What’s in my work bag?

I’m always interested in new tools or organisational systems that I can use to improve how I implement my productivity workflow. I live in the beautiful island of Jersey but travel to the UK a couple of times each month to spend time with my team and to meet clients in all over the country. This means that I take between 2 and 8 flights each month and spend quite a lot of time on trains. On the flip side, I’m very lucky to have a 7-minute walk from home to the office in Jersey (currently based in the co-working space at Forum 3).

For me the three most important things when choosing to add anything to my productivity hardware are:

Portability. I travel a lot and walk to work so keeping weight down is a must.
Flexibility. I like tools that do more than one thing.
Reliability. The last thing I want is my bag to break as I’m rushing for a train.

The Bags

Day-to-day: Knomo Kinsale 13” cross-body messenger

When I’m in Jersey or on a day trip to London I use my Knomo Kinsale 13” cross-body messenger bag in brown which is the first day-today bag that I’ve owned and can say I’ve really loved. It’s light, beautifully made and really durable with plenty of pockets and great protection for my tech. Since investing in an iPad Pro it’s not often that my MacBook leaves the office but when it does, both fit comfortably together in the main pocket whilst I use the tablet pocket for my Kindle.

I love my Knomo Kinsale so much I’m considering whether to invest in the new Dale 15″ Tote Backpack for the days that I need some trainers with me for the gym or if I’m travelling for just one night. I’ll post a separate review if I bite the bullet and make the investment.

Knomo Messenger Bag

Overnight travel: Gate 8 Cabin Mate

If I’m staying overnight or I’m away for a few days I always travel hand luggage only. I think for a one nighter I could well be converted to the  Dale 15″ Tote Backpack  but my Gate 8 Cabin Mate is the perfect travel companion for anything over 1 night because it combines a surprisingly spacious overnight bag (I’ve managed to get 6 days worth of clothes in there for longer trips) and a zip-away backpack for the day. Getting through security is a breeze with easy access to my laptop, iPad and clear liquids bag. I arrive on the plane with a single cabin-friendly bag and as soon as I get to my seat, I zip off the backpack section which lives “under the seat in front of me” whilst the main body of the back goes into the overhead locker. This is great as I have access to all of my work tools whilst I’m at my seat without having to go into the locker.

The Gate 8 bag has saved me so many times now. I regularly travel Easyjet as they have a direct flight from Jersey to Liverpool but on a few occasions I’ve got to the gate and had to put my bag in the hold as there was no space left in the overhead lockers. No need to mess about removing my valuables though. I just zip off the backpack with all my tech, keys, passport etc and hand over the main body of the bag.

Gate 8 Cabin Mate Bag

The Contents

Wherever I’m working I always have the same things with me. I like the continuity and it means I can be just as productive on the road as when I’m working from the office.

Laptop: Apple MacBook

I recently upgraded to a 12″ Macbook the display is beautiful and despite some negative reviews I actually love the keyboard. But this was to replace my old MacBook Pro 15” with retina display and I was concerned that it wouldn’t have enough horsepower to deal with the design work that I do in Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop. I’m so pleased I made the decision to switch. It’s incredibly portable and I’ve yet to miss the power of the Macbook Pro.

In terms of accessories, the MacBook’s battery lasts me all day so I don’t carry a charger with me outside of home/the office/the hotel. However I do take the USB-C to Digital AV adapter with me. This is vital for presentations and means that I can use my tablet as a second display when I’m out and about or working from a hotel room using the amazing Duet Display app.

Tablet: Apple iPad Pro

I’ve recently swapped my iPad Mini 2 with Logitech keyboard cover for an iPad Pro with Apple’s smart cover and Apple pencil. I was initially sceptical that such a large device would meet my criteria for portability. In reality, it means that I no longer carry a notebook (I just use Evernote with Apple Pencil) and I often choose not to carry my MacBook if I’m just popping out for a couple of hours to write an article or get some planning done. This significantly lightens the load.

When flying the iPad Pro comes into its own. Somehow it’s much easier to flick the iPad on and off when travelling through airports or train stations meaning I get much more “productive” time whilst travelling. Once on the plane I don’t have to wait until we’ve taken off to whip out my laptop. I simply start by using my iPad without the keyboard cover in view of the cabin crew and then flip it out once we take off. The iPad Pro also makes a fantastic second display for the MacBook when used in combination with Duet Display.

Again, the iPad Pro battery lasts me call day so I don’t carry the power adapter with me. I do take a USB to lightening cable (for use with Duet) as well as my Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard Cover.

Phone: Apple iPhone 6

I’m currently using an iPhone 6 but with hindsight I wish I’d got the 6 plus. When I swapped my iPhone 5 for the iPhone 6 I was using an iPad mini as my tablet and the plus just seemed a little close in size. Now that I’ve switched to the iPad Pro I think I’ll be switching to the plus size iPhone next time I upgrade.

I currently have a clear back cover for the iPhone. The main reason for this is that I like to store my driving licence in here when travelling through airports. Now that most boarding passes are stored on my phone I can scan the QR code then flip my phone around to show my ID saving time and stress getting my wallet out.

Battery: Pack Morphine Juice Pack

If I’m working out of the office I often tether to my phone for internet connectivity which drains the battery pretty fast. I carry aMorphine Juice Pack whenever I’m going to be out for more than a few hours just in case.

MiFi: Huawei E5330

I never understood the appeal of these devices until I moved to Jersey and found myself travelling a lot more. I keep a UK SIM card in my MiFi device with a large data plan from Three which means when I’m in the UK I have great connectivity wherever I am and don’t rack up a massive data roaming bill.

Headset: Platronics Voyager Focus UC

Over the past few years I’ve tried a number of headsets both wired and wireless but have never found the holy grail. I use my headset for VOIP calls on Skype and my soft phone (Bria 4) as well as listening to music as I work. I need a combination of great sound for the music (having bene a sound engineer in a past life I’m quite fussy) but also a great quality microphone for my calls. I wear my headset pretty much all day in the office and also when I’m working out of the office so I also need something fairly portable and (ideally) wireless.

Over all the Platronics Voyager Focus UC is the best compromise I’ve found. It’s wireless, has great battery life, sounds really very good for music and the microphone quality and automatic noise cancelling is excellent. It’s lightweight and compact in my bag.

Wallet: BASICS

I rarely carry cash and only have a few cards so I was really excited when the BASICS Wallet launched on Kickstarter. Watch the video to see how cool this is. it’s durable, light and make carrying a decent number of cards much more compact than traditional wallets.

Pens: uni-ball micro 150

Although since getting the Apple Pencil I no longer carry a note book I do keep a couple of pens on me. One blue, one red and always the uni-ball eye micro 150. There a little on the expensive side but worth every penny and I look after them well so only replace them once every 12 months or so.

What’s in your bag?

So that’s what I currently carry. What do you have in your bag that helps you manage your workload?

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