By Patrick Rhone

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

15 Comments on Lightening Your Gadget Load

  1. Randy Murray says:

    Great suggestions, Patrick!

    Here’s something I’ve resorted to recently: prep 2 bags. I have my main bag, which carries my laptop, all the cables and tools, goodies, and balms. I then have a 2nd, small and light bag in which I carry my iPod, a moleskine notebook, a few pens and post-its and flags, and a book.

    That 2nd bag is my true, take-anywhere-bag. As long as I have it, I can get by on solo lunches, airport delays, and waiting for the kids at piano lessons. I stay entertained, can make notes, plan and write.

    And I find that more and more, I don’t carry the bigger bag at all.

  2. I did the same exercise a few months back. Cutting down on the number of objects I carry around (that included not only the bag but also pockets and wallet) and getting a smaller bag. Smaller bag was important since it discouraged me from stuffing the bag with unnecessary things. Some thoughts here:

  3. VERiON says:

    2 bags idea is great!

    I’ve developed similar system. I have very very small bag with my wallet, mobile, pda + few small sheets of paper, pen. I also have a second (bigger) bag, which can be usefull when I have to carry additional stuff. When I take my big bag, the small bag goes into the bigger one. @work, I can take out small bag when I go for lunch or for a meeting. Because bigger bag usualy doesn’t contain valuable items (documents, pda, etc.) I can leave it unattended in a office or in my car. It works great.

  4. The two bag idea is great. Thanks all for sharing it. I especially like the idea of finding a smaller bag to fit in the larger one.

  5. I have found that gadgets are like fat… they tend to multiply around your midsection. A few months ago I had so many things attached to my belt, my pants were about to fall off. I decided to do something about it and go on a technology diet. The second cell phone became a second line on my work cell phone, my PDA and holster became a hipster PDA (index cards in back pocket) and the tool kit became a small swiss army knife with screwdriver. Problem solved…

  6. I can relate to this! I’ve also got client’s who carry a tonne of stuff with them. I wrote some similar blogs a while back:

    One one convergence to reduce the number of devices:

    There’s also a somewhat related on talking about what comes in the box for a Palm Handheld (and how it can do double duty for some other devices):

    As for myself, I have my Treo 600 which goes with me everywhere in a belt pouch, and I have a nylon zip pouch (originally intended as a field note pad) which I carry when I’m off for extended errands. It has in it:
    – My Palm Universal Wireless Keyboard (for extended typing sessions)
    – a Pen/Stylus
    – A Lexar SD card reader/Jump Drive (makes my SD card look like a standard USB drive to all modern computers/OS’s).
    – Cell Phone headset
    – Victorinox Swiss Card (a plastic Credit-card sized multi-tool with scissors, letter opener, nail file, toothpick, and awl, with ruler edge on side of card).

    Lots of extra room for other stuff if needed. My Treo can do double-duty as a short-range flashlight when needed.

    Hope that helps!


  7. I can almost see this turning into a whole new Flickr stream: “What’s Not in My Bag”.

    For those of you who mentioned your smaller bags or small bags within bags. I would love to know what bags you are using for these purposes.

  8. ngader says:

    can’t agree more!

  9. VERiON says:

    I don’t have digital camera right now. But my small bag is something between this bag and this bag
    My bigger bag is a notebook bag a4/legal size OR black backpack – depending on what do I have to take with me.

    But it is hard to buy small men’s bag that does’t have casual/sport look AND the one you can hang over your shoulder. My current small bag is a sport bag which is little uncomfortable when I have really impotrant (elegant!) meeting. I didn’t found elegant small bag yet… But I’m still searching…

  10. Randy Murray says:

    My main bag is a Tumi sholder bag. I’ve had it for over 6 years now and although I’ve carried it everyday and traveled many thousands of miles with it, it looks brand new. At one point I broke a fastener on it, but Tumi fixed it and sent it right back to me.

    In some ways I wish it would wear out – it’s fun to get a new bag every once and a while, but I fear this one will be with me for a long time. I’ve left instructions in my will to be cremated and buried in it.

    My smaller bag is a little freebie I got from a trade show (one I didn’t actually attend, strangely enough). It has a messenger style, cross chest strap. That’s perfect for me, especially when I’m sight seeing. I HATE carrying anything in my hands.

    I spent a wonderful day roaming all over the Tower of London with that one on my back. And with it was time for lunch or a trip on the tube, I had my book and music and something too make notes on. It has the virtue of being light, comfortable to wear, and being free wasn’t bad, either!

  11. Tim says:

    I think the best multi-purpose gadget on the market right now is the Treo 650. I have consolidated my cellphone and PDA (even my laptop at times) into this one piece of equipment.

    With the Treo 650 I can: email, take pictures, surf the web, watch movies, record audio, play my mp3’s, instant message, organize my schedule, read all my documents, control my television, hold all my pictures of family & friends, and yes…even make a phone call.

    Whenever I pull it out in a room full of my peers, there is immediate gadget-envy. It is impressive, and it has a great “cool” factor. I am completely sold on this device.

  12. Mark says:

    I solved a lot of my problems by investing in a good Brenthaven bag. I’ve worked without having a dedicated office (outside my house) for 4 years, so I’ve pretty much got an entire mobile office in my bag. Having a well designed bag insures that it won’t strain your shoulder to carry and that there are pockets for everything you need.

  13. Seo manager says:

    Link exchange invitation

    Hello, I am seo manager of site
    I have seen your site in google search and interested in exchanging Link
    with your site. want to Know your opinion

    My site details :

    Title:Gadgets UK
    Description: Gadgets games and gifts at discount prices
    email: [email protected]

    or you can use the html code given below:
    – – Gadgets games and gifts at discount prices

    Send us your site details so that we can also add your site in our Link
    directory and if you have added your site send us link page

    Sincerely waiting for your reply

    SEO manager
    Mentor Technologies

  14. Kelly Miller says:
    Student loans, and student loan consolidation – Lock in the lowest rate with NextStudent. We also offer a scholarship search engine, private student loans and federal student loan applications.

  15. Keep up the good work. Greetings

Leave a Reply