Confession: Beyond some high school jobs many moons ago, I've never worked in a cubicle or an office full-time. I've experienced cube life, but in short bits when I worked in the Writing Center during graduate school or tutored students at my local college. By short bits, I mean 5 hours MAX per day for a couple of days per week, nothing like a traditional office life, so naturally, I'm a master at packing work gear.
Fresh out of graduate school, I decided NOT to get a "real job." I say "real job" amusingly and sarcastically because even as someone who makes a living owning a small business, people ask, "When do you think you'll get a real job." Cue a serious eye roll. My answer: "Never."
Part of it is that as a creative, I can't sit still, and I don't like pretending to work to kill hours. My creative process involves dancing to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" when I have writer's block, rereading my writing out loud (it's a common editorial trick), and general talking, singing, or humming to myself.
Not a good mix for cube life. In fact, I'm positive I would be the worst cube mate (if that's a thing?). I also watch reruns of Real Housewives purely for background noise. Blame it on growing up in a loud, big Greek family. #sorrynotsorry Note: I also realize this is unrealistic for coffee shop life or shared spaces, so I tend to do my marketing strategies in shared spaces and my creative work in private spaces like a hotel, which is why I always upgrade my room when/if possible.
I have a home office in my 450 square foot tiny house. It's true; but I also travel a lot, so I'm bouncing from state to state, coffee shop to coffee shop, and hotel to hotel. This isn't really unique for most people who "work from home." With travel/work, the hot topic of the day is, "How do you pack when you're traveling for work?" I've somewhat mastered this, so here are my top products to keep your junk together, cute, and organized, starting with the bags!
- Sole Society Weekender Bag: This year alone, this bag has traveled over 17,000 miles. I've carried it from Greece to Denver, CO and beyond. My trick is to use packing cubes to pack my clothes and stick them in the bottom shoe compartment. THEN, I have the entire top section for my laptop, iPad, the gear listed below, AND even my DSLR if I'm shooting. The absolute bonus is that it's a really great looking bag, and it allows you to travel with just a carry on.
- North Face Borealis Backpack in Rose Gold: For shorter trips or day trips, I love this bag because it's small, but it still has a laptop sleeve, and with a couple of packing cubes, you're good to go. I throw my flashes and a water bottle in the side pockets. Plus, I clip my external hard drive and SD Card Case with a carabiner to the side pocket as well. If your bag is feeling full, you can also strap/stow additional lightweight stuff (like shoes or a reflector) to the front pouch.
- Everlane Modern Commuter backpack : This bag comes highly rated! If you're needing a more business appropriate pack, Everlane is your go-to. This pack has a padded pouch for your laptop, and it's super sturdy. The zippers are a home run.
Your packing list should include power chords (also a portable solar panel if you're on the road (love this one for my phone), wifi tools, and privacy screens if you're working at a coffee shop. I tend to work from corner spots in a coffee shop or where my computer is facing a wall, so there aren't any peepers. It makes me feel more physically and technologically private.
- Packing Cubes and/or Universal Cable Organizer: I say and/or because it depends on what you do for a living. Since I do a lot of content creation, blog layouts, and content marketing, I tend to travel with an External Hard and an SD hard case. Packing Cubes allow me to stack all of these bad boys together and then throw them gently into my bag. If you're traveling with just chords, a cable organizer is perfect. Bonus: Packing cubes are totally worth buying because they are the perfect packing for traveling beyond work. They are a legit game changer!
- External Hard Drive: Enough said. After a shoot or project, I move all my files onto this bad boy for quick and easy travel plus total organization.
- PowerStation USB-C XXL battery pack From EWR to DEN, I know without a clock when my flight is almost over because it coincides with my battery being dead from using photoshop the entire flight. This battery pack is a game changer. No more searching for plug sockets at Starbucks (because they are ALWAYS taken) or stressing about a dead battery mid-flight or mid-Zoom call!
- Beats Headphones in Gold: I do everything in these from washing my car to tuning out coffee shop noises. They even help with jet lag because they reduce the general loud plane sounds and vibrations, not even kidding. If you're basic, like me, you're probably obsessed with Rose Gold. I'm not thrilled with Apple's Rose Gold; it's too pink, so I went with Gold. They look better, in my humble opinion, and I just love them! No chords means no chord tangle! Win-win!
- iPad (or Tablet) and Folding Case: If I'm doing something like writing copy, I enjoy having two screens. One screen holds my writing, and the other screen holds research or whatever documents I need to reference. If you bring an iPad (or tablet) with a folding case and prop it up next to your laptop screen, you now have two screens to work with. #perfection Here's another quirky option if the one above is too simplistic.
According to Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace survey, 43% of people spent at least some time working away from the office, and those who worked remotely as many as four days a week felt more engaged in their jobs than those in an office. And research shows that if you move around, you're likely to be more productive, which is why people get up, take walks, and so forth. I like to go outside and pick roses, but that's just me. So grab your gear, get outside, and pick some f*cking roses, folks.