What’s In My Work Bag

Hitha Palepu Work Bag Essentials

Let’s talk bags. Work bags, specifically.

These days, I mostly work out of the gallery space at Neuehouse. I find that I get my best work done with in proper clothes, hair brushed and makeup applied, and with an ample supply of La Colombe espresso drinks available.

The fact that the space hosts a free daily happy hour doesn’t hurt. Not at all.

This shift in working in an open plan space, rather than a dedicated office or at home, means my bag is my office. Forgetting an item can be devastating to my productivity (like the day I forgot my laptop at home. MY LAPTOP). The answer is not a giant bag that can fit absolutely everything.

Truth – I forgot my computer on the day I was using my cavernous Soho tote.

I find that a medium-sized bag, like this satchel, fits everything I need with no room for random extras. Here’s a deeper look at what’s in my current work bag.

Essential Work Electronics - Apple MacBook Air - Frends headphones - Chargers

There is no work without my laptop and phone. Subsequently, there’s no laptop and phone without their corresponding chargers. And while NH provides really nice headphones on loan, I prefer to have my Frends or Beats instead.

My laptop is always packed first, as are my chargers and headphones in my Truffle clutch.

Work Essentials - MacBook Air charger, iPhone retractable charger, Truffle clutch, calculator, Blotterazi

Other essentials join my chargers in the pouch. Screen cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer are a must, and I keep my beauty essentials limited to this shine-eliminating sponge, a lip balm, and one lipstick (this is a forever favorite). I also carry a separate calculator, which I prefer to use over the app on my phone. It’s admittedly an old school essential, but one I can’t live without.

This pen may be the next most important item. Having a high quality pen makes writing out tasks and taking notes a much more pleasurable task. I’ve been a devoted user of these bullet pens for a few years now – I love how smoothly they write and how damn pretty it is.

All of these items basically live in this pouch, which makes changing bags a breeze. If you haven’t picked up a pouch (or two) from Truffle, be sure to do so now. They’re worth every penny.

Productivity Planner - Graphic Image Notebook

No matter how many apps or digital products I try, I’m my most productive when I’m writing this out on paper. I love, love, love my Productivity Planner for planning out every day and week. Equally loved (and used!) is my Graphic Image notebook. In addition to its obvious use (notes from meetings or thoughts), I’ll do an abridged version of morning pages and get all the random thoughts out of my head before starting a new task. This exercise has the triple benefit of refocusing my mind to a new task, eliminating the random chaos that usually swarms around it, and is mildly therapeutic. I write these pages in the back of the notebook, keeping it separate from my more critical notes and ideas.

About the REAL essentials – I keep my wallet, phone, and keys tucked in a separate pocket for easy access, and store them in my entryway tray when I’m at home. This system works best for me to not forget any of these things.

And let’s be real – my phone is usually in my hand #addict



Snag this satchel on sale herein leopard & black, blush, and python

I’d love to know – what’s your #1 hack for your work bag? A specific product, or a way to pack and store things? COMMENT below and let me know!

  • Cbrown

    The pouches are key – the seethrough ones are especially cool. I work between two offices (and a fair amount of cafes) so I leave phone chargers and laptop chargers in each one which does help but somehow I managed to leave the house without pens today… I have whiteboard markers, highlighters, and sharpies but no actual pens. Having to use annoying BIC pens from the office and missing my pretty colours.

    • hithaonthego

      Smart tip of keeping your chargers at each location! I will confess that when I don’t have my bullet pen, my day is never as productive as when I do. I had a mild panic attack when I couldn’t find it today. Thankfully, it was just tucked behind a bunch of business cards :)

  • Tara

    Love his post! Thanks for the great ideas. Really do know what you mean about the cavernous totes and trying to find things in your black hole of a bag. I love this concept of a medium sized bag and the the turnberry is a wonderful option – I wish they still made it in black though!

    • hithaonthego

      I wish they did too! But I’ve seen the black and leopard in person and it’s seriously gorgeous. You’d also be surprised at how versatile the blush is – especially during spring/summer!

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    I’m a pouch person too. I have a slim Everlane pencil case for my pen (Pilot G-2), chapstick (Honest Co.), nail file, and ear buds. I wish I could pare down to a card case, but right now my wallet is a large ziparound. Then eyeglasses and sunglasses cases, keys, and phone goes in a zipper pocket so I can find it quickly. For work I have my trusty Cuyana tote (the only bag that can accommodate my massive 17″ work laptop) and evenings and weekends I toss all the pouches/cases into my new-to-me YSL muse bag (The Real Real score!).

    • hithaonthego

      Pouches are where it’s at. Your pouch game is STRONG – better than mine! I have multiple when I carry a bigger bag, but this satchel can only fit one with the rest of my stuff.

  • Sonia

    I have a Cath Kidston skinny pencil case that I use to hold multiple pens. I got tired of either never having a pen in my bag OR I am digging frantically at the bottom of my bag at a meeting OR the pen I do will have uncapped or clicked on and I end up with ink scribbles on the lining of my bag. The pencil case is easy to spot, grab and toss into the new bag when I have to change bags.

    • hithaonthego

      Alright – I think I need to invest in a pencil case. You and Jessie have convinced me!

  • Sean

    Any recommendations for everyday pouch/clutches designed gender-neutral for men?

  • I love Fisher space pens! They’re simple, elegant, and *work!* I have a long commute so I carry my essentials in a Fossil Sydney shopper. I use an inexpensive purse organizer with lots of pockets to hold my three pairs of glasses (the joys of awful eyesight) as well as a few small snacks, and chargers for my iPhone. I keep my makeup in a small pouch that I can throw into my weekend bag. I like either clear or obnoxiously bright pouches. They’re less elegant but save time when trying to find things in your giant tote.

    • hithaonthego

      Do you find that those purse organizers work? I have yet to find one I really like (same goes on the diaper bag insert front). I’ve just had better success corralling everything into pouches and dumping them into a black hole bag.

      • The one that I have isn’t perfect. It’s nylon, which makes it washable, but I wish that it were a little more sturdy. I have to be careful about how I pack it to make sure that the sides don’t collapse. It’s the best compromise I’ve found between having easy access to things and keeping my purse somewhat organized.