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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

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            Last Updated on August 15, 2018

            25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

            25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

            Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

            Or even better:

            What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

            You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

            Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

            How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

            The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

            In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

            • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
            • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
            • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

            As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

            Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

            Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

            But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

            his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

            5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

            Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

            But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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            1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
            2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
            3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
            4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
            5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

            Who can use Excel shortcuts?

            There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

            • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
            • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
            • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
            • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

            Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

            With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

            25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

            Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

            1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

            If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

            2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

            If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

            If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

            3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

            Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

            =sum(

            …and then press F3.

            When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

            4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

            Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

            =match(

            …and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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            When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

            But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

            5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

            If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

            • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
            • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
            • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
            • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
            • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

            6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

            By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

            The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

            For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

            A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

            7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

            When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

            8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

            When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

            9. Use filtering

            Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

            It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

            To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

            10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

            Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

            Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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            To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

            11. See formula results with F9

            If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

            Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

            12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

            If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

            13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

            Here’s how to use EDATE:

            =EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

            =EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

            14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

            Here’s how to use EMONTH:

            =EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

            =EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

            15. Remove spaces with TRIM

            TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

            16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

            In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

            17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

            When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

            And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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            18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

            If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

            19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

            Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

            You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

            20. Use data validation

            This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

            • Create dependent drop-down lists;
            • Create drop-down lists;
            • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

            21. Use conditional formatting

            It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

            22. Use formula auditing

            This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

            The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

            23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

            Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

            It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

            24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

            INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

            25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

            OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

            The bottom line

            As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

            That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

            If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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