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18 tools that keep Fast Company editors organized and productive

Whether you need to clear out some mental clutter, pack smarter, or just finally sort your spices, these products and tools will help you organize your life.

18 tools that keep Fast Company editors organized and productive
[Photo: courtesy Gravel Travel]

Sometimes, getting organized can feel like there’s no good place to start. Sometimes it’s time management. Sometimes it’s reducing clutter. Sometimes it’s optimizing workflows. And sometimes, it’s just finding the best (for you) method to keep things where you need them, when you need them—perhaps it’s more time and mental space, or the laptop cord you’re always forgetting, or that annoying paprika jar that gets lost in the back of your spice cabinet.

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If you don’t know where to begin, we’ve got you. We asked our colleagues at Fast Company for suggestions for their favorite products to keep their households, travel routines, and work lives organized.

Work

[Photo: courtesy CDG London]
CGD London Daily Planner
I have gone through three of these notebooks. Sometimes I have so much brain fog I wish someone would tell me what to do: what to eat, how to exercise, etc. This planner has helped me get my life together. I take 15 minutes to fill out a two-page spread every morning when I sit down to work using dedicated spaces for a to-do list, to note the three meals I plan to eat, to record expenses, keep track of how many glasses of water I’ve had, and how I plan to exercise. —Yasmin Gagne, associate editor

Yamazaki Hidden Cable Box
I have a minimalist glass desk that I love, but it’s not a great combination with all the cords from a router, desktop computer and screen, laptop, and chargers. This box keeps them all hidden. —April Mokwa, executive managing editor

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[Photo: courtesy Mobile Pixels]
Mobile Pixels Duex Series monitors
There’s no debating that adding a monitor to your desk setup is a huge upgrade. But when you’re traveling or working elsewhere, you’re forced to downgrade to your laptop’s single display. Mobile Pixels asks the question: What if we made that second display available on the go? The company’s line of portable monitors—I have one of the Duex products that adds a single screen, but there is also the Trio, which adds two screens to your laptop setup—use magnets to stay put on your laptop and give you plenty of desktop space wherever you are. —David Salazar, associate editor

Paperlike iPad screen protector
I use the versatile Goodnotes app to keep my schoolwork—both as an adjunct and a grad student—in line. Etsy is full of downloadable Goodnotes templates for sale, but even the best, most #aesthetic bullet journal layout in the world can’t keep my handwriting from looking like sloshy garbage on an iPad. Paperlike is a subtle, easy-to-install screen protector that mimics the texture and appearance of parchment, giving your tech pencil something to grip when filling out every individual dot representing the cups of water you drank in a day. —Rachel Kim Raczka, contributing writer

[Photo: courtesy Food52]
Zone Denmark minimalist Danish kitchen timer
It took me more than a professional decade to realize that I do my best writing in sprints. This means sitting down, shutting off all distractions, and zoning in for 30 to 45 minutes at a time, with short breaks in between. Distraction culprit No. 1 is my phone—meaning those nifty Pomodoro Technique apps are nothing more than a gateway to TikTok and text messages within a matter of seconds. So I use a regular old kitchen timer—mine is shaped like a fried egg, but this one is cute, too—that’s sitting on my desk. I can crank it up to a time limit and it silently ticks along before erupting with an ear-splitting ring. —R.K.R.

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[Photo: courtesy Freedom]
Freedom
I pay $6 per month for Freedom, which blocks me from using Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube during work hours. It is hard to circumvent on a laptop (though I have done it on my phone). Spending too much time on these sites makes me feel sick, like I’ve eaten too much candy. It’s a good way to eliminate distraction when you have no self-control. —Y.G.

[[Photo: courtesy Grammarly]
Grammarly Premium
Writing about the AI-powered writing app Grammarly gave me major anxiety; I try not to think about that story because I am waiting for someone to call me out for improper conjunction use. But I still regularly use and recommend it to my students. It acts as a fail-safe for keeping documents/notes in order and also double-checks my work when I need another set of eyes. I like the in-browser app more than the plug-in, but I certainly see the value in both for anyone who sends out tons of emails or writes a lot of copy. —R.K.R.

Private Internet Access VPN
If you do just one thing to better protect your online privacy, start using a VPN. A virtual private network is a decades-old technology that was once used mostly by big companies to give employees access to their private intranets. Yes, there are free VPN services out there, but if you really want increased privacy, it’s worth paying for a service from a company with a good reputation. One VPN that ranks highly among privacy experts is Private Internet Access. That’s because its promise that it’s a true “no logs” VPN has been tested twice in court. In two separate investigations, one involving a hacking case and the other a hoax bomb threat, government agencies requested information about two of Private Internet Access’s customers. But as court records showed, the company was unable to provide any records. It just doesn’t retain data on user activity.—Michael Grothaus, contributing writer

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Home

[Photo: courtesy OXO]
OXO POP Containers
I like to buy rice, grains, and nuts from the bulk section in Whole Foods, so these containers are great for storing and Tetris-stacking based on what I’m using most. —A.M.


[Photo: courtesy The Container Store]
The Container Store Acrylic Spice Racks
I love these clear acrylic spice racks from the Container Store. I use them in the kitchen, but also in the bathroom to hold all of my skincare and hair products and keep them from spreading all over my sink. They hold a lot and work with any decor. —Bobbie Gossage, contributing editor

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Mistana Fabric Basket
I use these storage bins for home workout equipment. It took me a long time to find one that is tall enough to hold yoga mats and foam rollers without them tipping out while still being wide enough to hold everything else (weights, resistance and stretching bands, etc.). —Amy Farley, senior editor

[Photo: courtesy Standard Dose]
Standard Dose Therapy Notebooks: The Anti-Anxiety Notebook 
Working from home has exacerbated one of the worst aspects of my personality: my constant paranoia. I find it easy to obsess over a stupid comment I made on Slack, or a zit on my face during a Zoom call. I worry that an email I sent was all wrong. When someone else does well at work, my first impulse is to worry that I’m not doing enough. This thought pattern can derail me quickly. Whenever I feel it coming on, I open this notebook and fill out a two-page cognitive behavioral therapy-based questionnaire. It helps me reframe my thoughts and put them to bed in about 10 minutes so that I can get back to whatever I was doing. —Y.G.


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Travel

[Photo: courtesy Troubador Goods]
Troubadour Explorer Caboodle Tech Case
I am a woman of many totes, and I use them interchangeably to transport my laptop from campus to the library to my office to home. Having this cute, softly structured tech case keeps all my cords, chargers, and other essentials (eye drops, extra masks, ginger chews) neatly organized and easily accessible. The rule of thumb has been that I will never forget my laptop, but I most certainly will forget my charger. Now I never do. —R.K.R.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Reveal Cubes
I feel so smug when I’m traveling with my husband. He’s always rooting around in his bag, trying to find items of clothing, while I simply pick out the packing cube or garment folder that I need: one for shirts and tops, another for my workout gear, yet another for socks and undies, even one for cords and chargers. You get the picture. The key is to get cubes that are compressible and mesh so that you can actually see what’s inside. I swear by Eagle Creek packing accessories, which come in an array of sizes and colors. Honorable mentions go to the brand’s packing folders and opaque, antimicrobial bags for laundry and shoes. —A.F.

[Photo: courtesy Gravel Travel]
Gravel Explorer Plus toiletry bag
Whenever I travel, I continually wonder if I’m forgetting something. The typical toiletry bag doesn’t help—finding something like a pair of tweezers usually involves dumping everything out and sorting through the pile. That’s why I love this bag from Gravel: It has no fewer than eight pockets, so each item can stay in its own compartment, and when you hang it up, everything is visible at a glance. —Adele Peters, writer

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Caraa Studio Bag
I swear by the million and one pockets in Caraa’s Studio Bag. Every Caraa design has Inspector Gadget appeal, with methodically placed pockets, pouches, and straps for (at the risk of sounding super cliché) anything life throws at you. For me, the Studio Bag—a convertible backpack that transforms into a duffle or a crossbody—is a travel and commuter must. I have a medium size and it’s perfect for a change of clothing (including shoes), at least two screens, and plentiful protective pockets for my favorite in-flight toiletries. —R.K.R.

[Photo: courtesy Cuyana]
Cuyana System Tote
I spend most mornings working at a coffee shop, so I carry the tote fully loaded with my laptop and clutch. When I go pick up my daughter after school, I leave the tote in the trunk of my car but carry the 6-by-9-inch clutch as a crossbody bag when I head to the playground. On weekends, I leave the laptop in its sleeve at home and fill the tote with snacks, water bottles, magazines, and bug spray for a day in the park. Since my wallet, keys, and masks are always safely in the clutch pocket in the tote, I never have to worry about forgetting them. —Elizabeth Segran, senior writer (read her full review)

[Photo: courtesy Cadence]
Cadence Capsules
I love these little honeycomb-shaped containers. They’re magnetic, so they snap together for safekeeping, allowing you to stack on as many as you need to take with you. I use pill organizers for everything—vitamins (obviously) but also scoops of my heaviest face creams, extra Lashify clusters, and other tiny but imperative elements of my daily routine. —R.K.R.

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Fast Company’s Recommender section is dedicated to surfacing innovative products, services, and brands that are changing how we live and work. Every item that we write about is independently selected by our editors and, whenever possible, tested and reviewed. Fast Company may receive revenue from some links in our stories; however, all selections are based on our editorial judgment.

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