It's high time you upgraded your office supplies. Whether you're taking notes, pursuing your creative passion, or jotting down to-do lists, a nice set of writing tools can go a long way toward keeping you inspired. Here are five purchases that can improve your desk time immediately:
1. A BEAUTIFUL NOTEBOOK
Those black-and-white marbled composition notebooks are classics, but the flimsy 50-cent cardboard booklets you scribbled your history notes in likely don't cut it anymore. Aron Fay of the acclaimed design firm Pentagram has redesigned “an elegant, sophisticated, and long-lasting version of the classic composition notebook” called comp.
“With all the new advances in the fields of papermaking, printing, and binding since [the origin of the composition book in] the 1800s, I was interested in what it would be like to create a notebook that uses the new printing and binding technologies and the highest quality materials possible, while still maintaining the nostalgic pattern that we all know and love,” he writes in his crowdfunding call on Kickstarter.
The notebook opens to lie completely flat, unlike your run-of-the-mill composition book, and is made with a cloth binding and high-quality, poster-thickness paper that comes either lined or unlined. It’s $19 and should ship sometime in April 2017. (And if you’re a notebook nerd, the Kickstarter page is worth checking out purely for the history of the composition book it provides.)
2. A SMARTPEN
You no longer need to choose between the benefits and portability of writing by hand and the convenience of having a digital, typed copy of your notes. A smartpen allows you to write in a notebook, but send a digital version to an app like Evernote, your phone, or your email. Moleskine’s Smart Writing Set transfers your notes to its mobile app in real-time, and depending on how legible your writing is, it will convert your handwriting to text. You can adjust colors and line thickness in the app, too, and if you aren’t near your phone, the pen has enough memory to store your notes and upload them when you connect later.
The Moleskine set looks elegant and has some neat functionality, but at $200, it is pricier than other smartpens. Other slightly less expensive options that get the job done (albeit without the real-time app upload) include the $169 Neo, whose technology powers Moleskine’s pen, or one of Livescribe’s pens, which start at $129 and are known for their excellent ability to record audio and sync it with your notes.
3. A GREAT, NOT-SO-SMART PEN
Jetstream RT courtesy Uni-ball
OK, so maybe you’re not going to use your $200 smartpen for everything. Sometimes you just need a utilitarian, affordable, non-smudgy, never-runs-out-of-battery pen that you can buy in bulk and lose constantly. The exceedingly thorough reviewers at The Wirecutter recommend the Uni-ball Jetstream for its smooth writing ability and quick-dry ink. It’s $9 for a pack of three on Amazon and comes in either fine or bold point.
For a slightly fancier-feeling writing experience, New York magazine’s The Strategist is gaga for the Japanese-made Midori Brass Ballpoint (pictured at top), a light, collapsible pen that only measures a few inches long in its compressed state. It retails for $17.
4. AMAZING PAPER CLIPS
Jorge Clip courtesy Rad and Hungry
If you have a penchant for writing on loose-leaf, class up your scattered papers with a really nice paper clip. Like, really nice. Rad and Hungry’s Jorge Clip, a brass design the company sources from a Brazilian artisan, is pretty enough to use as home decor. It's big enough to use as a key ring, a bookmark, or to hold together the beginning chapters of that novel you’re working on. It’s $20.
5. STORAGE SO PRETTY YOU’LL WANT TO STAY ORGANIZED
Niu Desk Set courtesy Rad and Hungry
It can be hard to get down to work when your desk is littered with office supplies and papers you’re not ready to file away just yet. If there’s anything that can get you amped about organizing your thumb tacks and staples, it’s the $16 Niu Desk Set, also made by Rad and Hungry. The cork-and-aluminum tray comes loaded with puzzle-piece storage blocks that give you a dedicated place to put your pens, Post-its, tape dispenser, and more.
There’s also a more whimsical, less rigidly segmented option in Poppin’s colorful trays for papers and for odds and ends. They come in a wide spectrum of hues, shapes, and sizes and cost between $5 and $24.
And if even that seems too pricey for your stray office supplies, Muji’s translucent storage boxes look elegant enough that no one will guess they only cost $1.50.