My Phone Sling Everyday Carry

My phone sling is my constant companion. The sling itself is a purpose-suited Ethnotek Chaalo Pocket and the contents are my carefully curated coping treasures covering six categories of quotidian need.

  • Cognitive Net and Executive Function
  • Sensory Management
  • PPE
  • Tools
  • Fidgets
  • Wallet

Cognitive Net and Executive Function

The primary purpose of the phone sling is quick draw access to my cognitive net: my phone and my index cards. These are first-order retrievable with one hand at all times.

My phone is an iPhone 12 Pro Max in an Apple MagSafe silicone case. Ulysses, Things, Fantastical, and DEVONthink live on my phone and get me through my days. I couldn’t cope and be productive without them.

MagSafe silicone case in Pink Citrus for my iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is not pictured because it's taking the picture
MagSafe silicone case in Pink Citrus for my iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is not pictured because it’s taking the picture

Digital is my productivity home, but I like to supplement digital with a touch of analog in the form of index cards. Each day, I transcribe 10 items or fewer from Things onto an index card. I use a second index card as a scratchpad for stack capture: takeout orders, notes to self, measurements, etc. I arrange the two cards back-to-back via a hacked-together double-sided index cardholder made from two Rite in the Rain index card wallets.

Fabricobbled double-sided index card holder with double-sided marker in pen loop
Fabricobbled double-sided index card holder with double-sided marker in pen loop

My index cards are silky soft 3”x5” Exacompta with a 5×5 mm grid that is perfect for accommodating 10 double-spaced checklist items. Over lots of iteration, I arrived at a very similar style to the Analog system. When it was announced, I tweaked my style to match Analog’s. I’ve been using the Analog method for months now and am ready for when my official Analog set arrives.

After trying many, many, many different styles of pens and inks for EDC, I now default to double-sided markers as my go-to writing instruments. My handwriting feels most comfortable and legible with felt tips. Double-sided markers let me make checklists on my index cards with the extra fine tip and make labels with the fine tip. They’re also cheap and not painful to lose. My current marker of choice is the Zebra Mackee Care Refillable Double-Sided Marker – Extra Fine / Fine in Black. I also like:

These are label markers with bold, consistent lines that work well on index cards and gaffer tape. I like ‘em.

Index cards allow me to avoid the distractions of the phone. I can get on task with the to-do list or capture stack with the scratchpad without getting waylaid by the infinite offerings of the phone.

The phone is one-hand retrievable from a dedicated phone pocket in the interior of the sling. The index cardholder is one-hand retrievable from a slip pocket on the back of the sling. The pockets on this sling happen to fit my digital + analog cognitive net quite nicely.

Sensory Management

AirPods Pro and a Vibes earplugs case with purple foam earplugs
AirPods Pro and a Vibes earplugs case with purple foam earplugs

I don’t go anywhere without noise-cancelling headphones and ear plugs. They are essential sensory management for this hyper-sensory autistic.

Autistic Odes to Noise-cancelling Headphones – Ryan Boren

The sling has a slip pocket on the interior organizer that fits an AirPods Pro case along with a Vibes earplugs case. AirPods Pro provide portable noise-cancellation and Siri access to my cognitive net. The Vibes case holds both Vibes ear plugs and also a pair of Mack’s Slim Fit Soft Foam Earplugs.

I feel exposed and vulnerable without my sensory management. The sling keeps them always at hand.

PPE

Black Tom Bihn mask on a rock
Black Tom Bihn mask on a rock

I welcome normalized masking and always have at least one with me. My favorites so far are from Tom Bihn and Ugmonk.

The front zippered pocket of the sling contains the mask and only the mask. The interior fabric is wipeable, and I hit it with an alcohol prep pad periodically.

Tools

I’ve tried all kinds of combinations of knives and multitools and flashlights and keychain tools to cover my daily needs. I’ve found a minimum effective dose with maximum daily application to be a trio of: bottle opener + slide razor + keychain flashlight.

My current implementation of this trio:

Flashlight, bottle opener, and touch-knife attached to a magnetic quick release
Flashlight, bottle opener, and touch-knife attached to a magnetic quick release

I use all of these daily. They are cheap, lightweight, and effective. I attach them to the sling’s key lanyard via an Urban Carvers magnetic quick release.

I also keep a double-sided hank for cleaning eyeglasses and camera lenses in the main compartment and an Olfa Graphics Knife for more refined cutting tasks in a pen slot. A Tile tracker tucks into the bottom of an organizer slot. I put trackers on everything.

An Olfa graphics knife and a Tile tracker rest on a Mighty Hanks hank
An Olfa graphics knife and a Tile tracker rest on a Mighty Hanks hank

Fidgets

A Gambit token and a CIVIVI spinner pen rest on a hank
A Gambit token and a CIVIVI spinner pen rest on a hank

The aforementioned magnetic quick release and Olfa graphics knife are good tactile and auditory stims. I also carry two things specifically as fidgets:

The pen is primarily a fidget but is also useful when I need a pen for paper incompatible with my double-sided marker. It lives in a pen slot on the interior organizer.

There are several ways to fidget with the Gambit token. I enjoy it. It rests somewhat inconveniently at the bottom of the main compartment, but diving for it feels like discovering a doubloon. Even so, I’d love a shallow coin pocket near the top of the main compartment.

Wallet

I rarely go out, and when I do it’s pre-paid curbside pickups. On those rare occasions I have to pay in person, I usually use Apple Pay via my watch. I don’t have a daily need for a wallet, so I keep it light and multi-functional with a Moft MagSafe wallet. It’s a phone stand that also compactly holds my ID and a couple of cards.

A Moft wallet and a hank pose on a rock
A Moft wallet and a hank pose on a rock

I like combining wallet and phone for cognitive simplicity. I never lose my phone, and the wallet goes along for the ride. But, magnetic charging compatibility means having a detachable phone wallet to keep up with. When the Moft is not attached to the phone, it is in the main pocket of the sling along with the fidget token and hank. It’s always either on the phone or in the sling. So must it be for my sanity.

That’s it. I also have belly bag, tablet sling, laptop messenger, and spinner suitcase load-outs that I might do blog posts for now that I’m retired. I love bags and curating collections within their confines.

What bag gets you through your day?

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