(A few of) Karyn’s Essential Non-Digital Tools

This collection was actually harder to compile than my digital tools list. I’ve decided to limit this short list to items that help keep me and my office stuff productive.

RadTech ScreenSavrz
This little piece of miracle cloth will keep everything that builds up on your laptop keyboard from getting on your display. Moisten the microfiber cloth and you can clean the display and case. Soaks up spills before they cause a nightmare situation. At $16.95, you can’t afford to be without it. I have the leopard skin version, but you have your choice of several solid colors too. While you are at the RadTech site, check out their Portectorz and maintenance items.

Post-it Brand Flags

I prefer the translucent flags and I use hundreds of them. I mark books, articles, notes. I like to write brief reminders on the flags. When I’m organized I will read a book and notate in different colors as I read (be sure to keep a color key for each book you mark), then I can easily go back and find what I need to type up quotes, citations, and ideas.

WaterField bags
Made in San Francisco, these laptop bags and gear pouches are outstanding. I use the VertiGo (Mambo Combo) and several of the Cableguy and Gear Pouches. Exquisite design and meticulous workmanship. Phenomenal customer service (truly). You may have to save up to afford a purchase, but you won’t have to buy something again for a very, very long time. If you like to keep your cables, cords, and accessories organized and at hand, this is a great option.

[Warning: Do not laugh] Isokinetics Ball Chair
You will have to trust me on this one. A real conversation starter. I sit at my computer for hours and hours at a time and often ended up with sore neck, shoulder, and back muscles. I needed something to help me improve my posture. This chair promotes “active sitting” and I love it.

Tiny Colored Pencils
It’s no secret that I like small things. One practical item is the Ministaff colored pencil kit. It is the size of a credit card (and less than .25″ thick). It includes a pencil sharpener and eraser! Easy to carry along in the smallest tote. Useful for quick notations, sketches, etc. Also cheap enough to give away to the kid in the airplane who is sitting next to you for several hours and who has nothing to do. You will both be happier. The link above is for a wholesaler, but you can find them in paper, art, and specialty stores.

Staple Free Stapler
The folks at ThinkGeek.com are on top of things with this item. Just put the corner of your papers in this gadget and it cuts a tiny flap in the paper, folds it in on itself, and tucks the flap in a tiny paper pocket. Works on up to about 5 pieces of paper. It won’t eliminate staples from my life, but for small jobs, it’s great (and ecologically friendly). While you are at thinkgeek.com, check out the origami sticky notes. UPDATE: A few of you have asked to see what the paper looks like after it is “stapled.” Ask and you shall receive.

Ikea Knuff Magazine File

I use these wood magazine file boxes to store projects upright and on a shelf instead of creating piles around my office that might rival a small cityscape (I know several people who seem to take this to an artform). I place folders, necessary journals, and notes for each project into its own box. These can then be easily grabbed off the shelf to tackle one project at a time. All of my writing projects have their own box. I even have one for taxes. The wood holds up much better than similar cardboard boxes. You will have to go to an Ikea store to get these, as you can’t order them online.

PlePle Wrap Pencil Case
I like to always have highlighters, mechanical pencils, a few choice pens, and a variety of color Sakura Pigma Micron pens with me. This wrap pencil case keeps everything organized and easy to find.

6 thoughts on “(A few of) Karyn’s Essential Non-Digital Tools

  1. Mindy Withrow

    I use the post-it flags, too, and color code as I read for easier reference later. My books all look like open file cabinets full of tabbed folders! (I’m a side-flagger, not a top-flagger, so I can mark the exact line on the page. Which are you?) I keep two sets in a credit-card sized leather wallet so my flags are always at the ready.

    And I don’t leave the house without my Levenger dry textliner pencils — smooth-writing highlighters that don’t bleed — but I need to get a lovely case like yours to carry them in.

    Thanks for all the tips!

  2. Karyn Post author

    Hi Mindy,

    I am both a side-flagger and top-flagger. I use the top flags for priority and the side flags to mark the location (on the line). The color indicates the type of note.

    I would love to have a huge gift certificate to Levenger. I drool more than buy.


  3. Noah Huss

    Isokinetics Ball Chair! So great. This is at the top of my wish list. It might also encourage me to fidget, though, which might increase the caloric intake while decreasing productivity. I’m going to follow the associated links and see what I can find.

  4. Karyn Post author

    Hi Mel. You would love the stapler. Tohu needs the ball.

    Noah, you can kill two birds with one stone. Sit and work, take a break and bounce, then get back to work. Don’t tell anyone, but occasionally I’ll take a break and practice balancing by squatting on top of the ball.

    Nice to see you Bill! I have to be careful to keep an eye on my pencil case. It’s mighty appealing. I don’t want it to “walk away.”


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