While packing for a trip to Upstate New York to see my parents, I took my time selecting what would go and what would stay at home. The end result was a small rolling carry on and a large purse. For eight days.
The process of narrowing down what I needed actually took me about three hours, but I gained so much more back as a result. And, no, I didn’t pack so light I need to use my parents’ washing machine every other day. In the rolling bag you see here I had three pair of walking pants, eight shirts, an extra pair of shoes, enough undergarments, my laptop, all the cables I needed for the laptop, iPad and phone, and a few other items my Mom asked me to bring. In the purse went the iPad, a separate iPad keyboard, iPhone, all toiletries, wallet and medications.
I have, for years, tried to travel light. It’s always worked pretty well, but I often forgot an important item. That’s because, like many, I either packed at the last minute, or packed while performing other tasks. This time was different.
A recent post at Quartz explains how multitasking actually drains your brain of the energy needed to focus. It also makes you tired. This is true whether you’re working a day job, cooking dinner and, yes, even packing for a trip.
When we attempt to multitask, we don’t actually do more than one activity at once, but quickly switch between them. And this switching is exhausting. It uses up oxygenated glucose in the brain, running down the same fuel that’s needed to focus on a task.
Many years ago, not long after the first iPod was released, I watched a young lady breeze through airport security. She simply took off her jacket and unhooked her iPod from her waist and walked on through. I looked at all the stuff I had to pull out of my bags and pockets, and thought to myself, “This is ridiculous. I want to be like her.” During this most recent trip I’m finding that I’ve pretty much nailed it on the traveling end. I really do have everything I need. And now I want to take that mindset to the home and the office. You know, so I can have everything at my fingertips at any moment. I’ve already got most documents scanned into a searchable system on the computer. Now it’s time to simplify the rest of my life – the desk, the bookshelves, the closet at home.
I think disorganization and multitasking pretty much go hand-in-hand. One is the disarray of physical items, while the other is disarray of the mind.
As I write this, I’ve a ton of other things to do. Deadlines. but I had to get this one out of my head and onto digital paper – all at once, with focus – so I could move onto the next all-important task.
If you ever run into me while I’m traveling, please don’t ask if I have extra snacks, a second book to read on the plane, or something obscure. I was focused when I packed, and that means I don’t have any extra, unnecessary-to-me items lingering at the bottom of my bag. It means I was ready to hit the ground running the moment I stepped off the plane.