I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

For more, check out the archives.

tissue cozy

Thank god for my wife. Really. If it weren’t for her patient, gentle fashion influence over the last four years, I would probably be wearing a utility belt today. Or worse, a Utilikilt.

The two of us will go into a store and I’ll see, let’s say, a cool vest with lots of pockets, or perhaps a techno-fanny-pack, and I’ll make a beeline for it like I don’t have to walk in public with normal people. Deftly, my better half will steer me away from such geekbait and toward a handy distraction, like a shiny button, or confetti.

Naturally, I read Cool Tools, and I purchase probably half their recommendations. Often, I’m left with something that works great at doing what it does, but does something I didn’t need to do.

I buy and toss a lot of gadgets, but it hasn’t all been fruitless. A precious few actually save me time and effort and money. Unfortunately, all those savings were lost in the search for more and better gadgets. C’est la vie.

To help you avoid my fate, here are tools that, for me, were actually less trouble than they’re worth:

  • Alphasmart Neo A godsend for anyone who works with type. The Neo is a bare-bones text editor designed for educational use. It can go hundreds of hours on AA batteries, and it has a big, chunky keyboard that’s a pleasure to type on. The screen is a teeny black-and-white number out of the late 80s, which is good, because it makes editing yourself basically impossible. Typing hasn’t been this effortless and distraction-free since my Dad’s old GRiD laptop. When you’re done typing, you plug it in via USB and dump the text into the editor of your choice. As Steve Jobs would say, “Boom!”

  • Casio Data Bank 300 I bought this to supplement my Polder timer. I wish it vibrated, but the fact is I can quickly plug in my day’s schedule first thing in the morning and rest confident that, no matter how crazed things get, I’ll get a little ping just in time to move on to what’s next. Surprisingly, my wife thinks having a small Atari strapped to my wrist actually looks good! The Data Bank 300 features the very latest in digital technology, circa the Reagan administration, with the capacity to hold 300 events and contacts, as long as they’re a dozen characters long each. But it works great for my purposes.

  • Brother P-Touch Home & Hobby Labeler Whether or not you worship at the shrine of GTD, this small, reliable, battery-powered labeler is an incredibly handy thing to have around home and office. It’ll help you organize your filing cabinet, sure, but the uses don’t end there. For instance, my wife was interrupted by a couple of friendly Jehovah’s Witnesses this afternoon, who buzzed our apartment, making the dog bark like crazy. Solution? A label reading “Do Not Buzz!” where our apartment number used to be.

  • Levenger International Pocket Briefcase + Pilot G2 minis The International Pocket Briefcase works great for me because it can hold a bunch of index cards on one side, and an array of color-coded shorties on the other. As for the pens, well, that’s an extremely emotional subject for most productivity geeks. I would never presume to tell you that my choice of pocket pen is better than yours, even if it is.

  • Tide to Go Stick I spilled wine on my tie shortly before proposing to my wife. A future in-law quickly produced one of these magic wands and saved the day. I still managed to knock over a poker by the fireplace when I went down on one knee, but at least the stain was gone. Got one of these in every bag I own.

  • Staples Black Plastic Rotating Desk Organizer Forget that mammoth desk thingy from The Apprentice. This sucker is just big enough to provide easy access to pens, ruler, scissors, paper clips, etc., without sucking up all the desk-estate. Got one on every desk.

  • Handmade pocket tissue holder For Larry David, a real man should have mints, tissues, and a pen on him at all times. Problem is, when I carry one of those Kleenex packs in my jacket pocket, it gets all shredded and linty after a while. So I asked my wife to sew a pocket tissue holder for me, and it’s awesome, all the way down to the embroidered initials. Unfortunately, she’s my wife, so you’ll have to troll Etsy for one of your own, but I highly recommend the effort. Nothing like pristine tissues.

Photo by revjim5000.


  • judyofthewoods

    gravatarMar 21, 2008
    3:11 pm

    Its just as well you are not married to me, or you might end up with pockets and attachments on every spare inch of your body. I love those utility vests, belts and kilts. Thanks for the inspirational links. Its back to the drawing board, as my own utility bibster (www.judyofthewoods.net/waistcoat.html) now looks decidedly modest.

  • tinytot

    gravatarMar 24, 2008
    4:49 am

    my partner makes/sells those tissue holders. they are quite adorable. http://niku.etsy.com

  • Guy

    gravatarMar 24, 2008
    6:28 am

    Hi David!

    Thanks for thinking we’re friendly! That’s a nice compliment. & thanks for the great advice.

  • Run Lander

    gravatarApr 4, 2008
    10:45 pm

    Great post!The Alphasmart Neo is a really great idea, good call.

  • DanGTD

    gravatarApr 6, 2008
    5:31 am


    You might try out my application for time management and productivity, http://www.gtdagenda.com

    Hope you like it.