A year ago when my sister started a new job, I wanted to get her a present. I decided that rather than champagne or flowers, I would think of all the ways that working in an office has slowly broken me over the last eight years and give her things that would hopefully prevent the same thing happening to her. I thought that this was a brilliant idea but then decided to check in with my sister a year later to see if the things I’d given her were actually any use.
Deuter Speed Lite Backpack 10L
Of all the things I wish I hadn’t done, wearing an overloaded handbag over one shoulder (or forearm) is top of the list. I have so many problems with my right shoulder and I suspect that a large number of them are down to my choice of handbag. Yeah, ok, shoulder bags do look better but if you want to avoid wonky posture like me, get a backpack.
The Deuter Speed Lite is the perfect size for work. Mine comfortably fits all the handbag essentials (purse, phone, keys) plus my lunch, water bottle and coffee cup. It’s also great as a run commute bag because of the tapered shape and adjustable straps at chest and waist height.
My sister says: This is my favourite item. I used to wear a handbag across my body to work and cram everything into it and then carry my lunch in a carrier bag. I could feel my posture slumping and carrying too many things is not ideal for a London commute. The backpack gives me much more freedom, my shoulders feel less tense and I don’t feel like I slouch as much. I wear this bag everywhere, work, days out and even to the hairdressers where it received compliments for looking very stylish yet practical! I think this bag is a great compromise for women who want something practical without looking like a school kid.
I think the worst thing about working in an office is how much time I spend sitting down. I try to get out for a walk every day but the busier I am, the harder it is to get away from my desk. I’ve had my own Garmin Vivofit for just under two years and it has been brilliant. It’s unobtrusive, tracks everything I need (I only really look at my steps, oh, and the time) and it works with my other fit tech (Garmin running watch and heart rate monitor). It has actually motivated me to get up and move more during the working day, and I like that my steps target for the day adjusts based on previous day’s activity levels (currently it’s about 3000 more steps than I’m used to because of all the Pokemon GO hunting I’ve been doing).
My sister says: I don’t know how I ever lived without this. Job searching can make you lacklustre and lazy and this device helped to get back the get up and go I was lacking. It really helps to get you moving and burn those calories off. When I started my new job I was constantly volunteering to go up and down the stairs for any errand so I could achieve my daily goal. Everyone should have one!
Contigo Grace Water Bottle
I’m constantly guzzling water now, so it is a bit surreal to remember the days when I was chronically dehydrated at work. I used to drink lots of tea and coffee and hardly any water, and I wondered why I always had a headache! One year, I made a resolution to drink at least 2l of water throughout the day and after a few weeks my headaches disappeared, I had a lot more energy and my skin started to look much better. It can be difficult to keep track of how many glasses I’m drinking though – especially if I’m busy – so when I noticed the headaches and lethargy creeping back, I invested in a Contigo Grace Water Bottle. I really like this bottle because it’s got markings so I can see how much I’m drinking and if I’m on track for the day. I wanted a water bottle that I didn’t have to unscrew every time I wanted to take a sip and that would not leak if I threw it in my gym bag. This water bottle is auto sealing, you press a small button to release it to take a sip. It doesn’t leak (although I did read a few reviews that said it leaks when not upright, perhaps this varies from bottle to bottle). It’s very robust, I’ve knocked it over and dropped it several times and it doesn’t have a scratch on it. The only down side is that the lid can be a bit fiddly to clean but other than that, great bottle.
My sister says: The only water bottle I’ve had which doesn’t leak and has saved me money on buying water from the shop every day. Handy to keep on a desk and lightweight enough to carry around with you when full.
Contigo Autoseal West Loop Travel Mug
Working in an office within stumbling distance of Starbucks, Costa and Nero means that I used to spend a lot of money on coffee. A lot! I don’t even want to add up how much I used to spend per month because I think it would make me feel sick. As I got more into my coffee and started appreciating the taste of the actual coffee (rather than the taste of the syrup in a bucket sized Caramel Macchiato) I realised how bad most of my takeaway coffees were – burnt coffee, burnt milk or both. Not to mention expensive. I could buy a whole bag of my absolute favourite but very expensive coffee (Hawaiian Kona, just in case you want to send me a present) for the same price as five days of bad to mediocre takeaway coffee. AND I could make it exactly the way I like.
I think I’ve successfully made the case for home made coffee, so why the Contigo travel mug? Well, firstly it keeps my coffee hot for a good amount of time (5 hours, give or take); I don’t need to unscrew the lid to take a sip so it’s perfect for my morning commute; it doesn’t leak and it looks good. It holds 470ml of liquid which is about the right size for my morning filter coffee! I really like the stainless steel but sadly I’ve dropped my mug a couple of times so mine is little scuffed (no dents or splits though), I bought one for my sister and one for my husband and theirs still look pristine.
My sister says: Again, this did not leak and kept my drinks warm until my morning break and even through til lunch time. It is also lightweight so I could carry both this and the water bottle without it weighing my bag down. This is a great way to save money and avoid spending £3-4 daily.
Happy Jackson Lunch Box and Happy Jackson Snack Box Set
The other thing I wasted money on when I started working was food. Not that I’m suggesting that buying food is a waste of money, but the lunchtime options available near my work are expensive and boring. I like bringing my own lunch with me because I can pack something that I’ll really look forward to eating and I know I won’t be spending upwards of £30 a week.
I have a bit of a thing about lunchboxes. I’ve own approximately 607 of them and I’m always on the lookout for more. I think a good lunchbox can turn a packed lunch from the lesser option of another slightly squashed cheese sandwich to something that I’m really looking forward to opening. I picked these because I love the cheeky design and I thought that the smaller snack boxes would be good for snacks, while the bigger lunch box could provide a home for all the others and have some space left for sandwiches. Possibly I’ve overestimated the amount my sister eats for lunch.
My sister says: There were two sizes which were used the most for my lunch needs but I really love the design of these. The lids are secure which is reassuring when you are taking salad and hummus in your bag for lunch. The smaller container was perfect for snacks such as cashews and apricots and the size helps with portion control.
Big thanks to my sister for providing the extra reviews for this post, she doesn’t have a blog but you can catch up with her on Instagram @snapsanne185