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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 October 16, 2019

            Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

            Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

            Do you like making mistakes?

            I certainly don’t.

            Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

            Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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            Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

            Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

            • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
            • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
            • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
            • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

            We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

            If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

            Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

            Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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            When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

            Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

            We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

            It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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            Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

            Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

            Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

            1. Point us to something we did not know.
            2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
            3. Deepen our knowledge.
            4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
            5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
            6. Inform us more about our values.
            7. Teach us more about others.
            8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
            9. Show us when someone else has changed.
            10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
            11. Remind us of our humanity.
            12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
            13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
            14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
            15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
            16. Invite us to better choices.
            17. Can teach us how to experiment.
            18. Can reveal a new insight.
            19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
            20. Can serve as a warning.
            21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
            22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
            23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
            24. Remind us how we are like others.
            25. Make us more humble.
            26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
            27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
            28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
            29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
            30. Expose our true feelings.
            31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
            32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
            33. Point us in a more creative direction.
            34. Show us when we are not listening.
            35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
            36. Can create distance with someone else.
            37. Slow us down when we need to.
            38. Can hasten change.
            39. Reveal our blind spots.
            40. Are the invisible made visible.

            Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

            The secret to handling mistakes is to:

            • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
            • Have an experimental mindset.
            • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

            When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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            When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

            It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

            When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

            Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

            Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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            Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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