A Micro Office in a Tech PouchEvan Travers
For years my Goruck Wire Dopp has been my "just add laptop" kit. It’s perfect for my old load out: a traditional charging block, some assorted dongles and an external battery or HD. That load has changed: Starting with trying to figure out how to change everything to USB-C, but when we booked a month long working trip, I started building a micro office incorporating my new keyboard and mouse.
I got to use this new setup over the past month on that trip. I packed and unpacked it every single day; in coffeeshops, and all over our Airbnb. I'm very pleased.
The heart of the kit is a new organizer pouch from Evergoods. The CAP has the perfect dimensions and organization to Tetris all my gear together tightly with just enough padding and structure to protect it all. There’s a thorough rundown on packhacker.
The Goruck Wire Dopp can carry the new load, but I have to add protective cases for mouse and keyboard which adds considerable bulk.
Even better, the CAP-2L opens into a standing desk caddy, so it’s useful for more than in the bag. I really love the large 3D space pouch accessible from inside and outside, it is great for pens, AirPods, keys.
Inside the CAP-2L:
Keyboard: Corne-ish Zen from lowprokb.ca
Mouse: Steelseries Primi Mini (with its USB-C dongle)
I’ve also got an old Razer mobile mousepad. I tried to make one about the size of a kindle by cutting down a Steelseries, but I did such a horrid job that it will never be spoken of again.
Minix Neo p3 Charging Block
The Neo is my first foray into GaN chargers, and so far I’m impressed. It replaced both a large MacBook brick, an iPad block, and the iPhone block. It was my only charger for a month for all my devices, and never choked.
During a coffee shop coworking session the Neo powered my 15” MacBook Pro and a friends MacBook Pro 13” for a couple hours and both stayed charging.
There’s a similar product from Anker if you want to stick to a known brand, but I’m satisfied with the Neo. It’s really nice to have a dedicated travel charging setup this light and effective. I can leave the white bricks at home.
Battery: Anker 313 PowerCore Slim 10K
This is the only decent battery I could find that charged via USB-C and had a USB-C output. I wish it was smaller, but otherwise no complaints.
Having USB-C everything means the computer or Minix Neo can charge anything. It’s awesome. I have one charger… any of the devices and cables in the bag work with everything. It's delightfully simple.1
I spent a little time working out the minimum cables I needed to feed everything:
- Steelseries USB-A -> USB-C
- 2x USB-C -> USB-C cables
- USB-C -> Apple Lightning cable
I also grabbed these simple cable ties, literally the cheapest on Amazon at the time. I like them better than the Velcro straps I have used because they don’t tear up mesh pockets.
Pen Case: Rick Shaw Double Pen Sleeve
It is surprisingly difficult to find small pen cases. People who love and use pens tend to either be artists who need lots of tools or fanatics who want to have 10+ with them.
For years I’ve been using a nock.co chimneytop case and it does a great job. In the front pocket of my GR1, it flattened out and took up very little space. In the 3D space of the CAP-2L it sort of ballooned far more than the volume required for the two pens I carry… I looked for something new.
The Rick Shaw is fun, customizable, and svelte. I ordered just enough length to handle my favorite pens… it’s just big enough to be blindly grabbed out of a bag, without taking up more space than it’s contents. I’m a fan.
The pen sleeve doubles as a "don't roll away" space for a bullet journaler on the go.
Roost V3 Laptop Stand
I had been using a knockoff of the Roost (the Nexstand K3) for a while and decided to upgrade. The Roost is considerably nicer: lighter, sturdier, and more stable. The real reason to upgrade is that the Roost’s maximum height is tall enough for a standing desk.
iPad as Second Monitor
A post on reddit showed a clever way to use the iPad as a second screen. I gave it a whirl, and am really happy with it. Using Universal Control, I can drop my mouse down to the second screen and use my keyboard and mouse, or pull the magnetic Apple Pen 2 off and use the Roost as an easel. It's nifty.
I do occasionally lose track of which app/split is currently receiving focus, but I have noticed that on iPadOS the ellipsis (
…) at the top of the screen for controlling splits and such highlights subtly on the split app that is receiving the keyboard events.
Working out of the bag
The Airbnb we arrived at promised a workspace… what we found was a breakfast nook table to low to stand at and too high to sit at. 🙇 After some frustration my brilliant wife suggested we Amazon some dorm furniture risers. After a couple of tries we were able to push the level up to an acceptable standing height.
Every morning I unpacked the setup and every night I packed it away as a sort of “commute” or shut down routine. I love how the CAP-2L’s open mode can organize my keys, phone, any random paper I produce while I work.
I’ve been using some Baron Fig index cards as a sort of pseudo-Analog system2. On the go, the slim pockets on the front of the CAP-2L provided a perfect place for that task to stare me in the face all day.
The micro office can scale up or down. Most mornings I’d bike the whole thing to a coffee shop for some planning. I’d pull out my journal and the CAP-2L, fish the pen case out of the 3D space pocket and start writing. After some time, I’d pull out the laptop, open the organizer, build my little workspace, and start working.
For audio I used either my Sony XH4 or new AirPods Pro. The Sonys sound amazing (especially with SoundSource’s custom equalizer) but the AirPods have a lot less weird bugs and switch nicely between devices. I tended to use the AirPods for calls and the over ear Sony to create a focus space in the often noisy Airbnb.
Everything continues to live in this minimal kit. All the input devices are my main drivers at home, so I still tear down the “office” every night, putting some things back in the CAP-2L as a form of commute.
I like to work in different spaces for different work. It’s awesome to have one thing to grab with whatever journal/device I’m working with and just go. Hopefully we will get another chance to use it in a new place sometime soon.
I’ll eventually upgrade to an M1 MacBook Pro which will make obsolete a dongle for my camera’s SD cards. I’ll also likely upgrade my Kindle to the USB-C variant or an iPad mini. Then I’ll have no other cables left save a lone lightning cable for AirPods and iPhone. ↩
As part of my daily review, I write down the most important task for the next day. I copy it into my Bullet Journal as part of morning planning. If I am faithful and do the most important thing, it gets checked off. If I am not faithful and distracted, it gets crossed off and usually rewritten. ↩
As such, it becomes a sort of record of my dedication to work on Deep Work tasks.
The real Analog system by Ugmonk is slightly different.
2022-06-08 11:31:29 -0500Rename articles
2022-05-15 17:17:27 -0500Add some more images and explanations
2022-05-15 17:12:47 -0500Update date, fix typos
2022-05-15 16:51:55 -0500Post: Micro Office