I hate packing before I travel. I put it off until the last minute. Every time. My suitcase-filling was so wire-close this time, as I sat on the plane fiddling with the jammed window shade I wondered, “Why do I do that?”
I have to book my tickets weeks in advance – had to book the car, the hotel … I even scouted fun restaurants. So why wait so long to pack?
I’m not typically a procrastinator. I like closure. I like getting things done.
So why do I delay packing?
I wonder if it is primarily because I do not like limited options. Ever. And that 22 x 14 x 9-inch suitcase limits me.
Imagine a typical Colorado morning. The radio alarm goes off. You hit the snooze, hoping against hope that at some point today you will get that Journey song out of your head.
Easing out of bed, you make those old-age noises you swore you’d never make, and you greet a day full of options. You open the blinds and a glance out the window towards Mount Herman tells you, it is snowing. It’s April, but it’s snowing – one of the “perks” of living at 7,300 feet. So you select silk socks to go with wool socks, liners for under your running pants, and spring-colored layers to keep you warm, but look like the calendar is correct.
That same scenario for a traveler in a nearby Denver hotel room plays out differently. Alarm goes off. Room-darkening curtains toss open to reveal – snow. What? A glance at the suitcase tells the mile high visitor – it’s going to be a rough day.
Packing for another city, climate, or country is definitely a challenge, but I love to travel therefore, I must figure out how to summit my Everest without waiting until the last minute. So I found 5 hacks to help pack-haters like me. (I think I’ll call them “pack hacks”.)
1. App it up.
Yes, it appears there are apps to make the chore of packing and the pre-trip tasks easier, especially if you plan to take any repeat trips.
The Packing Pro app helps you create a packing list and lets you save your lists for future use. You can save different lists for different members of the family or parts of the country or cities, i.e. my New York City list looks nothing like my Omaha list. You can sort your list by category, i.e., clothes, medicine, electronics. There is also a pre-trip “To Do” list that looks helpful. Customer reviews of the app assure me they have used it for foreign and domestic travel and would never embark on a trip without it.
2. Roll with it.
Packing is demotivating on some level because you know your nice outfits that you carefully tuck away will look (and I think, smell) nothing like that when you arrive at your destination.
The expert’s suggestion: roll certain items for better results. Real Simple’s The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase suggests rolling your softer garments, i.e. jeans, T-shirts, blouses, etc., and folding stiff ones, like dress pants or blazers.
Then arrange those rolled items in the bottom of the bag, forming a solid suitcase foundation like burritos in a baking dish.
3. Group outfits.
It may feel a bit like summer camp, but if you hate packing as much as I do seeing some order and method to the madness helps. Use Ziploc bags or roll clothes with loose rubber bands to group your items into outfits.
Grouping also forces me to think more thoroughly through what I actually need to take versus my temptation to toss in favorite shirts, comfy clothes, and forget pajamas, shoes and socks.
4. Bulk up.
I would not consider myself a chick who “loves her shoes” but let’s be honest a poorly selected shoe can ruin an outfit or make for a very, very long day. So I struggle when it comes to packing shoes. The experts suggest every trip needs the trifecta of shoes: a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe. Then they suggest wearing the most bulky of the shoes to save suitcase room. (I’m thinking that means my boots.)
I also try to stuff any shoes that I am packing full of various items before they go in the suitcase: belts, underwear, jewelry bag, or phone chargers. If they’re going to take up space in the bag they may as well be worth every inch.
5. Just do it.
Lower the bar. Drop your expectations and just pack. Get comfortable with the notion you may forget something or circumstances may change.
If you forget something or a surprise rainstorm settles over your travel destination, use it as a free pass to go buy whatever item you need to make your stay comfortable. If you find yourself at a COACH store shopping for a $900 purse, you might be pushing the boundaries a bit. But short of medicine and eyeglasses, you can pretty much purchase whatever you forgot on “the other side”.
In a few weeks when I drag out that far-too-small suitcase again, I promise to take my own advice, focus on the fun travel options that await me (not the limited suitcase options) and will start to pack sooner-than-later.
Happy travels to you.
Stay calm and pack.
I love sayings. Funny ones, clever ones, even well worn clichés. If these sayings didn’t offer a kernel of truth, people wouldn’t keep saying them. So how true is the old adage, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” This English proverb cautions the hearer to not risk what you already possess in order to possibly gain more. True? Or False? Should you gamble with what you have to maybe gain more?
I say, “Yes. Take the risk.” Here are three reasons why:
1. Your situation is unique.
Your situation is entirely unique to you, and the world around you right now. Now may be the perfect time for you, to let go of the certainty in your hand and risk.
Do you think Mr. Bird-in-the-hand knew we needed someone to invent electricity, create a vaccine for polio, or make an ionized hair dryer? (Judge not. A bad hair day is rarely a good day.)
Colonel Sanders, a man very familiar with birds, risked his management job at a cafeteria to chase two birds in the bush selling his “secret recipe” to restaurants across the U.S., and ultimately the world, through his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. Sanders was no stranger to risk, trying every job in the book at some point, but he never let the stable, “logical” job keep him from shaking the bushes for something better.
Just like you, Harland Sanders’ situation was unique. He didn’t invent the chicken. Nor did he invent fried chicken, but his recipe was different than others, his pressurized cooking process was unique, and his approach to franchising was unprecedented.
Sanders’ two birds in the bush were worth quite a lot. At the time of the Colonel’s death there were an estimated 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 different countries with $2 billion in sales annually.
2. It might be easier than you think to get another bird.
If you let go of the bird in your hand and the other two fly away, how hard would it be to get another bird? You just need one. That’s all you have now.
If the job market is horrendous, maybe getting another job would be next to impossible. Maybe you do have to keep the bird in your hand. But before you resign yourself to that “fact” be sure and give the birds in the bush more than just a passing thought.
Remember it’s only one bird. There will be other birds.
3. Every bird is unique.
The old adage does not account for the quality of the bird in your hand or of those in the bush.
Are you clutching a crow while two beautiful peacocks nest near-by? Do you have a bald eagle and you are contemplating snatching two crows? The quality of the birds makes a big difference in your decision.
If you are holding on to something, like your job, because it is familiar, low-risk, or comfortable, maybe it is time to at least take a peek in the bushes. Do some research on your “crazy” idea, turn your hobby into a business, use your Saturday to see if you can make a go at that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
If you’ve got a bald eagle in your grasp, maybe contentment is what you need. Stop pining for the two crows in the foliage and appreciate the bird in your hand.
Either way I’d encourage you to consider the bird in your hand and the two in the bush. Your personal worth is not based on either, but the enjoyment of your future might be.
Be willing to risk. And enjoy the reward.
I didn’t set out to be a freelancer.
It found me – kind of like the flu.
But it turns out … I like it, definitely more than the flu. Like any job it has its days when I wonder why I do what I do, but it definitely has more good days than bad.
The perks of being a freelancer are numerous. But I think tippity-top of the list is the flexible schedule. Imagine making money as you punch away on the keyboard when you can’t sleep at night, or working out when you want to, or taking every Tuesday morning for study or time with friends.
However, one of the downity-downs of freelance also comes in the form of flexibility. It is the ever-flexible income. The needs of clients ebb and flow, and as a result, so does your income.
When I accidentally got started “writing for hire” over four years ago there was a lot I didn’t know and since then there is a lot I have learned, but here are three things I never thought I’d say:
1. “I appreciate the opportunity, but I’ll have to pass.”
As a freelance businessperson and ringmaster of your own circus, you have the option to pass on projects. This was certainly never an option when I was at Sprint or Hallmark. You completed every project you were handed. Not as a freelancer.
Passing on projects may seem a bit crazy and a recipe for destitution, but in some cases passing may save you time and money better spent on a different project or elsewhere.
Say “thanks, but no thanks” to any project that seems to be:
- Beyond the scope of your capabilities or best talents.
- A poor fit – professionally or personally.
- Unable to be clearly defined by the team hiring you.
- Doomed from the start – i.e. marketing surfboards in Montana.
- At odds with your values or belief system.
To avoid some poor fits, make sure your website helps potential clients vet you. Explain your freelance offerings and your business well enough on your site to help them opt in or out based on who you are, what you do, and how you do it. I’m a huge fan of the website builder, WIX. It is very intuitive and a refreshing option from the cumbersome, linear Word Press.
There are only so many hours in the day, so work with people you enjoy whom you can help and see clear, forward progress.
2. “Please pay your invoice.”
I hate owing anyone money. Debt hurts my insides so I’m not especially familiar with the mindset of not paying bills in a timely manner.
But I had a former client who was quite familiar with paying late. I guess I thought companies would pay their freelancer in a timely manner because, a. it’s not going to break the bank, b. it’s the right thing to do, and c. the freelance worker is not exactly Apple with a gazillion dollars in the bank.
I don’t like reminding clients about payment, but I do. And you should too.
Make sure to include your terms on every invoice. Keep in mind some payments really do get lost in the mail. But remind yourself, you provide a service and you deserve to be paid in a reasonable amount of time.
I am very fortunate to have the privilege of working with quality clients who pay their bills on time.
But if you have a late payer and it becomes a habit, refer back to Point #1 “I appreciate the opportunity, but I’ll have to pass.”
3. “I love this job.”
The last thing I never thought I’d say was, “I love this job.”
But I do.
With one kiddo still at home and the other gone from the nest, there is no doubt in my mind how invaluable my time at home is. Flexibility is priceless to me. I can always make another pile of cash, but I can never get today back.
So I love this job because it allows me the opportunity to put my family first and serve others with my talents too.
p.s. My freelancer gigs were so plentiful I’ve now made a full-time business out of it and I employ several freelancers to work for me.
LinkedIn recently launched a “freelance-for-hire” service they’ve dubbed “ProFinder”. The service matches people looking for a service or product with a qualified freelance professional.
LinkedIn’s search function links the client to the best freelance option based on categories, keywords, search terms, connections, and physical location, if it’s pertinent.
As of now the ProFinder service is 100% free for both the searcher and those wanting-to-be-searched.
It’s free, but if you would like to be “featured” in certain categories pull out the plastic. Yes, being featured will cost you, but prominent placement on LinkedIn may be just what your freelance shop needs.
For the cost – free – and the exposure – 420 million members in 200 countries – ProFinder is probably worth looking into.
Let’s assume you already have a stellar LinkedIn profile. If not, hop over there and take care of that. (Here’s a piece on how to create a profile in less than 5 minutes that people will want to read. Note: I’m NOT a fan of his all caps suggestion).
Making sure your LinkedIn profile shines is even more important now because your ProFinder profile pulls information from your LinkedIn profile.
The interface and correspondence you receive from LinkedIn about ProFinder is a bit ugly, but we’ll forgive them that if they let us market our services to 420 million people for free.
Make sure you have a few recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. Recommendations are key in the LinkedIn universe to getting a look from a potential freelance client.
Rid your mind of junior high dance rejection and ask current or former clients or co-workers to recommend you on LinkedIn. If you’re afraid they won’t know what to say, toss them a bone. Ask for their help saying,
“World’s Greatest Client,
Hello. I hope the [insert project name] continues to go well. It was a pleasure to work with your team [timeframe]. I am currently looking for other fun freelance opportunities. Would you mind writing a recommendation for me on LinkedIn? The brief recommendation could mention what specific obstacle I helped the team overcome, the benefit you experienced from my assistance, and an endorsement for others to employ my services. Thanks so much for this favor. Let me know how I can help you.”
Sure, it might not be a ton of fun asking someone to “tell me I’m great”, but that’s not what you’re doing. You helped solve a problem and you would like that recorded. Wipe off those sweaty palms and ask.
If it is appropriate for you to recommend that person, do that. Seems only fair and right, and if you do it without them having to ask, they will appreciate it. Save them the sweaty palms.
To make sure the recommendation ends up on your LinkedIn profile, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile and click the down arrow to the right of the button near your profile picture.
- Click “Ask to be recommended” from the dropdown.
- Follow the prompts to request the recommendation.
- Click Send.
With your LinkedIn profile fluffed and buffed, some recommendations added, you’re ready to click a few buttons to sign up for ProFinder. First select which general service you provide, i.e. Writing and Editing, Marketing, Accounting, etc. Then click a few more buttons to highlight your expertise within that area and you’re set.
If you get one lead from it, it will be worth the investment. And we all know one lead leads to another (does anyone else hear the song from The Fixx One Thing Leads To Another in their head when I say that?).
Let me know if you’d like help writing, editing, fluffing, or buffing your content for your LinkedIn profile, resume, website, or print projects. I’d be happy to help.
Enjoy the free, freelancer.
Editor’s Update: This post was originally crafted in 2016. LinkedIn has changed this function multiple times since then. But one thing hasn’t changed. There is PLENTY of money to be made and people to serve as a freelancer. I turned my freelancer gigs into my own business and I now several freelancers work for me.