Three easy projects for a Monday

Do you have uncluttering or organizing projects on your mind? Consider one or more of these three easy projects:

  1. Pull a weed. You can do this either literally if you have a garden, or figuratively if there is a small task on your to-do list that will take you just a few seconds to complete. Do it and be done with it. There is no need for that pesky item to bother you any longer.
  2. Plan ahead. Many people in the U.S. have next Monday off from work in observance of Memorial Day. If you want to spend the three days relaxing and not tackling a giant list of to-do items, create a list now of the things you need to do before Saturday morning arrives. Then, make a plan for your week for how you’re going to accomplish these tasks. Three days without a giant list of responsibilities hanging over your head will be good for you.
  3. Pack a suitcase. There isn’t a reason to really pack a suitcase, but now is a great time to put together a packing list for the next time you head out on a summer trip. Having a checklist is a terrific way to pack wisely and not forget anything when you travel, and making the list now gives you time to get your list in shape. I have 10 packing lists saved on my computer: Romantic weekend with husband, 4-day conference for work, 3-day consulting with client in business casual environment, 3-day consulting with client in corporate business environment, 3-day trip with extended family, 7-day trip with extended family, 3-day relaxing trip with friends, 7-day beach/mountain trip with friends, 3-day sight-seeing trip, and 7-days as a tourist in a foreign city. The lists are all built on the same foundation (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.), but each is tailored to meet the experience.

29 Comments for “Three easy projects for a Monday”

  1. posted by Karen Hagee on

    You assume incorrectly that most people have off the Saturday and Sunday preceding the holiday. That is not the case in retail; am working all three days.

  2. posted by stefan on

    Hi Erin,

    great article, I write you from Germany, so there won´t be no Memorial Day for me 🙁
    Especially liked your last point, and it would be lovely if you could send me your packing lists. I love lists and have just one single vacation list and always!! forget something…

    Thanks beforehand

  3. posted by bytheway on

    Pull the weed. Love that metaphor! No matter whether you have this holiday off (me neither), the point remains: if you don’t plan ahead, those long weekends (or few days off whenever they come) are filled with dreaded chores instead of things you enjoy. Plan, so you can HAVE fun! Thanks for this. And best to you, Erin, as you do your work so you can enjoy your free time, as well.

  4. posted by Daniel M. Wood on

    I like the first 2 points. Planning ahead and get something quick yet important done.

    Every minute planning saves 10 minutes on execution. Spending more time in the planning faze really makes a difference.

    I do not see the value of point three I must say. Rather I could advice you to do an after weekend cleaning.

  5. posted by Janice on

    “You assume incorrectly that most people have off the Saturday and Sunday preceding the holiday.”

    What are you talking about? Regardless of whether or not it’s a long weekend, most people *do* get weekends off. Are you really saying that a majority of people in America work on Saturdays and Sundays?

  6. posted by Jay on

    I like the idea of different travel lists.

    I have one master list in a spreadsheet of everything I could possibly take on a trip and everything I need to do before the trip. I hide the rows I do not need for an upcoming trip. I print out the list and follow it.

  7. posted by Alix on

    Erin said “most”, not “all”, people; her assumption is perfectly correct.

  8. posted by Anne on

    I’m actually going on a trip in a few weeks’ time so the suggestion to make a packing list is very timely for me. I’m going to start making one now, Interesting that none of the “example” trips is longer than seven days. I don’t live in the US but I’ve heard that Americans generally get only two weeks’ vacation a year. Is that true? Why do you put up with that? To me a job with so little time off would be serious life clutter. Surely nobody is that efficient that a couple of extra weeks off would be detrimental (I think you’d get happier, more refreshed employees). Often people from other countries can be a bit snooty about Americans not being well-travelled and not owning passports, but if Americans don’t get any time off, I think the assumption that they don’t travel overseas because they don’t want to is a bit unjust.

  9. posted by Penny on

    In reply to Janice:

    Actually, many people work weekends. Think about all those errands you run on the weekends — the people ringing up your Home Depot bill or coaching your kids’ soccer practice or making the pizza you ordered — they all are working on the weekend.

    Hospital workers; police officers; firefighters; newspaper reporters, editors and delivery folks; the people who staff grocery and convenience stores; retail workers; movie-theater managers; food-service staff; heck, even the workers who keep the power plants operational — there is much of life that has to be maintained seven days a week.

    I’ve worked at a newspaper for more than a decade. My weekend for many years was Tuesday and Wednesday, and I never got holidays off. My mom was upset at first: “What do you mean, they’re making you work on Christmas?!” I pointed out that the newspaper is in the driveway every single day, which means someone has to put it together. It opened her eyes to how many people work weekends (and evenings, and overnights) to provide services, food and safety for those who work 9-5 M-F.

    I think it’s just one of those things people might not think about unless someone in their family works odd shifts.

  10. posted by Heidi Poe on

    I really like that first suggestion. I have a bad habit of letting weeds (literally and figuratively) bother me until I just can’t take the annoyance any longer, resulting in some unnecessary light rage. If I could just train myself to get the tiny task done NOW instead of a week from now, I’d be a lot happier and I wouldn’t have to spend the next seven days getting annoyed every time I look at the tiny task that needs to get done.

    UGH but it’s so hard to break deeply-ingrained habits. 😉 I know it’s possible, though~

  11. posted by AMP on

    But the writer didn’t even say “most” she said “many” — the two words don’t have the same meaning. Her original statement was perfectly factual and accurate for the U.S.

    If she had said “many” that would be inaccurate and some of these comments would make sense. But as it stands, it’s just a bunch of uncalled-for whining.

  12. posted by AMP on

    * if she had said “most” that is.

  13. posted by Irulan on

    Anne: Yes, it’s true that Americans don’t get much time off, because our federal government does not mandate paid time off. This means that about 1/4 of all working Americans get no paid vacation at all, and of those that do get vacation, the average amount is about 2 weeks per year plus a few federal holidays. A lot of vacation is in theory only- that is, companies will offer it but expect workers not to take it or to be available to work remotely while ostensibly on vacation.

    On topic: “pulling weeds” really is a great metaphor. It’s weird how we put off things that only take a few seconds.

  14. posted by kalamari on

    I think you guys are missing the point.

    Anyway, would love to see the packing lists!

  15. posted by Sinea Pies on

    I love the “pull a weed” analogy. Little tasks done over and over can lead to big accomplishments. We can always do one more little thing, can’t we!

  16. posted by Aga on

    Hi Erin, I am going away for the long weekend and I think a list is exactly what I need. Would you be able to share with us a basic list so we have something to start with? Thanks in advance.

    OMG, what is this whole issue with having Monday off or not having? Yes, this upcoming weekend is a long weekend and as Erin said many people have off. Of course, some would still work as it is with 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come on…..

    To Anne: You are correct, it is a very short vacation allowance in the US in comparison to other countries, especially Europe. When I moved to US my 6 weeks vacation period was cut to 1 week! Still, they were expecting me not to take it. It was just crazy and I quit after a few months. In my second job I got 2 weeks, which was a little better, but still sucked, especially that my family lives oversees. I don’t know how most Americans handle it, I guess they are just used to it. I was so unhappy that I changed my career altogether and now I am working for myself, which gives me much more flexibility. If I ever need to go back to the corporate world, I am moving back to Europe!

  17. posted by Another Deb on

    @Anne, Two weeks of vacation is a standard, if you have been working with the company for a year, or two. Many people right now are working part-time, which may not give vacation time at all.

    I am lucky enough that I have about 6 weeks of summer, since I teach school. Usually I am doing school-related things and taking care of medical appointments and home chores that the school year does not allow for.

    This year we decided to do a big trip and will need all the packing lists we can muster. I like Jay’s idea of the spreadsheet with tasks on it as well.

  18. posted by AE Thanh on

    I really like that “pull a weed” analogy. I’m using that one from now on.

    I think checklists are great for packing, but having that many? I would just get one for the bare essentials and you’ll get the other things in your suitcase as you go along.

  19. posted by sophie on

    You are EXTREMELY organized to have thorough packing lists for those different kinds of trips. I’ve been meaning to do this myself. I keep a suitcase packed at all times, a habit from when I traveled for business every week, Sunday through Friday. I still improvise parts of my packing, depending on what type of trip it is.

    Not to be greedy or anything, but I thought for sure you’d post all those packing lists. It is a bit of a cruel tease not to…

  20. posted by nicole 86 on

    As many readers, I would be very interested in your lists. Till now, I have been unable to travel light. As I usually drive may own car, I did not car. In October I will be retired and I intend to travel by train and bus so I nne to change my way !
    So, please be kind and share your lists !
    Thank you.

  21. posted by Anita on

    I like the first and second suggestions. Small tasks tend to drag on just because they’re small and “meh, I can do that any time”. And long weekends tend to go to waste when I tell myself I’m going to do all these wonderful things, but don’t make a plan for getting them done.

    The third suggestion, however… I guess it makes sense if you travel often and tend to do and take the same stuff, but if you don’t travel all that frequently, or if the length and purpose of your trips are quite diverse, I think it’s probably best to have one “core” list (toothbrush, pjs, etc) and tailor the rest to each trip.

  22. posted by MaryJo @ reSPACEd on

    6 weeks of vacation? How wonderful is that?! I have worked more than one job where I had to work at least 3 years before I received even one week off for vacation.

    Regarding making packing lists: I think this is a brilliant idea. First of all, it allows you to go shopping a few weeks before your trip for the things you are missing, rather than making a frantic trip to the store the night before. But the best part is that it allows OTHER family members to help pack too, so the burden of packing isn’t all on the mom or the dad. This is especially the case when doing the monumental packing that camping requires.

    I made my own list of 11 things to do now to get ready for summer that mentions the packing lists, along with several other time-saving tasks that some of you may find helpful:

  23. posted by MCH on

    I believe the message here regarding whether or not “many” of us are fortunate enough to have a specific day off from work is this: the U.S. has become a service-oriented society. Perhaps, if we collectively chose not to patronize businesses that currently remain open on days such as Memorial Day, then the decision makers for those businesses would see no point in remaining open. It’s all about planning ahead. Don’t wait until the holiday to buy your groceries or fill your car with gas. Have a picnic with family instead of going out to a restaurant, ordering pizza in, or going to a movie. Do what you can to help turn your day off into a day off for others.

    Speaking as someone whose family lost a loved one last month in Afghanistan, I believe we nationally need to get our priorities straight about why certain days are important enough to be declared national holidays.

  24. posted by bytheway on

    Not only does a packing list help with the departure before the trip, it also helps to **take the list with you.** That way, before you leave the hotel/place you’re staying, you can double-check that you’re taking home everything you came with. I find this very helpful with small kids who cannot yet be responsible for their own stuff, but have a lot of stuff! : )

  25. posted by Leslie on

    Packing lists are so incredibly helpful. Even when I packed for others, I always included a copy of the packing list with their stuff. Made (re)packing for the return trip home that much easier; especially since we could cross off those items not used and add any new/missing items. It made it much easier to update the list for next time.

  26. posted by Penny on

    If some of those “whining” comments were aimed at me, that is not how I meant it to come across.

    I actually loved having odd weekends — it meant I didn’t have to deal with crowds when I ran my errands, it was easier to arrange to meet repairmen at my house, and I got to enjoy nearly empty movie theaters — such a treat!

    I just wanted to point out that not everyone has the same 9-5 schedule, which sometimes people forget.

    As for packing lists — I love them! I don’t have them saved on my computer or anything, but they definitely help calm my pre-trip mind-racing chaos. Plus, you get the satisfaction of crossing things off a list for doing nothing more than putting some socks in a suitcase.

  27. posted by begoodbabe on

    For incredible, practical packing lists you can check out the One Bag website. Happy Travels! : )

  28. posted by too much stuff on

    Well I enjoy some of your ideas but the concept packing a suitcase for its organizational value on a long weekend???!! Um, no.

    I work every weekend (including this one) but I can tell you if I ever got 3 days off when the rest of the world did I could find something more entertaining to do!

  29. posted by Jessiejack on

    The comments really sound cranky today. Maybe everyone is due for a 3 day weekend!

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