From getting the day started, to planning, to getting things done, here are a few items and ideas to help you GO, GO, GO! Most of these products were created by small-business entrepreneurs, and we hope they’ll help the next entrepreneurs along.
1. Slow Wake Alarm Clock
Jarring beeps are a ring of the past; wake up smoothly, more refreshed and less confused with an alarm clock that slowly increases sound and/or light, mimicking a more natural rise and shine. There are a bunch of products out there, ranging in price from around $15 or $150 on Amazon to over $200 at Sharper Image. There are also several smartphone apps available, one of the most well-known being ZenAwake, which includes an inspirational quote each morning from Buddha or Confucius or… Einstein. They spiel on about the Golden Ratio, counting down the intervals of the Fibonacci Sequence to determine how often to “ding”—a neat idea, not sure how sound the science is, though.
Here’s the trick: if you already have an Iphone (or this probably works for other smartphones, too), you can use the included alarm system and just choose a slow-starting song from your music library (or download something soothing) to get you out of Z-z-z-land. For instance, LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yourself Clean” is pretty chill for the first three minutes, then it’s go time.
2. Coffee: Three Ways
Once you’re out of bed, you’ll likely need some coffee. Today, we will discuss three possible routes of caffeine delivery—in order of ease.
UEL ZING coffee is a midwest start-up by a New York barista, niched-down to the cold brew method, bottling and shipping cold brew coffee to anywhere across the country. “Cold brew” coffee is a new-ish form of brewing that not everyone is familiar with, so here’s the lowdown: the coffee is brewed using cold water for up to 24 hours, yielding a super strong yet smooth concentrate that is about 60% less acidic than hot brewed coffee.
UEL ZING’s focus product is the ‘ready-to-drink’ 12 oz. bottle, a single smooth iced coffee serving, diluted just a bit from the concentrate state. And they do also offer the concentrate straight up, if you’re real serious like that. The cold brew is simply two ingredients, triple-filtered water and freshly roasted coffee, in a BPA-free plastic bottle. Just grab one out of the fridge for immediate caffeine that you can throw in your briefcase or backpack, no prob.
The Keurig coffee machine and its K-cups are built for speed, brewing single cups of hot coffee in an easy, hands-off way. Basically, stick a K-cup in the slot, push a button or two, and make sure you put your mug underneath. There are a ton of flavors to choose from, spanning not only different coffee blends, but also hot cocoa and teas. Now, the actual coffee in the little plastic cup has been roasted and ground for who knows how long, so on a coffee-snob level, the freshness is just the first of many gripes. But for a quick & easy, hot cup of coffee, the Keurig gets the job done.
Invented by Stanford professor and entrepreneur Alan Adler, the Aerobie Aeropress is widely considered by the specialty coffee industry as one of the best, quickest, and easiest methods to manually brew coffee. With a grinder and hot water, the versatile instrument can brew espresso-like coffee in less than a minute that can then be diluted with more hot water for an American-style black coffee. For the serious coffee drinker at home or traveling, all it takes is the AeroPress, a scoop of coffee, a mechanical (hand) burr-grinder (or even just pre-ground coffee, for utmost convenience), and a few ounces of hot water. There are a few different kits available that have everything you need.
The AeroPress is really a superior hybrid of brewing methods: it combines the full-bodied feel of a French press without the all the grit, filtered through paper like a smooth drip coffee, and pressurized for a faster and even extraction, like espresso. Plus, clean up is super easy, too.
3. Get (un)organized
Sometimes just some good ol’ paper and pen can really keep you grounded in today’s modern cloud. If you can tear yourself away from your phone/the Internet (or un-LOOPY yourself; see below) and all of its glorious schedulizers, the Uncalendar is a great hardcopy organizer. A spiral bound notebook available in two sizes, 8.5×11″ or 5.5×8.5″, the Uncalendar consists of four main sections: Day/Week, Month/Goals, Notes/Techs, and Data. Each section has a uniquely designed set of boxes, lines, and grids to aid in optimum organization, planning, and prioritizing, with plenty of room for listing and brainstorming.
The “UN” part comes from the lack of dates and labels—while it includes the days of the week i.e. Monday, Tuesday, etc., the actual dates are left open for you to fill in—so you can use the whole calendar system, starting from whenever you start, and not leave the first half of the year empty. In the Day/Week section, there are large lined boxes for each day, plus several other boxes to include goals, lists, tasks, drawings, graphs, or whatever else you need to write down. It’s actually a bit overwhelming at first, but it includes a couple pages worth of “how-to-use UNCALENDAR LIFESTYLE,” which are surprisingly helpful.
The family-owned business is based in Arizona, USA, since 1971, and their zesty approach to organization carries over to a few other products, including the “NOTE TAKER Delight.” To end in their own words, these suggested uses adorn the packaging: “Build a career. Become a professional. Develop a trade. Get better grades. Maintain two jobs. Graduate with a degree. Start your own business. Organize a busy family life. Create financial security. Improve your diet. Increase your exercise. Follow a vitamin regimen. Manage a busy retirement. Pursue a hobby. Simplify your life. Develop your spiritual life. Give back to others. Become a better person.”
4. Don’t Lose Your Pen
If you have a 50-pack of pens, you’re going to lose 49 of them; if you have just one, you probably won’t. Scarcity lends value—it’s basic economics. So if you believe in basic economics, and find yourself needing to write things, think about finding yourself just one nice pen. Something small to fit in your pocket and take everywhere might be right for you, or, one designated work pen that doesn’t leave your desk.
Consider the Fisher Space Pen: a nitrogen-pressurized ink cartridge that provides dependable ink flow in freezing cold, desert heat, underwater, and upside down. Patented in 1965, the original AG7 Anti-Gravity pen was used on Apollo 7 by NASA, and Paul Fisher’s small Nevada-based company has continued to grow ever since. …You know you’re successful when Seinfeld writes an episode around your company (1998).
In addition to extreme applications, the Space Pen feels right at home on an average desktop (pun intended)—some models now include a stylus for iPad, Tablet, and Droid. Among a plethora of models, color-schemes, and customization/engraving options, their Multi-Functional models include a cigar punch, an LED spotlight, or a 6″ ruler and bubble level.
5. Attach phone
Let’s face it, your phone is your life. Well, maybe. But it is handy to have on hand, and there is a constant danger of dropping it. That’s where LOOPY comes in—it’s a special case that literally attaches your phone to your hand via an adjustable rubber loop. Feels like a ‘LiveStrong bracelet.’ Basically, it makes your phone into a ring for your finger… a phone-Ring-Pop (it does not make it lickable, though). But really, it’s a palm-side ring; it goes well around your middle finger, with your thumb hovering ready above the screen.
Two entrepreneurial brothers got the idea from their phone-dropping dad and started making the cases in their basement before seeking outside manufacturing. Currently, they have cases for iPhone 4/4s, iPhone 5/5s, and Samsung Galaxy S4 and S3.
The easily-adjusted LOOPY is great for running or concert going, with a few more perks as well. The loop acts as a stand for the phone for watching videos, or the loop can be hung from a hook in the shower or while it’s charging. Or if your hands are full, one free pinky can still snag your phone. They’re mantra: #stopthedrop.