The 10 indispensable things I keep in my laptop bag at all times

by | Jun 14, 2016 | General Productivity

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes, 9s.


Each week I receive a couple of emails asking what I like to carry with me when I travel. Believe it or not, this post took me a pretty long time to write. It’s not that writing listicles like this one is hard—it isn’t. But what took so long was settling into a routine to write about in the first place.

I travel quite a bit, and when I’m home, I also work out of quite a few different places (coffee shops included). But over the last couple of years, I’ve started to carry around a few items everywhere I go that have become indispensable.

In case you’re looking for a few ideas for what to carry with you, or you’re just straight up looking for some semi-interesting productivity porn, here are 10 things I keep in my laptop bag at all times that I wouldn’t go anywhere without!

1. Aukey 10,000mAh charger, $22. This $22 charger will recharge your phone several times, and is small enough to fit into the side pocket of your purse, laptop bag, or briefcase. It’s also one of the cheaper chargers on the market today, and works really well. I highly recommend it.

2. Amazon Basics 4″ Lightning Cable, $6. I’m a big fan of Amazon Basics products—their shredder, for example, is one of the best out there. Plus sometimes, a cable is just a cable. I originally bought this cable by mistake (I had intended to buy a much larger one), but have grown to love it over time. It takes up hardly any space, is super durable, and I usually keep it plugged into the Aukey charger for when I’ll inevitably need it.

3. Soylent 2.0, $2.42 each. As I wrote the other week, the Soylent 2.0 formula is actually pretty damn good. Sometimes when I’m on-the-go, I want to eat something healthy, but don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to think about what or where to eat. Soylent is perfect for these cases. I usually keep a bottle or two in my bag.

4. A spare laptop charger. Laptop chargers are damn expensive, so I add this item to the list with a bit of trepidation. But if you’re on-the-go quite a bit, this is likely a worthwhile purchase. Most of the time I leave a charger in my office and in my bag, so I can up and go quickly.

5. 5″ x 3.5″ Lined Moleskin Journal, $11. For several years, I thought Moleskin notebooks were an overpriced gimmick—until one day I found myself on the road without a notepad, and I had no choice but to buy one. Today, I wouldn’t go back—the quality of these notebooks is fantastic, and this particular notebook is a great size for either a bag or a coat pocket. I use mine to capture thoughts, ideas, notes during meetings, and for defining my daily intentions.

6. Pilot Precise V5 RT pens, $1.65 each. Before picking up a box of these, I didn’t think it was impossible to fall in love with a pen. But a few months into using these, I’m head over heels. This is the best pen I’ve ever used—I’m a bit of a pen nut and have tried dozens—and best of all, they don’t cost a fortune. Highly recommended.

7. 13″ Retina Macbook Pro. My laptop of choice! I don’t go anywhere without this thing.

8. One book (for downtime). Whenever I’m traveling and find myself without something to do, I turn to the book in my laptop bag. While a book takes up a good deal of space relative to an e-reader, I love having one nearby so I can use those time gaps wisely, instead of burning that time doing something pointless on my phone or tablet. (Pictured: Consciousness and the Brain.)

9. Onnit Alpha Brain Instant, $2 each. This is subjective, but I find that this product helps me focus better and for longer, particularly when I’m low on energy. Just mix a packet with water, and you’re good to go. Onnit’s site for Alpha Brain Instant is chock full of marketing hype—the studies cited on the product page, for example, are for the main Alpha Brain product and not this one—but I consider this product is great enough to keep a few on me at all times.

10. Letterpressed Business cards. I recently ponied up for fancy letterpress business cards from Elegantepress. Letterpressed business cards cost quite a bit more, but I don’t think I’ll go back. I always make sure to keep a steady stock of these in my laptop bag—business cards may seem like a corny item to add to this list, but I find I need them when I least expect it.

Hope you find this helpful! And if you’re looking for a laptop bag, I highly recommend Claire Chase’s Sorrento Messenger bag.

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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