Some years fly by in a blink, while others feel like a lifetime. This was one of the latter. Last year I ended one adventure, started another, reconnected with my community, and asked a lot of big questions about the future. As we kickoff 2017, I’m taking a moment to reflect and share some of my favorite things from 2016 (to the tune of The Sound of Music, of course).
Google Photos — This really was my killer app for 2016. I found myself introducing friend after friend to it as I discovered its power. Google Photos helped me truly organize my photos for the first time, with a crazy cool search feature (try searching cat), and simple to create albums. We even used it to collect photos during our wedding weekend.
Donut.ai — This simple plugin was a huge hit for two Slack communities I belong to, encouraging us to meet 1–1 for coffee each month and form deeper bonds. I’m excited to see what they’re building next for employee onboarding.
Momento — I’ve never been a big journaler, but with so much happening last year I was determined to record more memories. By pulling in social media (Instagram & Foursquare for me) and adding photos, Momento gives me a base to make quick daily notes around. I’ve found 5 minutes is enough to make me appreciate my day more, and I love looking at the “This Day” tab to remember past years.
Trello + Getting Things Done — I’ve used Trello for project management before, but I took my usage to a new level last year by converting my GTD system to a Trello board and I love the results. I flow right to left, with a handful of actionable cards “Up This Week”, a backlog “On Deck (next 30 days)”, and a parking lot called “In The Hole”. It takes 15 minutes each Sunday night to organize cards to prioritize my personal to do’s each week. It takes some getting used to, but feels like magic to have my brain visually organized in one place.
Wunderlist — Used solo, Wunderlist is nice. Used with a partner, it’s game changing. My husband and I started with a shared grocery list, before adding a home to do (i.e. “Honey Do”) list, movies to watch, gift ideas, restaurants to try, etc. I’ve got the whole family hooked now.
Darn Tough socks — Yep, I’m this excited about socks. I’ve always worn cheap athletic socks and didn’t think I’d notice a difference, but gave these a try when training for my first half marathon. Now I’m hooked and converting my entire drawer. Less blisters = happy Alex. Oh, and a lifetime warranty.
Blue Apron — We’ve subscribed on and off for a few years, but last year Blue Apron gave our schedule a backbone — 3 nights a week we take time to be together and cook. Most of the meals are good and its helped level up our cooking game.
Patagonia Black Hole Bags — Wow. These bags are incredible. They are the perfect size for a max carry on (60L), with removable backpack straps that make them ideal for hauling all over Southeast Asia for a month. I used the small grey Patagonia backpack / tote for a day bag, great for extra layers, a camera, and water.
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes — These aren’t new, but combined with the Patagonia bag they make you feel like a packing god. Four of the large ones fit perfectly, but I like using 2 large, 1 medium and 1 small — which gave be flexible room for extra shoes, toiletries and gifts we picked up.
The Nettie Pot — This one is weird; stick with me. There is nothing sexy about pouring hot salty water through your noise to clear out your sinuses, but it’s so worth it. This thing helps me get over every cold or sinus infection in record speed.
The New York Public Library + Overdrive — I read a lot last year while traveling, with nearly all the books coming from the public library for free as an e-book. Reading on an iPhone isn’t ideal, but the Overdrive app on the white-text-on-black-background setting and dimmed its almost as easy on the eyes as a Kindle — and it’s always with me, which means I read more. I’m so grateful to the library for providing this free service that I added it to my list of annual donations. [Top read of 2016 list coming soon…]
Humans of New York — 2016 was a weird year in so many ways, but Brandon’s HONY feed on Instagram had a way of pulling me back to see the real people behind the drama around us. I look forward to his posts everyday and his book was the most popular gift we gave this Christmas.
Overcast.fm — I was late to the podcast train, but caught up full speed with the help of the Overcast app last year. Favorite shows include standbys like The Moth, This American Life and TED — along with newcomers like How I Built This, Reboot, and The Limit Does Not Exist.
Monk Chat in Chiang Mai — You never know where a life changing experience will come from. In 2016, the hours I spent talking with young monks in Thailand opened my eyes on topics from the benefits of meditation to how the US is perceived globally — and reminded me exactly why I love to travel. Their reminder on this sign is a good guideline for life: “Don’t just stand looking from afar and walk away.”