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

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, 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?

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