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To Do ListI’m leaving on a trip tomorrow — my annual two-week escape from Seattle’s June-uary and back to my hot and humid East Coast roots. This year I’m traveling solo with my son, so I’m trying to consolidate all our things into one giant suitcase. And thus the process of eliminating unnecessary items begins.

Do I really need both the black and the brown platform sandals? I can totally borrow shampoo and conditioner, right? Come to think of it, I probably only need one cardigan that will go with just about any outfit. And books…am I really going to get through ALL these books?

And so I continue whittling away at the contents until I know my bag will just slide under the 50 pound limit.

But today, I’m realizing my suitcase isn’t the only thing in need of paring down.

My pre-trip To Do list needs some serious attention. I’m not exactly sure why I feel I have to do absolutely EVERYTHING before I leave on a trip. Whether it’s cleaning the house or running every last possible errand — even those I’ve been putting off for weeks — I get it in my head that it ALL MUST GET DONE.

I know it’s part of my control thing…that idea that by leaving my home life neat and organized and cleaned up, I’ll be able to re-enter post-vacation seamlessly. (Fantasy, I know.)

The reality is that this idea of getting it all done before I leave does nothing more than create serious stress and anxiety for me. So, what would happen if I practiced more of what I’m trying to do in all areas of my life and let go?

So today, I grabbed the Sharpie and started axing things.

Here’s what I decided didn’t need to happen today:

  • Clean out all 4 of my email inboxes (what a great thing to do on the plane, right?)
  • Clean out refrigerator (the Hub is more than capable)
  • Compost garden under back window (see above re: Hub)
  • Plant the 3 new plants I picked up at Swansons (they’ve lasted this long without being in the ground…what’s another few weeks?)
  • Finish schedule for NYC (I can wrap this up in the next few days)
  • Clear out TIVO queue (again…Hub)
  • Organize office (absolutely no need for this to happen…it will still be there when I get back)
  • Put together new bookshelf (if office isn’t organized, why do I need the bookshelf ready to go?)

And what do you know? In a little under 2 minutes, I knocked off more than half my To Do list. And now I feel a lot less stressed. Now I can actually finish packing. Now I might actually be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour so I won’t be toast for my 7am flight tomorrow.

But, hey…this strategy doesn’t just apply to pre-trip panic.

Take a look at your own To Do list. How many things are on there that simply don’t need to get done…by you or right now or even at all? How many items on your list are self-imposed? How many items serve no real purpose other than make you feel like you’re constantly behind or failing?

Even if it’s just one, you’ve got some work to do: Grab your list. Grab a Sharpie. And get to simplifying.