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The Things We Carry

If you want a good laugh and aren’t easily offended (seriously—it’s a minefield of f-bombs), check out Adam Sandler’s 100% Fresh comedy special on Netflix. The show is a montage of mostly short, comic songs penned and sung by Sandler with a musical accompanist and it’s pretty hilarious. One of his songs, “Phone, Wallet, Keys,” really resonated with me, organizing-wise.

Sandler’s song is about a guy who feels great about leaving the house for any situation with just his phone, his wallet, and his keys. He soon realizes though, that his stuff-focused American life requires carrying around a lot more and he is no longer a footloose and hands-free man with nothing but the contents of his pants pockets.

My personal organizing bugaboo is carrying around too much stuff. I’ve got my handbag, which varies in size depending on my outfit and mood; suffice to say it is never big enough. So, I also have to have a tote bag for a clipboard, papers, laptop. I also have a few books in case I’m somewhere with time to read and a couple notebooks to write in.

I have my cooler lunch bag, since I like to eat a certain way that necessitates refrigeration or at least a cold pack. I have my work bag of tools (labeler, tape measure, etc.). I have a bag of small rolled up grocery bags. I have a small pouch for my phone charger and ear buds and another for parking meter change. I have a gym bag, in case I’m somewhere and have the time to workout. I have a couple gallons of water and a few emergency supplies.

When I get my car vacuumed, I have to make an embarrassing five or six trips from the vehicle to the waiting area with armfuls of stuff. I’m determined to lighten my load on the road.

First, the gym bag. In the last ten years I think I’ve made a spontaneous decision to go to a gym once. That’s an easy bag to leave home.

Do I really need such a heavy tool bag? I can let go of the stuff I never or very rarely use and take advantage of the extra room to consolidate things like my ear buds, pouch of parking meter change (these days most meters accept credit cards, so I could even let this pouch go) and extra phone charger.

Since the smart phone takes the place of a myriad of things (phone book, calendar, stop watch, pedometer, camera, etc.) the phone charger is important to carry—one for the car and one with the wall adapter in case I’m stranded with a low battery at an appointment.

I do treasure my little rolled up reusable grocery bags. I have them corralled in a bag that is meant to be a trash receptacle that hangs off the back of the driver’s seat. I have a separate trash receptacle for trash that hangs off the back of the passenger’s seat. It’s one of my simple systems that is so easy to use and maintain. Since the bags are attached to the seats, I don’t have to remove them when I get the car vacuumed.

I always have a ton of reading material with me, but I think I will start leaving that at home and use my phone’s Kindle and iBooks apps and take advantage of my New York Times and New Yorker online subscriptions. For journaling and recording ideas I can forgo a notebook and use the notes function on my phone. Organizing books and papers in my car is a hassle I’ve gotten tired of.

If I’m just driving around the valley, one gallon of water is enough, and I can leave my emergency supplies in the garage and only load them up for longer trips. My first responder friends won’t be happy with me, but I’m going to take the big win on lightness for the minimal loss on safety for this one.

I will probably still carry a handbag with me daily (phone, wallet, keys, lipstick), but on days I have meetings I think I will consolidate the handbag contents with a tote for papers and just carry one bag.

Where I draw the line is my cooler bag. I love my freezable lunch bag that I picked up at the Container Store. Since I have a pretty strict diet and a serious caffeine addiction, having my own ingestibles with me is a non-negotiable.

Is there something you’re carrying or that is rolling around in your trunk that you never or very rarely use? Take a fresh look at everything you think you need to have with you and I hope you’ll be able to lighten your load.