I’ve really enjoyed other people’s lists of things they recommend buying, like Rob’s and Arden’s. So here some things I bought in 2020 I feel particularly good about, and think others might also like. I wrote a post on parenting fairly recently which included a list of things I had bought and liked, so I won’t include those here. Clothing recommendations at the bottom, to make them easier to skip if you don’t wear women’s clothes. 

I’d love to hear other people’s recommendations for things to buy. Also happy to answer more questions about these items. 


Water Flosser (£29.99)

I never really got around to flossing, but this is quick, easy to use and rather pleasant. I’ve had no trouble using it daily. (H/t Ivy Mazzola)


Headphones I can wear to sleep (£17.99) plus an Android sleep app (free version) which allows me to set an alarm which sounds through headphones only

My husband and I usually wake up at different times, plus I like to set multiple alarms. (I take a caffeine tablet 40min before I actually have to wake up, which makes waking up way more pleasant.) Having alarms ring only through my headphones means that I don’t disturb him. You can buy dedicated earbuds made for this functionality, but the ones I’ve seen are expensive (eg Bose ones are £230)


Treadmill for under my (standing) desk (£299.00)

I’ve really enjoyed having this. It’s easier than I expected to type while walking, and I have no trouble with meetings and reading. Things that involve the mouse are harder, but still do-able. Max speed is 6 km/h, but I only use it for walking anyway. With a young child it’s harder to find time to exercise, so it’s been really handy to be able to do so while I work.

This recommendation was from Jonas Vollmer, who looked through different treadmills on amazon UK. This was the cheapest one, where the main downside of it compared to the others was that it didn’t fold up and so takes up quite a bit of space. That’s been fine for me: I put it on its side when I’m not using it, and it still fits under my (sitting position) desk, with room for me to sit next to it. It sticks out a fair way, but my office is fairly spacious. Space was a bigger deal for him, so he got this one instead.


Meal boxes with pre-measured ingredients ready to cook. I’ve been using Hello Fresh (£10 per box, each serves 2)

I’m not much good at cooking, and want to avoid the faff of figuring out what ingredients to buy, and dealing with continuously having most of some particular ingredient left over. I had mostly been having ready meals, but I actually enjoy cooking these meals. I usually get the ‘rapid’ ones, which theoretically take 20min but in practice often take me double. But I really like the clear instructions, not needing to measure anything, and getting to try lots of different things. (H/t Jenna Peters)


Cooling gel mat for sleeping on (the one I got is currently unavailable, possibly because it’s only available in summer, but it was ~£25)

I had never come across these before and it seems basically like magic to me. I found it really useful for helping me get to sleep in the heat. (H/t Pete McIntyre)


Plant mister for cooling myself in summer (£9.99 - I paid extra to get a pretty one)

I don’t know why I didn’t already own one of these. In combination with a fan it was great for staying cool in the heat wave, and the baby loved it.


Electric blanket (£46.99)

This feels like a normal fluffy blanket, except that it heats up! Can also go in the washing machine. So snuggly.


Clear storage box as a footrest (£11.82)

I’m pretty short, so to get the right ergonomic angle for my knees with a standard desk chair I need a footrest. This is the right height, cheap, and lasts (unlike the shoe boxes I had been using). Also, I previously had mostly stored things in opaque boxes, but this is better because I can see what’s in them so it’s faster to find things. 


Leggings with pockets (£25)

It had somehow never occurred to me before that leggings could have pockets. That’s the way forward. Also these are really comfy. (H/t Arden Koehler)


Anti-chafing shorts (£8 for two pairs)

These are basically shorts made of the same material as tights. I used to always wear tights or leggings under skirts so my thighs didn’t chafe, but that’s annoying in summer. I’m assuming that I hadn’t heard these existed before because it seems like an uncomfortable problem to talk about. These are lovely and cool.

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I've moved this to "Personal Blog", but I hope you share it widely -- I love these sorts of lists, whether it's you or Rob Wiblin making them. The sleep headphones are the object from here that I'm most likely to purchase.

Thanks! I don't know how I didn't notice that tag.

It's not a normal tag; I don't think you're able to apply it yourself. Just a moderation thing -- now that we're "Frontpage by default", I aim to notify people whenever I apply it.

Thanks for this list. I've made a note to look at this list (and Rob's and Arden's) again once I move to my new place in a few months, and I expect I'll at least get one of those treadmills for use while working.

The things I've bought and would recommend which come to mind are all for the purposes of better sleep: 

  • An eye mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Blackout curtains

(I haven't shopped around enough that I can link to versions of these things that are likely to be much better than the average one.)

Thank you for recommending the cooling gel mat. If heat turns out a problem in my new bedroom, I might give it a try.

My recommendations (not sure how useful they are, I realize some are quite specific for my lifestyle):

cleanable earplugs for sleeping.

I sleep earlier than most people. With these earplugs at hand, I never needed to complain to my flatmates when they talk or watch movies next to my bedroom. Clean with handsoap.

noise-isolating headphones in the bad old days working in an open office.

I tried the noise cancelling headphones of my friends to suppress distraction from colleagues talking in an open office. I did not like the noise cancelling enough to be willing to pay for it, because it generated soft noise by itself. In combination with a gentle rain noise or music I can not understand even conversations nearby. Good sound quality. Currently in use for video calls.

swiffer staubmagnet ("dust magnet")

Looks nonsense but works. I don't hate dust cleaning anymore. (H/t my flatmates)

sports watch for running

I wanted a cheap and easy-to-carry timer and not pay for features like a GPS tracker or heartrate measurement. Watches seem often too big for me but this one fits comfortably. If aestetics is important to you, try to find something else.

IKEA wooden step

to reach the upper kitchen shelf. Nicely stable but light enough to lift it and take it to wherever I need it. (H/t my flatmates)

100% peanut butter

I eat a lot of bread with peanut butter and good peanut butter is hard to get in Switzerland, where I live. Lots of calories per money spent, but no added sugar. A kg lasts me for a while. (H/t my flatmates)

Re: footrest

I'm also pretty short and I can relate to the problems with the footrest. The best footrest I've used so far is a folded not-so-soft blanket (in home office, so not wearing shoes). The storage box you're recommending would be a another good idea in my employer's office. I got myself a desk with height-adjustable legs but my chair cannot go lower, the blanket is for the last few centimeters.
Ironically, I got a decent footrest using a stack of flattened Hello Fresh meal boxes. The meals were more valuable for my flatmate than for me.
I have no good experiences with footrests that are made to be footrests: not stable, too high, don't fit between the legs of my chair - my feet end up everywhere except there they are supposed to be.

Those Hello Fresh meal boxes look excellent. I've been tempted to have my groceries delivered to me directly as well. There are people in my life who do just that and really enjoy the service.

In terms of what I've purchased in 2020 that I recommend others do as well, that would have to be a reliable home computer. Maybe that sounds too basic or commonplace, but having access to a quality PC is important these days. And I didn't understand that (as clearly as I do now) until I went a prolonged period without one.

Thankfully modern computers are generally well-built and a bit more powerful than at any other time prior. So I got amazing value for my dollar.

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