There is no getting around it – I’m not as young as I used to be and my poor old shoulders can’t cope with all the gear I want to lug around with me. Much of my spare time recently has been spent pondering ways to lighten the load whilst not entirely giving up the things that make me happy.

For one element of my daily needs, I’ve settled on the pictured leather music case, a pre-loved item from Etsy, which is the perfect size and weight to carry my work essentials: task book, a small pencil case, plus laptop and headset when I need to work from home. The single short handle makes it comfortable to carry in the hand whilst the bright red leather elevates it from being a boring work item into a piece that brings joy into the workday.

One excellent way to lighten the load would be to buy lunch every day as that is, for once in my working life, actually a possibility. However, I cannot escape the frugality drummed into me by my mother and so I carry on packing my own lunch which means the second part of my gear is a lunch bag. I can manage that and my “briefcase”.

This leaves the vexing question of everything else. I’ve been using a medium-sized cross-body bag to carry the minimum that I want to have with me, but I need to cut back further. Some elements are quick wins. I still, for example, want to carry a fountain pen because it’s an intrinsic part of how I see myself, but where I have been carrying three I can easily cut back to one. My lovely flat wallet (oh, how I adore it!) is the ideal solution to carrying cash, cards, ID etc. One of my bugbears is the necessity of carrying reading glasses, but I’m going to experiment with a tiny pair for on the go whilst my full-size prescription glasses stay at home for longer sessions of close-up work (I have a pair of prescription glasses which stay at the office, too).

But inevitably I hit the impenetrable thicket surrounding the whole the diary/notebook situation. Just having my appointments on my phone makes most sense, but I know that does not make me happy and it’s a very poor experience to jot even a quick note. I want paper, and I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide what format that paper should be. My thoughts today (and this does not in any way constitute an actual decision) are that I definitely need something smaller than the A5 Stamford Notebook Company diary refill I’m currently using. I’ve done well in dismissing some formats, for example I’ve decided a loose-leaf system such as Filofax or William Hannah even in a small size is still going to be too bulky. I’ve toyed with the idea of a slimmer A5 format such as the Mark + Fold Monthly diary, and this remains a contender. However, for the time being I’ve chosen to experiment with some pocket sized options to see if I can make them work. Specifically, I’ve ordered the pocket-sized version of the Stamford Notebook Company diary refill that I’m currently using, but I’ve also ordered a 6-month version in the same size which they design to use in their Traveller Notebook covers. I’m not convinced this size is going to make me the least bit happy, but if neither works then I’m narrowing down my choice and that feels like a win.

I keep telling myself that whatever I end up with, I only have to make it work for four more years, and that is no time at all. Once I’m done with my formal working life, I can revert to my preferred A5 formats, knowing that I will finally be the only one in control of the technology I need to access. Then again, maybe pocket sized options will turn out to be just my cup of tea and I’ll wonder why I never made the move before.

I dare say until the smaller items wing their way to me, I will try a different bag combination every day. I certainly have no shortage of bags to try, but I’m looking forward to getting to a point where I am trying to cram fewer items into them.

9 thoughts on “Lightening the load

  1. How about Field Notes? I believe they may now do a planner – Pure pens have some as do Cult pens.
    Constant frustrating problem the planner diary and what size format……been bugging me on and off for too many years to mention.

    1. Ah, Field Notes is an interesting idea. I have also thought about the pocket journals from William Hannah which hold one month’s worth of daily pages – the format is more for quick guided journaling, but it could work for appointments and tasks. Mind you, it would probably be easier to get my shoulders replaced than to find a perfect planner!

  2. I hate lugging around too many things, so if i have to take lunch etc, i use a backpack. If i just take the car, i put everything in a midi sized Liebeskind handbag, it fits my lunch, perfume, cosmetics and some smaller items, but the bag alone is really heavy, so i would not use it for a bus- and train commute.

    1. Ah, it’s so true that you need to fit your bags around your mode of transport. When my work involved a pleasant cycle commute I was a big fan of Basil bags which would hook onto the rear rack. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with backpacks and although I can see they are very good for the posture, they don’t seem to do anything to help my sore shoulder. I’m looking forward to getting some mini versions of my favourite things to make my commute easier.

  3. A further thought – Traveller’s Company – Cult pens have a selection and did have the undated weekly planner if that meets your needs, many notebooks as well. Slightly larger than some of the Field notes ones. Moleskine Cahier (?), Waterstones equivalent

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