What to Pack?

What to Pack?

We recently posted some tips about packing for your vacation. Well, here are yet more tips, this time, to help you decide what to pack for a specific trip in that the summer months of travel are upon us.

Yes, as you can imagine, there is an app for help on packing. In fact, there are many, some free and others you can upgrade, paying for a premium version with more features. Here are a few free ones: Packpoint, EasyPack, and Packr. In full disclosure, we have not tried these all for ourselves, therefore, undertake your own search for the apps that best meet your needs.

For Android users, this article lists the best apps for packing.

If you travel frequently, make a “standard trip checklist”. In addition to the usual items (personal hygiene products, underwear, shirts, pants/skirts/dresses, travel docs, and phone charger, to name a few), create separate categories (sub lists) of special items to pack for different occasions. For example, you would prepare differently for a business trip (business cards and dress shoes), hiking trip (canteen, bug spray, and extra socks), a wedding (cosmetics, jewelry, and dress/suit), or a beach vacation (swimsuit, sunscreen, and sunglasses). Personally, I even have one for my frequent travel to family as we all live in separate states.

These lists are invaluable especially if you need to pack in a hurry and do not want to forget your basic, day-to-day items. I know a few friends who even keep a toiletry bag packed and ready for any trip to save time when it comes to packing. Why not set one of these up for yourself as you are writing your own lists? You will be so happy the next time you venture from home.

Wherever you decide to journey, at least now you can perhaps more strategically plan what to bring – and what not! – for that trip. Speaking of which, remember that old rule of thumb: take out half of what you pack. You will never wear everything, and you will need to save some room for all those nifty souvenirs.

Bon voyage!

Photo: Pixabay

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Unique, Personal Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Graduate

Unique, Personal Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Graduate

Tis the season of high school graduations. The issue often is, what gift to buy for your favorite graduate? One needs to think beyond the college insignia sweatshirt. We used to depend on the old standbys: Wallets? No, today’s grads do not carry cash or credit cards; they likely pay by cell phone. Briefcases? Seriously? Watch? Buy one only if it is an Apple watch. Perhaps a new laptop case instead? Planner/calendars? Well, there is an app for that.

You may consider a personalized item such as a quilt made of old favorite t-shirts. Perhaps a scrapbook or photo album? Having a customized book created using the graduate’s name as a character in a classic novel?

What about a jar full of messages from family, friends, and those that matter the most?

This is a list of websites for custom magazine covers featuring your graduate:

Poster My Wall

National Photo Lab

Your Cover

For the graduate who is undecided about the future, these sites offer journals and decks of cards that inspire thought, mindfulness, creativity, and conversation:

Letter for My Future Self

Chronical Books

Table Topics

Mindfulness Cards

Lastly, here is one for the graduate destined to shatter the glass ceiling.

I am sure that you may find other unique gifts. My hope is that these ideas will inspire you to find a gift that fits your unique graduate!

Photo: Pixabay

 

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Declutter Your Brain

Declutter Your Brain

Memorial Day … the unofficial start of summer. A tough academic year is nearly behind students and families, and it is time to “break out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” as the old song lyrics remind us. Vacation planning fever is about to hit, and perhaps the beach is calling for us.

What better time to think about unwinding and centering ourselves? My readers know that I usually blog ways to declutter your home, office, and life, yet this seems like an opportune time to consider a different kind of “cleaning up” entirely.

I am writing now, offering a chance to take time to clear the baffles of one’s mind. In fact, do you, yourself, in addition to your home, office, and life, also declutter your brain? Yes, your brain. It may just be the ticket if you have nonstop chatter going on in your head: what you need to do, what you should have said, or what will you make for dinner, among so many other niggling concerns. Does all that annoy you? Make you tense? Well, if so, we all might consider learning new ways to clear it, to turn off, to give our minds a rest from all the strife and stress that our own personal lives, the pandemic, and recent tragic domestic events have exacted on us.

Why not “gift yourself” these days by taking a few minutes each day to calm your brain with meditation and help improve both your physical and mental health?

If you have never meditated before, here are some resources to get started:

Mayo Clinic – Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress

Silence Mind – Simple Mediation for Beginners – 3 Most Easy Techniques

Wikihow – How to Meditate for Beginners

YouTube – How to Meditate: 6 Easy Tips for Beginne

Or simply install the Calm app on your phone or tablet

What better way to begin your summer than with a clear, refreshed mind? Start working on it now so that your vacation this year can be spent on pure fun and R and R instead of … well … worrying!

Photo: Pixabay.com

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Less (Stuff) is More (Time)

Less (Stuff) is More (Time)

I would like to share with you an article from the Washington Post which extols about the need to buy less stuff.

For my last birthday, I was delighted that my friends gave me flowers, gift cards, and balloons—nothing that needed storage, batteries, recharging, maintenance, dusting, or repair. When you are fresh out of school and just starting out, accumulating stuff is what you do: you need to furnish your first apartment and buy clothes for work, for example. But as we age, the stuff gets to be a burden: things break, get dirty, take up space. The less we have, the simpler our life.

Try to encourage people in your life that give you gifts to share with you more experiences and items that are consumed, rather than just more stuff for you to find a home.

Photo: Pixaby.com

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Take a Shortcut to Your Computer Files

Take a Shortcut to Your Computer Files

Are you frustrated with clicking so many folders to get to the file you want? There is an easy way to organize your computer’s desktop so you can quickly and conveniently get to the files you use most often.

What you want to do is to create a shortcut (On a Mac, it is called an “alias”) for documents, apps, and pictures that you use frequently. The shortcut/alias is a link to the document, not the original, so you can move it or even delete it without affecting the original.

I have a folder with shortcuts to the following: the spreadsheet with my budget, a folder where all my company folders reside, a folder with my favorite photos, a folder for each client I am currently working with, and the membership list of an organization I belong to. This way I have quick access to the stuff I use most often—I do not have to open lots of windows and folders to access what I need. It also means my desktop is uncluttered, so if I am on a Zoom call and need to share my screen, not only does my desktop look tidy, but people also see only a folder named “shortcuts” and my private business remains private.

Here’s how to create a shortcut.

On Windows: https://www.lifewire.com/how-to-create-desktop-shortcut-windows-4584822

On Mac: https://www.howtogeek.com/719142/how-to-make-a-shortcut-alias-to-a-file-or-folder-on-a-mac/

With the amount of time, we spend in front of our computers, all shortcuts are welcomed!

Photo: Pixabay.com

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Ten Packing Tips for Your Next Vacation

Ten Packing Tips for Your Next Vacation

Does it feel like you pack your entire house when you travel? Have you ever remarked with utter amazement that you do not wear or use half of what you cart along on any given trip? If you are going by RV or car, you can take a lot. However, if you are flying and need to navigate via trains, subways, taxis, boats, and planes, you will want to travel light. After all, no one needs to bring my sister’s non notorious 22 turtlenecks for a ten-day family Christmas vacation home or one of my close friend’s four pair of sequinning evening pumps for her cruise!

To avoid similar gaffes, here are my favorite packing tips:

  1. Pack what you absolutely cannot bear to lose—or want to have stolen– in your carry-on. This includes your medication, spare eyeglasses/sunglasses/reading glasses, a change of underwear in case your luggage is lost, and valuables (jewelry, camera, iPad).
  2. Pack anything that can leak in a Ziploc bag. You do not need shampoo, sunscreen, and insect repellant leaking all over your clothes. As for body soap, use a small bottle or two of liquid soap so that you can just toss that bottle away when depleted. Do you really want to lug home a heavy, messy cake of regular soap?
  3. Roll clothes instead of folding them. Not only will they take up less space, but they will also not wrinkle.
  4. Pack a couple of plastic bags for dirty laundry and wet bathing suits to keep them separate from your clean clothes.
  5. Travel with only your oldest underwear and throw them all out after using.
  6. Count out your meds and take only what you need. (Plus, an extra five-day supply in case of emergencies or unavoidable delays.) instead of packing bulky pill bottles, put them in a pill organizer or, better yet, in disposable pill pouches, which can, too, be discarded along the way, consolidating what remains into perhaps one very compact, flat bag. Just put a paper label inside with the name of each medication and dosage.
  7. Use space bags/compression bags to sort clothes in your suitcase/duffel and to take up less space. Some travelers even utilize packing cubes in which to pack an entire day’s outfits or to differentiate by category: underclothing, daywear, nightwear, and shoes. Family members could choose their own colors for quick recognition inside a large suitcase. This provides the bonus of none of your clothes ever coming into contact with drawers at your accommodations.
  8. Stuff socks and stockings inside shoes to save valuable space in your bags.
  9. Leave space in your suitcase for souvenirs or pack an extra collapsible tote. Some suitcases even come with the capability of unzipping an extra two inches of space, which may just be enough to handle that if you don’t overpack to begin with.
  10. Check the TSA website for what you are allowed to bring (3-1-1 rule for liquids) and what needs to stay home (bear spray, or chlorine for pools). Make note of what should be packed in your stored luggage (axes, corkscrews, darts, and aerosol sprays). Incidentally, antlers, bread machines, and your Harry Potter wand are all permitted in carry-on bags, so relax!

Many of us are starting to travel anew this year. Knowing how to pack for your trip eliminates a lot of hassle before, during, and after your time away, making for a much more relaxing adventure. Bon voyage!

Photo: Pexels

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Make Sure Your Pets Get Emergency Veterinary Care in Your Absence

Do you ever leave your pet in the care of a friend, neighbor, or professional pet sitter? In case of a medical emergency, are they authorized to bring your pet to your veterinarian (or an emergency clinic) and to approve treatment?

Anyone who cares for your pet should have written authorization from you, and your vet should have a signed release on file as well.

Use one of the forms specific in the next paragraph (or make up something similar) and give it to your vet for your file. Also post it on your refrigerator, and/or leave it on your kitchen table, or in another prominent place for pet sitters to easily find.

For example, look at this Pet Care Emergency Authorization Form, or this one, or create one of your own. Everyone involved with the care of your pet will be relieved to know this letter exists… as will Fido and Miss Kitty!

Photo: Pexels

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Overwhelmed by Email? Three Ways to Gain Control

On average, how many emails do you get in a day? It is a staggering amount between legitimate offers from stores you frequent, spam and junk email, business related ones, and those coveted communications from friends/family to name just a few of the categories. It’s no wonder everyone is overwhelmed by email. Here are three ways to gain control over your ever exploding inbox once and for all.

  1. Filter and sort – One can set up ‘rules’ for email such that it is sorted as it comes in. How to do this depends on the email program you use.
  1. Schedule outgoing emails – Do you need to send an email later, but you would like to write and schedule it now, lest your recipient knows the real time you composed the email? You are in luck if you use Gmail, Outlook for Mac, Outlook 365, and iOS.
  2. Postpone a reply using autoresponder – If you are out of the office, whether it be for a vacation, a few hours, or a few weeks, set up an auto response so people who email you will know that you will not be replying and what to do if they need help immediately. By the way, you still do receive the emails so you can peak for any emergency messages. In that others will have received your auto response, you can choose to ignore their email guilt-free.

Remember ultimately, you are the only one who control your email. Just because someone sends you an email does not mean that you need to answer immediately. 24-48 hours is considered an acceptable response time in most cases unless there is a work-related emergency or project deadline. It is also perfectly reasonable to send a quick response stating that you received that email and that you will respond more fully within a couple of days. Consider writing a boiler plate response to that effect now that you can easily pull up and copy for future use. In the end, do not let others dictate your life via your inbox.

Photo: Pixabay

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How Spring Cleaning Came to Be a Thing

How Spring Cleaning Came to Be a Thing

Spring cleaning is so much a tradition that it has a name. I mean, who ever heard of “winter cleaning” or “summer cleaning”?

So, why is it spring when we do perhaps our most serious cleaning? Well, you may be astonished to learn that, indeed, there are historical, biological, cultural, and religious explanations.

Historical: Back in the day, homes were heated with wood or coal; therefore, spring brought warmer weather and the chance for airing out the home and cleaning out a winter’s worth of soot and grime on the walls and all surfaces.

Biological: While humans don’t hibernate over the long winter months, at least not in the same way as bears, chipmunks, and bats, we do experience hormonal changes. These might include increased production of melatonin, which makes us sleepier and so less inclined to scrub until … the springtime.

Cultural: The Persian new year, Nowruz, falls on the first day of spring. In Iran, one tradition is to “shake the house,” meaning to do a deep clean.

Religious: The dates for Passover and Easter are determined by the lunar calendar, and fall each year in early spring, mid-March to mid-April.

The Jewish festival of Passover commemorates the exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery. In their haste to escape, the Israelites did not have time for their bread to rise, which is why Jews today eat unleavened bread (matzoh) during the eight-week holiday of Passover. In preparation, Jewish people clean their homes of all foods containing chametz (leaven), including any crumbs. In that crumbs can be anywhere—from corners of cabinets to pockets—the pre-holiday cleaning is extensive.

Catholics customarily clean the church altar the day before Good Friday. Members of the Greek Orthodox church celebrate “Clean Week,” a week of cleaning their homes before Lent, starting with Clean Monday. 

Who knew spring cleaning had such deep roots based on tradition? When you perform yours this spring, remember that you are maintaining a tradition centuries old!

Photo: Pexels

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Forgetting – A Hidden Brain Advantage?

Forgetting – A Hidden Brain Advantage?

Is forgetting a feature of the brain and not a bug?

And why might this be relevant? Perhaps this quote will convince you:

“…creative-but-naturally disorganized people, if they’re smart, don’t simply live in chaos; they find systems to help them get organized. (In my case, that meant actually hiring a professional organizer to help me design the easiest possible practical ways to keep my things straight and myself on track.)”

Read this article to learn more.

Once you have finished reading, give me a call and I will help you design those practical systems to get YOU organized once and for all.

Photo: Unsplash

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