You can tell a lot about a person by what they carry. Are they prepared for contingencies? Is their gear organized, secure, and accessible? Do they carry around pictures of their cat dressed in different outfits?
In the military, building a proper kit is an obsessive preoccupation. A soldier’s kit is a reflection of his competence and mindset. The same goes same for first responders and outdoor athletes. Yet the rest of us are often disorganized and unprepared.
Thinking about your kit will help you be more effective on the job, make a better impression on colleagues, and commute for efficiently. Moreover, the days of suits, briefcases, and folios are giving way to bike gear, messenger bags, and iPads. Lean and functional is in.
Here’s our starter professional kit for 2013:
1. Messenger Bag
They’re light, come in various sizes, and distribute weight close to your torso better than a backpack. They’re also really hard to steal off your shoulder.
For the formal crowd (or ninjas), they come in black.
2. Ultrabook or iPad
…preferably an iPad mini. Do you really need gaming-quality processing on the train? Are you sure?
Get a bluetooth keyboard if you type often. For sales reps or anyone making presentations, add a portable projector. Apple’s Passbook is also great to store tickets, coupons, and other paper items that normally clutter your bag.
3. A charger for every device you carry
Sure, it adds weight, but you never have to worry about batteries running out – especially important for sales reps on the go.
For green types, check out solar chargers.
4. Extra business cards
Business cards need to die. Until then, they’re professional currency. Always carry enough of your own, but don’t carry around other people’s cards. Instead, take a photo of them and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you a .vcf file back.
(For software developers, check out our Card Reader API for business card transcription.)
5. A tech survival kit
…including adapters, a USB hub, and extendable Ethernet cables. This is a must for software developers but also useful for any customer-facing job. You wouldn’t want your presentation derailed because you can’t connect to the customer’s antiquated video system.
…for when the time-share salesman on the plane wants to tell you his life story.
Also good for tuning out hipsters in coffee shops discussing amazing bands you haven’t heard of yet.
7. Down jacket, extra ski hat, and glove liners
…for days when the weather changes rapidly. Down is warm, light, and compresses well. You can also use it to protect your laptop if you don’t have a sleeve.
8. Small quick-dry towel and mini-umbrella
Quick-dry towels are versatile and reusable, and great for cleaning up coffee spills on the go. Umbrellas are also good for impromptu dance numbers in the rain.
9. Small LED flashlight
They last forever and keep you from relying on a flashlight app if the power goes out. A must for developers who have to check on servers or take computers apart.
You know the feeling of respect you have for the person in the office who always pulls out the right tool to fix broken items? For ten bucks, you can be that person. Plus, they have bottle openers. Why does no one ever have a bottle opener?
11. Mini-medical kit
…including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, Band-Aids, and tape. You’ll thank yourself when you’ve got a crushing headache the day after a “networking” event. You’ll also be happy you have Vitamin C when your cubicle mate brings back an Ebola variant from Mexico.
12. Small retention straps
…as well as velcro patches, binder clips, and assorted plastic bags and paper clips. More on this below.
How to Carry All This Stuff:
- Tether as much as possible to the bag itself using retention cord or rubber bands, so you don’t lose items.
- Separate loose items into plastic bags or modular compartments, which you can tape or velcro to flat areas.
- Organize items based on priority of use. The more likely you are to need it, the more accessible it should be. Items you might need on the go can be attached to your shoulder strap.
- Write your blood type and emergency contact info in an immediately visible place inside the bag. If you commute on your bike, this is mandatory.
- Use binder clips to shorten and secure wires so the inside doesn’t turn into cord hell.
That’s our list. What did we forget?