If we aren’t already there, we’re quickly approaching the type of future we used to see in science fiction T.V. shows. Dreams like video-enabled smartwatches and facial recognition security are already a part of our reality. Self-driving cars are just around the corner. But, sometimes it’s the smaller (and more affordable) pieces of technology that make the most impact in our personal and professional lives. Here are eight awesome gadgets under $250 that will make your life easier so you can better focus on your business.
How many times have you almost been late for a meeting or lunch with a business partner because you couldn’t find your keys? Or worse -- have you ever had your wallet stolen when you were traveling? Most smartphones have GPS trackers built in, but the other things we need for our line of work (like our laptops, tablets and bags) aren’t quite there yet.
Tile is a small, lightweight device you attach to anything you want to track. Once you’ve downloaded the Tile app, you can track things at close range with Bluetooth or locate lost or stolen items via GPS. You can also “share” a Tile with someone else’s phone so your spouse, parent, child, or friend can help you locate something you’ve lost. Tile is a lifesaver during those panicked moments when you realize something’s missing; if you don’t believe it already, check out Tile’s success stories on its website.
The days of simply planting security cameras in front of your house are over. SkyBell's Wi-Fi Video Doorbell replaces your existing doorbell with a video camera, microphone and speaker. When someone rings the bell, you receive an instant notification and can view them in real time when using the SkyBell app. With the mic on your phone, you can ask the mailman to leave your package by the flowerbed, tell your guests to come on in, or order a suspicious figure to go away. If—knock on wood—some sort of property crime does occur, you’ll have a sharp image of the perpetrator right on your smartphone.
The Amazon Echo is on a lot of must-have tech lists, and for good reason. This smart home device, addressed as “Alexa,” follows a wide range of helpful commands and incorporates a surround-sound speaker. Using just your voice, you can have Alexa order you a pizza, provide a daily news briefing, play your favorite Spotify playlist, and add items to your shopping list. Starting at just $50 for the smaller Echo Dot, Amazon’s smart device beats similar voice command products; Alexa can read books to you, place or track an Amazon order, and work in tandem with a voice-enabled remote. It’s like having a personal assistant available 24/7 while you work on your business.
The Echo isn’t the only helpful device Amazon makes. Amazon Dash devices are a super inexpensive way to order your favorite household items with (literally) the push of a button. There are Dash buttons for Tide laundry detergent, Goldfish crackers, Gatorade, Ziploc bags, Brawny paper towels and many more. Just stick them to your laundry room wall or the door of your pantry; when you run out of a necessity, push the button. It’ll save you from spending time on Amazon orders when you have more important stuff to take care of.
Young Living USB Diffuser
The right essential oils can soothe an overworked mind and brighten a stressful workday. While most diffusers have to be filled with water and sat upright on the table, the Young Living USB Diffuser plugs into your computer’s USB port. The device will diffuse your favorite essential oils every 10, 30, or 60 seconds for maximum stress relief. You’ll have your “get stuff done” attitude back in no time.
Related: 11 Habits of Truly Happy People
Philips Hue Starter Kit
The Philips Hue system makes your life easier and cooler. These smart lightbulbs can be controlled from your phone if you don’t feel like getting out of bed or interrupting your movie. Not only can you turn them on and off, but you can dim them, set them to turn on or off at certain times of day, and set the mood using different colors. A starter pack starts at $70.
Belkin makes a wide variety of cool gadgets, but the Wemo Switch is great because it can really help save on your electricity bill. The Wi-Fi-enabled outlet extension can be powered on and off using your smartphone. Rather than unplugging lamps, fans, and electronics, you can cut off their power in the Wemo app and turn it back on whenever you’d like. This means you can turn off that light you left on after you’ve already left for work (or left the office). Your electricity bill -- and the environment -- will thank you.