The new year brings with it a perfect opportunity to make life improvements, or at least pretend to do so. This month's column, therefore, is about making you more productive, better organized (with a touch of eco-related ingenuity), enhancing the air around you -- as well as adding a bit of fun to our otherwise busy lives. Even better, everything can be ordered online, so accessibility should not be an issue, or an excuse (as long as you live in Japan).

It may not be pretty (and some will find it downright monstrous), but the Easy Desk Aluminum will come as a godsend for anyone who ever regularly sits a notebook computer on their lap for long periods of time (the fast processors and titanium cases of Apple Powerbooks and MacBook Pros in particular are legendary for their scorching effect). Give thanks to Thanko (really, that's the company's name) for this portable desk, which can be set up in many different configurations, from a simple stand-like position, to one for lying down that gives the laziest of us reason to rejoice. The six adjustment points not only make it easier to find the perfect configuration, but also make storage easy. Purchase it online from Thanko's Rare Mono Shop ( for just under 7,000 yen.

Why not begin the new year with something nicer than the typical throwaway calendar by selecting one that also promotes ecological concerns. That's what you get with Yomiko Advertising's Waste Me Not (Mottainai) Calendar, winner of a number of awards this past year in the field of communication design. It's a great idea; each "day" on the monthly pages can be ripped off, with the back serving as a memo note, and the calendar itself can be folded into a holder for said notes. Each page's photo continues the theme of recycling, with a surprisingly attractive collection of images of garbage that are accompanied by recycling tips. The Waste Me Not Calendar 2007 sells for 2,520 yen, and can be ordered online from Yomiko (, or at most shops and stalls selling calendars throughout the city.