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Lifehack Review: The Ultimate Productivity Tool Kit from JetPens [Reviews]

Lifehack Review: The Ultimate Productivity Tool Kit from JetPens [Reviews]

Editor’s note: This is a review of an Analog Productivity Tool Kit that JetPens.com put together for the writer to try out and potentially review. These products were giving to the writer free of charge.

No matter what you think, we still need analog, real-world tools to get stuff done. Paper, pens, and pencils as well as carrying bags are needed in my job just as much as a computer is. I used them every day, all day.

When JetPens reached out to me offering to build me the Ultimate Analog Productivity Tool Kit, I dared them to try. Here is a review of the following items from JetPens:

The Nomadic CB–01 Wise-Walker

I wouldn’t say that I’m the pickiest person when it comes to bags and carrying my stuff, but I do appreciate a functional, durable, and useful bag. I’m an IT Manager by day that travels between two different facilities. When I say IT Manager, I really mean network administrator, system administrator, developer, QA, and project manager all-in-one type of guy. So, with that in mind, I have a decent amount of “stuff” that needs to be on me at all times.

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    When I first got the CB–01 Wise-Walker I was surprised at how compact the backpack actually was. I knew from reading and looking on the site that it was “smaller” than a full-size bag, but this thing is truly compact. The CB–01 is small, but just big enough to fit a 13” MacBook Pro and an iPad plus much more. Here is what I have crammed into my CB–01 and its 6+ compartments:

    • 13” MacBook Pro w/ charger
    • iPad 3rd generation
    • Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook (more on that in a minute)
    • 5 pens
    • 1 pencil
    • 25+ 3×5 notecards
    • iPhone charge cable and USB wall charger
    • Apple premium earbuds
    • 2 − 10’ Cat5E ethernet cables
    • 1TB external hard drive and cable
    • 2 USB thumb drives
    • Moleskine Cahier
    • umbrella
    • various papers and things that I pick up in my travels
    • some money

    This is just about what I would have in any other bag that I would carry, except all of the other bags were much larger. The only thing that needs “forced” to fit (and by that I mean it isn’t an absolute perfect fit) is the 13” MacBook Pro and the notebook together in the largest compartment. Also, there isn’t sufficient padding on the bottom of the large compartment to protect the bottom of the laptop. Technically, the Wise-Walker isn’t meant for carrying a laptop, but if you do decide to put one in, just make sure that you are careful with the laptop’s placement in the larger compartment.

      The straps on this bag are top notch as well with a little strap that you can connect the armstraps together. There are some small pockets to carry an ID or small cell phone in on the staps for easy access.

      One of the coolest features of the CB–01 is the “hidden” pocket built into the back of the pack. There is enough room in this pocket to fit a Kindle, small notebook, or even just a safer place to stick some money.

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      The material of the Wise-Walker is made of “rip stop” material which is the same that is used for parachutes. I haven’t had the chance to necessarily “test” this feature (nor would I want to) but the material is excellent quality and does seem quite durable. The overall build of the bag is superb with most of the bag’s seams being double stitched.

      Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook

      Even though we preach leading a more digital lifestyle here on Lifehack, we do still love us some paper products. When it comes to taking down some quick notes, brainstorming, quickly planning your day, or just free-writing, paper and pen is important.

      I do a lot of paper brainstorming for system design, database design, interface design, blog posts, presentation preperation, etc. so, trying out the Maruman during my day I quickly came to the conclusion that this is an excellent way to get your ideas down on paper and make sense of them. The Maruman has 70 sheets of one-sided, lightly graphed paper that has a smooth finish. The graph lines are only on one side, so I found myself taking notes or mind-mapping there while keeping my designs and other sketches that required ruling to be on the graph side.

        The front of the Maruman is made with a thin plastic to protect the pages. Its durable and I didn’t notice any issue with it coming in and out of the CB–01. The back cover is a thick piece of cardboard and it held up nicely as well. The binding of the Maruman is a unique ring binding that is dual ringed and made to be much more durable. I cringed at the fact that this was ringbound because of my somewhat horrible past dealing with crappy rings on paper notebooks. But these rings held up nicely and other than some slight bending, I noticed no issue with the binding whatsoever.

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          The only pencil I used on the Maruman is the infamous Pentel P205 and it worked like a charm. The two pens that shipped with my Productivity Pack from JetPens to try with the Maruman were the Pilot FriXion Ball Knock (blue) and the Uni-ball Signo UM–151 0.38 mm (black).

          I personally like thinner pens, so I took to the Uni-ball and used it primarily with the Maruman. The ink flowed well and I barely (if ever) had any hiccups with it while I was writing or drawing. Another thing that I like about this thin pen and paper combo was that the Uni-ball didn’t seem to “cut” the paper as I wrote. This tends to happen with inexpenisve paper and thin pens; the paper will be cut by the almost razor sharp pen tip. Not the case with the Maruman.

          I didn’t spend as much time with the Pilot FriXion pen, but the little I did it proved to be pretty handy to erase what I wrote. It really is the best of both worlds; having the smoothness and ease of writing with a gel ink pen but being able to erase it like a pencil. Let me tell you, the erasing of the pen works well and no ink is left behind. At most you have some indentation of the paper, but that’s it.

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            The only thing that is a hindrance with the Maruman is the cost: $29 for the A4 with 70 sheets. You have to really like this notebook to justify the cost. I would say that the paper is extremely high quality and if you want a notebook that will hold up then it’s worth the price. As of this writing though, the same notebook that I’m reviewing is 40% off with the offer code on the page.

            The Analog Productivity Tool Kit as a whole

            Did the Nomadic CB–01 Wise-Walker, the Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination Notebook, Pilot FriXion Ball Knock, and the Uni-ball Signo UM–151 0.38 mm help me get stuff done? Of course they did.

            I solved many network issues, planned a user interface for an issue tracking app for iPad and web, brainstormed ideas for a management review, outlined many blog posts, had a place to store all of the paper that makes its way into my life during the day with this productivity tool kit. I would have had to solve these problems without the kit as well, but having quality tools to get my job done makes my work easier and more enjoyable.

            If you are looking for a nice analog way to get stuff done, I recommend all of these items as they are high quality and provide you with a great place to store your stuff as well as your ideas.

            More by this author

            CM Smith

            A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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            Last Updated on February 20, 2019

            What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

            What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success

            Everybody makes bad decisions. Some people, however, are more capable of making better decisions that inch them closer to success. These individuals are not ruled by emotions, desires, or hunches. Rather, they depend on their analytical skills to overcome challenges regardless of urgency or complexity.

            What Are Analytical Skills?

            According to Richards J. Heuer Jr., former veteran of the CIA, “thinking analytically is a skill like carpentry or driving a car. It can be taught, it can be learned, and it can improve with practice. But unlike other skills, it is not learned by sitting in a classroom and being told how to do it. Analysts learn by doing.”[1]

            Analytical skill can be considered as one of the critical life skills that are not taught in schools.[2] It comprises of visualization, critical thinking, and abilities for gathering and processing information. Here’s a closer look at some of these abilities:

            • Visualization – Also tied to a person’s creativity, visualization is the ability to predict the possible outcomes of strategies and actions. On a professional setting, visualization involves the analysis of data – often through illustrations like charts, graphs, and detailed lists.

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            • Critical Thinking – Simply put, a person’s ability to think critically can be measured by his or her consistency in creating reasonable decisions. It pertains to the ability to evaluate information, siphon what’s useful, and draw conclusions without being swayed by emotions. As a critical thinker, you’ll find yourself challenging assertions and finding loopholes in proposed solutions.

            • Computing – Whether you like it or not, you need to be comfortable with numbers if you want to sharpen your analytical skills. Bear in mind that computing encompasses other skills like cost analysis, budgeting, and performing general calculations. In business, you need to use computations when weighing the risks and benefits of any given strategy.

            • Problem-Solving – Remember that analytical skills are used not just to understand problems, but also to develop the most suitable course or courses of action. This relates to your goal-setting skills, which involve breaking down and prioritizing between objectives.

            • Resource Management – Lastly, analytical skills involve some degree of resource management depending on the task at hand. For example, professionals with a tight schedule is must know how to effectively manage their own time – also known as one of the most important resources in the world. Business leaders, on the other hand, must know how manage company resources, including cash and manpower.

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            Take note that the definition of analytical skills may change to match the requirements of a specific situation. For example, upon hiring a web developer, analytical skills may refer to the ability to determine the needs of online users, understand web analytics for optimization, and identify visual elements that can match a company’s brand. The skill set above, however, should be applicable in most if not all scenarios.

            Develop Your Analytical Skills for More Growth Opportunities

            There’s no question that the right decisions lead to positive results. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a business or simply trying to climb the corporate ladder. By training your analytical skills, you position yourself for more growth opportunities while staying away from negligible actions you will regret.

            For example, you plan to launch a new startup in your local community – but struggle to decide the niche you want to enter. Since you’ve been a technophile your whole life, part of you desires to invest in a gadget store. If you’re passionate about your business, success will come – right?

            If you have sharp analytical skills, you begin to see your plans in whole new dimensions. What are the possible outcomes of this venture? Does the local market have a need for a new gadget store? How much do I need to get started – and how much should I sell to make a profit? Depending on your findings, you can determine the feasibility of your business idea without letting your emotions get in the way.

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            6 Ways to Strengthen Your Analytical Skills

            There are several approaches when it comes to developing an individual’s analytical skills. For instance, psychologists agree that reading fantasy stories as a child can help sharpen critical thinking.[3] Research also suggests that undergoing traditional education has a positive effect on a person’s IQ and analytical skills.[4]

            But as an adult, such opportunities to hone your analytical skills no longer apply. That’s why you need to devise a more deliberate, active approach yourself. Below are a few strategies to get you started:

            1. Ideate Business Ideas – Developing a profitable business idea, whether you pursue them or not, involves numerous challenges. You need a ton of research, computations, and problem-solving to create a tangible business plan. You can organize your ideas with a note-taking tool like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote. Doing so will allow you to delve deeper into your analysis, organize your findings, and stay focused on roadblocks as well as how to solve them.

            2. Leverage Analytical Tools – Aside from note-taking tools, you can also leverage other software that can help with analytical tasks. A money management app like Mint, for example, makes it easy to track your spending habits as well as manage your budget with visual tools. When it comes to prioritizing goals, you can use simple task management apps like Trello or Wunderlist.

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            3. Have a Personal Learning Library – Thanks to the internet, there’s a colossal amount of resources you can utilize to learn new skills, expand your vocabulary, and train your visualization muscles. Social media networks like SlideShare and YouTube, for example, offer mountains of tutorials you can access to your heart’s content. For a personalized learning library, you can download Instagram videos or GIFs from educational accounts like NASA Goddard and the American Mathematical Society. But if you prefer specific, technical skills, then a good place to start would be online learning platforms like Coursera, edX, and Alison.

            4. Participate in Online Communities – The internet is a great place to share experiences, opinions, and sometimes intellectual discussions with like-minded individuals. Reddit, for example, has a place or “subreddit” dedicated for every topic imaginable – from technology to entrepreneurship. For structured debates, you can head to websites like Debate.org and let other users choose the winner via votes.

            5. Seek Mental Stimulation – To keep your mind sharp, make it a habit to engage in mentally stimulating activities such as chess, puzzles, and brain training apps. A great resource would be Lumosity, which contains dozens of cognitive games designed by teams of scientists and game designers.

            6. Keep a Personal Journal – Finally, keeping a personal journal allows you to take a second look at everything that happened in your day.[5] Remember that writing about learning experiences lets you focus on the lesson rather than the emotion. It will help you analyze how you made your decisions, why you came to certain conclusions, and what you can do to improve in the future.

            As an adult, you are required to face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. Work, school, business, relationships – the list goes on when it comes to the sources of life’s problems. With analytical skills, you can confront and overcome any obstacle standing between you and your goals.

            Reference

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