Dickie's Digest - Best of 2021 (Part 1)
My 13 favorite sub-$100 purchases (that drastically improved my quality of life)
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been spent dozens of hours reflecting on 2021.
And during that reflection, I’ve created a “best of 2021” collection - my favorite podcasts, articles, books, playlists, and purchases. So over the next few weeks, each edition of the Digest will break down one of these collections for you to dive into during the quiet holiday weeks.
Today’s collection is inspired by one of Tim Ferriss’ go-to podcast questions:
What is the sub-$100 purchase you’ve made over the last year that has most improved your quality of life?
But in answering this question, I couldn’t decide on just 1. So below you’ll find the 13 game-changing sub-$100 purchases I made in 2021.
These quality-of-life upgrades are all things that bring me more time or energy (which are the two areas I am always trying to invest in). They fall broadly into 3 buckets:
Let’s dive in:
A quick disclaimer: a few of these are affiliate links where I’ll get a kickback if you make one of these upgrades (but doesn’t cost you anything). And every product I’m recommending here is sitting within 5 feet of me at the time of writing this.
🥩 Health upgrades
Let’s start with sleep.
Most of these upgrades came from this episode of the Huberman Lab podcast (one of my favorite new podcasts of 2021).
The biggest upgrade I’ve made: sleeping with a weighted blanket. I’m not sure the exact science behind it, but once I started using it, I stopped tossing and turning and started sleeping fully through the night.
The second upgrade: ditching the shrieking alarm clock for this dawn simulator. Instead of getting jarred awake by my iPhone alarm, this clock slowly lights up over a 30-minute window to simulate waking up to the sunrise. Now, I wake up more alert than ever.
And the last upgrade: 600mg of magnesium glycinate powder one hour before bed. Since I started taking it, my “time-to-sleep” as measured by my Whoop is ~3 minutes, I sleep through the whole night, and find myself remembering my dreams 10x more often (which is always cool). *Be sure to do your own research on glycine - Dr. Huberman breaks it down in that episode.*
Alright, enough sleep. Let's talk about other health upgrades.
The first one - a tiny green Rubz ball foot roller.
If you have any kind of knee/ankle/foot pain, do yourself a favor. Buy this. Put it under your desk. Roll your feet on it throughout the day. Your entire lower body will feel like new after a few days.
The next health upgrade: a Whoop subscription.
This is my go-to fitness tracker, measuring my sleep, heart rate, HRV, exercise, stress levels, everything. I think I've recommended it to 100 people by now - it's the best investment you can make in your health in 2022.
You can use that link to get a free month and a free 4.0 band (and if you jump in, hit reply and let me know, I’ll add you to my Whoop group).
Next: a top-tier foam roller.
I've been on the hunt for the best foam roller for years.
I stumbled upon the Rumble Roller and it was like I saw the light for the first time. 5-10 (usually quite painful) minutes on this bad boy in the morning and at night has become a staple of my daily routine.
Now, on to energy upgrades.
For years I drank trash coffee and never thought about it.
But that morning cup is one of the best parts of the day - so why not make it high-quality? Also, why ever think about having to buy it again (since it’s something I need stocked every day of the week)?
My solution to both of these: Bottomless.
Bottomless is exactly what it sounds like: A high-quality coffee subscription that never runs out. It uses a smart scale to tell when I'm running low on my daily caffeine fix. And then it automatically ships a new bag to my door so I never run out.
Bottomless is hooking Digest readers up with a free bag and a free month subscription if you want to give it a try.
I also upgraded from the basic drip coffee machine to a gooseneck kettle / pour-over combo.
Taking 5 minutes to mindfully brew my coffee in the morning is a nice quiet staple of my daily routine.
Plus it tastes way better (didn't believe it till I tried).
🧠 Productivity and Information Diet Upgrades
Alright, final upgrades are on the productivity/information diet side.
I spent weeks finding the pens and notebooks I would look forward to writing with every day. And I finally found the winning combination:
Journals: These lay-flat grid notebooks from Muji
Workout logs: These basic Field Notes notebooks
There are few things that bring me more joy than Muji (if you love the minimalist Japanese aesthetic, good luck leaving their site without spending at least $200).
Another thing I realized this year: I have the attention span of a goldfish.
So I bought this kitchen timer and mounted it to my desktop so I am always working on a timer. (6 minutes left to finish writing this thread as we speak)
Another unbelievable upgrade: paying for Youtube premium.
This, hands down, is the highest ROI $11.99 you can spend (and I've said this to hundreds of people)
Always-on study mixes
Play in the background
I know what you’re thinking… “Pay, for Youtube..?” And yes I was skeptical to begin as well. But I promise you will not regret this purchase and will look back in a few months questioning how you ever lived without it.
On the information diet side, I officially declared "newsletter bankruptcy" in August of this year. I was (like you are probably doing right now) reading all of my newsletters inside my email inbox - disorganized, overwhelmed trying to keep up with them all, finding time to read them, etc.
Then I discovered Mailbrew - and now it's the foundation of my information diet. I use it to organize newsletters, YouTube, podcasts, Twitter, Reddit, everything. Their tagline is “Your personal daily newsletter” because it’s 100% customizable and you can create as many as you want to send on whatever cadence you want. It takes a bit of work to set up, but once it’s humming, you can streamline your information consumption 10x easier.
The Mailbrew team is hooking Digest readers up with 20% off (and if you give it a try, let me know and I’ll show you how I have mine set up).
And the very last one: a high-quality microphone.
Sounding crispy on Zoom calls and podcasts takes zero effort but pays huge dividends. Here's the mic I got (highly recommend).
Alright that’s all I got for today. If you pick any of these up, hit reply and let me know. Also, hit reply or leave a comment with your best sub-$100 purchase of the year (I’m always in the market for more upgrades).
Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for my favorite books, podcasts, playlists, and more.
If you enjoyed these, I’d appreciate it if you forwarded them to a friend 🙏🏼 or click the button below to share them on Twitter (be sure to tag me @dickiebush)
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As for the Digest in 2022… I have some exciting things in the works that I’ll think you’ll enjoy. Stay tuned!
- Dickie Bush