My Analog Productivity Toolkit (2022)

I like to tell people that my 3 brothers and I all got one thing each from my parents. From our dad, we get an affinity for pocket knives. From our mom, we got a love of stationary. We all love a good notebook and pen, but of the 4 of us I’ve taken it to the most extreme.

While I’m squarely in tech, I still love doing most of my productivity stuff (planning, writing, etc.) with analog1 tools. I feel like I really got the system dialed in through 2021 — so much so that I’m not making any major changes to it in 2022. That makes now the perfect time to tell you all about my analog toolkit. All the links are at the end of the article.

The Paper

  • Theme System Journal: My journal and “habit” tracker. I try to write in it every week day at least, and track several actions throughout the day, giving a score at the end, and noting overall accomplishments and feelings.
  • William Hannah Notebook: This is my planner and everything notebook. It’s got 2 pages per week, and I’ll write down tasks, appointments, and my plan for the month. It’s central to my analog tools, and most of what I write in here gets digitized and put in Craft.
  • Analog by Ugmonk: There’s nothing like writing out a to do list and then checking items off. The Analog system from Ugmonk captures this perfectly. Beautiful card holder, cards for Today, Next (which I use for monthly planning), and Someday (which I use for Quarterly planning), and easy storage. At the end of each period, I take a picture of the card and store it in Craft.
  • Field Notes: I always have a Field Notes Brand notebook in my pocket. One usually lasts me a month, though sometimes it will be more. As long as it’s not totally wasteful, I’ll start a new one at the beginning of each month.

The Pens/Pencils

I have an entire Pens guide, so I won’t belabor this point, but I keep a few on me, in the fantastic Nock Co. Sinclair pen case2:

  • 2 fountain pens, which change each day
  • 1-2 ballpoint pens, where at least one is the Mark One by Studio Neat
  • 1 Blackwing Pencil and 1 Color Pencil (which is used for my habit tracking)

Miscellaneous Items

There are also a few miscellaneous items in the analog kit:

  • Panopad by Studio Neat: This is a landscape notebook that sits below my keyboard. Perfect for meeting notes or doodling
  • Subtle Notebook by Cortext Brand: This is a dot grid notebook by the makers of the theme system. I will use these for bigger projects, like a book I’m working on, or my next courses.

What do you use?

I know I probably use more than most, but it’s a system that works super well for me — especially since everything eventually makes it to a digital form anyway.

What do you use? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Toolkit Links

  1. At least partially — I still have digital tools I use a well. ?
  2. Unfortunately they are closing up shop, so I’m sorry for the tease. ?

3 Things I’m Grateful for (August 6, 2021)

Quick Preamble: I’m starting a new short form post on this site where every Friday I post 3 things I’m grateful for. You can eventually find them all in the Grateful archive.

3 things I’m grateful for, this first week of August 2021:

The Studio Neat Totebook Mini: I LOVE notebooks. I have a whole drawer full of field notes, and I use a customizable notebook for my planner and journal. But these pocket notebooks from Studio Neat as absolutely perfect to write in. They are a great size, support fountain pens, lay flat, and have a sturdy cover. They might just be my new go-to pocket notebooks.

Highland Orchard: On Saturday we took the kids peach picking at a local orchard and they had a blast. We got to spend some time outside on a beautiful day, and by the end the kids were so tired, bed time was a breeze. Fun day + easy bed time = TKO to this parent.

Baseball: I love baseball. I think about it a lot. I read about it. I watch it whenever I can. And with. the Yankees picking up Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo they look like a good team again. They are playing the Field of dreams game next week. Plus, Team USA is going for gold this weekend in the Olympics. It’s a good time for baseball.

That’s it for this week! What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments!

Gifts for Web Developers / Geeks 2012

Thanksgiving and Black Friday officially kick off the Holiday, and subsequently the gift-giving, season. I often like to publish lists like this, that will help you shop for the web nerd (or just nerd) in your life, and 2012 is no different. With all kinds of new services, gadgets, and toys, 2012 is a great year to be a nerd! Here are some of my recommendations.

The Google Nexus Family

I recently purchased a Nexus 7 and absolutely love it. It’s small enough to use with one hand, but really great for watching videos. I use it more than my iPad (3rd generation). However, if you are looking for a bigger tablet, Google also released a Nexus 10, and a Nexus 4 smartphone to boot. These devices are great and the price points are fantastic. Plus, they are great for testing, reading, or just geeking out.

Alternatives: iPhone 5/iPad Mini, Kindle Fire

The A Book Apart Series

I cannot recommend these books enough. I have all of them, and still need to read a couple, but I’ve learned an incredible amount from them. You can pick up the whole series using the link above or pick and choose the ones you want to start with. These are a necessity for any web developer’s bookshelf.

Related: Don’t Make Me Think | Adaptive Web Design | .net magazines Top 50 Books for Web Designers

Ugmonk Premium Wrap Journal

Everyone needs a good place to keep their ideas, sketches, and random thoughts. Ugmonk (@ugmonk on Twitter) makes really fantastic things and this journal is no exception. I got one for my brother last year and his exact words were, “This is so nice I need to find something really good to use it for.”

Alternatives: Moleskine | Field Notes notebooks

.Net Magazine Subscription

This is bar-none the best web development magazine in the world. For us stateside it’s a little pricy but well worth it. You’ll get the latest news, recommended tools and techniques, interviews, and more. My favorite section is the website build-off, where 3 designers get a type of site (college, ebook, etc) to build. They then explain their decisions.

Other Formats: Kindle Version | Zinio (works on Android and iOS)


Over-Ear Headphones

The ones I link to/picture above are the V-MODA Crossfade LP Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphones, which I picked up in August and I love them. I can’t hear anything while using them, they fit comfortably, and include a really nice carry case, as well as interchangeable wires for standard headphone jacks and amplifiers.

Alternatives: Audio-Technica ATHM50S Professional Monitor Headphones | Buying Guide

Related: A good pair of earbuds is a must too! I’ve been loyal to Skull Candy, but have been considering these by Klipsch

Messenger Bag

As a web developer I usually carry around a bunch of gadgets, my laptop, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc. so I, like most developers/designers, need a good bag to lug that stuff around. I just picked up the one above and I love it. It’s reasonably priced, durable, and there is a ton of room. This makes for a great and thoughtful gift!

Alternatives:  If you’re looking for something more high end, I’m a Fossil faithful and would recommend the Fossil Estate Messenger.

Spotify Premium (and other Entertainment)

I really can’t recommend this enough. Access to new music every week, no commercials, and mobile support to boot. This is absolutely perfect for anyone who sits at a computer all day.

Alternatives: Pandora One

Related: Taking a break once is a while is a good thing too. Netflix and Hulu+ (includes a free 2 week trial) are both really good for that.

Design Inspiration

So this one is a bit more abstract as everyone gets inspiration from different places. I saw a fantastic talk by Meagan Fisher (@owltastic) recently where she mentioned where she gets her inspiration and it lead me to buy some none-web related books to use when looking for that stroke of genius I so desperately need. Meagan recommends Posters for People: Art of the WPA. Lately I’ve been looking for inspiration through architecture, but in general, here are a couple of books I would recommend.

Gadget Accessories!

I love accessories for my gadgets. Here are some that I would recommend for varies devices.

Wrapping Up

I hope this list is helpful! If there’s anything recommendations you’d like to make or anything you think I left off, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section!