My upcoming family vacation starts tomorrow, so the last couple of days have been busy tying up all the loose ends which come with taking a 10-day trip. There’s nothing like preparing for extended travel that makes you realize how many responsibilities you have on a daily basis.
So while we’ve been finding a dog-sitter/fish-feeder, securing our plane tickets, reserving hotel rooms, packing, etc, I’ve been taking stock of what is truly necessary in our lives. We have 3 digital cameras, 2 video cameras and 2 cell phones that take decent quality snapshots. How many do we really need to take on our trip and how many do we really need on a daily basis? And 10 days without laundry made us take stock of how much underwear we didn’t have and the overabundance of sample suntan lotion packets we have collected. It’s crazy.
Reducing the physical clutter has been pretty easy. I’ve been tossing old clothes and worn out shoes as I go through my closets determining what to pack….but what about the responsibility clutter? Even though we will be on vacation, I will still want to check in on my web site and read through my favorite RSS feeds. But honestly, I don’t want to see them all. I’m going to delete the feeds I just don’t care to read while I’m vacationing and who knows…maybe I won’t add them back upon my return. If I don’t want them sucking up my vacation time, then why should I allow them to eat up my non-vacation hours?
What else can I eliminate? I have a fair amount of gmail filters in place to help me manage the 200+ non-spam emails I get on a daily basis. But knowing that I don’t want to be bothered with newsletters, social media requests etc., I’m reworking my filters so those items aren’t brought to my attention. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe I won’t miss those either.
I’m sure I will think of more things as I finish packing and sorting through my physical stuff, but what about the mental stuff? What about all the items on my 27-page todo list that averages about 5-7 outstanding tasks per page? I marked through it yesterday and decided about 2/3 of those tasks could be put on hold indefinitely – as in – who cares if I ever do them? I ripped out those pages and stuck them in a drawer. We’ll see if I miss those when I get back. For the remaining tasks, I just reviewed them to make sure nothing was critical and made peace with myself that they would still be there when I arrived home.
On the flip side, I did the exact opposite with my stack of unread books on women’s history. I crammed as many of them into my suitcase and carry-on as possible, ensuring I have plenty to read while I’m gone. I probably packed too much, but I don’t think you can put a limit on learning. And you can bet I will take advantage of every quiet moment, plane ride or down time by the pool to read. I would rather be short a pair of undies than to be without a book.
What would happen if I treated every day or even just one day a week as if it were the day before vacation? Could I eliminate more junk from my physical space? Would I take on less projects…ignore stale news feeds…and commit to less projects overall? Would I make time for more of the the things I like to do and eliminate daily routines that are pointless habits and no longer serving their original purpose? Could I delegate more and do less work myself? My money is on “yes”.
Hmm…so now that I’ve reduced my responsibilities and uncluttered my mental and physical space, what will I do with the extra free time when I get home? Stay tuned. I’ve already got an idea.
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