Two-Tip Tuesday: Travel Edition

Ka'anapali, MauiAs I began to pack for my annual family vacation a few weeks ago, I realized the ridiculousness of the multiple lists and stray papers strewn around the house when getting ready. Every year we take the same trip and essentially bring the same things, with a few modifications.

As much as the loving list maker that I am, I figured it was probably time to get a new system.

Are you a seasoned traveler, or do you get pains in your stomach and night sweats the week before a trip at the thought of getting your family packed and shipped off to your destination?

This weeks’ tips are a few simple ways to help the panicky sort bring some semblance of balance and order into your packing regiment.


Packing List Apps packing list app

Packing lists are a given so why reinvent the wheel every time you take an excursion?

Of course certain items change depending on the type of trip you take and the time of year, yet there are basic necessities to always pack, regardless of your destination.

Try managing your lists on an app like Evernote, which allows you to create and store lists, notes and travel documents that can be accessed from all your devices. This solves the challenge of thinking of something while away from your handwritten list, so you can add to it while you’re mobile.

There are some great apps out there designed specifically for packing, as well. Check out Suitcases for $0.99. Another great one, PackPoint, is free (and for both Android and iPhone).

Of course there are many more like these. As always, please let me know your favorites!


Packing Cubes EagleCreek Packing Cubes

I learned my lesson the hard way this time. I usually try to pack my kids in their own suitcase and a separate one just for me. But since one bag didn’t make it onto the plane last year, I decided to try spreading everyone’s clothes between the two bags, just in case.

The result? Utter chaos and clothing mess when we reached our destination. Although we stayed just a few days on the first leg of our trip, I destroyed both bags searching for certain underwear and the “right” beach cover-up.

The solution? These handy-dandy packing cubes! I’m sure you’ve seen them before, and quite frankly, in the past I mocked their over anal-ness.

But now I see the light.

The cubes save you from unpacking and repacking several times—or from making a mess while digging. These particular ones from the Container Store come in different colors. You can find different shapes and sizes, in different brands, anywhere.

Have you tried them before? I’d love to get your opinion!

Paralyzing Perfectionism

list making before writing

Perfectionism is an attribute that can strike us in a multitude of ways, as the word itself invokes both negative and positive feelings. While attention to detail is definitely a strength, the lengthy time you put into those details could be construed as weakness.

Sometimes perfectionism is an absolute necessity. After all, you wouldn’t want your cardio-thoracic specialist to stop midway during open-heart surgery to say, “Well, that’s good enough, let’s finish up early, so we can grab lunch.” It is this attention to detail that saves lives, builds structures safely, and provides security in so many aspects of our world that we take for granted.

However, perfectionism at its worst can lead us to become so goal focused, that other pressing issues are hardly noticed or completely ignored all together. While I appreciate my ability to be organized and efficient, I suffer from the worst kind of perfectionism; the paralyzing kind. The kind that prevents me from even starting something, because I know there is not enough time or I don’t have tools to do it exactly how I want; perfectly.

When this nasty form of perfectionism strikes, either procrastination or ADD generally take of over, deferring my attention elsewhere. I often find myself saying, “I’ll work on that when I have the time, right now I need to throw a load of laundry in,” or something similar. Squirrel!!!  Sometimes the procrastination can be productive, as I may tackle other pressing tasks. However, more than likely it often leads to a whole lot of thumb-twiddling and negative self-talk about how much I suck in that particular moment. In the end, nothing gets done.

This thought process has prevented me from doing one of my absolute favorite forms of creative outlet; writing. Whether it is my personal journaling, blogging for work, or crafting another anecdote for my book, writing has become my ultimate device for release.  Even posting a blog on organizing is extremely cathartic for me. So, I often beat myself up wondering why it had been almost a year between my last two blog entires. Sometimes I don’t write because my greatest moments of inspiration happen when I am nowhere near a pen or computer, i.e., the timing isn’t perfect.

By the time I sit down to write, inspiration has left me. Distractions such as dirty dishes, desperately calling to be washed,

Don't Get Lost in Your Laundry

Don’t Get Lost in Your Laundry

or needing to really check my Facebook, or the moon isn’t in the correct phase of it’s cycle and the wind isn’t blowing out of the NE are a few famous excuses I use to procrastinate yet another day. Other times, it is the self-inflicted pressure of, if I don’t feel the muse of creativity in this exact moment, there is no point in forcing crappy writing.

The truth is, if we wait for the perfect moment to start anything, very little would get done.  Sometimes it is necessary to endure the initial feelings of discomfort, sit your butt down, and just get to it! Surprisingly, you’ll discover that if you can get past the first minute of torturous focus, the flow has entered, and you can take flight.

The question still remains, how do we appease our inner perfectionist and allow ourselves to focus without ideal circumstances? What are the steps to overcome this paralyzing perfectionism? While there is no direct formula, as it will be different for everyone, here are some ideas to try out. 

Stop the negative self-talk.

Yes, I understand this is easier said than done. I am the queen of “I should be” or “What is wrong with me that I can’t just do this now?!?” But have you ever been motivated by putting yourself down? If anything I sink further into self-loathing. So, knock it off and be loving to yourself! This is my message for me too, by the way.

Take three (at minimum) deep cleansing breaths before starting.

It’s always helpful to clear the mind and feel centered. Don’t worry about meditating if it is not in your practice. You can take the time for three deep breaths, I promise. You’re already breathing anyway, right? 

Schedule a time into your calendar.

Having the task in your calendar makes it more official, just like a hair appointment or school conference. Be playful, and make it a fun title that will empower you. I love goofy acronyms, so I created BADASS time every morning: Blogging About Daily Adventures, Silly or Serious. And really, who wouldn’t want to feel like a badass every morning?

Set a timer and start with a ridiculously short amount of time like 10-15 minutes.

StopwatchThis baby-step can help you defeat overwhelm and pressed for time feelings of panic. Even if you have to spend a few moments writing down the words “this sucks, I hate this!” I promise, it will quickly pass. You may find that after about one to two minutes of complaining, you actually dive in. The more you practice this, the short amount of time will fly by so quickly that you may want to continue. And if not, stop when the timer dings, and know you’ve accomplished your goal by using the allotted time.

Create ritual around it.

Maybe this includes setting up a special space (depending on the task you are trying to complete). Other ideas could be lighting a candle or pouring yourself a fresh cup of coffee. Whatever it is, your brain will begin to enjoy this repetition and crave this activity once the ritual starts.

Ask yourself how you want to feel when the task is completed.

Even if you don’t feel it right away, bring in this energy of amazingness. It’s the whole “fake it till you make it” philosophy. It may take some time to actually feel that way, but it will eventually start to sink in. 

Reward yourself

Set up a system of rewards. It could be something small and daily, like a latte when you are done. Or use something a little bigger like a pedicure or massage at the end of the week or two. Maybe even a shopping spree at the end of the month. Whatever your incentives are, treat yourself, you deserve it!

At the end of the day, what do you really have to lose? Most likely, you will survive if you eliminate the time spent wandering in circles around your house or stalking your Middle School arch-rival on Facebook. Even if you only scratch the surface of a task, I promise a little taste of success with feel so much groovier than the self-inflicted guilt and shame that comes up with avoidance. So, be gentle my perfectionistic friends, take your baby-steps and accomplish your tasks. If I can do it, so can you!

While these are a few of my favorites, I would love to hear what you have tried to battle this terrible affliction. Please comment and share your success stories!

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