upon everyday days. Do I need a less obnoxious (but still obnoxious enough) alarm clock? Is there a way to make long meetings less soul-crushing, or a new phone game I can play while I inevitably miss half the meeting because I’m in the bathroom? Is there a quick and easy way to make my co-workers stop whistling out of nowhere?
- Alarm clock that isn't upsetting (I love this one, with an assertive but non-piercing beep, two USB charging ports, and a button to turn the display glow off while you sleep. But for super-hard sleepers, beware that the beeping does stop after a few minutes without you hitting snooze.)
- A great breakfast (I like quinoa or oatmeal with bananas, blueberries, walnuts and pecans, but smoothies, omelets and biscuits are great, too). This isn't a very original or helpful item, but as I've said before, I'm a breakfast girl and I can't mention mornings without at least an acknowledgment.
- A squatting stool (I know it’s weird, but it’s simple, cheap, drug-free and really does seem to work.) This one discreetly slides under your toilet when not in use.
- Tofugu (I love Japan, and this site is about everything fascinating and unusual about Japan, including how the Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day, and whether your Valentine might be a "tsundere"). And Kotaku is worth checking out as well, even beyond its primary gaming focus.
- YesandYes (witty lifestyle and advice blog, with Cheapskate Guides to major U.S. cities and its own version of this life-improving-product roundup)
- Prune (iPhone puzzle game app that involves trimming live cherry blossom trees strategically, while also intuitively learning Zen principles)
- Monument Valley (a visual puzzle game of navigating through M.C. Escher-like illusion structures in a Katamari Damacy-like environment)
- iBooks or Kindle or other reading app (transform any post-office line or doctor’s office wait into relaxing reading time)
- One-way plastic window film (so no one can peek in the crack of your cubicle wall, but you can still see them coming. This might not be a widespread problem.)
- A “door” for your cubicle. Just looking at this too-expensive-for-me sliding cube door gets me excited.
- YouTube wordless music loops, to drown out your co-workers but not your train of thought: Suggestions: Donkey Kong 1 or DK2 (SNES) soundtracks by the legendary David Wise, or your favorite childhood video game (each word here is a different link). Or if you thrive in the clatter of a coffeeshop, this mix is busy without being obtrusive.
- Adult coloring books (these are reported by some to actually help employees focus! Where was I when I looked that up? The bathroom!)
- Hand puzzles: There are tons on Amazon.com.
- Non-messy snacks in small packages, like these raw ginger snaps.
And maximize comfort and good sleep after a long, noisy, interrupty day at the office:
- Leather and shearling slipper boots
- Hail Merry macaroons and maple sugar candy
- Smiling Mind meditation app (dozens of guided audio meditations categorized by type, age, etc.)
- Sleep headphones (I swear by these! Fall asleep to the sound of music, white noise or podcasts without straining your relationship with your partner or roommate)
Have you been specialing up your average days already? Do you have a better way for shutting up or tuning out co-workers? Have you tried the squatting stool? Share details in the comments below.