Getting Organized to Get Away

July 13, 2011

Summertime has me thinking about weekends away.  But before you get to your destination of choice, it’s easy to stress about the getting there.  It’s not just the packing, it’s the feeling that you’ve forgotten to take care of something around the house.  Let’s put your mind at ease:

Check out my Countdown to Vacation at Affluent Magazine!

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That Suitcase Does NOT Belong There

January 11, 2010

Welcome back! Looks like you just got home from a trip of some kind!  Oh no? It’s been two weeks since you were on that business trip/vacation/out-of-town wedding?  Then what is your suitcase still doing, fully packed, by the door?!

I know it’s tempting to get home after an exhausting day of travel, wheel that suitcase in behind you and say to yourself “I’ll just handle it tomorrow…” But tonight you’ll probably need something at of that bag anyway.  And tomorrow will come and you’re not going to want to unpack that suitcase any more than you want to right now.

So I thought I’d share my #1 tip for getting organized after you travel — UNPACK THE MINUTE YOU GET HOME.

Put away the clean clothes – throw the dirties into your hamper (don’t feel pressure to do the laundry right away – one step at a time, we’re just unpacking here). Put your toiletries away so they’ll be there when you need them to wash up before bed tonight. Bring the empty luggage to it’s permanent home.

In just 15 minutes, you’ll have permanently crossed that suitcase off your list – it won’t be staring you in the face when you come in from work tomorrow – reminding you of a task you have yet to do.

Just think of it as 15 more minutes of travel time before you arrive on your couch. Because emptying the DVR is a much more pleasurable task, I’m sure.

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Ask the Organizer: Traveling with a Baby

September 18, 2009

Help! We are traveling with our infant for the first time!  There is so much stuff involved! How can I streamline this?

When there’s a baby to consider, the preparation for a family vacation can be so daunting that it’s hard to look forward to a week of family togetherness.  You could fill a skycap’s cart with bags packed JUST for your little one – forget packing for your own needs!

Here are some tips to help you travel light.  By following these helpful hints, you’ll be able to focus on the pleasures that your destination offers once you arrive, rather than the stress of just getting there.

Don’t schlep it, ship it! In a time when airlines are sticking to strict weight limits and charging passengers for extra checked luggage, it’s important to keep baggage to a minimum.  Think about bulky or heavy items that you could ship to your destination ahead of time (be sure to call your hotel or your host to let them know to expect the packages).  Diapers.com is a great resource to purchase a week’s supply of diapers and formula at a discount – but before you box up your spare Pack’n’Play, call the hotel to ask if they have cribs available.

Consistency is Key. By now, you and your baby have developed certain routines  – bath and bedtime rituals, naptime schedules, songs you dance to every night.  Whatever your routines, try your best to stick to them, even on vacation.  Purchase small toiletry bottles and travel with baby’s favorite bath products and lotions.  Bring along the CD that never fails to soothe.  Most importantly – never forget the security blanket (whatever that blanket is to your child).

A busy baby is a happy baby. You don’t need to take along every toy your baby has ever had an interest in, but it’s a good idea to travel with a few items to keep baby occupied.  Think about things that can fit easily into your carry-on:  board books and bubbles are great options.  Don’t forget that almost anything can entertain your child – got a near-empty Altoids tin in your purse?  Throw in some pennies, close it securely with a rubber band and voila!  A brand new rattle!

Make time for Mommy (and Daddy too!). Vacation is a wonderful time to spend with your family – but if you spend all of your time as a caretaker, the relaxation aspect is lost.  Try to plan some time for yourself – whether it’s an hour at the spa or an evening with your spouse.  Visiting a relative?  Perhaps they can watch the baby one evening.  Traveling to a hotel?  Most concierges can put you in touch with a reputable babysitting service – calling ahead will give you the chance to check the service’s references and credentials.

Note: This post originally appeared as an article in CribNotes’ August 2009 issue.

Safe travels!

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Got an organizing question of your own? Email info@chaostheorynyc.com and I’ll answer it in an upcoming Ask the Organizer Friday!

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Organizing Tales from Abroad

August 25, 2009

Well, after an incredible trip to Paris & Amsterdam, it’s back to real life. Sad.

With a great group of friends in town for the wedding, Paris definitely had a Teen Tour feel (Teen Tour ’09 – Woo!). As you can imagine, I took on the role of camp counselor. Which, as you can imagine, I love.

In a relatively short span, we managed to see just about everything you’re supposed to see. Plus, I saw a ton of stuff that struck me as wonderfully organized.  So I took some pictures to share with you.

Talk about a great time management tool! In Paris, they let you know exactly when the next Metro will arrive!

Time Management on the Metro

Talk about a great time management tool! In Paris, they let you know exactly when the next Metro will arrive. Here, it’s 8:00pm (20:00) and our train will arrive in 2 minutes. If we happened to miss that, there will be another one along in 7 minutes.

European Supermarket Pricetags

European Supermarket Pricetags

I thought this was so cool. At this supermarket, the prices listed on the shelves were computerized (rather than physical labels) – When there’s a price fluctuation or product change, it’s a matter of updating a computer system, rather than having a person changing stickers down the aisle.

Plan de Situation

Plan de Situation

This isn’t even that organized. It’s one of the “you are here” maps at the Louvre. I just love that in French, a map is a “Plan de situation,” literally, a location plan. And, I like saying “plan de situation” in a French accent.

I hope you enjoyed some of my organizing souvenirs.  If not, we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programing soon. For now, I’m still enjoying the effects of my vacation.

Ciao,

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Ask the Organizer Friday: Before You Travel

August 7, 2009

Traveling stresses me out — and it’s not just the packing — it’s feeling like I forgot to do something around the house.  Any suggestions on what you should really take care of before you leave?

I get it – travel is stressful!  Here’s a list of some things to do to put your mind at ease:

At any point leading up to your trip:

  • Keep a running list of things you want to bring or take care of as you think of them.  It’s harder to forget if it’s down on paper.

The week before you leave:

  • Call to suspend delivery of your newspapers (or anything you get daily…I hear some people still get their milk delivered).
  • Shop for any items you need (see your running list for details…). Don’t forget a hostess gift if you’ll be staying in someone’s home.
  • Set up your online bill pay for any bills that are due while you’re away. Of course, you could also sit down and do it the old fashioned way – if so, don’t forget to mail it!
  • Traveling internationally? Make copies of your passport – leave one at home, and travel with one.
  • Do the laundry – you’ll want all your favorite clothes to pack.

The day before you leave

  • Pack. (There are plenty of people who think this is too last-minute.  But I like to pack the day before – it means I can have access to all the things I need until I go away.)
  • Check in to your flight online and print your boarding passes.
  • Clean out your fridge of any foods that will go bad while you’re gone.
  • Double check that your TiVo is set for all your favorite shows.
  • Arrange for airport transportation.
  • Straighten up around the house – I think it’s much nicer to come home to a clean.  It helps to prolong the vacation when you get home and don’t feel crazed by the mess.  Or maybe that’s just my crazy.

The minute before you leave

  • Check to see that all the lights (and air conditioning) are turned off.
  • Lock up and head out!

I’m actually traveling to San Francisco today to celebrate the wedding of two of my very favorite people on the planet. Just so you know, my running list of things to remember had: figure out airport transportation, bring the wedding card, get a new memory card for my camera.

Safe travels!

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Ask the Organizer Friday!

July 24, 2009

It’s Friday, how can I help you?

This week, a reader asks:

How do I deal with subletting my bedroom, leaving half my stuff in other parts of my apartment, putting some at my moms, and taking the rest with me? All I have come up with is clear plastic bags.

Well, reader – sounds like you need to take inventory.  And by take inventory, I really mean you need to create 3 separate lists of what’s going where.

First – decide what’s coming with you!  Set up a corner of your bedroom to collect things that will travel with you.  Don’t pack them up just yet – just designate them as “coming with me.”   (Later when you ARE packing, you’ll thank me that it’s all in one place.)

Next  – I think you’re on to something with these clear plastic bags – at least for the stuff that’s going to your mom’s. Start filling the bags, and make a general list of everything that’s going in. No need to get fancy here – this list will just serve as a reminder to you when you return.  6 months from now, you may not remember where you stored your bedding or your bathrobe – but your handy list will have that info for you.  Also – make sure to count the number of bags heading to Mom’s and make note of it on the list  – if 7 full bags get dropped off, you’ll want to claim all 7 when you return.

Finally – make a detailed list of every item in the apartment that’s staying while you’re away. Include kitchenware, furniture – everything.  If you’re leaving it for your roommates’ use while you’re away (how generous!), then make a note of where it is. It’s also a good idea to make a note of the condition it was in when you left — and have your subletter sign-off on that (this way, if he burns a hole in your rug, you have a document to point to that says he had agreed that the rug was in perfect condition when you left).

And if you need help, give me a call – I LOVE inventories!

Good luck!

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Everybody’s Packing for the Weekend*

July 16, 2009

If you’re lucky, summer in the city means weekends someplace else.  I’m pretty lucky — and so I like to think I’ve perfected the ‘weekend pack.’ One small bag and my pocketbook and I’m covered for 3 days.  Here’s how I do it:

1. Do the laundry. This allows me to pack from my entire wardrobe, including things I’ve worn over the past week.

2. Gather key-items in one location as you think of them. I’m not talking about clothes here – I’m talking about the ‘stuff’ you’d like to have with you but you know you might forget. For me it’s my phone charger, my glasses, a hostess gift, magazines I’ve been meaning to read….

3. Check the weather where you’re going. Easy one – you’ve probably been on weather.com since Wednesday checking out your weekend forecast.

4. Choose a clear surface to pack on. I use my bed.  RB uses the couch.  (For those of you who don’t know me personally, RB is my husband.  I don’t call him RB in real life, but plenty of people do. He is a fantastic weekend packer in his own right – but I think he packs too many shoes. To his credit, he still gets it all in one bag, so I can hardly argue.)

5. Mentally walk through your weekend and plan your outfit for each activity. This is how this goes for me:  Ok, we’ll get there and I’m going to stay in whatever i’m wearing…but it might be colder then. [Put hooded sweatshirt on the bed] We’ll hang out for a while and then we’ll go to bed. [Put set of pajamas on the bed] Then I’ll wake up and do some kind of exercise. [Shorts, tee, sports-bra and socks on the bed.  Sneakers on the floor nearby] I’ll shower up and head to the beach. [Bathing suit and cover-up on the bed. While I’m thinking of them – sunglasses and sunscreen too. Flip-flip flops on floor] Post-beach shower before dinner. [Outfit appropriate for dinner plans on the bed. And accessories.  Don’t forget the accessories!] After dinner, come home to hang until bed. [The pajamas I wore last night will work again tonight…]  And so on and so forth until I’ve made it through all the days of the trip.  Because I prefer to travel light, I try to pack things that I could wear more than once — so maybe two outfits use the same pair of jeans. You see what I’m saying here.

Packing Laid Out on the Bed

Packing Laid Out on the Bed

6. Think about the ‘maybes.’ Maybe it will be cooler in the evening and you’ll need an extra layer. Maybe you won’t go out for dinner but would rather have an extra set of comfy clothes. Maybe you’ve completely forgotten to take out any underwear — now’s a good time to do that.

7. Group like with like. When every outfit is accounted for, I like to pile the tee shirts on top of the tee shirts, the pants with the pants – you get the idea.  Why? Because then my piles are uniform in size, fit into my bag neatly, and are less likely to wrinkle!

8. Pack your clothes in the bag. Stick your shoes at the bottom of the bag, stuffing your socks into shoes to help them keep their shape. Then, you’re piles are already done – so just pile them on top of the shoes, filling in any spaces with the little stuff:  underwear, sunglasses, camisoles.  There should be a few inches left at the top of the bag for….

9. Toiletries. My makeup lives in a relatively small makeup case – so that’s an easy one -directly into the bag. Because I travel pretty frequently, I also keep my toiletry case packed with the essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, body lotion, face wash, face lotion, extra contacts, vitamins, Excedrin and hair goo.  I came to these essentials by…you guessed it…mentally walking through my daily routines. This serves as a great base to start from.  Then I think, “Does this trip require anything special?” Well, I’ll be wearing a bathing suit, so a razor would probably be good.  So would sunscreen (nice…remembered that one earlier too!).  Add the extras and I’m set.

Toiletries are go.

Toiletries are go.

p.s – I love my Vera Bradley toiletry case.  It rolls up to pack, and that loop at the top let’s me unroll it and hang it in the bathroom at my destination.  The clear pockets let me see what’s inside, so I never have to unpack it.

10. Zip up and head out. One bag and you’re covered. Grab it, get where you’re going and enjoy!

Safe travels,

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*The title of this post has been playing in my head followed with “everybody’s hum hum hum hum hum.  Everybody’s goin off the deep end”  Just wanted to give you a brief look at the way my mind works.