Whether school is just around the corner or you are in the middle of a semester, keeping track of what you carry in your bag and filling it up mindfully is important. An excessively heavy backpack can contribute to many problems in the short term—no space in your bag when you need it—and in the long term—chronic back and shoulder pain.
Distribute the items in your bag
Distributing the items in your bag can help spread out the weight of your items instead of concentrating them all in the middle. This simple yet effective tip can help reduce the strain your bag puts on your back and shoulders, especially if you feel like your bag is heavier in one specific area.
Keep a tote bag or plastic bag in your locker
Keeping a bag handy can help you in case of an emergency or unexpected situation where you have to carry more than your bag (and back) can handle. You can also carry items that you have with you daily in these.
Buy a smaller backpack
Buying a smaller backpack forces you to make use of the space you have, which means you’ll be more mindful of what you put in your bag. A good recommendation is the Kanken backpack from Fjällräven.
Use your locker as frequently as possible
Though this might seem obvious, many students tend to neglect or ignore their lockers and carry their items with them the whole school day. Using your locker as frequently as possible can help you lessen the weight of your bag without sacrificing any of your items.
Simplify and minimize your school supplies
Swapping out your composition notebooks for thinner, lighter notebooks is a great way to lessen the weight of your notes. MUJI is a department store that sells excellent notebooks that are thin, inexpensive, good quality, and even environmentally friendly, so consider shopping there for the back-to-school season. You can also swap out spiral notebooks for refillable notebooks, which can also be found at MUJI. If possible, try to resist the urge to use a binder, because while it may seem worthwhile to use one at first, they quickly fill up with tons of papers you don’t end up using. A lot of emergency supplies can also be simplified, removed, or placed in your locker instead of your bag, such as spare clothes.
Clean out your bag regularly
If you can’t go through the school year without using a binder, then regularly cleaning your binder can help you lighten your load. You can also do the same with folders, and those refillable notebooks if you choose to use them. How frequently you should empty out your bag is entirely dependent on your situation, such as how many note-heavy classes you are taking and how often you get worksheets and other papers. A good rule of thumb to go by is to clean your bag every few weeks to every few months; however, the more frequently you can do it, the better.
Revamp your note-taking habits
There are many ways you can revamp your note-taking habits to decrease your bag load, but these methods are the most effective. The first way is by digitizing your notes. By digitizing your notes, you can replace the weight of multiple notebooks with an iPad or a lightweight laptop. Digitizing your notes can either mean taking notes on an app such as Good Notes or Notion or taking notes on paper and digitizing them at home or in your free time. You can also find online versions of any textbooks and workbooks you need and use your devices to access them, which can be extremely helpful as textbooks and workbooks tend to be the heaviest items in any school backpack. Another way to revamp your note-taking habits is to rethink the way you take notes in general. A lot of times, students tend to write down everything the teacher says, which not only leads to disorganized notes but also excessive use of supplies to take these notes. By learning how to efficiently and effectively take notes, not only do you take fewer notes, but your notes can become more resourceful when you use them to review.
Lastly, training your back and shoulder muscles can help you be more resistant to pain and fatigue and you get the added benefits of exercise.