Hands Free – Do Your Tools Leave You Ready For Action?

by Randy Murray on July 6, 2010

Last week my pal Patrick Rhone called me out in a video where he demonstrated the way he structures part of his “system,” the set of tools that he uses to get things done. He and I share a love of all things Levenger and he showed a unique, if overstuffed way of using their Shirt Pocket Briefcase (SPB).

I immediately began planning my own video, but quickly realized that the way I use my SPB is part of a larger personal system, which required more videos and more explanation. I’m going to do it. It’ll be fun and useful. And it’ll give me an opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics: not carrying stuff.

After years of being a book-laden student, a waiter with a towel and tray, a farmhand always lugging something, and a construction worker with some tool always weighing me down, I developed a real aversion to carrying things, anything, when I don’t have to. I don’t care about when you are actually using a tool or a thing, I’m talking about all the other time you spend walking around, doing things. If I can manage to be hands-free and unburdened, I’m happy.

But I also like being completely prepared. It’s that combination Boy Scout training and growing up in the 1960’s, immersed in James Bond movies and books. Without resorting to spycraft, 007 is my model for having everything he could possibly need with him at all times, yet is also completely free and ready for action.

I have friends who, over the years, have resorted to fanny packs, even wheeled bags, in order to be completely prepared for business and work. I’ve almost always had to carry some sort of bag, a computer bag or brief case, if only to have space for a computer and all it requires, and room for a book or two. And I found that I was always unhappy at the load I was carrying and, frankly, rarely using. But today, I’m getting very close to my James Bond ideal. If you see me ready for a business meeting or just out and about you’ll see that I’m wearing a sports jacket and using a very thin leather shoulder bag. And I’ll be carrying nothing in my hands.

In my forthcoming video you’ll see it boils down to having a basic set of tools and materials that prepares you for a task that you know about, like a meeting, and also equips you for as many unknowns as possible. But it also means letting go of being prepared for literally everything. I’d need to carry a fire rescue truck to accomplish that – and don’t think I haven’t considered it.  With my hands free, but pockets filled just the right way, I think I can respond to unlikely events, like someone nearby bursting into flames, or the much more common occurrence of capturing a fresh idea or having something to read if I’m stuck waiting somewhere.*

I’m preparing my report on my systems. How do you prepare yourself and fill your pockets before you leave home?

*Leave your idea on how to deal with a flaming pedestrian in the comments below. I’ll cover my solution in my video.

The Hands Free – Do Your Tools Leave You Ready For Action? by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mari July 6, 2010 at 10:58 am

Pockets, schmockets…be a girl and carry a purse! Actually, I feel your over-committed hand issue, too, which is why I recently switched my daily carryall from a shoulder bag (whoever considered a clutch to be efficient?) to a rather elegant and petite backpack. Hands free when I need to be! Doubtful I could carry enough liquid to squelch a flaming pedestrian, but my pocket knife and tape measurer maintain a permanent residence in my bag and have come to many people’s rescue. Looking forward to your video, Randy.


Randy Murray July 7, 2010 at 7:15 am

During the middle 80′s, after my first trip to NYC, I carried a “Man bag”, mainly so I could carry my Sony Walkman, a book, and a few other items. I’m predicted the age of the “murse” or man-purse, but I’m not that confident that it will really happen.

Indiana Jones carried a satchel. If it’s good enough for Indy, it’s good enough for me!



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