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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 January 21, 2020

            What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

            What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

            Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

            Can I Be Creative?

            The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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            How Creativity Works

            Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

            What Really Is Creativity?

            Creativity Needs an Intention

            Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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            Creativity Is a Skill

            At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

            Start Connecting the Dots

            Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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