The Blog

Can You Control Your Travel Stress? I’m Checking In.

It’s occurred to me that it doesn’t seem to matter if you are a frequent flyer, an organized packer, or a seasoned traveler of any kind, you cannot escape travel stress. Sure, we can prepare our personal selves for our journey, but the systems we rely on are beyond our control.

Back in the day, air travel used to be fun.  I can recall very hazy memories of the exhilaration; arriving at the airport where you could feel the buzz and excitement from all the fellow travelers around you. We all were going somewhere and were eager to get there in a hurry.  Happy faces everywhere.

Now?…not so much.  The chaos and commotion at curbside alone can fuel the anxiety level of any traveler. The residue of the 911 disaster changed us all forever and as a result of that life-altering event, we understand that our compromised security system had to change as well.

Most of us are all too happy to cooperate with the sometimes intrusive searches because we feel safer, and so we tolerate it.  However, the new and ever-changing baggage restrictions and issues with overweight luggage can be a nightmare.  How often do we see people, who failed the weigh-in,  transferring their neatly folded clothing, shoes, and often embarrassing personal items, and shoving them into alternative baggage and carry-ons so that they can pass the test and GO!  To go where, I ask ? … to hurry up and wait, and wait, and wait some more on those endless snaky lines that at first glance you’re thinking, you’re never going to make the flight.

Then it’s finally your turn to enter through security. The cacophony of those plastic security bins being thrown and stacked distract you, but you continue and grab a bin and start dumping your stuff into them as if you feel comfortable with this sort of thing, like this is a natural instinctive way to travel. The shoes come off,  jackets disrobed, relinquish your bottled water you forgot you brought in with you, your laptop, your carry-on, handbag, cell phones, and maybe if you’re lucky you get through the first time; because for some miraculously reason your belt, bracelet, or money clip did sound that unnerving buzzer. OK, now you’re in.

You get to your gate to wait some more.  Time for boarding, great.  Think again,  now you are jockeying for overhead cabin space because everyone seems to have caught onto the carry-on game. There’s no room for your stuff because you booked such great seats, you boarded last.  You finally settle in and relax until you hear the flight attendant announce that your flight is delayed or that you are the 19th plane in line before take-off!

Hours later, you de-plane tired and cranky, and head to baggage claim.  Now that’s one happy place for ya.  After what seems like an eternity, the carousel slowly starts to turn, spitting out one bag at a snail’s pace, and so you wait…  again.  The re-circling of assorted sizes of the same black pieces of luggage passing over and over again is hypnotizing. This would be the time that you wished you’d bought a unique shade of green or purple that would be more easily recognizable.  You pick a prime spot at the edge of the carousel so you can maneuver, grab and go! Your body language is obvious as your eyes dart back and forth while you hover over your post.  But as the frequency of luggage pours out with a more rapid speed, the baggage is being jostled around, falling on top of one another and people are cutting in and pushing their way in to vie for a better position.  If you’re not alert, you could get injured.  I’ve seen it get ugly. But sometimes, and it surprises me every time, there is kindness and it renews my faith in mankind;  like when someone has seen me attempt to reach for my bag and thoughtfully retrieves it for me.  It seems that travel can bring out the worst and the best in people.

When you have finally reached your destination, you can enjoy the vacation you needed and much deserved.  The only thing is…  you’ll have to repeat the same ordeal on the return trip home, plus the dirty laundry and the dreaded unpack.  I often wonder whether or not it is sometimes easier to just stay home.

The bottom line is that we can’t control what we cannot control.  It is what it is, so all we can do is…breathe through it.

How do you manage the travel stress?

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The Essential X-Factor in Sustainable Organization







I’m all about sustainability,  it is the very trademark of my business.  By definition, it means the capacity to endure. Yet we must acknowledge that in life, things change, people change.  We grow, we evolve, and so we must continually adapt our daily systems to our current needs.

Countless times, I’m reminded that establishing sustainability can only exist through maintenance, the quintessential X-factorAs a flower needs the rain, our systems need the same TLC.  There is no one trick pony, no eternal fix.

Organization needs “nurturing,” in order to sustain itself.  We must give it proper attention or it simply will not endure.

I re-visit client’s homes and realize that sometimes the systems didn’t work, not because they weren’t good, but because their “needs” had changed. Or, perhaps I didn’t hone in on their specific preference of learning styles. I could never have known that, until it failed.  Together we had implemented solutions that we thought would be fail-safe, but in fact, they could not be sustained. It worked, until it didn’t.

So we tweak, and if necessary, tweak once more.  It is more than a tedious process.  Make no mistake about it, it is a life long journey.

Typically, I begin with an elementary improvement of organization, and the client is seemingly happy.  But with time and an increased awareness, the client yearns for more. They are invigorated and inspired with the noticeable improvements.

Whether it’s a paper filing system or the transformation of their spaces, their standards have been piqued. And so their enthusiasm requires me to micro-manage further. The systems continue to improve. To witness their evolution and personal growth is often remarkable, and one that still astounds me.

Sustainability is achievable but not in a vacuum.  Be mindful that with growth, comes change.  We never stand still, we keep on moving, forever evolving, and so must our life systems.  We must maintain the systems by fine-tuning them to our distinct proclivities. Then, and only then, can sustainability  prosper.

So ask yourself if your home, office, or life organization has sustained itself. Are your systems still working for you?  Have you adapted to the changes in your lifestyle?  Evaluate.  Perhaps you’re missing the X-factor.


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Are All Your Ducks in a Row or Does it Just Look That Way?

If I were to judge a book by its cover,  I would have to say that the “well-dressed” professional gives a distinctive impression of being profoundly organized. But I often wonder if that exterior appearance is merely a facade. Is it really who they are? I am unabashedly curious about their morning routine…

    • Did they struggle to find appropriate and clean clothes that morning?
    •  Did they just barely arrive on time for the business meeting because they didn’t manage their time well?
    • Did they race out of the house harried and stressed, leaving a trail of clutter behind?
    •  Is their car an extension of their untidy office, and is yesterday’s old coffee still in the cup holder?

The ironic truth is that even if the answer was YES to all of the above, at first glance no-one would ever really know. For starters, they look good and play the part well.  Let’s not underestimate the power of first impressions; they matter and are duly noted.  People often make judgemental assessments just based upon one’s outward appearance.  It is a reflection of one’s style, personality, and general attitude.  So if you are impeccably dressed to impress, you can expect to pick up significant brownie points before you even open your mouth.  Unfortunately, if all your ducks are not in a row, the ugly truth will eventually rear its ugly head.

Certainly, not everyone is inherently organized.  We all have individual core competencies and it just may not include an acute organizational skill set.  The executive function part of our brain is so individually unique and therefore the way we think about organization varies from person to person.

And so, it begs the question,  do you think you are asorganized as you could be? I am not suggesting that you should consider crossing every T and dotting every I, nor advocating taking an mandatory Organizing 101 course tomorrow.  But it is important to work with what you’ve got to the best of your abilities.

Here’s a general tip… neat and tidy does not necessarily mean organized.  There is a huge difference between aesthetic organization and functional organization. You can purchase beautiful decorative containers and still be searching for things.  Likewise, there are many successful executives who can operate very efficiently with piles of seemingly unruly papers, because they know exactly where to access each one.  This is what we can refer to as organizedchaos.  It’s more about creating systems and sometimes they can be somewhat unconventional. As long as you can access your things, clothes, and files, etc.  whenever you need them, consider yourself “organized enough.”  If it’s systematic and works for you, then it’s working!

But perhaps you love the idea of being organized and so you aim to portray that trait in the way you look. Check the mirror.  If your outward appearance is exuding a pleasing polished professional image,  chances are it just might be speaking subliminally about what you aspire to be. It undoubtedly reflects a measure of success and confidence. It makes you feel good, for sure.  You are sending out a strong message of balance and control. Whether strolling down the street or entering a room, you are commanding attention, well-knowing that others must be thinking you’ve got all your ducks in a row.

So pay attention to what that says about you.  If you can be fastidious about how you look on the outside and it’s working in your favor, perhaps you can transfer that behavior to other components of your life. Work on having your insides match your outsides.  Follow through with the same attention to detail and appearance with your home, office, and car. Don’t stop at the surface.  Dig deeper.  Align yourself inside.  When you feel more harmonized, you will be more synchronized.  Inside and out.

Don’t just look organized, be organized. Walk the walk and all the ducks will follow.

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