I have friends and family who work as electricians and contractors of various kinds. They have these neat tool belts that they use to carry the tools of their trade with them. These are things they need on a daily basis, things they need to have handy.
I don’t know the names of the flat screwdriver versus the one that one with the end that looks like star. I don’t own a hammer. I don’t have a measuring tape (though I’m considering getting one of those). I don’t carry protective gloves. Those are not my tools. My tools are different.
I started thinking about this a few days ago, when I was covering an event for work. One of the attendees had a Flip video camera and was using it to record the presentation. The woman seated next to me asked what it was and I gave her an explanation. Looking into her confused gaze, I took mine out of my bag to show her.
It’s at this point that the woman seated in front of me asked: “you carry yours with you?” And I was startled. Why wouldn’t I? I thought to myself.
I’ll be candid and admit that I’ve had little on-the-spot call to use my Flip video camera, but I know that I will need it at some point. I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying it to force myself to take more video for when I launch our new media room later this year. But there are other things I carry with me that are essential, that I use daily. These are my tools of the trade, and I carry them in a convenient yet stylish bag that weighs more than I’d like to admit.
In my bag I normally have:
- business cards
- my smartphone
- something to write with and something to write on
- a digital camera
- a digital audio recorder
- my Flip video camera (a new addition)
- my agenda, which is used to track what I did (my calendar is on the smartphone)
- makeup bag (so I can prepare if I have to do a last-minute interview, which happens several times a week)
These are things I try to have with me all the time. Items I’ve accumulated over years of doing what I do.
Other things I pack in there include reading glasses, contact solution, aspirin, sunglasses, a brush, hairspray, a Tide stick, Burt’s Bees lip balm, a bottle of water and at least one granola bar. And then there’s a small mesh bag that holds essentials like a USB Flash drive with portable apps, a USB SD reader, portable headphones, extra batteries for the little electronic devices that make life easier (including my smartphone), a USB connector to recharge my phone, a retractable USB cable, a nice little USB splitter to give me additional ports, and a few other things.
Some days, I swap out the agenda for my netbook. Some days I forgo the bottled water and the granola bar. Some days I add a few files to review in my spare moments throughout the day. But I’ve come to rely on the consistency of always having these things with me when I’m working. I never have to worry about my batteries running out, or being stuck without my bookmarks (as long as I can borrow a computer), or having to do an on-the-spot interview without being able to record my side. I’m ready.
Most of us have developed a list of things without which we couldn’t do our jobs. It might be having a certain type of file folder, or a certain software application, or a certain type of computer, or certain networking opportunities – but we all have our tools. Because so much of my work is done off-site (on location, as it were), I’ve learned to bring my tools with me.
What’s in your tool belt?