About a year ago I, like so many before me, made the decision to go freelance. The numbers don't lie; the so-called "Gig Economy" has experienced a sharp uptick in recent years, and momentum is predicted to continue. A 2017 study estimated that 50.9 percent of the workforce will be freelance by the year 2027, up from the current 36 percent). My newly adopted career path has its peaks and valleys like any desk job, however there's one aspect I've found to uniquely contrast my prior 9-to-5's: I've swapped a more sedentary lifestyle for constant movement throughout the work week. This is glorious for achieving my 10 thousand daily steps, but it's also forced me to become my own one-woman mobile office. With these big life changes, I quickly realized that I needed to find the best work bag to keep up with me. For the last 11 months, I schlepped around an old backpack that could carry my laptop and a couple of other choice items, and while it got the job done, it simply wasn't checking off all the boxes.
In early February, I kicked my tired carryall to the curb and replaced it with a real deal grownup work tote. My requirements were simple: something to keep me organized, something that wouldn't hurt my spine, and something that would make me feel polished. I already knew I'd need a long, sturdy handle to reduce potential neck pain, but I tapped an organizational expert to help me fill in any other gaps. Her insights are definitely worth giving a look before you invest in your own, regardless if you're freelance or work at a company full time.
Check For Compartments
As obvious as it may seem, it's worth mentioning that your carryall should have the proper means to neatly divide your belongings. "A good work bag should have pockets to hold small items and a main compartment big enough for your laptop or whatever device you need for work," Clutter Cowgirl's Jeni Aron tells TZR. "If your tote doesn't have a pocket or two, use small zippered bags that can categorize and hold your items so small stuff doesn't fall to the bottom of your bag and you can grab it easily."
Curate Your Cargo
"Leave any duplicate items home. You do not need four highlighter pens, you need only one good working one... Think of what you absolutely need and only bring those items each day," Aron continues. "When you come home each night, remove any items that you know weren't needed so you can have a lighter lift the next day." In terms of what you should bring along for the ride, Aron suggests essentials like business cards, a pen, lip balm, a planner, a small Moleskine notebook, and any client notes that might pertain to the day.
I know it sounds crazy but I navigate life more positively now with a sleek, organized tote in tow (I finally settled on Creagh's sleek Work Bag). I liken the experience to buying my first Outdoor Voices kit. Investing in cute and comfortable exercise gear gives me increased motivation to work out, my tote makes me feel like I can take on the world. "I think there should be an emotional connection between you and your work bag," Creagh Designer Sara Creagh tells TZR. "If [it] makes you feel more polished, organized, and powerful, I’d say that’s a success."
Emotions aside, a work bag simply makes me feel more professional and efficient now. At all times I can locate my wallet, keys, Metrocard, cosmetic pouch, laptop, pen, notebook, and beyond in under 5 seconds. "There’s nothing chicer than being able to unzip your bag and effortlessly pull out your laptop, notebook, or business cards in the middle of the meeting without any awkward rummaging," Creagh adds. If, like me, you're ready to part ways with your old tote then you'll be needing a few suggestions to replace it with.
Ahead, work bags for a more organized and professional you.