I used to “freak out” before and after vacations, exhausting myself on both ends of my time away. Sort of defeats the “refresh, relax, retreat” point of it all though,don’t you think? Now, though, each time I go away for vacation or business, I’ve become more thoughtful and mindful about how I can make all of this more pleasant and part of the trip’s enjoyment … and I’m doing this not just for myself but for everyone around me, too!
I used to walk around in so many circles that my dog, following me, would get as exhausted as I would.
Things are changing. Just back from a vacation, I thought I’d share some of my personal best practices, along with encouraging you to consider your own.
My top two – what works for me – leaving on a trip
1. Letting go
I figured out that, really, the three most important items to take with me are my picture ID/license, money or a credit card, and my travel documents.
Anything else I forgot to pack could be purchased wherever I was going.
So, yes, I keep packing lists, but when it gets down to the wire, sometimes the list is messy with my cross-offs. Or I don’t use my list because I think I have it in my head. Or it’s a new place, new weather, new something.
This one idea of ensuring I have at least those three items allows me peace of mind. If I have those, then technically, I’m ready to go.
Lists I use:
- With my list of clothes, I also have a packing list of non-clothing items, e.g., camera, book/Nook, snacks, etc. The latter is more difficult for me to remember because it varies from trip to trip.
- For work, my different, to do list: I start this list a couple of weeks ahead. I divide up my work by: What needs to be done before vacation (I can’t leave unless…); What could be nice to get done; and What can wait. These are full projects or steps of projects. Sometimes, I can get a project going, but I really don’t need to finish it before vacation. And there is less to return to.
- And my best practices list of how to handle transitioning into my trip and back from my trip. That’s kept inside the calendar entry for my trip so it is very visible and difficult to ignore or simply not remember it exists!
And, because I process and think more clearly when I talk through a challenge out loud, that’s what I do as I pack. Packing is definitely a challenge for me. So many moving parts. And I’m usually excited, anxious, or sad to be leaving home, so feelings get in the way of my thinking in a straight line, too.
Any of that sound familiar? Maybe start with my ideas and then make them your own.
2. Cushion time
This works for leaving and returning.
I ALWAYS book myself out of the office a 1/2 day to a full day beyond the actual trip dates.
Leaving for vacation, I give myself a half day in the office before I leave, and the weekend or a weekday off from work. The time in the office ensures I get organized and leave clients with next steps or inspiration or whatever they need.
The time off before leaving gives me time to pack. I put this right on my calendar, so that I don’t book dinner out with friends or a day trip when I’m really needing to take the time to focus on getting ready for my time away.
This helps my mind to be more relaxed, knowing I’ve done my best to leave things behind in good shape. I can let go more easily as I head out to relax and refresh.
My top two – what works for me – returning from a trip
1. Photos and unpacking
Photos allow me to relive my vacation and are a “transition” task. So I upload, review and share my photos as a high priority after vacation’s over.
This allows me to mentally move my vacation memories to the back of my head, as I transition into my life again.
Unpacking does something similar, but I break up unpacking into the easy and difficult, so I get at least a little bit done right away and feel a bit more settled.
The easy is the clothing, which mainly is laundry, right? The more difficult is the books, Nook, camping gear, all that little stuff that goes to multiple places in my home.
That waits for a weekend; it makes its way “one step closer,” (a favorite tactic) to where it belongs, but it’s a bit of an ordeal to get it all packed away, so I don’t rush it.
This weekend, I’ll get to relive a bit of my vacation again as I pack away camping and outdoor gear. Otherwise, all of this would likely sit around for too long if I didn’t at least get the easy part done.
2. Cushion time
If I’m working a weekend, say for an ICD Board meeting or a conference I’m attending or speaking at, then you’d see in my calendar an appointment which will include one day off from work, upon my return. You’d also see notes in that day’s calendar entry such as: go grocery shopping during the day; Currier museum trip; designer’s showhouse trip; unpack/laundry, and so forth.
I need ideas written down right in front of me for how to spend my time that “free” day, so that I do not work that day (and ultimately burn out, doing what I love doing).
Returning from vacation, I give myself a day off the first day I’m back and spend it at home.
Think about your own “best practices” or “playbook” of what works for you, so you can leave and return, feeling refreshed and relaxed, doing your best for yourself and those around you.
This is my newest puppy, who is not so exhausted as Sanford used to get with my walking around in circles.
What is YOUR reset button to return to creative, mind wandering mode which provides perspective on what you’re doing?
Wouldn’t that be useful and feel great?
Read this NY Times article from where I took this, a favorite quote: “Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.”
OR contact me to help you figure out your own ways (Sue@OrganizeNH.com) to have perspective, slow down, and use your natural creativity.