My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder and then, at the age of 57, so was I. A lifetime of struggle was placed into a context that made sense of a lot of failure and frustration. This blog documents and celebrates what has happened to me since.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Packing List...getting there, then and with what I need

 There was a real psychological struggle involved in beginning to use my Packing List.  I am a child of Sixties--one who resists (or used to resist) routines, being in a "rut."  One aspect of learning to deal with ADD is to get over that.  Routines, I have learned, are just a way to ensure that all the quotidian tasks facing me every day actually get done--not a curse that stifle the spontaneity people of my generation seem to cherish.  My life is not a series of routines although I a creating more of them, all the time.   Some I do every day, and some are like "plug ins" to my schedule.   The Packing List is one of those "contingent" routines, or a "standing operating procedure" that is employed when the situation calls for it.  

I travel several times a month for business and it's all about making reservations for airplanes, car rentals and hotels.  It's then about getting my self and my stuff together and getting everywhere I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there.  So far, so good.

I have used several tools to keep myself organized and I am preparing to use one of them today, as I prepare for a trip to Washington DC, via New York JFK, tomorrow.

It's a checklist. 

It will be two years next month since I made my first trip and at first I found myself needing something I did not have with me.  The first break through on this was the realization that I was not flying to places where it is impossible to buy anything I forgot or didn't think about. 

The second breakthrough, however, was the development of my packing list.   I created a document on my computer that lists everything I might ever want to take any trip, anywhere, any time of year, for any purpose.  Whether for business or pleasure or for Quaker events this list puts down what I need.

I print the list out as I start to pack and the first step is to cross off the things that I don't need for the journey I am about to undertake.   The second step is, obviously, to go down the list gathering together all of the remaining items.   Finally, when these things are all gathered, I begin the actual packing.

I learned to wait until I have everything together to put things into the suitcase because I found myself gathering things out of the order that things should go into the bags.   That meant that I put things into the bag without regard to when I would use them.   That is important as I don't actually unpack on the road unless I am going to be somewhere more than one night.  Living out of a suitcase is messy, for me.  Messy means mistakes, for me.

Trip after trip the list of things grew.  One example is that I learned to include a hand towel to use for such things as replacing  paper napkins eating in the airport and blotting up something I (or someone else) spilled on the plane.  I even wrapped a cut finger  in that towel (and put band aids on the list of things for my carry on, as well as my checked bag) and used it to blot blood off of the front of the white shirt I was wearing at the time.

The checklist now includes things I want to do before going, in addition to things I want to take.  I listed laying out the clothes I would wear the next day, for example, as well as things like downloading hard copies of the files I would need on the road.

This routine has eliminated a great deal of the stress and the anxiety of all this travel I do.  When I get in the cab early in the morning to leave I no longer face a series of panic moments about whether I forgot this, that, and the other thing.   

About Me

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I am a convinced Beanite Friend, a member of Bridge City Friends Meeting, Willamette Quarterly Meeting and North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Notwithstanding the doubts of some who claim the name, I am a Christian who does a Buddhist practice and believes that God talks to everyone, all the time. I have worked in the judicial branch of government, as well as being a trial lawyer, a public school teacher (counselor and coach), a kite merchant, and a Marine Corp Sergeant. I am currently working as a consultant to public and private agencies on issues of child welfare, juvenile justice, and substance abuse treatment courts.