Thin Wallets

Years ago (more than five) I remember going into a meeting carrying a large easel, a large roll of paper, a box or two of handouts, and two briefcases loaded with a laptop, misc folders, paper tablets, and other stuff. My client started laughing as I struggled to drag everything to the front of the  room in one trip. Then he said “You know, the more important you are, the less you have to carry. I’m flying to Europe later this week and all I’m carrying is a thumb drive with my presentation…I’m not even bringing a laptop!” (All I could say was “I never said I was important.” More sad than funny.)

Even beyond the implied status issues, as information has become universally digitized and devices have become more mobile, it seems like many of us have been on a quest to achieve two conflicting goals: 1) Have everything we need available at any time wherever we are. 2) Continuously reduce what we have to carry.

I seriously thought of the iPhone years before it was built, though probably still after it was already patented and in development. It used to really bug me to bring a paperback book to read on the plane, a cassette player and later an MP3 player to listen to music, a laptop just to check email, plus a cellphone (to call people and somewhat more laboriously check email). I’d think “why can’t this all be on one big cellphone/mini-computer for short trips?”  Obviously, it could and now is.

Unfortunately, the technology to completely avoid the laptop is still not quite there — I have run meetings with just an iPad and even projected from my iPhone but for most work situations, you still need that laptop, especially if you (or your clients/co-workers) are using Microsoft Office. But there are at least ultra-portable laptops now. The first “portable” computer I had to use was the size of a sewing machine. (Look at that thing! The keyboard folded up to the screen to form the bottom of the case when carrying it. Yikes!)


On another note, many of our project deliverables are still a little more bulky than they strictly need to be. Most training projects and participants still expect a binder, or the training organization is uncomfortable with giving participants a PDF they could email to their co-workers. Meeting participants tend to expect a hand-out (though we have been using PDFs for that purpose more lately.) Deliverables tend to require the standard Word and PowerPoint. It is difficult to get people to consider moving away from more bulky, self-contained web-based training built with an authoring tool to leaner, more flexible, and more universally available HTML5 documents linked to whatever other online resources, documents, or media is appropriate. But we all know that is the direction things are going…we’ll keep getting  closer and maybe never quite arrive.

So what? In the last few weeks there have been more than a few articles on the web about thin wallets. The premise: pretty much all anyone needs to carry anymore are a couple of credit cards, drivers license, a membership or frequent buyer card or two, insurance card, and cash. There really is no need for the giant lump wallet of old.

Below are few links for those of you that want to reduce what you carry. After all, the more important you are, the less you have to carry. Keep in mind though that, just because you want to de-bulk doesn’t mean you get to spend less…some of these cost as much or more than a standard wallet.

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