The ultimate productivity showdown
Despite my long standing pocket Moleskine fan status and usage, I’d longingly read many a review and quite a few raves about the Levenger shirt pocket briefcase, an overpriced index card holder that promises to usher you into a new social status along with the ultimate in productivity. When I found that particular item on sale at Levenger for $29.95 just before Christmas, I decided to pick one up as an early Christmas present to myself.
Now, three months later and having test driven both systems for task tracking, note jotting and writing, I present the ultimate productivity showdown.
Pocketability is one of the obvious criteria here. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never really been happy with the size of either of these tools. I live in Texas, where you need a jacket or an overcoat approximately twice a year. I also work in an office, and cargo pants aren’t exactly business casual. This almost always necessitates that I carry my paper of choice in my front pants pocket, along with my Blackberry, keys, Leatherman Micra, and pen. Real estate is an issue.
While both claim to fit easily in a pocket, the pocket Moleskine definitely wins in this category. Measuring 3.5″W x 5.5″H versus the pocket briefcase’s 3¾”W x 6″H, the Moleskine’s compact form and snappy elastic strap create the most pocketable package. Both feel great in your hand if you prefer carrying around your notetaking bundle. However, if you want to shove it in a front pants pocket, you’re likely to be more uncomfortable with the pocket briefcase. The extra length makes a huge difference.
Winner: Pocket Moleskine
Creating your mobile workspace
When you’re carrying a tool designed to let you be creative, get work done, and spread out your thoughts and ideas on a cafe table or while walking, it’s important that that tool lets you completely create a mobile workspace. The Levenger pocket briefcase stands out in this category. They call it a briefcase for a reason – the open writing area, the secure internal middle pocket and the outer pocket allow you to sort, store, and organize your cards. There’s always one available for quick writing, and you can stow receipts, business cards and other scraps inside.
The pocket Moleskine does, of course, feature the famous rear pocket. However, the Moleskine pocket is flimsy, and real use will quickly wear it out to the point of requiring repair. Anything you store in it will significantly affect the size and shape of the book. The pocket briefcase is softer and has more room (actually a bonus in this area) so it’s more forgiving of “stuffing.”
In terms of creating a truly mobile workspace, the pocket briefcase is the best bet. The sortability and reorganization capability beat out the linear format of the pocket Moleskine.
Winner: Levenger Pocket Briefcase
Tools for writers
I write. Work-related articles, blog posts, emails, fiction, poetry. Whatever tool I use has to be great for jotting down everything from phone numbers, addresses and grocery lists as well as story ideas, article outlines and even entire pieces of flash fiction. This is one place where I had trouble picking a clear winner. The Moleskine is great for keeping a running list of random ideas that you can always go back to later for inspiration. The pocket briefcase would start to get too full if you kept every card in your stack where you jotted down a story idea. However, a fine point pen and a few “inspiration” cards that you go back to time and again might fix that problem.
Outlining a story is much more satisfying with index cards. Laying out plots and subplots, rearranging and stacking them can really help get ideas flowing.
Lots of times a mobile workspace means collaborating with others. It can even mean giving a kid something to do while you’re waiting for the movie to start, handing off a jotted-down URL to a friend, or giving others cards to work with. With a Moleskine, you usually wouldn’t want to tear out pages (they’re not perforated or easily torn). In order to collaborate with others, you’d have to pass off your whole book (of ideas, personal thoughts, lists, work-related items) to someone else, which I’m not always comfortable doing.
Winner: Levenger Pocket Briefcase
For my needs, the Levenger Pocket Briefcase is the best tool for the job. Moleskine still rules the land for paper-based planners, journaling, and writing longer articles or fiction (if you do your writing longhand).