What's in Your Bag?

First in a new how we work/live series at University of Venus. 

April 13, 2014

Earlier this week, Liana Silva, writer here at UVenus and editor at Women in Higher Ed, asked us about our first-thing-in-the-morning work routines. I’m fascinated with how people work, from how they organize their days to the apps they use and even, what they carry in their briefcases/backpacks. When I have time, I indulge in reading through Lifehacker’s How I Work series. In 21st century higher ed and, with intellectual work in general, there are times when it can be difficult to distinguish work from non-work. That said, how we work is often linked to how we live our lives. So, I’m proposing a new how we work/live series.

Let’s start with - what is your backpack/briefcase/laptop bag equivalent and what’s in it?

Mary Churchill, Boston, USA: My bag is a small Timbuk2 Messenger bag. I usually walk 8-10 miles in a given day and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t carrying too much so I forced myself to get a smaller bag - internal dimensions 9x13 inches. What’s in it? Usually a thin file folder with current stuff I’m working on - right now, that contains someone’s resume, a meeting agenda, and some report summaries - budget, revenue, enrollment, and expense account. I also carry a small (8.25 x 5.875”) Black n’ Red hardbound notebook and I take all my meeting notes in this book. The rest - chewing gum, post-it notes, 3 black deluxe micro uni-ball pens, a small metal Muji business card holder with my Salem business cards and my UVenus/IHE business cards, a red HyperJuice micro charger to charge my phone on the go, small wallet, keys, lip balm, Kindle, Reisenthel reusable grocery bag in case I buy anything while I’m out, and my Samsung Galaxy SIII phone and charger.

Rosalie Hall, Iloilo, Philippines: My work bags are all the same shape-- big square versions of a sturdy shoulder bag  that can carry my MacBook Air with a zipped middle compartment for valuables-- but different designs to match my outfit (brown, black, white, candy stripes). I carry transparent plastic folders each with distinct types of papers: (1) things I need to submit/file/copy/scan; and (2) lecture notes for classes. I have a bag organizer (one blank printed; another bright red) that I can transfer easily from one bag to the next. In it I have at least 3 ballpens, sticky tabs, name cards in a red card case (purchased from Japan), mint, house keys and office keys, small leather credit card holder (where I also put my cash notes), a USB stick, earphones, reading glasses, a lipbalm, small notepad and a handkerchief (can’t leave without it in muggy Iloilo). I also have a small notebook with an elastic band where I record all my transactions; things to do; accounting etc. I basically can reconstruct my entire life from what is written there. I make sure my iPhone is charged before I leave the house, as is my MacBook Air. Hence, I never bring my cords or charger to work. I usually have a second bag (typically a book bag) that has my water bottle, umbrella, lunch box and assignment/bluebooks to return to students.

Janni Aragon, Victoria, Canada: I use different bags, but they all have the same things in them and I list in no particular order. My MAC lipstick, purple pens, water, my phone, and my iPad or laptop.

Bonnie Stewart, Charlottetown, Canada: I’m in the privileged position of working primarily from home at the moment...so at least three days a week I don’t need a work “bag,” which is grand. Rather, I make sure my kindergartener and second grader have what they need in THEIR bags and then I just plunk myself on a piece of nearby furniture with my laptop. But when I teach and consult and do committee work, I *do* actually have to leave the house...so I was delighted when I found a bag I loved a few years back. It’s my go-to, and I pretty much leave my life in it, ready to be grabbed and hauled out the door at a moment’s notice. It’s is a PIEL leather messenger bag, hardy and surprisingly spacious, but shaped so as not to be too wide or awkward. It fits over one shoulder and across my body, goes with (or I like to tell myself it goes with) pretty much everything I own, and holds my laptop and wallet and a few books if needed. It also always has a secret stash of chocolate in it, plus my phone, sunglasses, an array of pens and lip balms, and my passport and gas coupons and stray things my kids hand me. This week, I’m in Scotland for a conference so it’s also carting train passes and tourist booklets, and is holding up beautifully.

 Ana Dinescu, Berlin,Germany: I am exclusively working from home, so except for the occasions when I travel mid or short term, I carry normal elegant bags, big enough to carry my Kindle, my cell phone and eventually a camera.

So, smart and savvy readers, what’s in your bag? How does it help you work/live?


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