Lighten Your Load: Avoid the Turtle Syndrome

Are you putting yourself at risk for a back or shoulder injury because you insist on carrying an overstuffed, overweight briefcase or purse everyday?

Whether you’re a road warrior or a basic commuter, if you have a difficult time determining which papers and items you need to have with you at any point, chances are you carry everything with you in your briefcase or purse at all times. We call this compulsion to bring your entire world with you wherever you go the Turtle Syndrome. It’ll surely slow you down and could even hurt you physically. So it’s well worth learning how to streamline that bag.

Sarah on ‘The Turtle Syndrome’

‘I am a classic turtle! My husband always shakes his head in disbelief when he lifts my bag. I cringe whenever anybody attempts to be chivalrous and help me carry it because I worry they might just get a hernia for their kindness. But I never know what I’ll need to work on at a given moment, so I end up bringing it all with me wherever I go. Just for grins, I weighed my bag yesterday while I was waiting to send a package at a local FedEx store. Now, I knew I was lugging around a lot of stuff, but I was in shock when it tipped the scales at 33 pounds! No wonder my back groans and my hip creaks as I chug through the streets with it. It weighs as much as a toddler!’

Alicia on ‘The Advantages of Becoming a Techno Turtle’

‘There are many factors behind briefcase overload, but too much paper is probably the most common weight culprit. Many of us are afraid of being without an important document or file that they may need to reference. But in this age of technology, when you can store a gigabyte’s worth of documents on a tiny flash drive and walk into any FedEx Kinkos to print a document 24/7, eliminating the paper from your bag should be a no risk proposition. Look for ways to bring your papers with you virtually.’

How to Lighten Your Load

Go from being the tortoise to the hare with these three tips for streamlining your bag.

#1: Set Bag Limits
You’ve heard the saying ‘things will take up as much room as you have.’ Well, it’s true. So start by choosing a briefcase or bag that’s on the smaller side. That way, you’ll have to be more selective about what goes in it. Stay away from multi-pocketed carry-alls that will be all too tempting to fill to the brim with random tidbits. Also, think about a backpack briefcase. It will save strain on your back and shoulders.

#2: Harness Technology
Rather than putting printed versions of files blindly into your briefcase, put them in virtually. If you’re lucky enough to have a laptop for work, that should be the only thing you bring with you besides your wallet, keys and other basics. If you don’t have one — store the files you need on a flash drive or better yet, email them to yourself so you can access them from any computer. Ditch bulky paper address books and store the information on your cell phone or PDA.

#3: Purge the Junk Once a Week
Turtle Syndrome is also the result of the accumulation of stuff in your bag over time. Once it’s in there, it may never come out! Set aside time once a week to purge it of all of those loose papers, random receipts, and file folders that you no longer need to have with you. It will most likely take five minutes to sift through the rubble, so there is no reason to avoid doing it!