Empty Backpack, Zen Backpack?

I work from an office outside my home. I shuttle relevant working materials back and forth (between home and office) in a small backpack.

Today I noticed I have a curious habit of carrying more items in my backpack than I will actually use. If I'm carrying the bag home, for example,  I take more books, files, and papers than I could possibly use before I return to the office. The same is true when moving from home to office-I take more stuff that I actually need.

What I find puzzling about this is: it is a consistent behavior, and I absolutely know I am carrying items I will not use. So why do I do it? Is it because I want options? Is it because I'm worried I might need something and not have it? Is it because I overestimate what I will actually do with the materials I am carrying once I reach my destination?

I tend to think it's that last thing. I overestimate the work I will actually do using the materials I carry. I do the same thing when I take trips; I take too many books, papers, devices.

I find this behavior odd, counterproductive, wasteful, and divisive of my attention. In short, I believe I would actually get more done if I brought home only one item – the item that I actually intend to use before returning to the office. If I brought with me only one file on a business trip-the file I actually will use while on that trip.

I plan to pay a lot more attention to this phenomenon, starting today, whenever I am packing a bag. Whether that be to take the bag home for the night, to take on a business trip, or even if I'm packing my motor home for a long road trip. (Yes, I took too much stuff with me on my three-month journey over the summer in a motorhome. Way too much stuff.)

I wonder if I'm the only person who experiences this phenomena? Because I think it has a direct correlation to business and professional life. My theory is we carry too much “stuff” with us in those contexts, too. And because we do, we are faced with too many choices-too many options-and thus our decision-making ability and our productivity are hampered. What do you think?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.

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