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Stationery Pr0n: Japanese Pens and More from JetPens.com

Stationery Pr0n: Japanese Pens and More from JetPens.com

Stationery Pr0n: Japanese Pens and More from JetPens.com

    Geeks tend to love pens, notebooks, and office gadgets. Some of the most popular posts here at Lifehack have been about pens and other stationery. Let us loose in a Staples or Office Max and we’re like kids in a candy shop. We can’t pass a stationery shop without feeling at least a twinge of desire – and usually without dropping some of our hard-earned money inside. And of course, there’s our love affair with the Moleskine…

    Sure, it’s a pointless pursuit and probably a waste of time and money. Sure, there’s the danger of fiddling too much with the latest cool organization gadget and not actually getting work done. Yes, it’s a kind of pornography for some of us – and almost illicit pursuit of sheer pleasure.

    But it is a pleasure. To write a note across finely-grained paper with a free-flowing pen that has just the right heft and width is a sheer joy. To pack your bag with tools that beg you to touch, hold, and use them is a delight. And therein lies the rub – because while an expensive pen or just the right grade of paper shouldn’t make us any more productive, often it actually does. We itch to get to work, for the simple gratification that comes of using the tool that perfectly fits us.

    So when someone at JetPens.com, a seller of imported Japanese pens, stationery, and other gewgaws contacted me and asked if I’d like to try some of their products, of course I said “yes”. Japan is like the Mother Ship for stationery buffs, and JetPens.com sells a variety of unique, not-to-be-found-in-the-US items. They also specialize in ultra-fine-tipped pens and pencils, which can be difficult to find in the US.

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    After playing with… I mean “using”, of course – after using the stuff they sent me for the last week or so, I thought I’d share with Lifehack readers some of the things I liked and what I didn’t find much use for. I should add that JetPens.com isn’t paying me, aside from offering me the samples. Lifehack’s editorial policy is that while we do accept products for review from time to time, we only review them if we think that doing so will be of value to our readers. JetPens.com’s offerings are so unusual or hard-to-find elsewhere, that I think most Lifehack readers would love to check them out.

    Let’s start with the pens!

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      Pilot Frixion Point 0.4mm:

      Pilot’s new Frixion pens are erasable, but totally unlike the crappy erasable pens of the past! Those had gloppy ink and abrasive erasers that never seemed to really get the job done. You’d expect better from the people that brought us the beloved G2 gel pens, and the Frixion doesn’t disappoint. The heat-sensitive ink is fluid and smooth, and dries quickly so it doesn’t smear. Best of all, it erases with friction – rubbing the pen’s solid rubber eraser tip over your writing generates heat (without wearing away or leaving residue) causing the writing to simply disappear. Completely. You can easily write over it, erase again, and write over that – forever, as far as I could tell. The .4mm point is great for printing; I found it a little scratchy for cursive writing. I’m a little worried about the durability of the ink – US packaging suggests that they not be used for official documents. This is the ideal pen to pair with a Moleskine-based to-do list.

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        Uni-ball Signo DX 0.28mm: The Signo is a gel ink pen that writes very smoothly and cleanly. The 0.28mm line is astoundingly thin, allowing for super-small writing – this is a great pen for filling out forms! I thought I wouldn’t like the tiny little cap, but it clicks onto both ends so solidly that I ended up liking it a lot (though I’m sure I’ll forget to click it to the end some time and that will be the last time I ever see it).

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          Zebra Clip-On Multi: I don’t normally like multi-function pens, but this one’s pretty nice – it has the usual 4 colors of ink (black, red, green, and blue) operated by color-coded levers, plus a 0.5mm mechanical pencil operated by clicking the whole clip assembly down. I say “clip assembly” because it’s more than just a clip – the clip is on a spring-loaded swivel that allows you to clip it to whole notepads, leather padfolios, and so on. The ink is fine, nothing special – this one’s all about the form factor.

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            Uni-ball Kuru Toga 0.3mm Pencil: The finest mechanical pencil I’ve ever used is a 0.5mm pencil, and those are a pain – the lead breaks all the time. This pencil has even finer lead, but its auto-rotation mechanism is supposed to minimize breakage by turning the lead a bit every time you life the pencil, preventing the creation of a brittle chisel-point. It seems to work, though it’s hard to know much about something that doesn’t happen. I keep the lead pretty long and it feels pretty sturdy – and I wrote a couple test paragraphs without any breakage.

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              Kokuyu Beetle Tip 3-Way Highlighter: One of the store’s more unusual products, the Beetle Tip highlighter is named for it’s unusual two-pronged head (which didn’t really remind me of a beetle, but whatever…). The tip integrates fine and chisel points, allowing thick highlighting over text or thin underlining. The two can be used together to make double lines, one over and one under the line of text being highlighted. Which all seems pretty neat, but I found it hard to get and hold just the right angle to use it any of its 3 modes, especially for double-lines.

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                You can click on the writing sample above to get a full-sized image — hopefully that gives you a pretty good idea of what each pen writers like. Now, on to the rest of the JetPens.com package:

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                  Kadokeshi Stick Eraser: This is an odd bird, but handy – an eraser that’s all corners! The latex eraser twists up (like a Chapstick) and is shaped like a bunch of cubes stuck together, offering 28 corners. Great for fine work, and erases without ripping up your paper. I’m not crazy about the screw-off cap, though – it’s attached to the mechanism you twist to advance the eraser, and it’s all ultra-clear plastic, so you have to look pretty close to make sure you’re twisting right.

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                    Nomadic PD-04 Roller Pencil Case: This is a standard-sized pencil case with a roll-out “scroll” that has 5 pen pockets and two small pockets for erasers, paper clips, or similarly small doodads. It’s all very neat and tidy, but I am simply not this organized about my pens – I’d just as soon keep them in my pocket! That’s not to say I don’t use pencil cases – I do – but to hold a lot more than 5 pens. Unfortunately, if you stuff the body of this full of pens, it makes getting the scroll in and out kind of awkward. I imagine there are people out there who love this sort of thing, but I really don’t see myself getting much use out of it.

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                      Kukoyo Systemic Special Cover Refillable Notebook: This refillable notebook cover is pretty handy, and elegant enough for business use. It’s basically an A4-sized (about 6” x 8”) canvas folder – the black part in the image above forms a pocket so you can stick business cards, notes, and other papers in (there’s a pocket on the front and another on the back). There are two ribon bookmarks inside, and the elastic closure to hold it all together. JetPens.com sells refill notebooks, but what really excited me is that medium-sized Moleskine Cahier and Volant notebooks (the soft-cover pads) fit perfectly.

                      This is only a small sample of the stuff JetPens.com offers. Most of it is reasonably affordable, at least in the same ballpark as their Office Depot counterparts. Several of the pens above come in fancier “business-y” styles, with nicer barrels and a less disposable look, too. The whole site is worth looking through – I haven’t even touched on the various art pens and markers.

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                      The Gentle Art of Saying No

                      The Gentle Art of Saying No

                      No!

                      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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                      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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                      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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                      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

                      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
                      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
                      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
                      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
                      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
                      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
                      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
                      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
                      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
                      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

                      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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