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Packing Essentials

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Photo by Ed Bierman. Not my bag, unfortunately.

It doesn’t take me long to pack for most trips. I typically bring the same clothes and “stuff” with me no matter my destination or purpose of travel. Sure, there’s some variance—a warmer scarf depending on season, or a nicer jacket depending on what kind of meetings I have on the other side.

On average, it takes me twenty minutes. No more, no less. If I’m doing laundry and sorting through the mail while packing, the whole process might take up to an hour, but that’s the cost of multitasking.

The greatest challenge is indecision. Do I want two pairs of jeans? (Usually just one, but I waver.) Do I need to bring my bathing suit? (I don’t swim often, and when I do I can wear my running shorts.)

Last night I was packing my bag for ten days away. I was tired from a long day and had a tension headache. The usual process, efficient as it is, was causing me stress.

So I tried a new challenge:

I gave myself only five minutes to pack. I first made sure I had the true essentials: passport, wallet, phone, laptop, protein bars. And then I made sure I had at least a couple pairs of socks and underwear, along with one extra shirt.

Everything else was a bonus: if I got it in the bag during the five minute window, great. If not, I reasoned, what’s the worst that can happen?

We’ll see how it goes. The journey begins this morning.

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