We tech nerds like to think we are prepared for every possible contingency that could come up during the course of our day. One only has to look at the “What’s in you bag?” stream at Flickr to know I am not alone in this statement. Need a box opened or a screw loosened? I have two multi-tools that can do the job. When I need to look up any personal contact’s phone number, I have at least three devices at my disposal. I can even take a picture with any one of four devices at a moments notice. See what I am getting at? I carry a lot of useful, yet redundant, wasteful and potentially unnecessary, stuff. So much so that my computer bag is less of a superhero utility belt and more of a ball of kryptonite that I swing around my neck.
In my continued efforts to carry less with me I have come up with some thoughts on how to attack this bane of our daily journeys.
h3. Less is More
# Consider using a smaller bag. Get a bag that is only large enough to carry what you determine are the absolute essentials. If one has less room to carry stuff, one tends to be more selective of the things they carry.
# Consolidate your tools wherever possible. Do you have a digital music player that can double as a PDA or vice versa? Why carry both? Do you have a great digital camera and a phone with a decent built in one as well? Why not leave the camera at home unless you are going to an important event? Try to reduce the redundancy in your take along gadgets.
# Be size selective in the gadgets you purchase. Whenever I go to buy a new gadget these days, I not only consider cost, features and bang-for-the-buck but I also really consider size. I tend to hold things longer as I am trying them out and think long and hard about what it might be like to carry that with me all day. Even a few extra ounces, when added to several items, can quickly add up to a year of physical therapy.
# Consider getting duplicates of cables and accessories. For instance, I travel mainly between work and home. I often need to sync my PDA at both places but generally never while I am out and about. Therefore, why not purchase two sync cables and keep one at work and one at home. This way, you can always have one where you need it and never have it anywhere you don’t. This can apply to any cable, charger or accessory that you use regularly at locations you frequent.
# Use the “This Week/Next week” rule. Go through each item in your bag and ask yourself “Have I used this this week? Am I likely to use it next week?” Now, do this every week. Anything that does not fit this criteria is exorcised from the bag. Be realistic. If you have not used an item recently then you are probably not likely to use it anytime worth worrying about in the future.
Also, there are mental benefits to this. Lessen your choices and your actions will quicken as well. You do not have to take the time to decide which tool to use because there is only one. Having only one tool to do a job means less mental processing and therefore less stress.
Now that I have gotten this off of my chest, I feel lighter already.
Author Bio: Patrick Rhone is a computer consultant and writer who is obsessed with productivity, organization, gadgets and expensive office supplies. More of his work can be found at http://patrickrhone.com.