Episode 048: Pens, Paper, and Whiteboards

As a digital professional my life revolves around my computer. My paycheck is earned by what I can do on a computer, my social life is connected via Internet and computer, and it is rare I’m in a meeting without my computer. However maybe its my unique generation, having known life pre-Internet and pre-affordable laptops that I find myself carrying a notebook and paper around at all times too.

I reference Tom McFarlin’s article in the podcast titled “WordPress Program Architecture on Paper

On the desk

On my desk at any given time there is at least 1 notebook (medium sized), and 4-5 pens. Most of the pens are black, but sometimes a couple blues and reds make it in too.

I need to have these on my desk, whether at home or at work, because note taking and ADD doodling won’t happen without them there. This means that either notes do not get taken (I know there is a computer, but I don’t like note-taking on the computer), or when I need to doodle to think something through or clear my head… I end up doing something else usually more detrimental (like snacking, or removing myself which leads to longer restart time).

Good Pens Matter

As you can see from the episode, we can be very particular about our pens. While I prefer click action pens, Meagan H. prefers the twisty, while Josh’s favorite pen is a cap pen.

It is not just the method of “turning on” the pen that matters, the fine-ness of the point, the grip, and the way it writes play huge roles in if we deem a pen “good”. I will say that just like anything else expectations can also play a role.

The free pen in a hotel room? I know its not going to be a great pen, but if it writes relatively well, has an OK tip.. I  might consider that a good pen under circumstances that I was expecting a much worse pen.


Notebooks are just as important as the pens, and sometimes there can be favorites here too, especially when it comes to size. I for example prefer “executive” sized notebooks, which as you can see in the video aren’t normal page size, but also not tiny and fit in your pocket sized. I need some real estate to work with whether its note taking or doodling.

Josh showed off a cool notebook called a WipeBook which is a notebook filled with dry-erase whiteboard material pages. I thought that it was friggin’ amazing!

Most of our notebooks are ones we got for free from WordCamps and other places, but I find myself purchasing notebooks once in a while

Post-Recording Aside

I looked into buying one of those WipeBooks that Josh showed during the show, and instead found myself going down the rabbit hole of “smart” notebooks. I stumbled on RocketBook which is a re-usable (5 times, if using specific type of pen) notebook. It comes with with a (free) app which allows you to send your notes to cloud services like Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. At the bottom of each page is an icon, each one signifies a location which you set up. For example the diamond on mine goes to Dropbox, to a specific folder I’ve made for notes relating to CalderaLearn. So far I’m loving this notebook, and all you do is microwave it for 4 minutes on each side (with a mug of water) and all the ink disappears, and you start over 🙂


Whiteboards was a mixed bag between us. We all agreed whiteboards can be useful, but best served when working with and around other people. While its great if you are constantly updating it for yourself in your personal office, larger whiteboards don’t really make sense unless you are constantly sharing your notes with others in the room or others who use the same room.

I brought up how I learned Angular on cheap whiteboard-esque material and this was a good use case. Chalkboards and whiteboards are great when you need to get your message across to a room filled with people, but maybe not so effective when its just you.

One thought on “Episode 048: Pens, Paper, and Whiteboards

  1. Seb says:

    I really like your videos BUT PLEASE Josh buy a proper headset or something that doesnt hurt my ears while you’re talking 🙂
    Thank you

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