Going Paperless 2.0: My Mobile Paperless Office, November 2015 Edition

Back in December 2012, I wrote a Going Paperless post that described my mobile, paperless office. A lot can change in three years, especially when it comes to technology. I wanted to use this inaugural post of the rebooted Going Paperless series to describe my mobile paperless office today. Here it what my mobile paperless office looks like:

My mobile paperless office, November 2015
Click to enlarge

Starting in the center and working around clockwise, here is a description of what makes up my mobile paperless office:

1. My MacBook Air

I got my MacBook Air about 15 months ago, and it pretty much goes with me wherever I go. For a while I was using a Google Chromebook, and that worked surprising well, but there were some tools I wanted with me that I couldn’t use on a Chromebook. (Mostly developer tools like Mathematica, for instance).

I write on my MacBook, of course. And I have Evernote and Skitch available there so I can quickly refer to anything in my Evernote inventory. But I do other things on my MacBook. I write code, I edit photos, and occasionally, I even play games.

I like the MacBook Air because of its long battery life, and relatively low weight and profile. It is easy to lug around in my backpack.

2. Moleskine Notebook, Evernote Edition

Perhaps one of the biggest changes in my mobile office in the last 3 years is the addition of paper. I have been using an Evernote Moleskine notebook for about 5 months now, and I find it incredibly helpful.

It might seem counterintuitive to add paper to a paperless system. But I call my process going paperless because it is an ongoing and evolving process. Two steps forward, one step back. Except, I don’t think of the addition of my Moleskine notebook as a step backward. I switched to it for one primary reason: I found that when taking notes, I remember things much better if I write it out as opposed to typing it out. Perhaps this is a change that has come with age. My memory just isn’t what it used to be.

It has had a few positive side-effects, one of which is that I tend to capture more in real time than I did when I tried to keep notes directly in Evernote on my iPad or iPhone.

And of course, all of these notes find their way into Evernote. I use the Scannable App to take snapshots of the pages, which then get loaded into Evernote. What’s more, my handwriting is clear enough that the text in most of handwritten notes is searchable within Evernote, making it easy to find things that I have written down.

3. Pilot G2 Pens (0.7 mm, Black Ink)

I’ve found this particular pen to be the best one to use with my Moleskine notebook. Everyone has their own favorite in this respect, and like organizing notes in Evernote, you have to do what works best for you. In my case, after trying out a few different types of pens, I settled on these as the best.

I’ve used up nearly two pens in the 5 months that I have been using my Moleskine notebook, and so I’ve taken to keeping spare pens in my backpack, in case one should go dry in the middle of what I am writing.

4. Karma Go WiFi Hotspot

Over the years, it has been rare when I have not had access to the Internet from wherever I may be. Sometime I have to pay for it, and when I saw what Karma was doing with their new WiFi hotspot device, the Karma Go, I jumped on the chance to get one. I have been very happy with my device so far. It is a pay-as-you-go device, and you are credited with data when other Karma users connect to your device–so there is a kind of pay-it-forward mentality to using it.

It has already come in handy on several occasions, most notably when I was working from home one day and we had a rare day-long cable/internet outage. I fired up the Karma Go, and was able to continue to work, and at high-enough speeds that I really didn’t notice a difference.

The Karma device had come in handy also when I am out somewhere with my laptop and need WiFi. Sitting at the park, watching my kids play, I can fire up the Karma Go and have the access I need to get some writing or other work done.

5. USB Charger

The more I work remotely, the more I find it important to keep my tools charged. I have a couple of USB chargers. The one shown in the photo was a gift I received at a talk I gave on Evernote. I also have (not shown above) a Jackery USB charger that I keep in a pocket if I am going to be away from my backpack for any length of time.

I find these provide an extra layer of comfort when I am working remotely. I don’t stress when I see the battery level on my iPhone fall below 20 percent. I just plug it into a charger, and refill it.

6. Grid-It for cables

This Grid-It organizer was also part of a gift I received at an Evernote talk I gave, and it has come in really handy. I helps make sure my various cables aren’t a tangled mess at the bottom of my backpack.

7. Microfiber cloth

Because, I have various screens that I like to keep relatively clean.

8. Ear buds

I used to carry around my Bose QuietComfort noise-cancelling headset, but I don’t any more. I still use my Bose headset in my home office from time-to-time, but all I carry around with me these days are the ear buds that came with my iPhone. If I need to tune out the sounds around me, I usually just listen to an album of rain and thunder that I have for just that purpose.

9. Business cards

My business cards have changed since the post I did three years ago. This is another example of paper in an increasingly paperless environment. People still like getting business cards, or so it seems. So I keep some around. I tend to use them more as bookmarks, but several times a year, when I am at an event, I’ll be asked for cards, and I give enough away that it makes it worthwhile to have them.

I will admit, however, that when I am given a business card, I scan it into Evernote and recycle the card.

10. My reading glasses

The only that’s changed here in three years is the prescription, folks.

11. Pencil Stylus for the Paper App

One thing that is notably missing from my mobile paperless office is my iPad. I still have it, although these days my kids use it more than I do. In fact, I mostly use my iPad for the Paper App, making sketches and diagrams, and the Pencil stylus has replaced my Bamboo stylus as my stylus of choice for making these sketches and drawings. Paper is now also available on the iPhone, and so I can work on sketches there as well.

12. My Kindle

Last, but not least, is my Kindle. It is a simple Paperwhite. I can read my books on my iPhone, or iPad, or even my MacBook, but I got the Paperwhite so that I could read my books distraction-free. Beyond the ability to download books, I can’t access the Internet (not easily anyway) from my Kindle, and that is exactly what I wanted. When reading on my iPad, I found I could easily be distracted by a notification, be it email, Twitter, Facebook, whatever. On the Kindle there are no notifications. I can read my book without distractions.

That is what my mobile paperless office looks like as of November 2015. I try to keep things as simple as possible, in part to keep my backpack light, and in part to ensure that can do the work that I need to be able to no matter where I might be.

But I would be interested to know about other useful tool that folks include in their mobile paperless offices. Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless  2.0 post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

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  1. Curious what you are using these days to carry this around…any change from the 2012 version of this post?

  2. The Karma Go WiFi device seems very similar to just tethering my cell phone. Unless I’m using it every day, in which case the $50 all you can eat plan sounds great, what advantage does it offer?

    1. Paul, it is much like tethering. I use it infrequently, so a pay-as-I-go model is much more cost-effective for me than adding the tethering plan to my iPhone.

      The other advantage is the sharing model. Karma’s are designed to be available to anyone who wants to use them and has a Karma account. If I’m sitting in Starbucks using my Karma Go, anyone with a Karma account can use my WiFi. If they do, I get a data credit (100 MB) for each person who connects. And those connections don’t use my data; they use the data associated with their account. So it’s a win-win.

  3. I just a bought a Microsoft Surface and now I’m able to say that I have a paperless, life. I’m just in love with this thing. In few months it replaced all the work I used to do using paper.

  4. Always happy to read about your tools!

    For pens, have you ever tried the “Stabilo worker” (5 mm)? I used to write with the “Pilot G2”, but I find the former one more comfortable. Hopefully you can find it in the US. If not, it will be a pleasure for me to send you one! Maybe just in time to put under the Christmas tree!

    You never mentioned again the Nikon D5100 camera you bought some years ago. It is not that my memory is so huge that I remember it, but it was the same as mine. (In the meanwhile, I’ve bought a D5500). Do you still use it?

    1. Thanks for the pen recommendation, and the kind offer to send one along. Let me see if I can find them here in the U.S. first and I’ll let you know. 🙂

      As far as the Nikon D5100–yes! We still use it. I am far below the amateur level when it comes to photography, however, and so I haven’t explored the many settings and cool things you can do with the camera beyond taking great high-quality photos. But we have taken lots and lots of photos with it and it goes with us on all of our trips.


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