Posted on Sun 10 July 2016

Stuff I like: 2016 edition

Almost two years ago I put together a list of some of my favourite physical work tools. While some have stayed the same, I've added a few new favourite items to my list. Here's what I'm using and loving this year.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks

Still my favourite mainstream notebooks. I pretty much always stick to the A5 size with either dot grid or squared paper. If you can't find any in stock near you, blame the Bullet Journallers. And look in Aussie stores that ship to you—we don't seem to have enough people to make anyone run out.

Midori Traveler's Notebook

Midori Traveler's Notebook

After switching to using paper and pen for the bulk of my organisation, I upgraded my everyday notebook to this one. It's a notebook system, really, made up of a leather cover and thin notebook inserts that are held in with rubber bands.

I've been completely thrilled with the MTN since I bought it, and have had a lot of fun testing out different types of inserts for it.

Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter

Roterfaden and Midori

After having my Midori notebook for a while, and deciding notebook systems with interchangeable inserts were definitely for me, I bought the A5 Roterfaden (pictured above, on the left). While it's similar to the Midori, instead of rubber bands the Roterfaden uses hinged pins to hold notebooks in place. It's quite good at holding heavier, thicker notebooks than one would put in a Midori.

It also has handy pockets built-in to the inside covers, so you can add a notepad, iPad Mini, or scraps of paper. I like to keep my Kindle in the front of mine.

Fountain pens

Lamy Safari extra-fine

I recently discovered that fountain pens aren't so fancy, complicated, or impractical as I'd thought. I started out with a Lamy Safari (pictured above), which is one of a few suggested as "beginner fountain pens". They come with ink cartridges, so there's no concern about ink bottles or refilling the pen. They're also plastic (I find this an upside because it makes them very light) and long, which I like.

Lamy nibs tend to write thicker than I like, though. My extra-fine Lamy nib writes too thick for my small handwriting, so I'm still on the lookout for a pen that suits me better.

I've tried a Pilot Metropolitan, which writes more fine than the Lamy pens, but hurts my hand a lot after writing just a few sentences. Next up I'm planning to try a TWSBI Eco, and perhaps eventually splash out on a Pilot Vanishing Point.

Tomoe River paper

Tomoe River MTN insert

Since I started using fountain pens I've had to become aware of how they work on different types of paper. Unfortunately not all paper is made for fountain pens, so you end up with bleeding and feathering on the page.

The paper that comes in the Midori brand inserts for their Traveler's Notebook is quite good for fountain pens, but since discovering Tomoe River paper I've barely been able to use anything else.

Tomoe River is very thin, and very smooth. Because it's so thin, you'll get some show-through of your writing, and if you put a lot of ink on the page you might see the used pages crinkle more than in other notebooks. I actually kind of like the crinkling, but it's not for everyone.

The thin weight also means you can fit more pages in a notebook without adding thickness or weight—especially important for something like the Midori Traveler's Notebook, which can quickly get too fat as you add more inserts.

But most importantly, Tomoe River paper is made for fountain pens. Inks absolutely shine on TR paper (even my gel pen inks look nicer on this stuff). And it feels amazing to write on. Being so thin, it works well with how lightly you press with a fountain pen compared to, say, a ballpoint pen, which can easily make marks in the paper.

I buy handmade inserts for my Midori notebook made with Tomoe River paper these days, and would only switch to something else if I wanted to use a ballpoint or gel pen.

Salli saddle chair

I've been meaning to write about this since I bought it about a year ago, but never got around to it. I'd been finding my standard desk chair a bit uncomfortable, and I was getting a lot of lower back pain after long days at the desk. I initially went shopping for an Aeron chair, as I'd heard such good things about them, when someone suggested I look into saddle chairs.

A saddle chair is just what it sounds like: a chair shaped like a horse saddle. More like a stool than a chair, actually. There's no back or sides or arm rests—just a saddle seat and a base with wheels like a normal office chair. You straddle the saddle just like you would with a horse, and it forces you to sit more upright than an ordinary chair.

The makers of my chair suggest using it for an hour a day at first, gradually increasing your sitting time until you can spend a whole day on the saddle. The reason for this is literally saddle soreness. Just like riding a horse when you're not used to it, the saddle chair gives your thighs a real workout.

After a couple of weeks, though, the saddle soreness eased off, and I've been using the chair full-time at my desk ever since. And my back pain is gone!

iPad Air 2

I recently upgraded my very old original iPad Mini. I'd always liked the Mini's size, but I find the Air 2 is a good in-between size. I also love having split view and slide over options available—they make the iPad much more productive. I really miss 3D Touch when I'm using my iPad instead of my iPhone 6s, though.

15" MacBook Pro

Earlier this year, frustrated with how often I had to watch my MacBook Air's spinning beachball, I decided it was finally time to upgrade to a beefier MacBook Pro. I was lucky enough to get one second-hand from a friend—otherwise I'd probably still be saving for a brand new one now.

The retina screen is great, although it's frustrating to see blurry icons on it. But it doesn't get stuck on the beachball when I'm trying to work, so it's definitely doing the job it was hired for.


P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase something via one of my product links, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you). I only add affiliate links after writing a blog post, so the products I mention are truly what I want to write about.

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