Productivity on the moooooove

I travel a lot… a lot! Lots of it is by train, some by car when the train won’t cut it, and there’s more shifting around within my home region of the northeast of England than you’d expect, as I go to meetings, have coffee with clients and research in libraries etc. So that means it isn’t always a good idea to spend time going back to my office between appointments. Sure, my office has bigger, faster hardware so I can get more done per hour there than I can in a cafe, but the travel time back is sometimes prohibitive. I’ve written about that here, too, from the other perspective.

But let’s be clear here, this is a personal blog!   I’m not suggesting you should do what I do! Your needs will be different from mine, but a few people have asked how I manage what I do – without knackering myself and without compromising my time with friends and family! So here we go – a personal tour through what we call my ‘mobile office’.

What does the mobile office look like?

My mobile office - the key to productivity on the move!
My mobile office – the key to productivity on the move!

The mobile office itself isn’t huge, just a canvas satchel. The silver thing on top of it in this photo is a glasses case (for scale). One of my few admissions that I’m getting older is that I take my reading glasses with me.  (You can see that same case in the centre of the picture of the contents, below.

It’s a fabulous little thing that served me well early last year when I was traveling around Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. I used it as a day-bag, so it’s not exactly huge, and I cram quite a bit in, as you’ll see below,  so the packing of it takes some thought.

On the upside, though, by having it packed as I do, I can set up an office, or even a recording studio anywhere I can find a suitable space. Productivity on the move!

So what typical things do I use as I travel?

This picture’s of what you get when you empty my satchel.

In the bottom left is the workhorse of the whole thing: my seven year old laptop – a MacBook Air. At some point I suppose I’d better replace it, but to be honest, it’s still working and it’s sill fast enough for anything I’d need to do on the road. Above it is a charger for my iPhone that can recharge my 5SE up to four times. No panics about charge for me! 🙂

Above that is my Evernote Notebook (see here for some thoughts on that!) and above that is a headset/microphone for when I want to listen to, well… whatever!

To the right of the notebook is the charger for my laptop and then a little grip-tripod. It’s a cheap little thing but when I combine it with a microphone and my iPhone I’ve now got a portable video recording studio! The bag to the right of the tripod is the home of my little Rhodes microphone: it turns my iPhone into an audio recording studio in any reasonable conditions. It won’t handle anywhere with a lot of background noise, but anywhere that’s so noisy I can’t edit-to-useability (audacity forever!) on my laptop I probably would be too embarrassed to record in anyway!

Between that little combination of kit I can write blogs, listen to podcasts, capture thoughts on paper, charge everything, record audio and record video. The laptop also give me some editing capacity too!  What’s not to love!?

What about some odd bits?

I have to admit there are a few things I carry that I really, really can’t imagine many other people needing!

In the bottom right of the pic is a pair of USB-powered speakers. I use them as part of my work as a presentations trainer and professional speaker. Before you ask, yes, the venue should provide them for me but these are an emergency backup!

The same status (that of emergency backup) can be ascribed to the contents of the small white box between my headphones and my glasses in the picture – the magic box of adapter cables to allow my laptop to talk to pretty much any projector etc of any type, anywhere. Note – that’s not a challenge, thank you… no need to rush out and invite me to speak then sabotage me by using a new, unheard of adapter plug! 😉

The red box on the right contains a set of maker pens and the very top left of the picture shows an assortment of post-it notes and postcards that serve as training material and marketing material.

Honesty, I can’t imagine many people needing to have a mobile office like that! 🙂

Any bright ideas?

I’m not pretending my set-up is perfect – it just evolved over the years. If you’ve got any bits of kit or clever ideas that you use, let me know and I’ll pass them on to everyone in our community in a blog post, or a newsletter, or a podcast.

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