5 Ways to Find Productivity in Little Bits of Time

Since Chicago is a transportation hub, we have train and truck traffic in my neighborhood, and we hourglassget stuck by trains.  Drivers get justifiably aggravated with train traffic.  My Village of Evergreen Park listed the customer service number for a troublesome train line on their lighted marquee… right next to an intersection often blocked by those trains.  Genius!

I confess, I enjoy getting stopped by a train, so long as it’s a brief stop.  It is a reasonable excuse for being a few minutes late – texting “Train.  Sorry.  Be there soon”, folks will understand.  And it’s a mini-break in the midst of a busy day.  I grab a productive few minutes to check email, make a call, send a text, clean out my bag or car, or just play a game of Sudoku on my Iphone. As an added bonus, I find having something to do while I wait distracts me from getting aggravated, too.

We all benefit from improved time management and productivity.  Productivity means getting things done, managing our tasks and time well, taking good care of our responsibilities and relationships.  It means taking care of business effectively, so we can move on to something else.  I prefer to work in large, uninterrupted blocks of time, but rarely get that luxury.  Subsequently, I work hard to make the most of little bits of time, stuck by a train or between appointments, tasks, obligations and fun, especially in the summer!

Ideas for Finding Productivity in Little Pieces:

  1. Recognize that large tasks are comprised of related small tasks.  For example, I have “Client Care” on my to-do list every Tuesday.  “Client care” consists of emailing, texting or calling 5-10 clients, to arrange or confirm appointments, or just check in, and can occur in little pieces around other appointments and activities.  Any 2 or 3 minute pause can be used for “Client Care”.
  2. Keep a detailed to-do list.  “Run Errands” is not detailed enough.  “1. Drop off donations; 2. Pick up order at doctor’s office; 3. Make banking deposit; and 4. Drop off dry cleaning” is detailed.  And with today’s personal to-do list in hand, you can accomplish these tasks around other blocks of time on your schedule.  An errand or two on the way to work, at lunch and on the way home.  Details are key.
  3. Set your brain on a task or a question, and be open to the answer.  At the top of my to-do list I write “Unique gift idea for wedding?”  Or “Creative blog topic for next Tuesday?”  I’m always amazed at the people or ideas that come to me when I do this, providing inspiration!  Perhaps song lyrics, a client question, an on-line article, even a billboard.  I could waste a lot of time and mental energy forcing ideas or I can just let them come to me in small pieces.
  4. Boost productivity and assign “time allotments” to your tasks.  Looking at today’s tasks, I assign 5-10-15-30 and 60 minute labels to them.  Then throughout my day, when I have a few minutes, I can reach for the 5 or 10 minute tasks (make appointment, confirm client, make grocery list) and complete them in those little bits of time.
  5. Create a habit of checking and re-checking your efforts during your day. Many times a day, I stop and ask myself if I am working on what I need to be working on.  Or, am I aimlessly following links on Facebook?  I am not suggesting that you can’t just relax for a few minutes – relaxing is necessary for productivity, too!  But I am suggesting that we relax for a few minutes, and then return to the task at hand.

Next time you find yourself stuck by a train, in line at Starbuck’s, or waiting for your kids to get out of practice, seize the moment.  Breathe deeply and gently stretch your neck from side to side.  Then think through today’s tasks and spend a productive few minutes.  These little bits of productive time really add up by the end of the day!

Dedicated to JS, thanks for editing with me!

Time Management and Life Lessons at Cub Scout Camp

I attended Cub Scout camp last week with my son, 5 othtree editer Cub Scouts and three other parents.  It was a great time, and I learned a lot, including some life lessons we can all learn from:

Keep the “Get Ready List” simple:

Imagine with me:  20 people sharing one “Kaebo” (restroom and shower house).  Now imagine the line to get in and out of the kaebo at 7 am, before our 7:45 am Flag Raising ceremony and breakfast.  Long line, short time frame, short attention spans.

Needless to say, the Get Ready List for the scouts and we leaders was very short.  Get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, use the kaebo if there is time.  That’s it.  Showering, cleaning up and anything else waited until later in the day.  Luckily (or not), personal hygiene is not a huge priority at a camp in the forest for 8-11 year old boys and their leaders.

Simplify your morning.  Keep the Get Ready list short and the directions clear.

Tell them, tell them again, tell them one more time.

You know that really short “Get Ready List”?  It still needs repeating, especially early in the morning and late in the evening.  For scouts, for family, even for co-workers.

Keep your message (whatever it is) simple, and repeat it over and over and over again.

Don’t wait until its time to leave to announce you can’t find something.

Get ready early so that you can spend time searching for lost items.  Planning ahead allows time for searching, whereas announcing for the first time that something is lost as we leave camp does not.  Plus, then your scout leader won’t get a furrowed brow!

Get ready early.  This holds true not only for flashlights and swim trunks, but briefcases and projects as well.

When you have the chance to nap, take a nap.  Same goes for using the washroom.

I loved my little tent in the woods.  My cot was comfortable, and the evenings were cool and great for sleeping bags!  But the cicadas, occasional mosquitoes and rain interfered with our sleep some nights.  A quiet half hour in camp one afternoon afforded the best nap ever, with the sound of the wind in the trees to put me to sleep.  When you can nap, do so.

And did I mention the line at our bathroom door?  We (at least the women) got in the habit of using the nicest Kaebos around camp whenever the opportunities presented themselves.

When you find a teaching moment, teach.

There are lots of really cool teaching moments in life, but especially at Cub Scout camp in a national forest.  Nature, life, character building, life skills, etc.  And luckily, when life’s pace slows down a bit, we can seize teaching moments as they occur, and really connect with each other and ourselves.

Slow down.  Slow way down.

Camp was Monday to Friday, in a national forest.  My car was parked at least half a mile away from our campsite except for move-in and move-out. We walked a lot, everywhere.   had limited wi-fi and cell signal, and no laptop.  We had a consistent and clear routine as our daily schedule, and nothing else on the to-do list.  It was lovely.

I can’t take you all to camp with me, but we can all learn good things about life from my experience.  Let me know which lesson resonates with you the most!

Simplify your schedule. Lessons From My Little Cabin In the Woods

cabinDriving three sons to three different activities by 9 am this morning made me long for the unstructured time from this past weekend.  I know that vacations are not real life, though many days I wish they were.

We traveled downstate last Thursday to the Southernmost tip of Illinois, the 70 mile stretch between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.  It is truly God’s country, green and lush, with hills the size of mountains (at least to our northern Illinois flatlanders’ eyes).   We stayed in a beautiful cabin, slept late, explored and hiked, ate good food and enjoyed each other’s company.  We reveled in the simpler life and slower pace, and here are some things I learned:

Go off the grid.  Wayyyy off the grid. 

If you can unplug once in a while, do so.  It does wonders for your frame of mind.  We were pretty isolated at our lovely cabin.  No wi-fi, news, email or phone calls, and only a random smattering of texts.  It was great.  I admit, I don’t know how long I could maintain the media silence, but knowing it would only last a few days made it easy to take.  I had tech, of course, my iPad with kindle books and movies on it, a large reading pile, a dvd player.  There was a TV with a few channels, but we didn’t turn it on and we really didn’t miss it.

Don’t shop.

Going on vacation is usually an expensive venture for us.  But there was no shopping to speak of at our destinations this weekend.  We were more than half an hour from a major grocery, and the national parks did not have gift shops where my sons typically blow their allowances.  We planned our menu, bought groceries at the last town before entering the National Forest area, and we didn’t buy more.  We ate a couple of meals at restaurants (with my teenagers taking full advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet at Cave In Rock), and we had gas and lodging expenses, but we came home with much less stuff and a little more $$ than we usually do.

Don’t overpack.

I pack too much, and my sons don’t pack enough.  We should all plan for an outfit a day, with a couple extra shirts and socks, and a set of pjs for every 2 nights, and extra swimming stuff since it doesn’t always have a chance to dry before the next day.  I’m a mom, and have to plan for contingencies, like packing rainwear for everyone that we never used.  But I personally had a handful of items that never left the suitcase.

Our little cabin had bedding, towels and a tiny but well stocked kitchen.  There was one drawer each of silverware and serving utensils, a few towels and wash clothes, 3 pots and pans with lids.  The open shelves for dishes above the sink made access and clean up very easy.  Simple, pared down, just what we needed and not much more.

Pare down your expectations. 

We wanted to get away, explore nature in some new parts of Illinois we hadn’t seen before, and spend some time together as a family.  However, one teenager mentioned very early on that he doesn’t “do” nature.   Grrrr….  So, I asked in my rational Mom voice what his expectations were and what we could do every day that would make him happy, too.  And God bless him, he asked to swim every day, and find some ice cream.  Those were things we could work with, and we made them happen.  Simple, reasonable and specific.  Nice.

Do yourself a favor, and De-clutter your schedule for a few days.

Mondays are always hectic, and this week I had two clients and a class in addition to the regular Monday tasks.  Before we left on our trip, I moved all the non-essential tasks from Monday’s to-do list to later in the week.  It made the busy Monday-after-vacation just a little easier!

So, spend a little time paring down and simplifying, and enjoy that vacation feeling every day!

Wise Travel Advice From My 9-Year-Old

road trip

A Re-post from Spring, 2013:  First in my new Travel Article Section!


This past Saturday, I took a road trip with my 8 year old, and I had time while driving to reflect on what great travelers my children are.  My new word this week is “Consistencies”, in place of “routines” or “habits”.  So I looked at what we do consistently, every day, to make traveling and really, life in general, better.

Here are some tips:

Have your kids help you pack.  At my suggestion Saturday morning, my little guy helped me pack our picnic lunch, and packed his own bag of car entertainment (my IPad, his Nintendo DS, a book and the “new” camera his uncle passed on to him recently).  Why does this help?  He knew and liked what was on the lunch menu, and didn’t need to nag me for food.  And he happily kept himself occupied during the drive, when he wasn’t busy snapping digital pictures!

Lay some travel ground rules, for you and your kids:

  1. Safety is of utmost importance.  At all times.  This is non-negotiable.  There is no brawling, moving around the van, yelling, or anything else that will distract the driver or harm others.
  2. Get in, settle down, and buckle up.  Quickly.  This, too, is non-negotiable.
  3. Throw out your garbage every time you stop.  The car will be less likely to smell like old French fries if there aren’t old French fries around.  Makes sense, right?
  4. Use the rest room whenever you are given the chance.  Woe unto the sluggish child who opts to stay in the car at a rest area and then needs a restroom 30 minutes later.
  5. Entertain yourself.  It’s not my job, or your brother’s job to give you something to do.  Pack your own fun.
  6. Don’t make us late.
  7. Clean your stuff out of my car every time we come home.  If your soccer uniform is still in my van, it is not getting washed like it should be.  And you can’t practice your band instrument if it is riding around town with me instead of at home with you.

What my fellow travelers can expect from me:

  1. Safety, at all times.
  2. I will stop at reasonable intervals for pit-stops, gas and snacks as necessary.  Inform me once if you need something, but do not nag.
  3. It is reasonable to expect from the 5 of us, ages 9-44, that we can make it to Grandma’s (2.25 hours), Grandpa’s (2.5 hours), Uncle Sean’s (3 hrs) and the cottage (2 hrs) without stopping.   Don’t expect stops, but appreciate stopping for ice cream on a whim.
  4. We will explore off the beaten track if time allows and we see something interesting (a favorite part of road trips!!).  I am a sucker for hiking and roadside produce stands, and they know it.

Some more travel advice from the 9 year old:

  • Bring a water bottle, but don’t drink it all at once.  Makes the water last longer, and you won’t need to stop so soon.
  • Chocolate car-candy melts quickly.  Starbursts, on the other hand, taste better the mushier they are (he is obviously biased toward Starbursts, but he has a point!).
  • If everyone gets different snacks at the convenience store, we can all share.
  • If you sit in the front seat next to Mom, you get to control the music choices.  I can’t wait until I’m big enough to sit up front.

Establish some of these consistencies with your family!  Happy Travels!

What’s In Your Pocket? Your Essential Daily Carry

I recently discovered the concept of Essential Daily Carry and a great Reddit board with visuals of what different people carry in their pockets on a daily basis (just google the term for all sorts of visual examples).

Per Wikipedia, Essential Daily Carry or “Everyday carry (EDC) refers to a small collection of tools, equipment and supplies carried on a daily basis to assist in tackling situations ranging from the mundane to the disastrous.[1] (wikipedia)”

“The term EDC also refers to the philosophy or spirit of ‘preparedness’ that goes along with the selection and carrying of these items. Implicit in the term is the sense that an EDC is an individual’s personal selection of equipment, arrived at after deliberation, rather than a standardized kit. EDC items normally fit in pockets or small pack, and/or are attached to clothing such as a belt. Emphasis is placed on the usefulness, accessibility and reliability of these items. The core elements of a typical EDC might include a folding pocket knife, a flashlight, a mobile phone, and a multi-tool.” (wikipedia)

From a time management and preparedness standpoint, an EDC is a great idea. Key components for implementing your EDC:

  1. On a personal level, identify the difference between “need” and “want”;
  2. Find high-quality multifunctional tools to fill a range of needs;
  3. Establish one location at home, near your exit, for keeping your EDC; and
  4. Establish the habit of carrying your EDC with you.

What is essential to you? Where is it, and do you make it convenient and routine to carry it with you every day? In college, I started carrying a small wallet (with money, cards, a pen and bandaids) with my house keys attached. I can still leave the house with just those few things in my pocket with my cell phone, at least for quick, local trips. My smart phone is central to my EDC, with apps for a flash light, wrist watch, note taking, camera, calendar and a digital key ring for store cards. That one tool has lightened my load.

When deciding on your EDC, consider where you go and what you do. For example, there are essential items I don’t carry because every where I go, I have duplicates there. I always keep my work tool box in my car, so I don’t carry extra tools. I have disposable gloves and a clean shirt in there, too, and a well stocked first aid kit as well, so I carry only a very small one in my bag. My EDC can be small because I keep other items like tissues, pens, hand lotion and a nail file in my car all the time.

So what’s in your wallet? Or pocket, as the case may be? Here is a list of common items (from Wikipedia):

  • A folding knife, multitool and/or Swiss Army knife
  • A wrist watch
  • A flashlight (either a key-chain light, a headlamp, or a “tactical” flashlight which has a brighter output used to temporarily blind and stun assailants)
  • A whistle or airhorn (noise makers)
  • A cell phone or other electronic device like a digital camera to record evidence (sometimes satellite phones if in remote areas)
  • Sustainment items such as bottled water and high energy foods
  • Pen, pencil, or a tactical pen similar in concept to a Kubotan for striking and stabbing
  • Pocket notebook (smart phones and electronic note-taking devices are increasingly being used instead of notebooks)
  • Medicine for common ailments and maladies such as allergies and gastrointestinal problems
  • Prescription medicine that has to be taken daily
  • A compact first aid kit
  • Rope or paracord
  • Handkerchiefs or other utility cloth
  • Keys containing key chain and accessories like a flashlight, nail clipper, pill bottle, folding scissors, carabiner, or Kubotan
  • Gloves, which can be latex, nitrile, leather, or synthetic
  • Pepper spray/OC spray or stun gun/tazer
  • Pistol and holster
  • Lighter or matches

So, this week give your essential Daily Carry some thought. Determine what challenges you may face from day-to-day, what is essential, and what should be in your pocket all the time!

Beat The End-Of-Vacation Blues

Image       We got home yesterday from camp.  Two sons were gone for two weeks, and one son and I were gone for one week.   For the month leading up to camp we plan and dream and get excited, and we have a really great time while we’re there.  So we’re sad when it is over, and that sadness is compounded by the realities of ending a vacation; by 9 am on check-out day, I need to pack up a week’s worth of stuff and clean my little cabin in the woods, then drive 10 minutes up the road and pick up the tired, slightly smelly Boy Scouts with all their gear.  Then we drive 3 hours for home.

I’ve read blogs and tips recently for planning your vacation, but no one seems to talk about organizing the end of your trip.  So let me be the first!

Before you leave:

  1. Tidy up the house and finish all the laundry. Check out these two blogs on the topic: “Did You Remember to Pack the …..”  and “Going Away Checklist” .
  2. Leave yourself frozen meals, or restaurant gift certificates to use upon your arrival (better yet, carry the number to the pizza place and gift certificates with you and pick up dinner on your way home!).

While still on vacation:

  1. Use a laundry bag while on vacation, to keep the clean and dirty separated.
  2. Pack your stuff and luggage (and car, if you’re driving) with unpacking in mind.  Put similar items together.  Put your toiletries in one large bag, and that bag goes straight to the bathroom to be      unloaded.  Our dirty laundry was in two large bags placed right inside the door of my van, to schlep to the laundry room ASAP.

Upon Arrival Home:

  1. Unload the car all the way.  Yes, all the way.  Dirty laundry, apple cores and fast food wrappers really stink after a day.  And it’s easier to get back into the swing of things when stuff is where it belongs.
  2. Start the first of many loads of laundry. My hubby is the coolest, and has been doing laundry for the last 24 hours.

Within a day:

  1. Unpack all your bags and put your stuff way.  Living in chaos makes the end-of-vacation blues even worse.  Yes, put it all away.
  2. Clean out your luggage, vacuum it (I think we brought a pound of sand home from camp!) and let it air for a day or two.  Then store other luggage inside, and put it all away.  Yes, away.
  3. Keep your travel toiletry bag in your bathroom or linen closet, to collect samples and items for next time.

A day or two after:

  1. If you are gone for more than a week, give yourself an extra day at the end of your trip for catching up, doing laundry and generally easing back into real life.  If there is a time difference between home and your vacation destination, expect a day or two to re-adjust for sleeping and bedtimes, too.
  2. Lower your standards for a couple of days, too, sticking with survival mode and the essentials, and slowly easing back into your normal pace.

Finally, make a point to print up those photos, remember your good vacation times and chat about it with loved ones.  Don’t let the end-of-vacation blues taint your good memories!

Organize Your Car for Summer!

Your car is an extension of both your home and your self.  And we organize our Car for the same reasons we organize our home and selves:

  • to maximize the space and stuff we have;
  • to allow for new opportunities;
  • for safety sake; and
  • peace of mind.

We had an impromptu tailgate party recently, and it was so easy because I know exactly what is in my car, and it is only what I really need.  It was so gratifying to pop out the folding chairs and waterproof blanket (always in my car during little league season), break out the wet wipes and bug spray, and have fun!

So, I ask you:  Do you decline the benefits of car-pooling, because there is not room for actual people in your car?  Would you be embarrassed to have someone see or ride in your car?  Have you lost items in your car, never to see them again?  Is there a strange smell emanating from under the seats?  Spend a little time getting your car ready for your summer adventures, and be ready for anything!

Getting started:

  1. Organizing your car is just like any other organizing project.  First, think about how you Do and Do Not use your car.  My car needs are pretty basic:  transportation from Point A to Point B, and a temporary holding space for groceries and people.  It is occasionally a changing room on the way from school to baseball practice.  Your car may be for work, recreation, lodging, dining, the options are endless!

Getting it done:

  1. Now,  block out an hour and take everything – yes, everything out of your car.  Immediately throw away the trash and lay  the rest on the ground on an old sheet or drop cloth, if you have one.
  2. Sort what is left, putting similar items together.  CDs in their holder, house items or clothes to take inside, items to be dropped off like library books, dry cleaning, borrowed items or donations.
  3. Based on your deductions and decisions about how you use your car from Step 1, You can now decide what does and does not belong in your car.  For me,
    1. Yes – Water bottles and a small bag of snacks (uneaten) for the ride to and from baseball practice
    2. No –  Bags and bags of un-delivered recycling (a client’s car, not mine!)
    3. Yes – Reusable shopping bags and coupons
    4. No – Dog crate when you don’t even own a dog, or shopping bags still full of new items from 3 months ago that you never took in the house, dirty gym clothes, well you get the picture.
  4. Papers – It is ok to keep some papers in your car permanently.  Maintenance records for work done on your car – yes.  Unopened mail – no.  Also, consider if your car is your mobile office.  That is the only time that papers, files, computer and inventory should ride around for extended periods in your car.  And business papers need to leave the car eventually, too, so you can get your work done.

Putting it Away.  You have cleaned out the car and gotten rid of what needs to go away.

  1. Treat your self and your car to a car  wash, one that does the interior and exterior.
  2. Store stuff where you need it:  Now that you have figured how your stuff fits into the purposes of your car, it is time to put it back!  Out of the items you keep, most of the safety or maintenance items are not needed as you drive and can go in the trunk in a bag.  Keep only what you need to safely drive near you.
  3. Deliver all the stuff that’s been riding around in your car and needs to leave your hands.  Drop off the library books and dry cleaning, mail the mail, take the bags of cast-offs to the charity destination.

Playing it Safe: 

  1. Get a net or a tie down for other items rolling around in your car.  In the event of an accident, anything not tied down can become a dangerous projectile.
  2. According to the AAA website, you should always travel with (All can fit in a crate or bag, secured in the trunk….
    1. an inflated spare tire and jack
    2. jumper cables and flares
    3. flashlight, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
    4. If it’s winter, you should also include: Coffee Can Furnace (the candle generates heat); Carpet Strips (for traction under drive wheels); Boots; Ice Scraper & Brush; Newspapers (great insulation when placed between skin and clothing); Shovel and Sand or Cat Litter (for traction); Tools; Food & Blanket; Tire Chains (for use on secondary roads only).

So spiff up your ride, and roll down those windows to let the warm weather in!  Enjoy!

Organized Travel: Packing tips from the Lakeside

It seems fitting and proper, kismet perhaps, that I would publish information about organized travel from the table overlooking the lake at my favorite travel destination!

We travel a lot.   We are blessed with friends and family all over the map, and we think nothing of heading to lunch for the afternoon 2 states away.  And when you pack and unpack as often as we do, you learn some things!  So here are packing tips, for adults and children alike!

  • Take everything out of your wallet and make a copy of both sides of each card, and your passport if you are traveling abroad.  Leave  the copies and your itinerary with your house-sitter, or in an easy-to-find place at home, in case you have to call home for information.
  • Assign a home in your bags for your most important items; money, passports, car keys, cell phones and medications  (e.g. always the same backpack pocket or the top left inside corner of your suitcase, etc.).  You and your travel companions should know where theses vital items are at all times.
  • Give your kids packing lists. Create equations: Small children?  # of days x 2 = # of outfits.  Older children?  # of days x 1.5 = # of outfits.  Our weekend list includes:  2 pjs, 3 underwear, 3 socks, 3 t-shirts in cold weather, 1 Church outfit (top, bottom), 1 belt, 1 sweatshirt, 1 hat, 2-3 outfits:  pants or shorts, t-shirt or long sleeved shirt, shoes (sneakers, crocs/sandals).  Also, Personal Hygiene:  toothbrush/paste, comb, soap / shampoo, lotion, deodorant; and Entertainment: books and booklights, mitts and ball, DVD player and DVDs, Nintendo DS, charger and games, IPod, watches.
  • Offer a Re-Packing List, too, for re-packing your items for departure!
  • Roll your ensembles:  This is one of my favorite recommendations!  When I pack for my kids, each roll contains a top, a bottom, underwear, t-shirts and socks.  A client packs for her color-blind husband, and puts his outfits together for him before he leaves.  Rolled outfits take up less space, too, and help you make every inch of packing space count!
  • When on the road, pack for each day:  An outfit for each person on each pile, then take a pile out each day.  This keeps the kids (and spouse?) from rummaging through (read—unpacking) the suitcase every day.
  • Pack along a color scheme, too, for example: khaki, blue and white; then you know everything matches.  Or even basic bottoms, like khaki or blue or black, and interchangeable tops (this works for my sons, though perhaps not for fashionistas).
  • Have a day pack packed all the time; bottled water, juice boxes and non-perishable snacks, sun-screen, bug spray, wipes and first aid kit, hats and sunglasses, towels and trunks.
  • If you’re traveling by car, keep swimsuits and towels in a separate, ventilated and easy to reach bag, so everyone can get to the pool or lake quickly, and suits and towels have a better chance to dry fully between swims.
  • Plan for contingencies, but don’t over-pack.  My friend says “lay out everything on the bed that you plan to take -then put half of it away”.  And pack items that multitask.  I have a great wrap that can double as a blanket in the car.  The kids have wind jackets that roll up, and double as pillows.

Enjoy your travels, and let me know your favorite packing tip ever!

Did You Remember To Pack The…

This summer will find my family in multiple states and destinations.  And so begins the summer travel season!  Preparing for Travel can be a mixed bag, though, excited at the prospect of your adventures yet overwhelmed with the details of packing and unpacking.   One of the most organized and well- traveled people I know admits to having the “What did I forget to pack/bring” fear “every.single.trip”.   And I can empathize!

Vacation is about getting away, even getting away from our stuff, but some stuff really needs to come along.  How do you ensure it makes the trip?  Read on….

Standardized Packing Lists:

  1. Standardized packing lists are great tools to help you focus your packing efforts.  Looking for inspiration?  Do a google search for “Packing List”.  Here are some of my favorites:
  2. Over time, I’ve made a Klimczak Family Packing List.  I update it in the computer, and print it for family member use.  We’ve even laminated it, and used dry erase markers to chart our packing progress.
  3. Our packing list includes clothes and toiletries, of course, but also items like baseball mitts, game systems and chargers for the kids, travel snacks and work stuff for me.
  4. The boys have a packing list posted in their room, too, so when I tell them where we are going and for how long, they look at the list and bring the right things for the right number of days.
  5. Use a standardized toiletry packing list, too, and post it on the inside of the medicine cabinet door and in your toiletry bag closet, to ensure you don’t forget the small items!

Set Aside Things as you remember them, or at least Add Them To The List:

  1. Keeping your list in the computer allows for edits as you learn from every travel experience.  Tweak your standardized list as your travel needs change, your kids get older, etc.
  2. Keep a Trip Bag set aside for upcoming trips, and a folder for the same, either on your computer or in hard copy.  As you purchase or remember something for that trip (Father’s Day cards, gifts, beach towels, etc), or receive travel brochures or itineraries, put  them in the bag.  That way, all that is left to pack on travel day is clothes and toiletries.   We may have a couple of Trip Bags on the shelf, if we have more than one Trip coming up.
  3. You can also re-pack commonly used items as soon as you come home.  For example,
  4. Keep a set of toiletries just for travel, if you travel often.  The time saved is worth the extra expense.  We also always carry: An eyeglass repair kit, a  small sewing kit, a small first aid kit and 2 night lights.  I  used to pack an alarm clock, but now I just set  my smart phone alarm
  5. Carry one toiletry bag or shave kit for the whole family.  A friend suggested this one, and I have to agree with her.   If each family member packs their own kit, we end up lugging around duplicates of everything.  There are some items we can all share, like lotion, shampoo and conditioner.

Finally, Take a breath.  Don’t let fear or the need to be perfect keep you from enjoying your trip.

Ask yourself “What is the worse that can happen?”

  1. If the answer is “I might have to stop by a store once I reach my destination for sunscreen or tooth paste”, is that really so bad?  No.
  2. If the answer is “I forget my airline boarding passes or passport or the wedding gift or my notes for my speech”, then make sure to write those items down on your check list, and put them aside as you get them!

So, my challenge to you this week, whether you are traveling soon or not, is to check out the on-line packing lists or start creating your own.  In addition, pick a spot for your Trip Bag (ours is in the coat closet) and remember to toss things in the Trip Bag for upcoming travels.  And relax and enjoy your summer vacation!!