Round Trip Remedy: I Never Leave the House Just Once

There is a weird magnetic field between my garage door and the stoplight half a mile down the road. So often I get pulled back to my garage five minutes after leaving to gather some forgotten item. Sometimes it happens more than once on the same trip!

Organizing to leave the house

Do you often leave the house more than once?

Yes, I’m organized, but it still happens. Hey, no one is perfect.

I recently started investigating why this happens and whether it can be fixed.

Harold Taylor, a noted time management expert, told about how he takes a daily walk, after which he sits down to write an article or two. One year his kids got him a portable music device for his walks. He enjoyed the music, but he found that when he reached his destination, the articles wouldn’t come. What changed? His brain needed the quiet time during his walk for him to consistently write articles.

Many people today just don’t have any quiet time in their day. Certainly, those five minutes between the back door and the garage are hectic, and hectic is where chaos happens.

Hectic is where things get forgotten, accidents happen, and commitments are missed.

Unfortunately, my brain thinks the five minutes after I get in the car are my quiet time. After I’ve cleared the kitchen counter, grabbed my bags, and made it out of the clutches of little hands who want just one more hug, sitting in the car IS quiet time. With all of the household and family duties behind, my mind is captive in the car and starts planning the details of events I’m heading to and the commitments in the rest of my day.

That is when forgotten details pop into my head, usually right around the time I arrive at that first stoplight.

What’s the Round Trip Remedy?

If this happens to you more often than you’d like, there is an easy fix. Actually, two fixes:
1. Checklists- Similar to notepads that some people hang on the doorknob to remind them of things to take out of the house, I have one inside my car that I check before leaving for an appointment. Going through the checklist forces me to switch gears before I leave the driveway, and at least I don’t forget the obvious items. One of my clients often has a dead battery because she leaves her car lights on, so we created a checklist of what to do before she exits her car with 3 things on it:

  • Turn off headlights (her car doesn’t automatically turn them off),
  • check teeth and lipstick
  • grab purse and lunch bag.

Could you make a checklist like this?

2. Breathe- Give it a moment, maybe in the front seat while you are still parked in the driveway. It’s easy to stay on the go, not miss a step in your day, but 60 seconds with your eyes closed, mentally running through the task coming up next might be all you need. Picture what you’ll be carrying, where you’ll be going, who you’ll be seeing, and your essential items will pop into your head more times than not.

So simple, right? Simple, but not easy. If you do one of these fixes, you’ll be more organized and less frantic. If you do both, you’ll be an organizing rock star. I think I hear your band warming up now!


Photo credit: DepositPhoto Copyright littleny

This post was originally published on NAPO-GPC.