Overview: Little Things Will Ease or Disease Productivity Efforts
A common thread binds folks working a standard 9-5 job in an office owned by another, with those tending to work chores as an independent within a home office: tools. More precisely, tools encouraging vs discouraging productivity while confronting assorted tasks.
A skipping ink pen chases brainstorming ideas into the ether. Erasures coaxing a hole in the page aggravate, killing “da flow.” Reaching for blotting paper courtesy of a paper and ink mismatch works against one’s workflow.
The good news: bad news, in terms of poor experiences, educate. Net result: my 11 faves, used for years with consistent delight. That short list of no-fuss no-irks lemme-work tools follows.
(No affiliate/sponsored links. I pass these on for one reason: helps me, may help thee.)
1️⃣ Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer for Office/Home Use, MWBLKPDQ-RB
(5.15.2019 update: Not a Mr. Coffee. My prior link died, so I found a substitute for ya.)
The cord runs short, so you’ll need an extension cord. If you want Alexa turn-on goodness, I strongly suggest a Wemo switch for one reason: you can configure the built-in switch to auto-turn-off the warmer after the number of minutes or hours you select. Crucial!
Whether hot tea, chocolate, coffee or another beverage, you’ll never confront a mug of chilled liquid again. It won’t retain the super heat experienced when first poured, but the mug’s contents will remain hot enough to satisfy with each sip. Time once spent at the nuker (microwave), replaced with focused work. More done in less time. Oh yeahhhhh!
2️⃣ Kokuyo Campus Student Eraser – For 2B Lead
Every 0.5mm mechanical pencil in my possession hosts the same lead: 4B. The darkness simulates rich black ink, yet remains friendly to editing. The down side of 4B lead manifests during erasure attempts. Standard erasers threaten to tear the paper as the leads print stubbornly remains in view.
This Campus eraser uniquely delights because it:
- remains flexible forever → Expose most erasers to air for a week or two, and you’ll find a mini brick in your hand. This little dude retains its softness for, literally, over a year. Translation: no inadvertent marring or tearing of the targeted paper.
- lasts forever → My habit: slice each Campus eraser in half upon receipt. Why? Experience informs: NO fear I’ll run out, evahhhh. The sole telltale sign of usage appears as rounded edges. Heck, I even write the date of acquisition on each, just cuz I can. Situated on the stand beside me as I tap out this post? ½ of a Campus dated 10.2016. Insane!
- yields minimal booglies → Whaddaya call the doohickys littering the page post-erasures? Yeah, I could google it, but you know what I’m talkin’ bout. With all other erasers (this stationery nerd has tried dang near all of ’em), the booglies run rampant. With the Campus, one or two little lonely booglies drop fat tears as they search in vain for their brethren. Suhweet!
- banishes shadows! → (adopted Southern accent time) Y’all best be sho ya don’t need ANY part of what you’re erasin’, cuz it be goene (rhymes with cone). No ghost of what was. No shadow words. Just the page, period. As it should be.
3️⃣ Kokuyo A5 Slim Idea Booklets
✦︎ $9.40/ 2-pack (also available in kinda-B6 size)
A before-the-pen snapshot of an Idea page, as I prep it for the day’s time blocking. A true thrill– the built-in margin, making it dirt easy to add eyeball-pulling signifiers during subsequent review sessions. This highlights the one rule my tools MUST honor: work WITH, not against, me. (Also explains why I evicted Microsoft, Adobe, Windows, and other massive irritants years ago.)
40 sheets (80 pages) may sound puny, but the line spacing —around 3.5mm grid— effects the useful space of 100+ page competing journals. Standing as THE best bargain in Tomoe River town, this booklet satisfies in most respects.
Fair warning: Kokuyo’s Tomoe River paper seems somewhat slick on the surface, at least to my peepers. Result: fountain pens coax a watch-paint-dry syndrome. I made my peace with the would-be hassle by switching to Pilot Juice 0.38mm or Pilot Juice Up 0.3mm or 0.4mm gel pens. The combo encourages fidelity to bullet journaling — I gravitate toward that which is fun, and the Juice/Tomoe combination invariably sparks big ole sloppy grins on this face.
For those anxious to shout “Pam, blotter paper!”, I respectfully respond with a no thank you. The paper is here to serve my needs, not vice versa. Switching pens offers multiple benefits. Carrying a blotter for one book satisfies only one need. For me, the profound lack of a worthy RoI (return on investment) = nah uh.
The incredibly thin Idea booklets sport soft covers. As a general rule, this presents no problem; these booklets are attached to my A5 Slim Jibun Techo planners. I converted the Jibun soft covers via inserted stiff cardboard, after slicing & dicing a stiff-back legal pad with a ruler and box cutter. I attached the resulting tailored piece to the inside covers, front and back. Clear Scotch Shipping Packaging tape ensures permanent attachment of similarly tailored cardboard re stand-alone Idea inner covers. That, in turn, permits in-the-air notetaking, reducing flat surfaces to a who-cares concern.
Light. EDC-worthy (Every Day Carry). Hey, what’s not to love?! Oh, by the way, the paper’s grid —while visible— inflicts no distraction while writing.
4️⃣ Pilot Frixion Multi-Pen for (Lingering!) Productive Writing Sessions
✦︎ 3 & 4 components: $9 — $23
I’ll admit it. I get weak in the knees at the mere sight of an orange or lavender /purple pen. The orange 3-ink component Frixion eased across my threshold first. Stocked with brown, purple, and orange 0.38mm ink refills, this pen powers my twice daily BookEnds mini-journaling. In essence, these two sessions act as head checks. I start the day with a precise intentional focus. I end with thoughts encouraging peace-filled sleep.
The orange pen holds orange, purple, and brown ink refills. Why do I insist on writing only with erasable ink while BookEnds journaling? Frankly, because every now and then I catch myself downplaying a truth. When I’ve acted like a chump, I need to use that precise language as opposed to “I could have accomplished the planned xyz.” Chump smacks my psyche. While I’m no masochist, I am a woman who prefers unvarnished truth, especially within the context of self-management / personal growth. Me no wanna be chump; me wanna be/do better. Chump gets, and holds, my attention. And, because I acknowledge the reality, that self-truth defangs inner critic Poindexter. The Frixion removes hesitancy induced by preferring a “clean” page. Because erasing the ink takes a mere blink, I lose my excuse to keep the nice language in lieu of stark truth.
Understand: my BookEnds journaling sources in my determination to muscle self-discipline. Like every muscle, the more I exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Bonus: that growth proves infectious, with discipline easing over and massaging other aspects of this life.
In summary, certain written statements merit highlighting, and this multi-pen answers the call in a no-fuss manner. Likewise, personal wins deserve celebration, i.e. purple ink, the sign of royalty. Why bother? Two rationales:
- When I’m experiencing a meh day or moment, rifling through past BookEnds pages —with my peepers targeting purple— PROVE to me: you’s good, girlFriend! All I need to get back on the good foot.
- Poindexter, my shadow. He attacks. When I shift my focus elsewhere, my abrupt perspective change deflates the varmint’s speech bubbles. Read: it whooshes his, uh, buns on away from here.
(Aside: I maintain too much respect for thee, and me, to cuss on these public pages. Momma raised me to “act like you got good sense.” Yo Mom, tryin’, Luv!)
5️⃣ Rolling Correction Tape
Good grief! Soooo many correction tape manufacturers poised to ding our wallets. Sooo many unworthy of a glance, let alone a coin. Ask me how I know. Yeah, ugh! 😫 This little section constitutes today’s RAoK (Random Act of Kindness), my way of sparing you grief.
Paper•Mate DryLine Grip
✦︎ $10.50 / 4-pack
BIC Wite-Out Exact Liner Correction Tape, White
✧︎︎︎ Bonus: likely at your local (USA) office supply store
✧︎︎︎ $11.49 / 4-pack
Both . . .
Caveat: Neither of the listed tapes spell perfection. But after trying and discarding every blippity-blop competitor available, I chose to stock up on only these two. (TomBow? Literally trashed within the first 5 minutes of my Close Encounter of the “you sunnuvWitch” Kind. Love your TomBow? Great! My opinion stands.).
The surface of the Paper•Mate container includes a thumbnail friendly large white screw. If the tape is too far out or too far into the barrel, inserting a thumbnail for a quick twist resolves the problem.
The Bic‘s comparatively narrow tape compliments the 3-ish mm grid of the Japanese books (Kokuyo’s Jibun Techo, Idea, and Life; Hobonichi’s Cousin and Weeks) comprising my bullet journal & BookEnds journaling systems.
Can you write over the tape? Yes, with a caveat. I tend to be heavy handed. I use either a beloved 0.2mm Pigma Micron 01 or Pilot Juice 0.38mm for write overs. Why? Prevents a carve-into-the-tape raggedy effect. The Paper•Mate DryLine handles write overs well, meaning I may not switch pens. The Bic suffers a headache from time to time within this context, meaning it trained me to reach for the Micron.
Aside: Wondering why the Micron didn’t make this list of 11 faves? The point gets wonky. It doesn’t break, nor splay. Rather, it — um, let’s say bends — killing the intended über thin line. It’s happened enough times that I sought a replacement, discovering the Pilot Juice and Juice Up pens. Micron now = special sporadic use, after loosing its former lofty everyday-driver perch.
6️⃣ Yamato Tape no Fusen Sticky Notes Roll – 15 mm x 10 m
Standard Post-It Notes and clones serve a purpose, but they dance on my last nerve follicle. Why? I’m in and out of bullet journal components multiple times daily. The lower portion of standard sticky notes mimics The Flying Nun (ask your Baby Boomer parent). I craved a sticky that, well, sticks —top to bottom.
As usual, a Japanese manufacturer anticipated my stationery craving. I tried one: Yamato. Result: the day of that test witnessed my rush back to JetPens, grabbing the other colors.
Among my bullet-journal powered 2017 goals, accomplished: minimize spending. Read: in most cases, one item will do. A lightning speed repeat-buy constitutes the highest praise this woman can bestow on a product. Nuff said.
7️⃣ Tombow Pit Slide Adhesive Tape Roller – 8.4 mm x 8 m
Ever want a planner-based do-over? Cue the 🎵 Hallelujah 🎵 choir!
I add a careful vertical line comprised of checkboxes on a page within my Hobonichi Weeks. It’s the maiden page for a new project I’ve conjured. Midway down the page, I realize: That’s for the second page, SherlockReena! My options:
- ignore it
- play Cross-Out-Central
- white out each line affected
- hide it
A prior year’s Hobonichi Weeks includes a handful of empty pages. Grabbing my trusty box cutter, I situate my ruler near the inner edge of a blank page and slice. Next, I cut a smidge across the top of the same page.
Returning to my 2018 Hobo Weeks oops page, I run the Pit Slide over a few sections —far left, far right; 2 touches across the top, ditto along the bottom. Then I situate the tailored blank over the new page.
Looks good as new. A little thing. A powerful thing. Like it or not, massive cross-outs distract me. Neatness enhances focus. It is what it is. I act accordingly.
By the way, if you’re inclined to grab the Pit Slide, trust me → you want two. Because the tape is clear, I can’t tell when I’m running low until I encounter the Bye Felicia! (Baby Boomers, ask your kids) grrr-inducing moment, i.e.
JetPens = free shipping once you hit the $25 threshold. I’ve learned: always keep a Pit Slide on stand-by. Let’s ya complete any project. When I kill one roll and reach for the next, I visit JetPens to add 2 Pit Slides to my cart. Precludes subsequent cuss fests. 😉
8️⃣ BookJigs BookMarks
✦︎ $2.99/ page 2 = on-going sale at homesite
99% of my read-me books arrive via Kindle or Audible. Yet analog forms the heart of my self-management scheme. For reasons known only to manufacturers —American, Japanese, German, French, etc— I deduce bookmarks form a huge part of creation cost. How else to explain the uniformly horrendous soon-to-fray paltry strings foisted off as genuine bookmarks?
I accept what I can’t change, devising workarounds as needed. In the land of journals, planners, and notebooks, that translates into lotsa Bookjigs. Whether the height of your book pays homage to Danny DeVito or Kareem Abdul Jabar, the Bookjig ribbons got your back. Clip it on, off. If you want a bit more girth in the clipon spot, tape cardboard with clear wide shipping tape, then clip the Bookjig.
Tip: Resist the (strong) urge to cut the ribbon to today’s needed size. Instead, fold up from the bottom, staple once, then wrap a bit of washi or other tape to keep it together. When you change to a different size book later, you’ll think of this tip, and smile.
9️⃣ Creoly Leather Pen Holder, Large (wraps around (hard cover!) book)
✦︎ $12–$20; light brown or back
✦︎ eBay, Etsy, Amazon
I do not provide an Amazon link because it is among the most expensive. Google proves a friend, especially when you restrict results to the past month.
The pic reflects my B6 Slim Jibun Techo (roughly, 5.5″ x 8.5″). In my year+ of ownership and near daily Bookjig usage → no fraying, no oddities. Pure quality, still coaxing delight.
🔟 Verilux EasyFlex Natural Spectrum Deluxe Floor Lamp
✦︎ $80 when purchased 10 years ago; currently listing at $120
I share this not due to brand allegiance. I share to alert you to the features.
Back around 2008, I craved a floor lamp near a favorite easy chair. While on my way to a main Raleigh shopping drag, I noticed a small-town lamp shop. Intrigued, I stopped to investigate. When I saw a chocolate version of this lamp, I fell in love. Not only does the sturdy movable (up/down) tray hold my coffee mug, its companion little pencil cup also holds 7-8 pens.
It worked so well I purchased a second months later. Despite frequent use, I’ve replaced only one lamp’s light, all of one time. My conclusion: that which appears expensive at first, may prove to be the cheapest long-term.
Given the positive experience, if either lamp somehow bombed, I’d replace it without a blink. The two-tier lighting, one a bit brighter than the other, covers the precise area desired, per its flexible neck. NO GLARE! Huge in my book. In a dark room, because of that neck-flexing ability, I can turn the light to cover only my small desk’s surface as hubs snores. No disruption to his beddy-by vibe. Odd, since he’s been known to awaken as a grump “munstah” per room-covering lighting.
Experience suggests few mechanical ideas are truly unique. Hence, if you want a similar light, it may be worth a weekend tour of local light stores with this one in mind. I’m tellin’ ya → that built-in pencil cup plus mug tray oughta be da law!
⏸ Dark & Drab Room? Your $40-ish Fix.
✦︎ Warmoon Outdoor LED Flood Light, 50W Daylight White 6500K Waterproof IP66 Security Lights with 3-Prong US Plug
✦︎ (add: Alexa-Friendly Switch)
I love our enclosed backyard deck. But a down side emerged. The light once flowing through the double-door entry from family room (home office) to the yard disappeared, pushed out several yards per the enclosure.
After trying/ returning countless lamps, I resigned myself to spot lighting. One to cover the 6 foot long desk, another for the sofa, another for ….
The cure came to me as I tackled a different problem. Hubs’ job hours changed, from standard to the midnight shift. The backyard, its trees so relaxing during daylight hours, spooked the skleeboop outta me at night. Our pooch has a date with that yard every night, so I wanted light. Quick, fast, and in a hurry.
That quest led me to the land of flood lights. Attached to an appropriate IFTTT-friendly switch, the light auto turns on at dusk and off at sunrise. It took a few weeks, but one day I passed by the window as the light came on at night. Headed toward my home office area, a humoungous bulb likewise illuminated my brain cells.
Prowling the full home office (family room) like a panther stalking prey, I scoured every nook and cranny while begging logic to enlighten me. I saw my answer: a tall bookcase, nestled against a wall. My hunch: situate the flood light on its top, play with the angle as the light hits the wall, and with just a bit of luck, the light would bounce back yielding a fully lit room.
I saw. I purchased. I climbed atop the sofa. I situated the light. I plugged it in. Climbed down. Climbed back up to tweak the angle. Rinse. Repeat. Several times. Guess what? It. Worked. !!!
Because no lamp is beaming toward me, the overall lighting feels like the “daylight” promised in its name. The cord, crazy short, requires a 3-prong extension cord. A Wemo switch marries the light to Alexa– a gotta do, since I’ve yet to locate a built-in on-off switch.
How do I spell fun, within the framework of a mundane work day?
- while reentering house following preDawn walk/run → Alexa, turn on coffee, situated on shelf next to my home office desk
- while exiting upstairs shower → Alexa, turn on office light
- after feeding critters in their bird room (utility room) → Alexa, play bird playlist
- while pouring coffee at my desk → Alexa, play writing smooth jazz playlist
Then I sit, BuJo before me, fine tuning my time blocks for the day. Once my consultation with previous Daily Logs completes, I’m off to the races.
Reaching for a book I enjoy, to quick jot a late-breaking thought, delights. Knowing what I’m working on brings me closer to the day’s “goal in focus” invigorates. Operating from the day’s intention word nestled deep within my soul beats backs distractions. Favored tools keep my eyes on the prize, yielding slots too thin for Poindexter to squeeze through.
In short, I get things done because I studied my weaknesses, then conjured a slew of tricks to tame each. I am not perfect. I am a kid at heart. This adult honors the kid within which, in turn, heightens respect for adult responsibilities. Translation: workin’ feels like fun, cuz dat’s how I arranged it. Always? Of course not. Most times? You betcha.
And guess what? Without exception, each and every item noted on this list plays its role as I toil throughout the day. THAT’s why I share — each has proven its innate worth, day after day after week after month after year.
✳️ I tell myself: gonna run tomorrow. Ladies and gentlemen, I lie. Not my intention, but def my reality. My compromise, conjured as I drove and noticed a lil munchkin as he played outside his house. Jump rope. No $$$ for a gym. No lectures about woulda shoulda coulda. No weather-induced excuses. Just me, the jump rope, a floor fan /heater, and our garage.
Now, Ladies with a certain, um, build, we gotta nail the girls first. Tie ’em down with an ace bandage, sports bra, whatever, but trust me on this one.
Take Alexa with you. Play a funky tune, dance jump-rope style, and the sweat follows. How cool is that?!
✳️ Make a pre-dawn date with your porch, balcony, or window. The idea here is to indulge silence as Nature takes her first yawns. Because I’m not a hommina-hommina type of gal, “meditation” breezed by me — until I stumbled upon this version. Between a squirrel couple giving each other grief, a rabbit hopping from yard to yard, and birds doing their best Aretha impersonation, serial smiles start deep in my soul, spilling outward. Armed with a cup of coffee and a few homemade peanut butter cracker sandwiches, I chill before the news or anything else can infect me with negativity. It’s my little version of morning church, and it soothes — magically and magnificently. Folks, it’s downright impossible to miss the gratitude beat, and that beat pulsates throughout the day!