One of my long-time hobbies is thrift shopping, because of the cool treasures I can find to contribute to (what I imagine is) my eclectic style. I have found everything from designer handbags to silk dresses to hand painted wine glasses. Recently, I scored an incredible leather bag that – no exaggeration – changed my life.
I do admit that I have several beautiful bags and purses, and at some point I’m sure I thought each of them had “changed my life,” but this one truly did.
It’s a 100% leather briefcase tote; it’s slim with plenty of pockets and a sturdy but attractive handle. Best of all, it carries all of my key productivity tools so that I have them with me at all times.
Like you, I’m a busy person who finds time in the cracks of my day to manage a writing career. I write while waiting for baseball practice to finish, while I am waiting for a meeting to begin, and while I am on hold with the insurance company. The cracks appear in my day unexpectedly, so I have to be ready. That means that I need to have my productivity tools with me at all times. This bag has accomplished that for me.
What do these productivity tools include?
I will be writing a series about productivity tools, including software programs, apps, and other essentials. This is part #1, focused on the tools that I carry with me at all times (in my gorgeous leather tote!). They help me to stay productive throughout the day.
Laptop An essential laptop, for me, is one small enough to fit in my bag. I have a 13″ MacBook Air, protected by a hard shell case. It is a truly powerful machine with many helpful and time-saving functions. For example, I deliver virtual presentations using this laptop, and the camera and mic are excellent. It has a dictation function which I use to dictate emails and memos. And it has a terrific capacity for memory, which I use to store lots of photos and content to maintain my blog.
The size of this laptop is important to me. Sometimes, I find a few spare minutes to work, so I want to edit an essay or send an email to an editor. I can pull this laptop out of my bag easily (I always keep it charged) and get to work, knocking an important task off my list.
Headphones I keep a pair of standard headphones in my bag so that, no matter where I find time to work, I can block out noise. Ear buds, Air Pods… whatever you use, have something that you can pull out of your bag easily and quickly.
Cell phone Make sure your phone has a great camera so that you can take pictures to spruce up your social media posts and your blog. I will freely admit that, while I have a Mac laptop, I have an Android cell phone, and I’m very content with my double life. The screen is quite large, which makes the phone convenient to type emails on and even work on documents.
Hotspot Whether you have a hotspot as part of your cell phone plan, or a separate device that you carry with you, make sure you have one. Many times I have had to log into a meeting or do some work on my laptop while I’m traveling, and having a reliable hotspot is essential. Those times I mentioned, where I pull out my laptop while waiting for baseball practice to finish? I need that hotspot. It’s also a good backup for times when you think you have reliable WiFi, but are surprised. I have checked into hotel rooms, unpacked my bag, and set up my work station only to find that the signal is weak and therefore unusable. Having a strong backup on my cell phone is an essential service for me.
Backup Battery Pack You need one to charge your phone and laptop. It can be a lifesaver. Period.
Journal Can anyone truly call themselves a writer if they’re not carrying a journal? I actually have 2 journals that I keep in my bag at all times: a bullet journal (which I will be doing a separate post about) and a writing journal. Let me speak here about the writing journal, which is a place to keep all my ideas and perhaps even begin writing out the beginnings of stories or essays. If I find myself with a crack in my schedule, but do not want to take out my laptop, I pull out the writing journal. For example, if my team takes a long break during a meeting, or my students are working on an essay, I suddenly have 15 minutes available to me, so I spend it with my journal, writing, outlining, or brainstorming.
Writing Instrument Do not underestimate the power of a good pen or pencil. The productivity experts would call it, like the journal, an “analog tool.” Whatever you call it, having a pen that you like is essential. It is a terrific pleasure to write with a beautiful pen. You can be inspired to write simply by the feel and sound of your pen moving across the page. Don’t stick with only one: Sometimes I’m hooked on mechanical pencils, sometimes a good old Ticonderoga is essential, but my most trusted writing instrument is a good fountain pen. I keep extra cartridges with me at all times so I never run out of ink. If you have never tried writing with a fountain pen, get an inexpensive one and try it.
Stay tuned for the next part in the series, focused on digital tools, such as apps and software programs essential for the busy writer.