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Travel season is here, whether for vacations or end of year business trips. Some of us will dread the "packing" phase more than others.  I used to.
High expectations, concern over having the right outfits for each day and weather possibility, last minute ideas of what to take, some frustration between family members, and a whirlwind of activity right before going away, i.e., leaving in a tired state of mind.
Why was this so difficult, painful, frustrating and tiring, when I wanted to be excited about traveling? Why does it take hours and hours to pack, my frustration rising, when it seemed like it could take less time and be easier ?
It was easier, for everyone but me. And I had a list! Not enough apparently.

This is on my mind because soon, I am headed to Japan (I still can’t believe it when I write it!). I was recommended as a speaker and invited to present to the Japan Association of Life Organizers. Just think about the planning and packing involved.

What would I suggest if you were the one traveling?
“Do what you know has worked for you before.”

As you begin your travels, please use one of my suggestions in the articles. You’ll enjoy the whole trip (and pre-trip, post-trip) even more!

Happy trails!

P.S. If you’re tired of harried business trips or vacations and need a different way, email or call 603.554.1948.

What are your questions about time, organization (business, home or life), life transitions organizing or ADHD?

If you missed giving your opinion about topics you'd like advice on, click here for my very short set of questions for you. I’d love to hear what would be useful.

Packing for Business or Vacations: Two Changes to Make it Easier

Typically, we keep a long master list of what to pack. That's part of what makes packing overwhelming. Just like some “to do” lists.
Packing looks like one really big project.  That might sound like some of your projects at work, or things you’ve wanted to do at home or in your business forever. Languishing on the list, taking up physical and mental space.
The strategy or trick is to think about time. What can be done and when.
Packing, like many “projects” is made up of a series of smaller projects. So, yes, use this framework for anything that’s big and has been hanging out on your list too long.
A little bit of structure. A lot less stress.  Less stress. Less friction. Less tired. Carry  less. Save time. Still have what you truly need. Faster unpacking. Laundry done faster.

#1 Tip: On your packing list, group items using these "categories."  

Why? Because you can pack one category at a time. Because you can ask for help more easily (“Can you pack all the technology?”). Packing smaller groups of things means you can fit packing into smaller time slots in your days and not need to get it all done the day before. Chip away at it. Start early. Watch how it works.

Here are suggested categories and how you'd use them.
A month or so ahead depending on the length of trip and your own preferences
  • Research, planning
  • Reservations
  • Ask friends where to dine, tour, etc.
  • Touring, business or airline apps – download them while you’re thinking about this “category.”
To do a week or two ahead
  • Decide whether you are completely unplugged and away or if you’re on call for work.
  • Change your voicemails early (averting last minute crises); set auto reply on email.
  • Start calling a list of services to suspend or arrange: e.g., mail, recycle/trash pickup, dog boarding, house checks.
  • Pay bills due right before, during or right after your trip.
  • Decide which suitcase and carry on to use and get them out [gives you a limited amount of space to work towards].
  • Stop taking on new work projects or issues.
  • Make your "has to get done before I leave" and "wait until after the trip" lists.
To do a few days ahead:
  • Charge chargers.
  • Select books or downtime activities (for the ride or at your destination).
  • Save work items to the cloud, or to the device you’re bringing with you.
  • Run a last laundry.
For the morning/evening before you leave
  • Look at your travel plans. Pack food and snacks for travel. And medications.
  • Decide on one place to hold important document: directions, reservations, passport/license, money, and phone numbers. Also decide who holds them.
  • Check the house and work emails for last minute items.
#2 Tip: Do the packing together. Here's how to make this work [if you're already shaking your head, “No.”]. 

My biggest challenge? Organizing a few clothing pieces to make many outfits. I’ve always thought there should be Garanimals for some of us as adults. (There are apps which inventory your clothes and create outfits.)
To my first ICD Board meeting, I brought the second largest suitcase in our closet. And for the most recent Board meeting ? A carry-on the size of a briefcase. I’ll have something larger than that for Japan, but it won’t need to be the largest suitcase in the cedar closet, as it would have a few years ago.
Here’s how we do this.
I lay out my clothes, the "rough draft" version. I know what feels good and is suitable for the various events during a conference. 
Then I ask for help to create many outfits out of fewer items, i.e., reducing the number of pieces by increasing the number which do double duty. That's the executive function organizing/ordering issue that's difficult for me and with a tired brain, causes my frustration.
So it’s not really packing together. You'll learn more each time. It will get less frustrating. Plus, the UHaul has been retired.
You can do the reverse of this, too. It's easier to delegate a category of things to pack; and you can still do the final check before things are actually packed. 
For example, put the knowledgeable technology family member in charge of matching up devices and chargers, getting them charged, and organizing and packing them for everyone. Or getting the travel documents together. Or the food. Or making the phone calls to suspend services.
Grid-It: Organize all your tech chargers & cords in one place
Think of the life skills you're teaching (and learning) as you’re washing away some of the frustration, stress and exhaustion. And you’ll be energized and relaxed if on vacation, or focused and present if on a business trip!
Bonus tip: For longer business trips, take a phone photo of each outfit. This helps to remember how to swap the pieces once you’re at your conference or vacation spot (especially good for business trips).

Recently on the Blog:

"Just Enough” Structure in Your Days

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Get Your Days on Track with One Change

ADHD Awareness

I’m going to Japan! ADHD is becoming more recognized in Japan and organizers are looking for more education so they can best support their clients. My name was suggested as an expert in organizing and living with ADHD.
My two topics are organizing for adults with ADHD, and organizing life through mid and later life transitions (with or without ADHD).
I’ve met the leadership team already, at our ICD conference [photo above], and am excited to see them again at their own conference in November! About 300 of their 900 members attend conference, which is a fairly common ratio.

I’ve traveled a fair amount and enjoy new places, cultures, and people. I have not been to a country where I do not speak the language though. My intent is to learn a few Japanese phrases by the time I see my hosts again in Japan.

Drop by and chat online at any of my social media sites.


Organize for a Fresh Start:

Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life

"The book starts out with a premise that intrigues me. The premise is that organizational skills are tied to life changes. This is and was new to me. Most books on the subject just look at the organizational skills themselves rather than life circumstances involved causing the the need to organize and reorganize.
More reader reviews.
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