Things I Carry: Tools For Productivity

Inspired by the articles from thought leaders contributing to the theme on LinkedIn called, “Things I Carry,” I started thinking about my own lifestyle and how I’ve adapted the last few years to going mobile.

As someone who thrives on being productive and likes to travel, I faced a major issue as those two things rarely coincide. So without giving up one of those things that is essential to my survival, it was imperative that I solve that problem.


My tools: 

We all know how important our mobile phones are to staying on top of things, but the key for me was also being able to work in Adobe Illustrator efficiently when away from the office. As you can imagine, when I’m working on something really complex, the workspace on my monitor is pretty important real estate. For me to be in the flow, I needed to go with the larger 17" laptop, a mouse and full-size keyboard. The first few times I tried to use keyboard shortcuts on my shrunken laptop keyboard it ended disastrously. And working in Illustrator for me is so innate that if you asked me, I couldn’t even tell you what most of those shortcuts are. For me to be effective, it’s critical these motions are automatic.

Sketch Pad
For an artist this is obvious and a no-brainer. It’s tough to turn off the brain and shut down your ideas, so it’s important to keep this handy for when inspiration strikes. My favorite pad: It’s from Finch Paper and was swag from the HOW Design Conference in 2011. Its 10"x7" size doesn't weigh down my computer bag, yet the pages are large enough to contain a continuous flow of ideas.

Marker Pad
If the idea is work related, it’s important I sketch it out on marker paper. Its translucent nature helps me make quick iterations on top of one another so my idea can evolve into something useful. And, if it's an isometric drawing, I'll drop in my grid a couple of layers back to use as a guide to keep it on a 30-degree perspective.

PaperMate Flair
I always used to draw with pencils, but as I recently discovered sketchnoting, I found a felt marker works quite well too. It makes me commit to an idea without having the temptation to erase, and I’ve grown to like the contrast it creates between the line and the paper.

This tool certainly doesn’t match the modernity of my other devices. It was in a set of art supplies I inherited from my late Aunt. Over the years I’ve found its compact size to be an efficient tool as I refine sketches. Plus, because she was someone who was always interested in my artistic talents when I was young, I feel a sense of my Aunt’s creative energy when using one of her tools.

Clif Bar
I'm not going to lie: sometimes I get hungry.

Magazines like Sunset, Dwell and Outside feed my hobbies and inspire new ideas for travel and creating.