It seems every day, there are more and more cool gadgets available, more incredible apps launched, and more ideas (or Life Hacks) about how to make our lives fuller, richer, and more satisfying.
Along with all this "more", there seems to be an increasing number of items to carry around with us wherever we go. These items start to feel indispensable, and often times we being to feel like if we don't bring them along with us, we may miss out on a stellar opportunity that could only have been seized if we have the right item at our disposal. These Every Day Carry (or EDC) items begin to add up into what I like to call our Every Day Carry Kit (EDC Kit).
For some, their EDC Kit may be small. Perhaps a smartphone, keys, and maybe a wallet. For others, their EDC Kit may no longer fit in one hand or their pants pocket, comprising of any combination or permutation of the following:
All this is before getting into more esoteric or individual items that may be more or less common (don't get me started with fidget spinners!)
What one person deems essential, another person will deem superfluous, and I'm not going to try to tell you what you should or should not carry with you as part of your EDC Kit. That said, I am going to give you some thoughts to consider in making your own decision about your kit. These 5 Ways To Slim Down Your EDC Kit will help you lighten your load while maintaining your ability to kick ass each and every day. Are you ready?
1. Assess Risks
Chris Ruiz, founder of The Bug Out Bag Guide, and author of The Every Day Carry Guide is an expert on outfitting for survival and prepping for the unthinkable. While not everyone feels the need to be ready for wilderness survival, he's developed a handy Threat Assessment Matrix to help determine whether or not to add an item to your EDC Kit.
Now, the impacts you're optimizing for may not involve injury, hospitalization, or death (if they do, you may want to get in touch with Chris!) but the idea of assessing the magnitude of the impact that an item will address is relevant for us all. Instead of "probability", you might instead think in terms of "frequency of need". So then, if you drive your car and enter your home daily, and consider the notion of having to call a locksmith to access either if you don't have your keys to be a Severe impact, then including keys in your EDC Kit is probably wise.
2. Decouple Items
You may determine that your wallet is a must. But is that true? If you break some items up into component parts, you may be able to slim down by including only the essential part. Perhaps it's only your Driver's License and Credit Card you need as EDC items, in which case you can either purchase a slim wallet, or simply carry the cards loose. Similarly, I've split my previously bulky key chain into 3 separate ones: 1) one that includes only my car FOB and my office key; 2) one that includes my condo FOB, home key, and mailbox key; and 3) a bulkier one that includes every other key that I might need sometimes, but not everyday. This allows be to carry only what I need.
3. Combine Items
Multi-purpose items are typically the first place people look to reduce bulk, thinking that by carrying a single item serving more than one purpose, they'll need to carry less. And this can work, if done properly. The key is to not over-do it, and not compromise on functionality for important items.
One example of combination, done well, is a phone case that includes pockets on the back for a couple of cards. Going back to #2 above, if all you need from your wallet are a Drivers License and Credit Card, if you can carry those on the back of your phone, you can eliminate the wallet altogether.
Virtualization is similar to combining items, where you're effectively making an item digital, and combining it with your phone.
I used to carry dozens of loyalty cards, all of which are now bits and bytes since I've virtualized them using the Storcard app, available for both Apple and Android smartphones - but one of many similar apps.
One word of caution about virtualization - think about the importance of an activity, and how you, personally, work best. Some find the value they get from physically writing notes in a notebook is worth the carry-cost of including it in their EDC Kit. Others prefer to virtualize note-taking with their phone or tablet using an app like Evernote.
Similarly, many people want their to-do list in the physical vs. virtual space, using a small notebook, a daily planner, a loose sheet of paper, or a purpose-built tool like the Kenza Pad to capture, reference, and manage their important daily actions.
5. Rethink Context
While an item may be important and used frequently, one of my favorite ways to slim down my pack is to rethink the context of how and when I use items.
For example, I use my house keys every day when I leave and return home. But between those hours, they're dead-weight. So what do I do? I leave them in the car when I get to work, with the added bonus that I am far less likely to forget them somewhere. No car? An even better solution might be to replace your home lock with a lock box so your keys stay where you use them, or even a keyless entry system and ditch the keys altogether.
A Word of Caution
There are many ways to lighten your load, but pay attention to the important stuff. Don't skimp on quality and don't skimp on space for those items that truly support important activities that you engage in frequently. Weigh the cost-benefit of each item, and be willing to "pay" more in space for those that offer the greatest benefit, and you'll find your EDC Kit becomes an automatic part of your day, and one that makes it more productive and fulfilling.
What items do you consider a critical part of your EDC Kit?
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Paper lists aren't sexy, but they're a simple, highly effective way to maintain focus in a world of unending demands. Using a paper list recognizes that our we can never complete every item on our Master To-Do List, and that if we did, it's likely a sign that we've either set the bar too low, or we don't really have a full grasp of the "open loops" in our life. It equates productivity not with volume of boxes checked, but rather with the impact of the few boxes we do check, liberating us to enjoy the fruits of our efforts, and leaving us with the time and energy to both guiltlessly enjoy life, and ensure we have sustainable energy tomorrow to do it all over again.