My Location-Independent Office

I’ve always been a big-desk person. Ever since high school, when I rejected the little girl’s desk in my bedroom for the lure of the dining room table, I’ve preferred to work on a large space. I also like lots of legroom. While my legs are pretty short, I’m a leg fidget. . . I poke them out in different directions, sit on them, prop them up—all difficult to do under a traditional desk. I also like having all my books, and notebooks, and various accoutrements at arms’ reach.

As my computer transitioned from tool to virtual workspace, this inclination for space didn’t go away. I still worked at a large desk, but my digital workspace also grew. For the last few years, I’ve had a 26-inch display connected to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. And I use both screens at the same time.

I’ve also always been well supplied. Like most editors, I love “school supplies,” and I keep my supplies for years. Pens, pencils, paper clips, highlighters, sticky notes, sticky flags, staples, those rubber thimbles that help you flip through paper (as if I EVER flip through a stack of paper anymore!). I’ve got it all—I even have a hole-puncher, despite not having used a three-ring binder in years. I admit that most of these things are now obsolete, but I’ve kept them neat and organized and at my fingertips, just in case.

My workspace was so kitted-out, it caused envy in more than one quarter. A visitor to my office couldn’t help but stare when they saw Word, Acrobat, Mail, iTunes, Skype, and Twitter all open at once in their own special spot with no window overlap. It was truly glorious.

But on the Canada Day weekend, I dismantled it all. I gave away my excellent collection of supplies and found a new home for my big, giant display. (Those who helped me move went home with some awesome takeaways.)

I’ve worked remotely before, surviving with just my laptop and a few necessary items (I’ve been known to travel with a milk crate of books and supplies, when possible, but usually it’s just a full backpack). But this time it’s different. In the past, I always knew that I’d be back at my desk eventually, and even put off various tasks until I had my screen real estate back.

Now my entire life, including my office, needs to fit on my back. Thanks to technology, this is possible. But it’s going to take some getting used to.

The Nomadic Office

My workspace for the foreseeable future.

My new office includes the following:

  • MacBook Air, 13-inch (that’s 28-inches downsized)
  • WD portable hardrive, 1TB
  • 100GB back-up space on the cloud*
  • Kensington universal power adaptor
  • Apple Magic Mouse
  • A mini wrist-rest bean bag
  • iPhone*
  • Pencil case full of supplies I probably don’t need
  • Case with power cords, cables, headphones (and power adaptor, mouse, and bean bag listed above)
  • Case with extension power cord, mini-power bar, extra USB/Ethernet cords, other device chargers (camera & e-reader)
  • Notebook, small
  • Folder with necessary papers*

*Not pictured (my iPhone was taking the photo and my folder is almost the same colour as the table, so I didn’t bother with it, and the cloud is non-corporeal)

These last few weeks I’ve been staying with family. So, I’m only pretending to work remotely—I still have paper files and books, and boxes of supplies—and even a printer—strewn across the guest, dining, and TV rooms. But in a week’s time, the office-in-a-backpack will be put to the test. Here’s hoping I manage to shut down for five days of work-free touring in Iceland!