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Singletasking Tip: Ditch the Big Bag, Go With the Sleeve

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black_sleeveWe like stuff, it’s fair to say, and I only just said so earlier today, in fact. But like having multiple applications running at the same time, having lots of gadgets close at hand will unavoidably split your focus — which is a bad thing if you’re trying to do more singletasking like me, and less driving yourself insane doing 50 things at once.

So as part of my new program of simplification, I’m re-evaluating what kind of kit I roll with on a regular basis. My weapon of choice used to be a large, multi-pocket bag (or two) with ample room for my computer, camera, and countless other attendant knickknacks including portable hard drives, USB keys, and most recently, a small secondary screen for auxiliary tasks like monitoring Twitter or my IM client.

It’s nice to have everything at hand, but it also means that no matter what workspace I choose to occupy, I come complete with my own built-in tools for distraction and procrastination. I could, theoretically, be trying to get work done in a monk’s chamber and still have the attention span of a goldfish. So starting this week, the Big Bag is taking a much-deserved break, and the Laptop Sleeve with Handle and Shoulder Strap (or just sleeve, for short) is coming into its own.

Friends on the same path to webworking Zen recommended the approach, claiming that my back will thank me, in addition to my addled brain. And so far, I’m impressed with the effect the sleeve is having on both. All it has room for, basically, is my MacBook Pro (s aapl), its power brick, an Airport Express, and my iPhone sync cable for Internet tethering. (I’m in Canada, where it’s officially supported.) I’m sure I could fit more in there if I wanted to, but I resist the urge.

Psychologically, it feels tremendously liberating to be professionally productive with such minimalist outfitting. I also have less travel restrictions and inconveniences to deal with since I’m carrying less and taking up little physical space. And I don’t have to worry so much about leaving something behind. All I have to do is make sure I stay on target when I boot up the MBP. Easier said then done.

Have you experimented with different kit arrangements when working remotely from locations away from your home office? What do you find to be your most effective on-the-go equipment configuration?

8 Responses to “Singletasking Tip: Ditch the Big Bag, Go With the Sleeve”

  1. I have become a big fan of the single tasking and minimalist approach.

    However, I still like descending back into the big-multi-screen command center for heavy duty social networking and catching up on Twitter, Facebook, and research.

    I agree with David Giesberg on the use of Space + Expose it has made it a lot easier to be confident in venturing out simply.

  2. Bickley

    I totally agree…there is a freedom with walking out the door…with the ability to be truly mobile! With our huge bags packed with all of our “just in case” items, it was easy to lose my focus. Even with everything I was carrying, I was still seeming to forget something…how is that??? Now I walk out the door with my little Asus Eee PC in my purse…easy. This is all I need for 90% of my on-the-go needs.

  3. That’s been my goal with school and work – my back has issues off and on, so the less I carry, the better. I’ve managed to strip down the stuff I carry with me these days to the point where the biggest things I have with me are my laptop and my lunch (and I don’t carry much more).

    I have a dual monitor setup at home, but Spaces + Expose work sufficiently to get me through my onsite work before I can head home.

  4. Great post. I’ve always been the person with the biggest bag, and lugged EVERYTHING around with me. These days, as a location independent, I have about 20kg of belongings in total, and my handbag is a small purse. And I feel FREE! (of course I have a little MacBook too.

    It’s so great not to have to look after so much stuff anymore. And my back thanks me for it too.

  5. ajsandiford

    I’ve just recently taken quite a lot of the stuff I rarely use out of my multi-pocket bag and it’s already starting to make a noticeable difference in my focus. I’m also pleased at how much lighter it is.

  6. Rich Tackett

    I have switched over to a netbook for routine portable work and have been looking for something to replace my backpack or briefcase. Today while walking through Target, I found a field pack by SwissGear. Lots smaller than my regular bags, easily holds my HP netbook and a mouse and a few important things like my phone.

  7. That is EXACTLY the case I have (13″) . When I got my unibody MacBook, I wanted a minimal case that didn’t seem to weigh as much as the laptop.

    It’s actually more like a Sleeve Plus. As minimal as I wanted to be, I still needed small storage for the power adaptor and a couple other things (as you discovered, it won’t hold much else). I also wanted a shoulder strap, which most simple sleeves lack.

    I couldn’t be happier with the thing.