Flexible schedules and the ability to work from home top many workers’ lists of must-haves in their jobs these days, and I agree. Especially for creative work, or work that dos not have to be done in person or at certain times of day, I think we do our best work when we can dictate our own environments.

For me, this most recently has meant that I’m working from home or from coffee shops as I pursue a career writing full-time. But even before that, my day looked a little less like your standard 9-to-5, especially during two periods when we were moving and I didn’t have an office space to call my own.

I took for granted what having an office afforded me: the ability to leave certain things behind that I used at work every day. I found myself with a bag like Mary Poppins’, lugging with me on my commute every tool of my trade. On any given day you might have found a label maker, a package of envelopes, and a tangle of chargers and headphones swimming in my tote. Not only was it heavy, it was ineffective. I had to fish out smaller items I needed, and I ran the risk of forgetting something vital.

I have fewer weird bits in my bag these days, but when I want to work somewhere other than my dining room table there are still a significant number of things I have to remember in order for my day to run smoothly. And, if you’re a nomadic worker like me, I bet you need similar things.

An organized bag for the nomadic worker.

  • My laptop, in its case
    Without the case, I worried that my beautiful MacBook Air was getting scratched up! Plus it feels more secure. If you have a bag with a laptop compartment then this would be superfluous.

  • My trusty water bottle
    Most coffee shops have a jug of water where you’ll be able to refill.

  • Laptop charger, with Power Curl cord cover
    I’m still getting the hang of wrapping the cord well, but the Power Curl keeps it all together and helps it sit flat when it’s plugged in. Less chance of someone tripping over it as they walk past your table!

  • Pouches galore!
    My current preferred tote bag doesn’t have any internal pockets, meaning small items get lost in the bottom. I decided cute pouches would be my weapon of choice to combat that. Another advantage of pouches is that if I need or want to switch bags it’s easy to grab all of them or just the one I need and know I have all of my items.

  • Notebook and “planner”
    I’m trying to do less self-censoring and write down all my ideas. Sometimes this looks sort of like a journal entry, other times it’s a bulleted list, and still other times it’s notes from something I’m reading or watching. This is 2015’s notebook, and everything I write goes in there. As far as the planner, I’m using Passion Planner pages stapled into a cute file folder (no manila for me!), and I love it.

Pens for color coding.

So what’s in the pouches?
The library card canvas pouch holds my keys, my hand cream, headphones and phone charger on Bobino cord wraps to keep them from tangling, and a granola bar. My motto is have snack, will travel. My current favs are Cascadian Farm Protein Roasted Nut Bars.

The mint green pouch has pens and pencils galore. A girl’s gotta write, and a girl’s gotta color code.

The coral and yellow coin purse holds my chapstick and a pair of nail clippers. You never know when you might need them.

I appreciate utility, but I also like my life to be aesthetically pleasing. I’ve tried to strike a balance between the two by choosing useful items in bright colors or fun patterns. My brain seems to emulate the state of my bag, so when my bag is organized I’m less scattered and I focus better. I avoid those moments at the coffee shop where I realize my phone is dying and I don’t have the charger. My pens aren’t marking up my laptop and my chapstick is readily found. My bag works as hard as I do, and yours should too!

P.S. I’m not a total stickler…not everything has to be perfectly organized, and sometimes I break my own rules.

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Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman