Reading Time: 2 minutes

Did you get a Best Buy or other electronics store gift card as a gift? Below are six suggestions of office productivity tools that will boost your efficiency.

Portable bluetooth speaker
Use chore time to learn something! If you’re bored by cooking dinner, emptying the dishwasher, folding the laundry, or sweeping the floor, then just connect your computer, tablet, or smartphone to the speaker and turn up the volume on TED talks, iTunes U, podcasts, audio books, or free classes from a leading university.

Upgrade your hardware
Are you still using a tablet or smart phone that doesn’t have Siri and/or voice dictation services? There is very little need these days to try and type on those tiny smartphone buttons. iPhones, starting with a 4S and above and iPad 3 and above now have not only the Siri personal assistant, but also voice-dictation for web surfing, texts, emails, and virtually anything else you used to have to “type” into your phone. Save time with an upgrade. If you’re not a fan of Apple, many of the latest devices offer this service as well. Just do some research before you buy.

If it’s not a device you need, maybe it’s time to boost your speed with a bigger hard drive for your computer or a memory bump – or put the gift card towards an entirely new computer – prices are coming down so it’s a great time to invest.

Upgrade your software
Apple included voice dictation, plus other time-savers, as part of its operating system starting with Mountain Lion.  PC users may be coveting the newest “Windows 8” operating system that offers a host of conveniences.

Portable Hard Drive for Backups
Of course you have a backup process in place, right? There’s almost nothing that derails your plans more than a technology meltdown. For Mac users, I recommend a combination of Time Machine (which is part of the operating system) for data backup, and SuperDuper, to clone your entire computer. PC users check out the free Macrium Reflect.

But these still require a place to put those backups! You could subscribe to an online service like Mozy or Carbonite, but if, like me, you prefer an “on-site” copy as well, you’ll need at least one external drive. Using these regularly will ensure that there’s no time lost when a technology failure strikes (and it will!).

iPad or other tablet
My iPad is just the right size for reading or watching things on the web, and I use it all the time.  It can also be lighter on-the-go when your computer is “too much,” but your smartphone isn’t enough.  Move it around your home or office as needed, and connect it to a bluetooth speaker (see above) so you can be learning and productive any time you want!

Bluetooth earpiece or headphones
For those times when you have others around whom you don’t want to disturb when you listen to all those options listed above, or for hands-free driving, check out the wireless earphone options available.

Be thoughtful with your old devices – Gazelle will pay you to purchase your old office productivity tools, and your local Best Buy store will take and recycle almost anything with a plug, for free.  Please don’t let your outdated electronics get sent to the landfill!

Enjoy your gift!