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Are you a sucker for top tools, recommended resources, and favorites lists? Here are nine items that I regret not investing in sooner that will be helpful in both your business and everyday life.
Original blog post: 5 Items I Regret Not Investing in Sooner
Hey, there, I’m Amy Chaplin, and this is episode 87 of The Piano Pantry Podcast. Are you a sucker for top tools, recommended resources, and favorites lists? I am! In fact, one of the first ideas I had for the Piano Pantry blog back in 2016 was a weekly series called Friday Finds. This reader favorite is a place where I share a random list of all kinds of good things I’ve recently discovered. So, I am totally your girl on this!
Today’s episode was actually inspired by a similar post I did on the blog in 2018 called 5 Items I Regret Not Investing In Sooner. While those items are still part of this list, I’ve expanded it quite a bit. I’ll be sharing more than 10 items today that I definitely regret not purchasing sooner that will be helpful in your business and everyday life.
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Money conversations are a tricky thing because while I might say I regret not investing in some of these things sooner, the truth is, you still have to have the funds to purchase those things – even if they make life easier. First and foremost, we have to consider and manage our personal and business finances with what we have, and when it comes down to if an item isn’t directly making you more money…, then maybe you have to hold off.
Sometimes, though, when I put off purchasing things, it’s often more about the act of just getting it done than lack of money – whether it’s lack of time to research or just holding off to see if you can “get by” without it. Am I right?
Many of the items I’m sharing today are direct business tools for your studio and a legitimate tax write-off. Once I finally purchased many of these items, I really did wonder why in the world it took me so long to do so, which is why I really wanted to share these with you today. Everything will be linked for you in the show notes.
In no particular order…First up is one that, as an organized person, I feel really silly over not getting sooner in my life, and that’s a LABEL MAKER. Crazy, I know! The thing is, I have terrible handwriting, so I don’t know why it took me so long to get one. It’s not like it was even an expensive item! I don’t have anything fancy – just a Dymo Letra Tag Label Maker I probably bought from Walmart. I love using it for printing and labeling student file folders, printing their names for student binders and books, and more. My husband grabs it a lot as well, whether it’s for labeling breakers in the electrical box or chord wires.
Next is an ELECTRIC WATER KETTLE. I didn’t even know these existed back in the day until we spent three years living in Australia and discovered it was normal for every house to have one. We’re not even tea drinkers, and we still find it really handy to have in the kitchen. It boils water much faster than on the stovetop. We currently have and love the OXO Brew Cordless Glass Electric Kettle. It’s beautiful.
Third on my list is a HIGH QUALITY MICROPHONE. The pandemic was enough to teach us ALL that lesson. I have a Blue Yeti and have been very happy with it. I’ve heard some sources online say it’s one of the best, but other sources say that they just have a big marketing budget. it. So, who knows. The microphone I bought was around $130, and the next step up I’ve considered was a $300-$400 Shure microphone, but I’m not ready for that level of investment quite yet. Do make sure you get a pop screen to help minimize puffing sounds created when speaking plosive consonants such as p/t/k/ and such.
The fourth item I wanted to share with you today is a BETTER ERGONOMIC SETUP for your workspace, including an ergonomic mouse and keyboard. We’re Logitech fans over here. I actually use the Logitech Vertical mouse – which takes a little getting used to, but, for me, it is so much better than a regular-style mouse or trackpad. I pair the mouse with a mousepad that also has a wristwrest which helps a TON.
My keyboard is the Logitech wireless ergonomic keyboard with a wrist rest. It’s split down the middle and angled in a slight arch so it shapes the natural shape of your hand rather than forcing the hand to a flat surface like on a laptop. Like the mouse, it took a bit of getting used to – especially as the way it splits means the number 6 is closer to my left hand than my right, but other than that, it wasn’t too bad to get used to it.
I would also recommend considering how you sit at your desk and if it’s ergonomically correct. During the years we lived in Australia, I worked as a temporary relief worker in a lot of offices. One result of what I learned there is that I now use an adjustable footrest, and I LOVE it. It’s really helped my shorter legs rest in a more comfortable position in relation to my office chair height.
I’m also going to combine the next two items into my fifth recommendation because they are both items I would only recommend you spend money on if you like using a lot of games that require print and cutting. The first is a good quality paper cutter. I was lucky to inherit one from my husband when we first got married, as he already had one from the photography work he was doing. It’s a Rotatrim Pro 12-inch Cut Professional. I particularly love that it doesn’t have one of those huge arm handles. The cutter slides along a steel bar horizontally instead. The other item that’s great for those doing lots of printable games is a large self-healing cutting mat. I’ll admit, I don’t use mine that much anymore, but in the days when I was doing a lot of cutting and trimming, it was a nice work surface to have, and I definitely regretted not buying it in my first year of teaching. By the time I finally did get it, I had already done a ton of work printing and cutting. I was a little too late.
Sixth up on this recommended items list... Whether or not you use a lot of printable games in your studio, I think a LAMINATOR is still a must. Not just any laminator, though – a good heavy-duty professional grade one. My Apache laminator is a little bigger than some of the basic laminators, but still sits nicely on a tabletop and is really sturdy.
Seventh on my list is a personal item, and that’s an ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH. This might be a little personal, but hey, we’re just living life here, right?! Electric toothbrushes have improved quite a bit over the years. We get the one our dentist recommends, which is, I think, an Oral B. My impatience and enthusiasm with my toothbrush in the past meant I was getting scolded for receding gums from too vigorous of brushing. A soft-bristled brush paired with an electric toothbrush that tells me when I’m pressing too hard is a combination for a good report from my dentist – one that was worth the extra investment.
I’m going to pair up once again the next three items into number eight because they feel very similar, and that’s STANDS – I’m talking good quality tripods and music stands. At a minimum, we really need a good short tripod for our smartphones AND a tall, expandable stand with clips that will hold both our smartphones and tablets. As for music stands, I realize voice or instrumental studios might use them more often than piano studios, but I can’t tell you how many times I found myself wanting to grab a music stand for whatever reason and not having one. We’re running music studios, for goodness sake. Have a music stand on hand.
I’m going to cut myself here at number nine because I could probably keep going, but if I did, it would make the items on the list seem less important in a way.
Number 9 is a big one for me and one you will probably be shocked to hear I DIDN’T have for a long time, and that’s a portable computer – a laptop. I realize everyone works differently, and you may really NOT need the ability to take your computer anywhere with you, but I do, and I waited WAY too long to make that investment.
I started my business in 2011 with what we had – a desktop computer with a big tower base. It didn’t seem necessary at first, but once I started presenting at conferences in 2014, I felt the challenge of not having something. So, I bought the biggest iPad I could, the 12.9” Apple iPad Pro – which was actually just what I needed for my church job so I could have a large screen for reading digital sheet music. That, paired with an Apple Smart Keyboard, acted like a portable computer for me for a while, but once I started doing the digital coaching, I told my husband it had been long enough.
For probably a good six months after finally making the purchase, every time I was working on my laptop from anywhere other than my desk, I looked at him and was like….WHY! WHY did we not do this sooner?! In my mind, I knew laptops were more expensive than desktop computers, and – like I said at the beginning – I was getting by – so I didn’t make much effort to take that step. Once we did, though, it was a game changer and is now absolutely necessary for the work I do.
Speaking of, don’t forget you can now be part of the work I do here on the podcast by joining my new Patreon community. Visit PianoPantry.com/patreon today.
Don’t forget to jump into the show notes to find links to everything I talked about today.
Today’s tiny tip is sticking with the whole theme of regrets – which doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?! LOL. No, really, I have been a podcast junkie for years and years. Now that I’m a podcaster myself, one regret I have is not making the effort to take a moment to jump into Apple Podcasts to rate and review all the shows I was enjoying and gleaning from.
Our time is so precious, I know, and it’s hard to do those little extras, I get it, but if there’s anything I can say to listeners who aren’t also content creators is…we need you! Patreon may not be your thing, but you can support the podcast in a REALLY easy way by taking 5 minutes to rate and review. I’ve made it really easy for you, too. If you visit PianoPantry.com and hover over the podcast link in the menu, there are very clear instructions and screenshots of what that process looks like from both a mobile device and a desktop.
Now, I don’t want to make you think it’s HARD just because I have instructions showing you how to do it. It’s actually quite easy. I know that sometimes it’s nice to be able to glance at a visual that shows ME how to do something without having to use brain power to figure it out myself.
Thanks in advance, everyone, and we’ll see you next week!