Coming Home

I’ve always struggled to maintain a clean, organized living space. It’s the primary reason I started this blog. It’s why I’m so obsessed with organizing everything about my life. Growing up, I was always the messy kid. Clothes scattered on the floor. Running late because I couldn’t find what I needed to get ready in the morning. It was a chaotic existence.

In college that changed. I made a 3-hour+ trek from LA to San Luis Obispo almost every weekend to visit my boyfriend at the time. I often returned very late on Sunday. With classes, a part-time job and a host of other responsibilities waiting to bombard me on Monday morning, I was incentivized to make my return as stress-free as possible.

So I established a routine. Before heading out, I would clean my little dorm room from top-to-bottom. I wanted a peaceful place to come home to. It was awesome to come home late at night to a clean room and a made bed. All I had to do was get into my pajamas and slide under the sheets. Sometimes I would even pre-pack my backpack so the following morning I could roll out of bed and sleepwalk to my first obligation: working the 7am shift at Pepperdine’s Law Library four days a week.

I’m trying to carry this routine into adulthood. I’ve been perfecting my technique and it’s nearly a science, though I’m consistently tweaking the formula (I’ve also found FlyLady’s travel checklist incredibly helpful when creating it). This week, my boyfriend and I are off to the East Coast for business and visiting family. I’ve been mentally planning for weeks to make sure my home is a relaxing haven on my return.

My goal: arrive home ready to relax, and, if I’m too tired, ease into my normal routine without having to unpack a single item.

Here’s my personal, ever-changing checklist for accomplishing this goal:

Refresh my bedroom and master bath for maximum travel-weary relaxation.

  • Vacuum the bedroom
  • Conquer the laundry and make sure my closet is clean and organized
  • Make the bed with fresh sheets the morning of departure

Clean out the kitchen so it’s chore-free and take-out ready.

  • Clear out refrigerator and toss old food into the compost; the fridge should be entirely empty save for items that will still be good when I get back or shelf stable
  • Do a final sweep for dirty dishes and run the dishwasher; put dishes away once done
  • Wipe down counters
  • Sweep floor
  • Clear out all trash from the apartment

Prep my office, digitally and physically, so it’s easy to hit the ground running the first day post-trip.

  • Vacuum office
  • Create and schedule OOO note in Google Apps
  • Clear off my desk countertop
  • Clean off my computer so my desktop is clean and no applications are open before turning it off; make sure when I turn it back on post-trip it launches clean and won’t put a bunch of open apps and documents in my face first thing
  • Clean screens on my iMac, MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone
  • Charge any batteries or devices I’m taking with me on my trip

Clear my head space so I don’t subconsciously stress about my To Do list.

  • Process my inbox and get to Inbox Zero
  • Clean out my To Do list in Things
  • Do a complete mind sweep and weekly review

Take care of my car

  • Make sure the gas tank is full right before I leave (nothing worse than having to drive to a meeting the next day post-trip and being on empty)
  • Clear out any items from the trunks/seats so the car is clean
  • [If I have time] Get the car washed at the car wash

Prep my electronics

  • Turn off the power on all electronic devices (TV, computers, etc.) so they don’t eat up energy while I’m away

Pack ahead and in travel-only compartments so I’m not cannibalizing my home routine.

  • Finish packing two days in advance (This is something I did NOT plan ahead enough to do this time; in the future, I’ll strive for this)
  • Make sure that I’m not packing anything that I’ll need right when I get back (e.g. toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, moisturizer). It’s best to have separate travel and home items so they don’t get mixed and I don’t have to worry about unpacking them when I first get home.

I find that the more I work on improving this routine, the less stressful it is to go on a trip and come back home.

What are some of your favorite pre-trip items to take care of? What makes you feel relaxed and centered when you walk back in the door post-trip?

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