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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 December 4, 2020

            10 Best Task List Apps to Boost Productivity in 2020

            10 Best Task List Apps to Boost Productivity in 2020

            Organizational drag is anything that eats up time and keeps people from getting things done in time. Companies that wish to boost productivity do so by creating more efficient processes.

            This also applies to individuals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. Whether you work alone or as part of a team, it is important to use the right tools to boost productivity, and having an accessible and easily manageable task list can go a long way.

            Here is a list of the top ten productivity apps that you can use to achieve more.

            1. ToDoist

              ToDoist is an awesome to-do task list app that is used by over 10 million people. To use the app, you just have to write down all the activities that you plan to do. The software will then interpret these activities and categorize the tasks accordingly.

              For instance, if you create a task to go for lunch at noon with a friend, the app will automatically categorize this task as a meeting and will send you a reminder at the right time.

              However, this app is more than a personal activity planner. You can use it to plan activities for the entire team. It is also good for planning entire projects, discussing details about the project, and monitoring the deadlines.

              The basic functionality is free, but you can unlock premium features for $36 or $60 a year for full access.

              Available on iOS and Android

              2. monday.com

                This productivity app lets you manage your workflows and tasks. It is a great tool for creating a task list and helping you have a clear view of your work and the status of each task.

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                The app is a bit similar to a spreadsheet. However, it looks much nicer, and it allows you to toggle between multiple views. It gives you alerts and notifications, and it allows you to attach files as well as communicate with colleagues.

                The features of Monday.com include a task board that can be customized to manage due date, hours spent, task status, and much more. Users can upload and attach files, make comments, mention members of their team, and more. It can also be integrated into Google Drive, Slack, GitHub, Jira, Dropbox, and many other platforms.

                If you have problems setting it up, you can contact the customer via email or phone.

                Available on iOS and Android

                3. CloudApp

                  CloudApp is a great app for boosting productivity. It offers highly intuitive communication, which can help you save up to 56 hours a week. Your only problem will be deciding how you can utilize all the extra time.

                  Whether you are talking with a customer, colleague, or client, this app has all the features you need. With GIFs, screenshots, and image annotation, you no longer have to write lengthy emails. Instead, you can show people what you want them to do.

                  The app has over 3 million users. It has proven quite reliable when it comes to helping users to boost productivity. You can opt for the free version or you can opt for a $9 a month upgrade to access premium features.

                  Available on iOS

                  4. Quip

                    If you are working closely with members of your team, Quip is a great app for team activities. The platform combines spreadsheets, documents, slides, and chat. Its main strength is that it comes with a suite of Live Apps. You can use them to increase the functionality of Quip.

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                    Moreover, you will waste less time by being able to streamline the use of various tools. Quip is one of the most adaptable productivity apps in the world.

                    There are options to use connected tools to track time, manage work, and much more. Some of the integrations of Quip are Dropbox, Github, Slack, Salesforce, and much more. The app costs just $30 a month for 5 users.

                    Available on iOS and Android

                    5. Trello

                      Trello is an app that makes managing projects an easy task. This is made possible by the app’s Kanban philosophy. It is a visual and intuitive platform.

                      Users can break huge tasks into small chunks, making it useful for creating a task list. This is made possible by creating cards for each task. The cards can be organized into different columns, which are representative of various stages of the project. Once a task is complete, a card is moved from one column to the next.

                      The app is free but it comes with a premium plan with $9.99 a month.

                      Available on iOS and Android

                      6. Focus Keeper

                        This app is perfect for those who wish to improve their work habits and minimize distractions while maintaining focus on current tasks. Focus Keeper is based on the Pomodoro technique. This method utilizes timeboxing to ensure each task is complete.

                        This is more than a task list app. If you wish to understand how you work best, the app delivers a suite of tools that you can use to set up your workday. It tracks your hours, analyzes, checks interruptions, and much more. Some of the integrations of Focus Keeper are Trello, Asana, Todoist, Basecamp, Outlook, Google Keep, and many others.

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                        The app costs $2.99 a month for those who wish to access premium features. It is accessible on Linux, iOS, Android, web, macOS, and Windows.

                        Available on iOS and Android

                        7. Quire

                          This app is designed as a professional and personal to-do task list manager. The app has a very efficient and optimized design due to the developers’ philosophy on visual task management. It allows you to easily get updates and work with your teammates.

                          The app also allows users to customize and choose templates based on their preferences. It is easy to use, but it helps you get things done. The app is currently free.

                          Available on iOS and Android

                          8. Asana

                            This Kanban-style app is quite popular. It helps you visually organize your tasks. With this app, you can set deadlines, tasks, assignees, and visualize your workflow. It is quite popular and used by many people.

                            The app features a sleek clutter-free design and comes with several integrations. As a result, it can be adapted to a wide range of projects. The app costs $9.99 a month.

                            Available on iOS and Android

                            9. Toggl

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                              You can use this simple time tracker to help boost your team’s productivity. It works on different devices across several platforms, and it comes with numerous friendly reminders to ensure that you remember to keep it on. It usually sends you a report once you complete a task to help you make improvements next time.

                              The app is free and those who wish to access premium features pay $9 a month.

                              Available on iOS and Android

                              10. Omni Focus

                                This app is considered the gold standard of the to-do apps. Omni Focus delivers a huge number of features that can be used to sort, prioritize, and plan tasks. It features several ways to categorize tasks such as location, energy needed, and priority.

                                It is only available on Apple devices and it costs $39.99 for the standard package.

                                Available on iOS

                                Summary

                                All the apps above are great for boosting productivity. However, you will need to pick one that best suits your needs. Try a number of them out before you decide to settle on one.

                                More Tools for Productivity

                                Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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