When we rounded up our staff's Weekly Upgrades last Saturday, our editors finding ways to sleep better, distancing themselves from their smartphones, and reorganising their kitchen strategies.
This week, we're listening to ambient noise, streamlining holiday gifting, and tackling insomnia.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Listen to rain sounds while you work
I've been listening to Rainy Mood while I work. The sound of rain and thunder is really calming, especially here in Southern California where we don't hear it too often. It helps me with flow. The app has several different ambient noise options (such as "chatter" and "shoreline"), but I just go with the standard rain sounds in a browser.
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
Make gifting easy with a public Amazon wishlist
In a conversation with my coworker, Nick, I realised everything I want for the holidays is stored in a single location: My Amazon wish list. Turns out, you can make that list easily accessible to anyone remotely interested in getting you something by modifying your Amazon account settings. So I took some time, filled out my Amazon profile (complete with image to ensure potential gift-givers had the right Patrick Austin), and made my wish list public. Want to search for a friend's account? Hit up your own Amazon wish list page, select the Your Friends tab, and enter their name or email address.
Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
Do all your streaming in once place
I started listening to podcasts in Spotify instead of iTunes. This way, if I begin listening to a podcast on my phone, I can ask Alexa to resume it, and vice versa. This upgrades my life because I have an Echo Dot in the kitchen for the sole purpose of listening to music while I cook or do dishes. I never wash dishes long enough to finish a podcast, so now I can listen to podcasts that way, too.
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
Outsmart your insomnia
As a lifetime bad sleeper, it's rare that I come across a new or effective hack, but I recently listened to an episode of Fresh Air with sleep scientist Matthew Walker, who offered a counterintuitive, but totally effective hack for insomnia: Get up. According to Walker, tossing and turning in bed teaches your brain to associate that space with being awake, which isn't good for establishing a solid sleep habit. Now when I can't sleep, I move to the living room. More often than not, I either end up snoozing on the couch, get tired again and return to bed, or get some work or reading done - which is all a lot better than staring wide-eyed at my ceiling and wondering what time it is.
Caitlin Schneider, Social Editor
Splurge on discounted furniture
As happens every holiday season, I may or may not be doing more shopping for myself than I am for other people. Oh well. I've been slowly but surely furnishing the apartment I moved into in July, and this week I made a big ticket purchase I've been putting off for a while: A sleeper sofa. I got this heavily discounted model from Wayfair, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I'm excited to have my living room look more pulled together, and also, to have a place for out of town friends to sleep when they come visit.
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor
Commit to a new calendar system
I got this, the "Uncalendar", which is my favourite organiser on this earth. It has a ton of boxes and columns for making lists, and lists are what keep me sane. I have tried using other calendars/planners, and they just don't have enough boxes and columns for lists.
Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor