The Sweet Setups All The Things Productivity Course. A Review.

I have never reviewed an online course on the blog before but I wanted to share my thoughts on The Sweet Setup’s All the Things course. This course caught my attention for lots of reasons. I knew Shawn Blanc used notebooks as part of his productivity method, but the element I wanted to delve into was how he incorporated his digital tools as well.

I had looked at the All The Things course a lot before I eventually bought it. I had watched the trailer several times and kept mentally committing myself to buy it for months before finally doing so. It seemed a little silly, perhaps even wasteful, to buy content on being productive. There are plenty of YouTube videos I could reference and work through but the dodgy shooting styles, questionable content and the authority of the YouTuber put me off. Productivity pointers and advise can feel condescending and a little obvious. However I was pulled back to this course because I had seen content online from Shawn Blanc and knew he was well thought of and respected, which really is why I eventually tried this out.

I had Things 3 downloaded on my phone and had used it a little, mostly to just throw in big to do items that I needed to tackle at some point. As Things 3 made up part of this course, and I was interested in how Shawn combined both the analogue and digital tools in his productivity process. Like most people, I have too much floating around in my head and managing the day to day tasks alongside the longer term ideas, or plans, or places to go, was something I never felt like I mastered. I think it was this that eventually made me check the course out.

All the Things course content.

The course is held in a personal Dashboard on The Sweet Setup website. The content is broken into two parts, All the Things Pro and Screencasts. You can buy these elements individually but I opted to buy both and take advantage of the small saving.

Screenshot taken from my personal dashboard, for illustration purposes.

Screenshot taken from my personal dashboard, for illustration purposes.

All the Things Pro portion of the course.

This is the section dedicated to productivity learning. There are a series of videos that vary in length from 7 through to 20 minutes covering topics including being productive, a hybrid method of planning, scheduling, planning and journaling. Also included is some written commentary to support each video. All but one of the videos are shot interview style with Shawn talking to the camera and sharing his experience and recommendations for being productive. The final video is shot overhead looking into his notebook, which unsurprisingly is the video I was most interested in.

Screencasts.

You then get the same set-up with the screencasts. Shawn walks you through using the Things 3 app on Mac, iPad and iPhone. In this section you get the basics of the app and what it can do, progressing onto some helpful hints and tips on how to get the most from the app’s interface.

Finally there is access to a series of interviews Shawn conducted with other people who use Things 3. These are written interviews and not audio or video. Something I was surprised by and I feel that it’s worth highlighting.

Is it worth it?

I keep coming back to this question when trying to settle my thoughts on the course. Obviously this is a subjective question and really depends on the person. The content is useful and production quality high making it easy to watch and digest. There are helpful suggestions and insights on how to become more productive. For obvious reasons I found this interesting.

I am not sure I needed this course. There wasn’t enough new content to add to the information that I had gathered over many years of reading blogs, books and trying to improve my own productivity. Ultimately these skills are honed and practiced and what works for me won’t work for everyone.

I think the free trailer is helpful and really does give you an idea of the content you get from the whole course. As with most of these things, the video fades just as you’re getting to the interesting stuff, but it is a good marker to understand whether you need this content.

Overall thoughts.

The All the Things course is good there is no doubt about that. The content is helpful, the production quality high and Shawn breaks things down really well into manageable sections. I would have loved some more notebook specific content, but I would say that.

With the interviews it would have also been great to have these in a media format, video or audio. I think this would have enhanced and really elevated the usefulness of these interviews.

I hope you found this post interesting. It’s not going to be a regular on the blog, because I don’t think there are many course relevant posts that would work here. I wanted to share my thoughts on this specific course because some of you may have come across it, or bought it already or looking for something just like this. Either way the next post will resume the normal format here at The Finer Point.

Mid-Week Mini: Zebra Sarasa Clip - Vintage Colours.

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The Zebra Sarasa Clip is my favourite gel ink pen. I have found them the most consistent gel pens giving me a smooth line and starting up even if it hasn’t been used for a while. I like the 05 tip size as I find the line width thin enough and I don’t feel like there is any friction on the page when writing. I wrote a review of the Sarasa Clip back in 2016 which you can find here.

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However I think the gem in the Zebra Sarasa Clip world are the Vintage colours. I was bought one of these pens by Priya from The London Parchment a few years ago in the blue-grey and I used it a lot! It was subtly different to anything I had tried before. The only downside at the time was they weren’t available in the UK, but that problems now resolved and you can grab these from Cult Pens. In todays post I will share with you the different colours available and try to explain why I love this pen so much.

Colour choices.

There are a range of muted tones in the Vintage line, Green-black, Blue-grey, Brown-grey, Red-black and Blue-black. I didn't bother buying the Blue-black, because, well...it’s blue-black and I kinda know what to expect from that colour. I was far more interested in the other options that came within this range.

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The Vintage colour choices are traditional colours, but those you would expect to sit within Vintage theme. My favourite is the blue-grey as the colour is subtle but different to any other blue gel pen I have tried. There is a lovely lightness which comes from the grey tones dulling the blue pigment. It works nicely though to give a subdued blue and manages to make a standard ink colour a little more interesting.

The brown-grey is my least favourite of the four mostly because it doesn't stand out against the other Vintage colours. Interestingly the grey element of this colour actually works well and really alters the brown colour nicely. Pairing this with the black would have been a mistake and perhaps darkened it too much, but the grey is distinctive and quite nice.

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The Red-black and Green-black sit somewhere in the middle. I like both and they feel very British reminding me a lot of Mini car colours. There is a vibrancy that you don’t get from the blue or brown inks. There is a hint of a teal shade in the green-black and the red is very bright.

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Overall thoughts.

The Zebra Sarasa Clip gel pen, especially in these Vintage colours, is my favourite gel pen to use. I often use these as an everyday pen and with my Travelers Notebook because you get a fine point. These pens are a great price too at £2.40 per pen. This is the higher end of a gel pen price but totally worth it for such a different and distinctive gel pen in a cool range of colours.

Stationery Shopping in Amsterdam.

Last month I was fortunate to visit Amsterdam for a very brief trip. Whenever I visit a new city I like to see if there are any interesting stationery shops that I should carve out some time to visit. (Small helpful hint: check out All Things Stationery’s handy map.) My recent trip to Amsterdam was no different and I found an afternoon to visit two stationery shops, my thoughts on which are shared below.

Like Stationery.

My first stop was at Like Stationery, a short walk from Amsterdam Central station. I wasn’t overly familiar with this shop before my trip but their website looked really nice and their instagram well shot, so I was hoping this would be a little gem. But when I arrived it was quiet, and dare I say a little unwelcoming. There were also quite a few notices asking for no photography.

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Like Stationery had a good range of brands in store displayed and presented really well. A long central table held lots of different notebook brands such as Life Stationery, there were tall glasses filled with Blackwing pencils and a display of correspondence cards. The selection that Like had was pretty good and everything was laid out allowing you to see what was on offer. The one downside was a lack of testing pads alongside the pencil and pen displays, and when combined with notices of no photography it creates an atmosphere of no play.

I didn't buy anything from the store for some of the aforementioned reasons, but also because there was nothing there that really grabbed my attention.

Misc-Store.

My second visit of the day and the shop I was really looking forward to visiting was Misc. It was a little bit of a walk out of the city and even in the cold and wet weather I wasn’t deterred.

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Misc has lots of treasures displayed in a manner which made them easy to look at and in some cases test and play with. There was a small Travelers Company section in the store which I was immediately drawn towards. Misc had some beautifully worn TN’s on display to give you an idea of how the weather wears and ages, to show how they can be set up and used. It’s such a great idea to include them in this manner because part of the allure is how these notebooks change with use. There were also some Travelers Company stamps with an ink pad, that I happily played with and added into my own TN.

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Another brand I was keen to see in Misc was their range of Classiky items. I haven’t noticed too many online stores in Europe where you can find Classiky and I had only seen some in person at Present and Correct in London. Misc had a great selection including the small dishes, the wooden first aid boxes and some of the papers and pads too.

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Misc did have a pen testing area in one section of their shop. An array of pens and fountain pens from brands such as Lamy and Y Studio were displayed with testing pads encouraging you to try them out. I did have a little play in this section too, in particular with the Y Studio pens as I hadn’t seen these in flesh.

I spent quite a bit of my time exploring the different stationery items that Misc offered and chatting to the staff. I came away with a small selection of items including an Olive TN, a set of the Midori pencils and a Le Typographe Porte-Mine mechanical pencil. I bought this mechanical pencil after testing it out and because I was surprised by how comfortable it was to use and how nice the graphite appeared on the page. Letting customers play and test definitely helps them to buy - no question.

Overall thoughts.

Misc lived up to my expectations and I really could have spent a lot of money there. I think on another trip to Amsterdam I would definitely take the time to visit again. As a customer you’re encouraged to try and test things out, which was very different from my experience at Life Stationery.

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the stationery shops during my trip. It’s a great way to find new products you may not normally be interested in, or exposed to. With a bit of good fortune I should be able to get back out to Amsterdam this year and will take the time to visit other stores too.

One last thing before you go…below was my short break stationery toolkit. Far too much as always, but it included the things I thought I needed. This needs a lot of refinement and is something I have to work on but I thought I would share it with you.

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Mid-Week Mini: Le Typograhe Porte-Mine Mechanical Pencil.

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One of my recent purchases after a trip to Amsterdam was the Le Typographe Porte-Mine mechanical pencil. I found this in Misc-Store and after spending a long time examining everything in the shop, I decided I needed to buy this pencil. I really liked the style but it was after testing the graphite out I had to buy it.

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Before I dig into the pencil I just wanted to share the kraft packaging. The pencil is protected by a concertina folded piece of card that holds it in place. What I really like is the embossed guide on the back which shows you all the elements of the pencil. There is no unnecessary text or information here, just a simple and beautiful design.

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The style of the Porte-Mine is beautiful. It has a cream coloured metal barrel which is comparable to the size and feel of a woodcase pencil.

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There is a cute golden bug imprinted near the top of the pencil too which is the only indication of any branding.

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To use the Porte-Mine you press down the knock of the pencil to allow the graphite to escape from the barrel. You can decide how much of the graphite you want to appear, the only thing to bear in mind if that you don’t let the graphite fall out of the barrel and shatter.

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The knock also unscrews from the top of the pencil to reveal a small sharpener. This is really useful having this incorporated into the pencil itself. It means you don’t have to find a sharpener that works with this mechanical pencil, or worry about carrying it around. Everything is in one place.

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Writing with the graphite is very nice. It’s not too dark, but rather a light grey colour. My plan is to use this pencil for sketching. I can extend more of the graphite if I need to shade a sketch, or use the nice point that the sharpener creates for the detail work.

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It was a nice surprise the find the Porte-Mine in Misc. I would not have come across this online and it was through testing the pencil out that really sold me on it. I love visiting brick and mortar stores, especially those that encourage touching and testing. They really do open things you to you and show you new and exciting tools you could be using.

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