They take a lot less space than you would think
How to pack a perfect work bag? It might seem like a simple enough question, with some obvious answers, but so many of us struggle with what to put in and what to leave out. You want to be prepared for emergencies, but don't want to end up hauling a heavy, overstuffed haversack. What do you do when everything seems like a necessity - what if it suddenly rains? What if you drop something on your shirt? What if you end up going for a party straight after work on the one day you decide to leave the makeup kit behind? The 'what ifs' are endless, and frankly, there is no way to prepare for absolutely every scenario, but what we can do is give you a list of non-negotiables that you're going to need at some point through the course of your day, more often than not.
Diary and pen
We know it's the age of digital planners and Evernote, but there is still something to be said about single-function devices like the trusty notebook and pen. When you're really trying to pay attention and take pointers in a meeting, a book and pen are a lot more efficient than a device. Invariably, when you try taking notes on a device, you will find yourself getting distracted by all the notifications that will keep flooding in. Not to mention that it might distract the person you're speaking to. Always carry a diary and pen on your person - it's so much better than scrambling around for loose paper or jotting down notes on napkins (we've all done that, haven't we?). Plus it helps you remember information a whole lot better when you've physically written it down.
Juice pack/ charger
It's annoyingly stressful and inconvenient to be stuck somewhere without any charge in the phone, having to ask strangers if they happen to be carrying chargers that work with the make of our cell phone. This becomes an even bigger deal, especially for women, when you're out late at night for work or an after-work do. Make sure your bag always has a portable charger, a juice pack, or, at the very least, at least your charging cable. No matter how small or packed your bag is, you can definitely make place for a wire!
Even if you're not in the habit of using a lot of, or any makeup, keep a lipstick in your bag. It's compact - for women who like to carry small bags - and comes in handy on the occasions that require a more formal, put-together look. A coral shade that works for your skin tone can help you go from day to night, and from work to a social do, without missing a beat. Plus, a good lipstick draws attention away from the eyes, always a plus if you've been putting in long hours at work and are sleep-deprived.
Whether it's long nights at work, a boss from hell or just generally being a little under the weather - you never know when a pesky headache suddenly takes over, throwing your entire schedule haywire. Make sure you keep a couple of tablets of painkiller in your work bag (if it happens while you're on the move), and a packet/ bottle of it in your drawer at work. You don't want to have to lose a day's pay because you had to return home due to an easily fixed body ache.
We don't have to elaborate on this one, and you already know why you need to have a sanitary napkin in your bag, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded, does it? One thing that is all too common is that we always intend to put a sanitary napkin in the bag when our period date approaches, but end up losing track of dates. An easier solution is just to always keep a couple of pads in the bag. It also helps if you have irregular periods in general, or if, for some reason, your cycle is a bit off.
Unless you have really, really short hair, you absolutely need to keep a small comb or brush in your bag. You can be perfectly put together when you leave from home, but the commute to office will, more often than not, wreak havoc on your locks. And messy hair have a way of overshadowing the best outfit and impeccable makeup. You never know when your hair might need some emergency taming.
You had that heavenly onion-rich gravy or garlicky roll and are in food coma. But there is a place for dragon breath and official settings are not it. Your breath should never be smelling anything other than minty around colleagues and bosses, regardless of whether it is the smell of pungent food or funky breath caused by not eating for very long stretches of time.
Great networking opportunities usually come unannounced, so it's imperative you're always prepared. And yes, while you can easily just exchange numbers, there's something very pleasing about people who can reach into their bags and without fumbling around frantically, produce their business card. It shows the person how organised and in-control you are. So always keep a small stack of your business cards in a fixed compartment of your work bag.
Every once in a while, we all misjudge a fabric and wearing something that turns our underarms into weapons of nasal destruction. Body odour is always embarrassing, but at work, it can become a reason for ridicule. Always carry a small vial of perfume to deal with such situations.
Heels might seem like a great idea when you wake up and get dressed in the morning, but can easily turn the bane of your existence as the day progresses - especially if it's one of those days you spend on your feet. Whenever you wear heels, always carry a pair of spare flats that complement your outfit so you can swap out the footwear without losing the look.
An emergency Rs 2,000 note
You might lose the wallet, forget it at home or it might get stolen. Whatever be the reason, it is frustrating to be stuck somewhere, strapped for cash. You don't want to be in the unenviable position of having to ask a boss or a client to loan you some money, so make sure your bag always has some emergency cash tucked away in a tiny compartment. And no, don't ever spend it on shopping, promising to replace it later. If you get into the habit, sooner or later, you'll end up forgetting to replace your emergency money