My Favorite Products From 2020, Part One

Below is an excerpt from my post at You can go there now to read the full post:

We’ll get this out of the way real quick: 2020 sucked for the most part. Beyond all of the obvious bits as to why it was a crap year, without commutes or any semblance of a social calendar we all became very familiar with the interior of our dwellings. Some left cities for greener pastures, some painted every last wall they could cover, and I in a largely technology-focused way thought it would be a good time to optimize my environment given the circumstance.

It seemed like every aspect of my home and digital life went under scrutiny to figure out if it could be better than it was. No doubt there is still plenty to improve in the areas of my health, time management, etc. but at least for the things that could easily be controlled I dug in to see what could be updated.

This is part 1 of a roundup of many of the products I discovered in 2020 that made a meaningful improvement in my home, digital life, overall wellbeing, or happiness. It’s not comprehensive by any means, but rather a snapshot of the products I felt had the most impact. Sometime later I’ll likely go back to a few of these and dig in as to the many reasons I find them so great, but for now I’ll share the highlights. The order that follows is generally what I’d consider the most to least impactful.


Check it out here:

Next to my Apple Watch, no product has been more impactful on my fitness and overall health than the Peloton Bike that I got in February 2020. This year from March to October, according to my Apple Watch, I averaged over 975 kcals of active energy burn daily. That is almost 2x what I had done the year prior. Throughout the year my resting heart rate slowed almost 10%, and despite some anxiety and things related to the issues of the world, my sleep was actually improving.

Now, it’s not like I was banging out some crazy ride every day. Sure, while there might have been some weeks where I rode practically every day, that’s not what got me to such a high rate of activity. It was just that my Peloton helped to encourage better habits. I no longer had an excuse for inactivity on days that were rainy. If my Apple Watch told me I was a little low on my activity for the day, I’d just hop on for 15 minutes and ride a bit. The Peloton kept my fitness flywheel (pun intended) going so I was always able to remain active.

No doubt it’s a luxury product, an expensive one at that. But by setting it up through the Affirm financing, its cost became roughly similar to that of a big city gym — something that seemed more manageable. Having had it now for almost a year I can say without a doubt that I’d recommend it to anyone.

Roam Research

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In much the same way that my Peloton had a dramatic impact on my fitness, Roam has ushered in the most dramatic change to my personal productivity and note taking habits, by far. I’ve tried just about every productivity tool under the sun and often find that while each have their merits, the truth is that few have ever stuck for me. Along those lines, ages ago I tried Roam and found at the time that it wasn’t quite for me.

Something shifted though as I dug deeper into the “Roam Cult”. Seeing how well it was working for others, I knew I had to be missing something — so into the YouTube rabbit hole I went. What I found was a wealth of inspiration for how others were using Roam effectively, and it laid out a path around how I might be able to achieve the same.

What’s different about Roam is in how you write and how it’s organized. Most software puts the organization up front — you select your folders, create a new note, and then start writing within it. Roam flips that on its head and your entry point is an automatically generated note each day, with powerful organizational methods and tools that you can employ after the fact.

Nowadays I write thousands of words daily, into meeting notes, journal entries, execution notes on things I’m working on, etc. Over time my Roam database has turned into my own personal Wikipedia where I can revisit the thoughts in my past, ideas I continue to tinker on, and conversations I’d like to remember. It’s become my second brain.

While it’s not for the faint of heart, its intimidating nature can be subdued a bit with some walkthrough videos. Roam has been a once-in-a-decade kind of software product for me.

Eight Sleep

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2019 Matt did not know what thermoregulation was, but 2020 Matt was happy to discover it after a few months of some challenging sleep. At the beginning of the year, I was having some rough nights. Added to that was my quarantine-triggered increase in alcohol consumption, and mounds of new anxieties on top. So as the year ticked on, and I was able to get many of the variables that were leading to my poor sleep under control, I kept hearing about this “thermoregulation” thing and became intrigued.

As I would make my daily rounds on Twitter, I kept seeing a new company pop up over and over again among some of the more health conscious people I knew: Eight Sleep. They had a mattress and mattress cover that used water, both heated and cooled, to regulate one’s temperature while in bed. As someone who runs quite hot under the covers, this whole prospect interested me greatly. What if I could just slap their Pod Pro cover on my mattress and get *even better* sleep?

Well as you can probably guess, it’s the third up on my list because it worked. Within just a few short weeks I was noticing that my sleep sessions were longer, deeper, and more restorative. I was less groggy in the mornings, and my sometimes five and six hour nights of sleep were turning into seven, eight, and (as was two nights ago) nine hours long! As with many health-related products everyone’s personal mileage might vary, but my Eight Sleep Pod Pro cover seems like it’ll go far for me.

Continued at…

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Dad, Midwesterner, product designer, coffee snob, craft beer lover, GIF enthusiast.