March 2012 research Library issues: a QuarterLy report froM arL, cNi, aNd sparc
RLI 278 5
LEAdIng A FuLL LIFE
chain hotel or boutique, etc.—and let him or her handle the details. For what you must do for yourself—
packing, unpacking—make lists and follow them. Make a master list of everything you need to pack
(summer, winter, vacation, work) and print copies. Cross off things as you pack.
My family once left for a weekend at the beach with the crazy amount of luggage such an event
requires. We had the toys, the picnic supplies, the bag of swimwear... It was only at bedtime that we
realized the single suitcase with our clothes was inside the front door back in Lexington. Since then,
whenever we leave home for any kind of trip, we count the number of items we are carrying—bags, coats,
hats, teddy bears—and count them again at every stop.
And for work travel, create a cache of the chargers, toiletries, cosmetics, and medications you always
bring and transfer them to whatever suitcase you are carrying (my kit includes a corkscrew and a
magnifying mirror). When you get home from a trip, replenish those items that are running low as you
unpack (and do unpack and put your suitcase away before you go to bed). Then you will face the next day
back at work with minimum chaos back home.
Making Your Home Life Rich and Calm
Managing your home life well maximizes family time and gives you the peace of mind to focus on work
when you are there. The quality of your relationships with those important to you is critical to your
mental health. By carefully organizing the mundane activities in your home life, you enable calm and
refreshing hours of family interaction. You don’t want to be distracted from your family by disorganized
hustling to feed, clothe, and house them. Managing drudgery requires discipline (but then, all success
For grocery shopping, make a list of all the things you often buy in the order that they are shelved
in your supermarket; print copies. Aisle numbers help. (This does require one trip through your
supermarket with a clipboard—hoping you don’t meet anyone you know. I ran into the chancellor’s wife
the last time I did this.) Keep a copy of the list on your refrigerator and circle or write in items as you
discover you need them. (Our son convinced his wife that creating such a shopping list was worth the
initial effort! They now spend 20 minutes in the supermarket rather than the hour they used to spend.)
Make menus and shop for groceries once a week, using your pre-printed shopping list as the guide. Post
the menus—with recipe page numbers—on the refrigerator. Therefore, whoever is cooking knows what to
defrost and what to make. He or she can switch menus around so as to cook their favorites (my husband
does stir-fry, I do fish).
Wash the dishes and clean the kitchen before bed every night (another habit copied by both our
children). Coming into a clean kitchen in the morning has a calming effect for all. So does doing laundry
and ironing once a week; you can start Monday with all clothes in their closets or drawers, ready to wear
(this is a boon for traveling, too). Encourage every able-bodied person in your household who eats food
and wears clothes to share kitchen and laundry duty.
You can maximize your time if you shop for major clothes purchases for yourself and your
dependents twice a year—spring and fall. This works well when children are young but less well as they
grow up. Shop online whenever possible. Hire help—housecleaners, caterers for entertaining, window
washers, painters, lawn-care people.