Productivity & Effectiveness

My Everyday Carry (As a manager)

By 03/02/2021 No Comments

There’s a glimmer of hope that we’ll be returning to the office very soon (I’m writing this in January 2021 during the lockdown).

I for one am very grateful to those who have no choice but to go to work in roles far more important than mine. But I am, to be honest, looking forward to getting back into society and back to work. 

I’ve missed the social interaction and the energy that comes from people buzzing in an office getting stuff done.

As such I thought I’d share my everyday carry as a manager. The things I carry with me when I’m working. As a practicing stoic and minimalist – I try to only carry the essentials. 

In this video and blog I will share with you those very things. (Note: The links in this article are affiliate links. If you purchase something after following the link you pay nothing more, but I earn a tiny commission that helps to pay the hosting costs).

The Carry

I flit between two main bags depending on my mood, the context and whether or not my rotator cuff injury is playing up 🙂

If I’m doing client visits, or trying to make a good first impression, I always go for the leather satchel. Pairing this with a smart outfit conveys a sort of confidence and professionalism that hides my high levels of immaturity…at least for a while. I cover why “power dressing” works in my online communication course – the science is strong on this one. So, I utilise this when possible and sometimes, I just feel like making an effort. 

If my shoulder is hurting or I want to be more comfortable, or I’m travelling then I tend to use an Osprey rucksack. It’s super useful and comfortable. It has pockets galore and really is a very practical bag. 

The Gadgets

My laptop of choice is a 2019 MacBook Pro with touch bar. I don’t use the touch bar much but it seems whizzy.

It’s expensive but it’s the powerhouse of my everyday carry. It just works and it’s fast and light. I write using the MacBook and then revert to my iMac for editing videos, recording podcasts and doing music production. 

To keep them in sync I use Evernote, Dropbox, Google drive and Airdrop (Apple’s built in sharing tool). 

Carry Case and Connectors

As I work with many clients and I have a Mac, I have to therefore carry plenty of cables and connectors around. 

I use a little bag from Ikea (don’t seem to sell it anymore) which I believe is actually supposed to be a toiletries bag, but it works perfectly for gadgets and connectors.

I use an Anker Power Bank for charging on the go. This thing is a beast. It lasts for hours and can easily charge my iPhone around three times before the battery itself needs charging. 

I have headphones for my iPhone and laptop – they would use different connectors right?

And of course a dongle for the MacBook which has SD card, USB and HDMI so I can use a monitor. I use the Fitfort connector – works well, although sometimes with everything plugged in it slows down. They all do to be honest, but this ones seems the best of the three I’ve been through.

I also have a charger cable for my camera, which we’ll come to in a minute.

I also have a presentation clicker as I often do sales pitches, workshops and presentations. I use this Breett clicker – works well.

My phone of choice is an iPhone 10 – does the job and syncs nicely with my other Apple devices and tech. Except for some reason, Evernote no longer has a widget function on the latest OS…oh dear. 

And of course – a charger. When will the day come when a single cable charges everything?

Stationery Freak

I use analogue techniques for note taking, doodles and writing. I like how I can disconnect and not be distracted by the siren call of notifications and the internet. Writing also allows me to use my brain to make notes, rather than simply transcribe notes on the laptop. 

I love stationery, it’s why I co-host the Stationery Freaks podcast with Helen Lisowski 🙂

So, my notebook of choice is a Concept A4 Yellow Legal Pad. I like the colour and the sheer amount of space that an A4 pad gives me. I tend to use the pad for meeting notes and doodles. 

I prefer the Cornell Notetaking method as it allows me to keep notes and actions separate. I’ve done a video on note taking before here. 

I use a small Oxford Black ‘n’ Red Notebook that I slip in my pocket for observations, ideas and actions that happen on the go. The paper on this notebook is great and paired with a decent pen (we’ll come on to these in a minute) makes all the difference. 

My pen of choice is a Pental Energel 07. It never misses a beat and has a pretty perfect grip. They are also super cheap and just work. I use this pen for meeting notes, doodles and diagrams. It’s quick and easy to write with. 

If I want to slow down I revert to a basic cheap Parker Fountain Pen. It helps me to slow down, as writing with a fountain pen, at least for me, is not an easy or quick affair. But that’s precisely why I like using it. I can slow down and think. I use it for longer form writing, like writing chapters of books, or strategy ideas, or client briefings. I use the fountain pen for journaling too – video here. 

I use pencils a lot, especially for doodling and rapid idea generation. My choice is the super cheap, but wonderful to write with, Staedtler Noris School Pencil – yes, the ones kids use in schools. They are mega cheap and they do the job nicely. Not too heavy, not too light with the lead. 

I use a simple Staedtler eraser and a sharpener I’ve had since I was about 12. Still works. 

I store the stationery in a simple hard shell pencil case. I work with people, like Helen, who have loads of pens and pencil cases. It’s just not me. I like to travel light and I like to be able to find pens and pencils quickly, so this simple, minimalist pencil case is perfect. 

The Camera

The art of good management and leadership is noticing. It’s about spotting patterns, behaviours and areas of improvement around us. It’s about noticing and observing, and photography is a wonderful way to develop that art of noticing. 

Being able to spot angles, stories, details and nuances in the world around us helps to hone that awareness skill. And with a wider awareness you will spot areas for improvement, behaviours that are positive that need encouraging, patterns of how work flows, details in how work is done.

Photography really does help me to notice the world around me, capture it in interesting ways and tell stories about it – all directly transferable skills to the art of management. 

I use a Ricoh GR (link to version 3 – I have version 1 – they don’t sell it anymore). It’s pretty old and was very expensive at the time. It has a full APSC sensor (which is good), full manual controls and is super pocketable. It has a fixed 28mm lens, which means that if I want to zoom – I have to use my feet.

The GR1 doesn’t have wi-fi (GR3 does) so I pair it with a Flashair SD Card which allows me to sync the photos with my phone for Instagram

There is a Ricoh GR3 out right now with a touch screen, wi-fi and more megapixels. It’s a bit of a beast apparently – one day. 

The downside of the Ricoh GRD is that the video is awful – I mean really bad. And no zoom – but the photos are so good that a simple crop often does the trick. 

The Book

Carry isn’t just about items that help me get things done, but also about items that I can use to learn.

I carry around everywhere a copy of “Growing a Business” by Paul Hawken.

I try to read a little each day and as you can see from the photos, it’s covered in doodles, underlines and highlighter pen. It really is a wonderful book.

It was written in the 1980s and is about growing a mail order catalogue, but modernise the delivery of value and you still have an incredibly powerful book. It really is wonderful for anyone wanting to start their own business, grow a business or simply become a better manager. Wonderful book. 

Conclusion

As you can see I like to carry light. I don’t take anything with me that doesn’t serve a purpose. Sure, sometimes I have extra paperwork or I have to take my portable desk riser with me, but on the whole, the majority of my everyday carry is light. Simple, useful and helpful tools that help me be as productive as possible without carrying tons of stuff with me. 

What’s in your everyday carry?

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Rob

Rob