Books, Gear and Reviews: The Ngo Christmas Gift Guide – 2018
It’s crazy that we’re only a few weeks away from Christmas. This year has been like one long Fast & Furious movie.
When it comes to Christmas, I prefer GIVING gifts over receiving them.
I love getting to introduce people to cool things. Plus, it feels really good to give things to people. To make others happy. And what’s the point of having money if you can’t put it to good use?
I know some of you guys have trouble coming up with good gift ideas, so every year I create the “Charles Ngo Awesome Shit For Christmas Guide,” in which I list out all the awesome stuff I’ve found over the past year.
Now it’s time for the 2018 edition.
Judging from last year’s comments, it becomes more of gifts people buy for themselves ;-).
The gift list is broken down by what people are interested in.
Gifts For Life Hackers
Do you need to buy gifts for people who are obsessed with productivity, like me? I think two of the biggest productivity levers is improving sleep and increasing hydration. Both lead to way more energy and productivity.
Here are some of my favorite products.
Blue Blocking Glasses
I swear by these after 6 pm. They block blue light from screens, which inhibits melatonin production. That’s the chemical your body produces to help you fall asleep.
If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time in front of screens, even at the end of the day. What do you do after a long day of creating and optimizing campaigns? Netflix, obviously.
Unfortunately, the blue light from your computer/tablet/phone messes up your body’s natural sleep cycle. These glasses block that blue light.
Ideally, you wouldn’t watch ANYTHING at night, but sometimes you can’t resist Game of Thrones.
Price: $65 || Purchase Link
Want to feel more energized during the day? You need sunlight as soon as you wake up.
This is a problem for me because I wake up and start working at 5 am every day. I CAN’T get sunlight in the morning during the winter, even if I wanted to.
So every day when I start working, I have this light shining on me for an hour.
Price: $104.99 || Purchase Link
Hidrate Spark Water Bottle
When I’m in the zone, it’s easy to forget even the most basic things, like staying hydrated. Unfortunately, this can have a serious impact on my productivity. Studies have shown that even a 3-4% drop in hydration can lead to as much as a 50% drop in productivity.
The Hidrate Spark 2.0 water bottle is great because it glows to remind you when it’s time to drink more water. It syncs with your phone so that it can track how much water you’ve consumed and ensure you stay hydrated and productive.
Price $45 || Purchase Link
Gifts For Writing
There’s a big trend of people using handwriting (as opposed to digital) as a tool to organize thoughts, plan, set goals, etc. It could be for security reasons, or but it’s probably more that. With everything being digital, we miss handwriting stuff. There’s something relaxing about writing by hand.
Here are some writing gifts that have been huge hits when I’ve given them away.
Have you ever noticed how using regular notebooks can be frustrating because there’s not enough room on your desk? You’ve got your computer in front of you, which makes it tough to write on a tallish notebook.
Panobooks solve this problem. They’re really well-designed notebooks that are laid out in a landscape orientation. I use the Panobook every day to do my planning, and I really do find the landscape style useful.
Price $23.99 || Purchase Link
Five Minute Journal
Keeping a journal can be a great way to work through problems that would otherwise just swirl around in your head. But honestly, who has time to spend 30 minutes every night journaling? Not me, especially when Game of Thrones is calling my name.
The Five Minute Journal is a good alternative. It uses psychological methods to help you focus on good things happening in your life. When you’re focused primarily on the good, you’re able to more easily come up with solutions for negative things.
Price $22.95 || Purchase Link
Best Self Productivity Journal
Productivity planners/journals are all the rage right now. The one created by the Best Self Company is one of the best, along with the one created by Michael Hyatt.
The Best Self journal helps you determine your goals and what actions you need to take to reach those goals. It also helps you plan out each day for max productivity and gives you space to reflect on what you did well and what things need to improve.
Price $33.99 || Purchase Link
Gifts For Learning
The most successful people in the world are constantly learning. Someone once asked Warren Buffett what the key to success was and he pointed at a large stack of books and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day.”
You probably don’t have time to read 500 pages every day, but thankfully, there are loads of ways to be constantly learning. Here are some of my favorites.
This is a site I started using a few months ago and I love it. Basically, it’s the 80 / 20 of different life hacks.
For example, I know the power of breathing because I took some Wim Hof Training, but I don’t know that much about optimal breathing.
Brian, the creator of the site, has probably read 20+ books just on breathing and distilled them into 10 main ideas, which he puts into a one-hour presentation. All those books are also distilled into short documents that contain the main points for each book.
He does this for food, habits, leadership, productivity, digital addiction, etc. Simply put, there is a TON of knowledge here.
Basically I can learn everything about a subject in a 1.5 hour video (which I watch at 2x speed, btw), instead of reading 10 books on the subject.
Price $7.99/month || Purchase Link
You may not be able to read 500 pages per day, but listening to audiobooks can massively increase the amount you read in a year. You can listen on your commute, while you’re washing dishes, while you’re working out, and pretty much anywhere else. In some ways, it’s a lot easier to find time to listen to a book than read a book.
Audible is one of the best sites for getting audiobooks, and you can find pretty much anything you would ever want to read.
Price $14.95/month || Purchase Link
If a friend or family member lives in NYC, LA, or Chicago, Course Horse has hundreds of fun courses they could take.
My team has gotten me classes on Improv and Salsa dancing.
It’s a great way to give something that’s pretty unique.
Price Varies || Purchase Link
What To Get Your Girlfriend
Got a loved one? Can’t think of what to get them?
I got you!
You can’t go wrong with a Pandora bracelet.
You buy the bracelet and you can choose from hundreds of different charms. The key is that each charm has a different meaning.
Some of the charms on my girlfriend’s bracelet:
- A cat to represent our cat
- A dog to represent our dog
- A starfish to represent our trip to the bahamas
- An apple for our move to NYC together
- A Cinderella carriage because I had to get her home by midnight every night when we first started dating
Don’t pimp out the entire bracelet all at once. Just get her a few charms, and slowly add to the collection overtime.
2. Love Book
My girlfriend got this for me last year and it means a lot to me.
Basically, it’s a “love story” book where you can create the cartoons online. They have a drag and drop creator that lets you create cartoon versions of yourself like Bitmojos.
Remember Gifts are All About Meaning
I hope you enjoyed my recommendations.
The best gifts aren’t the ones where you spend a ton of money. They’re the ones where you put a lot of thought behind them for the person.
If they disagree…then don’t get them a gift next year! 😉