THE LOOP
Taylor

Packing Like a Pro: How to Make the Most of Your Suitcase

Admittedly, packing is the least exciting thing about taking a vacation. The process of packing becomes even less appealing when facing threats like wrinkled clothing and unpredictable weather. If done wrong, you could be looking at overweight baggage fees, messy spills, damaged items, or multiple trips to the drugstore.
 
While packing a suitcase may seem simple enough, there are actually a number of ways to go about it. In fact, how a person packs can depend on his or her itinerary, budget, and destination. However, according to travel industry experts, some packing strategies are better than others. With that being said, here are a few of the top tips and methods for packing efficiently and effectively.
 

Choosing the Right Bag

 
It is important to keep in mind that the “right” bag is different for everyone and for every trip. Whereas a bag may be appropriate for one trip, it may be troublesome and bulky for another. If your bag doesn’t fit your needs, you could be sabotaging your trip from the start. Fortunately, there are many types of luggage available - backpacks, satchels, totes, weekenders, duffels, and rolling suitcases, just to name a few.
 
Always keep airline size and weight limits in mind when choosing your bag(s). This is especially crucial, given that suitcases can vary widely in price, size, material (e.g., hard or soft shell), and design (e.g., two vs. four wheels). Remember, every pound counts! To save space, avoid bags with a lot of interior compartments or features. Instead, opt for bags that expand or have exterior pockets.
 
Bear in mind that you do not need a big collection of luggage to travel. This is often excessive and expensive. Instead, stick to a few reliable pieces that you can use over and over again. For the frequent traveler, a sturdy bag with a generous warranty is likely to withstand years of wear-and-tear. For the occasional traveler, a mid-range bag with a limited warranty may be more suitable.
 

Determining What to Pack

 
After selecting a bag to use, the next step is to decide what items should be put inside it. If you are unsure of where to start, consider practicing the 1-2-3-4-5-6 rule. This is the simplest packing tip to follow and covers a week’s worth of outfits. Here’s what to pack:
 
  • 1 hat
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 3 pairs of pants, shorts, or skirts
  • 4 shirts
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 6 sets of underwear
 
Of course, this list can be modified to match both your needs and the duration of the trip. Do not hesitate to throw in a swimsuit, jacket, or dress if the trip calls for it. However, be careful not to fall into the ‘just in case I need it’ trap. This could lead to an overstuffed bag that will be tricky to repack once it’s time to head home.
 

How to Pack: Tried and True Methods

 
While everyone has their own ‘packing personality’, packing should always be an easy, organized, and stress-free activity. Below are a few of the best packing methods to maximize space, keep things clean, and cut down on wrinkles.
 

The Rolling  Method (No Rubber Bands Necessary)

 
Yes, travelers do swear by this method! Rolling your clothes not only helps you to fit more into your bag, but it also helps to reduce wrinkles. This method is particularly effective for softer and casual garments such as jeans, cotton pants, t-shirts, knitwear and sweaters. When rolled tightly, these items are less likely to wrinkle.
 

The Cube Method

 
If using a larger bag or suitcase, packing cubes can help you to keep things organized and easy to access. Not only are they conveniently shaped, allowing you to pack without wasting space in between, but they can separate different types of clothing and toiletries (perfect for partners sharing a suitcase).
 

Separating Dirty Laundry

 
To prevent mixing soiled and clean clothing, simply use a separate bag for laundry (e.g., drawstring pouches, compression bags, or resealable plastic bags). Forgot to bring one? Check your hotel room for any unused trash bags (these are simple and free to use).
 
Bonus Tip: I have found that plastic bags also work well for keeping shoes, along with accompanying dirt and germs, apart from other (clean) belongings. If possible, set your shoes along the sides of your bag. Due to their odd shapes and heels, they will take up the most space.
 

 

The Takeaway

 
When it comes to packing a suitcase, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, there are a multitude of ways to do it! Just how effective these methods are, depends greatly on the types of items you pack.
 
With that being said, it is important to pick a method, or a combination of methods, that suit your needs and preferences. Although only a few methods have been mentioned here, there are many more worth trying. So if you haven’t already, book that trip and start packing!

 


References

Allianz Travel Insurance (n.d.). 12 Pro Tips for Packing Your Suitcase Smarter.
Briggs and Riley Travelware (2021). How to Pack a Suitcase: 5 of the Best Packing Methods We Stand Behind.
Mettler, L. (2019). How to Pack a Suitcase: 16 Tips and Expert Tricks for Perfectly Packed Luggage. U.S. News & World Report.
O’Rourke, T. (2019). Foolproof Hacks for Packing Your Suitcase Efficiently Every Time. Real Simple.
Our Travel Mix (n.d.). The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase to Maximize Space.
Peters, S. & Phillips, L. (2018). 5 Brilliant Items That Make Packing Easier. Real Simple.
Saporita, N. (2019). 14 Genius Packing Tips to Help You Travel Like a Pro. Good Housekeeping Institute.
Schlichter, S. (2018). How to Pack a Suitcase: The Ultimate Guide. Smarter Travel.
The GentleManual (2020). What Does Your Bag Say About You? Ties.com.
Vora, S. & Higgins, M. (n.d.). How to Pack a Suitcase. The New York Times.
Taylor

How to Deal with Workplace Burnout

As burnout has become increasingly common, it is certainly worth considering the impact of stress on the human mind and body. With nearly two-thirds of full-time workers experiencing burnout, either occasionally or frequently, organizations are undoubtedly facing an occupational phenomena.

 

Fortunately, there are tactics employees can use to beat burnout. When applied, these tactics can help employees to regain perspective, retain their focus, and reignite their passion for work.

 

But first, it is important to understand what burnout is and what it entails.

 

 

What is Burnout?

 

Burnout is the loss of motivation, energy, and interest regarding one’s job or career. Instigated by massive stress and overwork, burnout not only causes a mental collapse, but it can ruin an employee’s ability to work.

 

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Burnout

 

Notably, burnout can affect anyone at any time. Unfortunately, for many employees, it can be difficult to differentiate normal stress from burnout. For this reason, it is important to watch out for key signs and symptoms, including cynicism, reduced professional efficacy, chronic fatigue, and loss of appetite. Burnout can occur for a number of reasons, with the most common being work-life imbalances, toxic work environments, and unreasonable time constraints or expectations.

 

 

Recovering from Burnout

 

While taking some time off may be tempting, a vacation is not always a quick fix for burnout. Indeed, it can temporarily relieve stress. However, research has shown that the average vacation does little to improve employees’ energy and happiness levels once they have returned to work. In fact, workers’ problems and workloads are likely to persist, or worse, double!

 

With that being said, there are other ways to alleviate burnout, even while on the job. Below is a simple (yet effective) guide that employees can follow when dealing with burnout.

 

Remember to take regular breaks. This method may seem counterintuitive, however, taking small moments to unwind (e.g., taking a nap, eating a snack, stretching, or going for a walk) are important for maintaining productivity, efficiency, and motivation. Even with pending deadlines, working non-stop is a surefire way to burnout quickly.

 

 

Manage expectations (for your work and for yourself). It is always important to consider your current capabilities and priorities. If you find yourself drowning at work, try limiting the number of tasks you’ll tackle. If you cannot say “No” to a project or request, try negotiating the deadline and/or the amount of work. Remember to be transparent with your boss and colleagues about what you can and cannot fit into your schedule.

 

 

Keep a daily schedule. While adding more rules and structure to your day might seem restrictive, a time-blocked schedule actually reduces decision fatigue and feelings of overwhelm. Not only are you able to keep track of your intentions (with clear goals and priorities), but you are able to protect your time from distractions and interruptions.

 

 

The Takeaway

 

Admittedly, burnout is something that everyone goes through at some point in their career. While burnout can directly and negatively impact our lives, both at work and at home (especially for remote workers), it is possible to manage or reduce its effects.

 

By understanding what burnout is and how it happens, employees can take steps to reverse (and possibly prevent) burnout at the workplace. Ideally, this would allow employees to end the workday not only happier, but healthier too.

 

References

Boogaard, K. (2020). Your Realistic Guide to Beating Burnout (Because A Vacation Isn’t The Answer). Trello.
Calmer Blog (2020). What are the 5 stages of burnout? 
MacKay, J. (2020). How to deal with burnout: Signs, symptoms, and strategies for getting you back on track after burning out. RescueTime.
Mayo Clinic Staff (2021). Job burnout: How to spot it and take action. Mayo Clinic.
The Calm Team (n.d.). Everything You Need to Know About Burnout at Work.
Wigert, B. & Argawal, S. (2020). Employee Burnout. Gallup.
Zariczny, A. (2021). Blog Post: How Leaders Can Protect Their Workplace From Burnout. Blunovus Care Inc.
Taylor

5 Ways to Hack Your Mornings

Feeling stressed, tired, and grumpy? Your morning routine could be to blame. Depending on how you spend those first waking moments, you could be secretly sabotaging your mood, or worse, your entire day. Studies have shown that mornings can greatly affect productivity, the quality of your work, how you articulate, and how you interact with others. 

 
Whether you work from home or in-office, starting your day off on the right foot can be crucial for task management and job performance. While mornings are not always ideal, there are ways to make them easier to manage. With that being said, these quick and simple hacks will help you to wake up calm, happy, and focused!

 

 

Prepare the Night Before

 
Packing your essentials the night before is a great way to minimize your to-do list. Try laying out your clothes in advance, covering everything from top to bottom (yes, this includes your undergarments, accessories, and shoes). Ensuring that your outfit is ready-to-wear will not only save time, but allow you to dress for the job you want. Heading to the park or gym? This same logic applies for exercise clothes and workout gear.
 

Avoid Hitting “Snooze”

 
While it may be tempting to hit that snooze button, this can actually disrupt your circadian rhythm (your internal clock or sleep cycles). By unintentionally drifting off, it is more likely that you will wake groggy, rather than well-rested. Rather than ignoring your alarm clock, turn it off as soon as it sounds. Notably, this will require some effort and willpower.
 
To reduce the urge to sleep a little longer, try placing your alarm clock or phone out of reach. Alternatively, you can disable the snooze function. This usually does the trick, however, be sure not to set multiple (different) alarms. Both methods are effective, as they will force you to physically shake your slumber.
 

Soak in Some Sunlight


Aside from brightening our moods, the sun (symbolically and actually) allows us to start each day. Indeed, there are real biological and physiological needs for sunlight in the morning. Sunlight triggers our brains to release neurotransmitters (hormones), such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and histamine. Simply put, sunlight makes us feel good!
 
The exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, provided by direct sunlight, has many health benefits too.  Just 10-30 minutes of exposure can result in stronger bones, healthier blood levels, increased immunity, greater alertness, and improved mood. Studies also suggest that sunlight can help to prevent stress, depression, and inflammation.
 

Skip the Phone Scroll

 
As mobile phones tend to bombard us with messages, emails, and social media updates, it may be wise to avoid checking your screen first thing in the morning. By doing this, you immediately place yourself into an anxiety-inducing situation. You’ll not only be overwhelmed, you’ll be stressed.
 
This particular distraction can negatively affect your time, attention, productivity, and the ability to prioritize tasks. Prolonged use could also lead to sleep disturbances, blurred vision, neck syndrome, and weight gain.
 
Alternatively, try to kickstart your day with activities such as exercise and meditation. In choosing healthier habits, you can keep a calm mind and a calm morning.
 

Keep a Journal

 
Journaling after waking can clear your mind, inspire new ideas, increase your creativity, and build confidence. Also known as Morning Pages, this journaling technique consists of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing. You can jot down anything and everything that comes to mind, including chores, worries, dreams, and goals. There are no wrong ways of doing this exercise, so feel free to organize your thoughts in any manner. The key is to keep writing!
 
Morning Pages are especially beneficial for mental health, as they allow you to reflect, process emotions or events, be self-expressive, and most importantly, prioritize the day. Make sure to write without distractions. After all, these pages are meant to bring you clarity, focus, and direction.
 

The Takeaway

 
While everyone’s needs, schedules, and lifestyles may differ, mornings are crucial for success. They enable you to plan events, prioritize tasks, and set goals. In my experience, a good morning routine has allowed me to prepare for the day ahead, while putting me into an accomplishment state-of-mind.
 
Using many of these hacks, I have not only simplified my mornings, but I have made them more enjoyable. For those of you looking to revamp your current routine, increase your productivity, and maintain your focus, these hacks are definitely worth trying!

 

References

Abrahamsen, S. (2020). What Are Morning Pages? How One New Habit Changed My Life. Little Coffee Fox.
Abramson, A. (2020). In Praise of Morning Light. Medium.
Cameron, J. (2021). Morning Pages. Julia Cameron Live.
Dill, K. (2016). Hack Your Morning: 7 Ways To Get The Day Off To A Great Start. Forbes.
Isip, R. (n.d.). 15 Ways to Simplify Your Morning Routine And Have A Great Morning. Lifehack.
Phelamei, S. (2019). What happens to your body when you look at your phone first thing in the morning? Health News.
Sleep Advisor (2020). The Importance of Morning Sunlight for Better Sleep.
The Everygirl (2020). 12 Morning Routine Hacks For a Calmer Day.