When I joined Automattic in 2018, our Head of Design asked us to introduce ourselves and state what our favorite digital and non-digital product was.
I don’t typically claim favorites unless I really, really like something. But also, as a person who doesn’t like to shop, or have too many things (digital or otherwise)– look, I didn’t like the question, or my answer, and yes, I totally changed my mind the next day.
So of course, I started a list, just in case I ever get asked something like that again. I have many of these achiever preparedness (i.e., neurotic perfectionist) lists in my Simplenote app.
Yesterday, our Head of Product published his top 5 products for the year. A fine opportunity.
Here are my top 10 products of 2019–that are so good, they might outlive you.*
The yoga wheel can be used to help stretch, crack, and release tension in the upper back and chest. I keep it next to my desk and strive to periodically roll out my back to stave off the back pain related to my job/s. Nerd neck and nursing back always win, but this helps a lot.
I was able to make a rushed connection by running from one entire airport terminal to the next in these. While 8 months pregnant. Need I say more?
Out-performs some of the triple-digit knives out there. To keep them in good shape, all knives should be submitted to a regular sharpening regimen. That’s when you can tell the difference with this knife. The material in this is high-quality and takes to a whetstone or other tool well.
Out of all of these products, this one is the most likely to outlive you. In the meantime, it can bring you and yours nights of “toxin-free” meals that can rival stuff made on the grill or in the oven. The learning curve for seasoning I admit falls in the category of: “If you can’t make it usable, at least make it learnable.”
The liquid stays contained. I have seen children invent all sorts of use cases where things could go wrong with a cup–and the liquid stays contained.
Some of my mechanical pencils are now 20 years old and still going strong.
The .4 size on this one is for those of us who wrote in 8pt type since sixth-grade and now have a bad habit of setting 8pt type font for retina displays. For the rest of you that had shitty illegible writing back then (because you still do), the .4 size is for people like me to get through the pain of reading your hand-written notes and appreciate them for the kind gesture you intended them to be.
Substitute whatever pitch your instrument might need. I like digital tuning/metronome devices and apps, but they’ve messed up on me. There’s also just something elemental about whipping out one of these and feeling yourself, well, tune in. It’s like om, but for orchestra folks.
You can buy these used on eBay, which says a lot. As a person who has a messed up love for assembling IKEA furniture, I’ve spent a decent amount of time hand-screwing things together. This is the most comfortable screwdriver I’ve ever used for non-electronics.
They only make this in synthetic fibers now, but I have had the natural version for roughly nine years. When I travel, the shape and quality of this brush lets it easily take the place of 3 face brushes.
My set is also ten years old and going strong. It’s great for saving space in small kitchens, and if cabinet space needs to be used for other things, it looks great almost anywhere too.
It’s worth pointing out that most of these products depend on you maintaining them, which might sound like a chore, but the upside to that is that if they ever become damaged or worn, they can be easily repaired and restored to tip-top performance. That’s why they’re my favorites this year. Many of my items turned 10 years old (from when I moved out on my own after college), and it was hard not to reflect on how much my life had changed since. It was delightful to see them still going strong, and find comfort in the knowledge that some things won’t ever change.
*If you take reasonable care of them, or don’t purposely destroy them.