Top Ten || September

This begins a monthly post where I publish the top ten things I'm loving that will help you make meaningful progress on things that matter. Occasionally, things that don't necessarily relate to Values-Driven Productivity make the list, but I include them because I believe they're worth knowing about.

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1. The Nalgene Tritan Narrow Mouth Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is one of my daily habits, and this water bottle helps make it easy. The narrow mouth keeps the splashing at bay, and this bad boy is virtually indestructible (although people love to test that quality).

2. Todd Henry's podcast, specifically this episode: "Finding Your Creative Community"

Todd Henry's podcast never fails to equip you with tools you actually apply in your daily life. This episode with Dane Sanders is particularly interesting as the discussion includes what it means to find connection in the digital age. Dane also gives a brief nod to one of my favorite books this year, The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch.

3. The Streaks app

Streaks is an iPhone app that allows you to keep your smartphone addiction at bay while also tracking daily habits. The goal is to go as many days in a row completing your daily rituals without breaking your streak. It's a powerful motivator, and I'm hooked. Now, I'm going straight from an app recommendation to...

4. "Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?" from Jean Twenge

"...iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less," Twenge writes. "So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed." This alarming, long-form article paints a dire picture of the impact smartphones can have when we don't moderate usage. 

5. My Moleskine dotted notebook

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In my task management, I've been prototyping a system that incorporates more paper and pen. I've been trying The Bullet Journal method by Ryder Carroll and am in the process of adapting the method to meet my needs, slowly incorporating technology when it's solving problems and not making them worse. This notebook is a great place to take notes, record tasks, and jot down thoughts throughout the day. I'll be sharing more about my task management system in a future post once I work out the kinks. For now, remember that sometimes implementing apparent inefficiencies (paper and pen) makes us more thoughtful and effective.

6. Blue Yeti USB Microphone

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My mom gave me this mic, and it's what I use to record the Values-Driven Productivity Podcast. I'm experiencing a learning curve, but--although probably not the best mic ever made--it's been an essential tool in helping me get the podcast off the ground. If you're interested in starting your own podcast or just getting a quality, entry-level mic to record audio--this is a great bet.

7. The updated YNAB app

YNAB is the best personal finance tool out there. Their updated mobile app just turns the whole experience up to 11 by making it possible to complete an entire budget on your phone. We still mostly do our budgets on a computer, but the new app makes approving transactions and making changes a breeze, too.

8. The board game Wits and Wagers

When it comes to building strong relationships, it's always good to have options that don't include televisions or movie theaters. Wits and Wagers is a trivia game recommended to us by my friend Sam Smith. Everyone answers a question posed to the table, and then you bet chips on which answer you think is the closest to the right one. It's a blast.

9. God and Money by John Cortines and Gregory Baumer

John and Greg were both on a fast-track to lives void of strategic generosity. As Harvard MBA students, they took a course on the relationship between God and money. It changed their perspectives. Now, instead of being primarily spenders or savers, John and Greg are decidedly servants with their resources. I just finished the book and appreciate the way they encouraged me to open my hands a little bit more.

10. Embossed Graphics stationary

A great way to serve others is to write them handwritten notes of encouragement. Embossed Graphics makes incredible personalized stationary.