Tools of the Trade

OK, I admit it: I’m a bit of a geek.  I love Dr. Who, Star Trek (In all its incarnations.  Yes, even Enterprise.).  I love playing with new technology, but only if that technology is something useful.  I’m not all about tech for tech’s sake, but rather to make tasks easier, engaging with friends, family, client and colleagues easier, better, faster, stronger.  And it’s a small pleasure when someone asks me, “Hey!  What’s that you’re using?”  So, I thought I’d list a few of my favorite (tech) things.



For me to retain anything, I have to write it down.  I was a long-time user and advocate of the Franklin Planners.  I have, sitting next to me on my bookshelf in my office, twelve years’ worth of storage binders.  But with increasing time on the road and hopping from one mode of transportation to another with increasing frequency, I finally reached the point late last year where lugging around a laptop, power brick, mouse, iPad and leather planner was just one thing too much.  To gain efficiencies, I started looking at iPad-based note taking apps.  Penultimate is the one that works best for me, because I can easily create new notebooks, write in my own handwriting (I never learned how to touch-type.  Sorry Mom!), change pen styles and colors quickly, and erase and re-write just like I would on paper.  Even better, because now I can carry all of notes with me, not just a month or two’s!  And, now that Penultimate is owned by Evernote, all my notes are everywhere I am!



Seriously, why didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner?!?  OK, actually, a few of you did.  All right, a lot of you did.  I find it essential, because while for normal people a cluttered desk is the sign of an organized mind, my clean desk reveals the opposite is true: my mind is a hot mess, and if I don’t have the thought recorded some place, it’s gone like Jimmy Hoffa.  Evernote to the rescue!  I use tags to quickly find relevant past customer interactions, and have a pretty simple and flat notebook structure.  And it is everywhere: iPhone, iPad, browser, desktop client.  I am a Raving Fan.  And hat’s off to Brett Kelly ( for his Evernote Essentials.  It’s the most fun and helpful user guide I’ve ever come across.  I’m an Evernote Premium subscriber, which gives me access to more storage and features, and I find it well worth the annual fee.

Adonit Jot Script (Evernote Edition)

It is not cheap.  But for me, as a heavy, daily user or Penultimate on my iPad, it’s simply the best stylus for my needs.  It’s built like regular pen, and feels substantial in the hand without being heavy.  For me, the best feature is the tip of the stylus.  The tip is no larger than the tip of a normal ballpoint pen, making is very easy for me to write and see my notes clearly and quickly.  It connects to the iPad via Bluetooth, and takes a single AAA battery.  This, too, I love, because the battery lasts for quite a while and it’s one less thing to have to carry around a charging cable for.


Aviiq Portable Charging Station

My job has me on the road quite a bit.  Even if it didn’t with so many devices constantly whining at me for more juice, it’s like living with a pack of perpetual two year-olds.  The Aviiq charging station makes life easy on the road and off to handle my devices.  You simply wrap your device cords around the racks, slide them into place and plug into the USB ports.  Plug in the power cord and you’re set.  I can charge my work and personal phones, my iPad and my Bluetooth headset at the same time, without any extension of normal charging times.  It all zips up neatly when I’m done and slips nicely into my briefcase with no real increase in bulk or weight to my load.


Timbuktu Command Messenger Bag

I love this bag.  It’s huge without feeling unwieldy, and has pockets EVERYWHERE!  The TSA-compliant section for the laptop and iPad is genius, as is the external water-bottle pocket (which I usually use for my laptop power brick.  There’s this genius zipped pocket on the bottom, where my mouse and Aviiq charging station go, and the Napoleon side-zip pocket is perfect for my passport and ear buds.  Not only do I use this as my daily bag, it’s also my overnight bag.  It easily holds a change of clothes and toiletry items along with all my other gear.  Walking onto a plane with only a carry-on makes travel drudgery much, much easier to tolerate, and pleasant trips that much more so, I’ve found.


So, these are a few of my favorite things, especially as it relates to work and travel.  What are yours?  Use the comments field below and share away!

3 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade

  1. Nancy Porte

    Great suggestions, Sean! Totally agree about Evernote – has been my organizational lifesaver (in spite of what my desk usually looks like!).

    My favorite travel tool of the trade? Waze. Great app for getting you where you need to be – on time and in the least amount of traffic! Wouldn’t travel without it.

    Love the article! Can’t wait to see other suggestions!

    1. seankmahoney Post author

      Great catch, Nancy! How could I forget Waze, especially as I use it as part of my daily commuting routine?!?