Paper Tiger Blog


The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Vacation Planning Made Easy!

This article by Sherry Borsheim of Simply Productive, and a Paper Tiger Expert, gives us some great tips on organizing vacation planning and packing so that taking a vacation won’t add even more stress to our busy lives!

Conquer Your Chaos

I remember my very first client and the day we were planning out her hectic family schedule.  The kids were young and involved in a lot of after school programs, there was a birthday party to plan and a million other things to get done prior to the end of school year and before the family vacation.  Her anxiety and stress levels were high and she just couldn’t see how she was going to accomplish everything prior to leaving on vacation.  At this point she wasn’t even sure she’d be able to make all the vacation arrangements or get everyone packed.  Taking a family vacation was just too stressful!

First Things First

Together, we began to plan out on paper everything that was on her mind.  Getting it onto paper is the first step to reducing stress. Next, we prioritized projects and began making a list of things that could be delegated.  There was a lot of complicated logistics and juggling of schedules that needed to happen prior to even thinking of planning the family vacation.

Batch, Prioritize and Schedule Tasks

Once we had everything that was on her mind on paper, we batched and prioritized her tasks.  Then we began scheduling everything into her calendar. This would give her a more realistic time-line of when things needed to get done and how long tasks would take.  We even customized her planner based on her lifestyle and how she wanted to use it.

The Family Packing List

After a few hours of planning, we took a short break and she mentioned that the family vacation was really stressing her out.  She just didn’t see how she would be able to make all the arrangements and get ready in time.  I asked her if she had a packing checklist for the family?  The tears began to roll down her face.  She said that she dreamed of having a packing list because she knew that it would simplify her life. But she didn’t know where to begin and the thought of creating one was just too stressful.

That was the day I realized that the simplest of things can transform a life and reduce stress and anxiety for a person.  What comes natural for me, which is organization, isn’t easy and natural for others. So I made her a promise that I would type up a family packing checklist for every member of the household and I’d help her every step of the way to make this family vacation extra special and stress-free! And that is exactly what happened – an outstanding family vacation!

Organizing is a Learnable Skill

One of the most rewarding moments for me when I’m working with my clients is when a highly creative, outgoing person who says they can never be organized, decides to make different choices.  They develop new habits that support them and in turn transform their life.  Then the positive impact that has on the rest of the family members because they teach the organizational skills to their kids.  For me, that’s beauty and order at it’s best!


“Organizing is what you do before you do something,
so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
A.A. Milne

“Life is what happens to you while
you’re busy making other plans”
John Lennon


More Vacation Planning Tips

Did you forget something? You know the story…you all pile into the car, you’re trying to beat the rush hour traffic, you’re frantically making a list in your head and hoping you didn’t forget anything, you head out of town and suddenly you remember you forgot something. It’s too late to turn back, so you tell yourself you’ll just pick it up on the way or when you get to your destination. Who wants to be running around buying necessities and spending extra money when you could be having fun on your vacation?

Make your next vacation more enjoyable and relaxing so those obstacles don’t get in the way of you having fun! Here are a few simple vacation planning tips:

Create a Trip File

Keep all your trip related papers together in a file and when you return from the trip recycle or toss papers you don’t need and file receipts and travel expenses in your financial files. Move towards being paperless and create a document on your computer for each place you visit. List your favorite restaurants, accommodations, and points of interest. Years ago I created a “New York” document and it’s been updated and passed onto many friends over the years and I’ve completely eliminated all my travel reference files!

Create a Pre-Travel Action List

Make a list of all the tasks you want to accomplish prior to the trip either on paper or electronic. Every time you think of something capture it and get it out of your head otherwise it will keep coming up for you as a reminder to do something and increase your stress levels. Look at your list each day and schedule time to accomplish these tasks.

Packing Checklists Reduce Stress

For the past 10 years we vacation at this wonderful place with my family, and every year we pack the same things. Some years forgetting crucial items, while other years packing way too much. So, one day I sat down and wrote out everything we needed to take with us, clothing, food, sporting equipment, games and other necessities. I even made a simple meal plan with healthy meals with minimum effort to prepare. What a huge time-saver and stress reliever this has been over the past 15 years. A little pre-planning can go a long way towards a fun-filled vacation instead of disappointment and disaster.

Create different packing checklists for different types of trips or regular activities. You could have a packing checklist for summer and one for winter vacations. We have a family vacation that we take every summer and all I do is open up that file on my computer, print a copy and begin packing. I even have a small checklist in my gym bag so I don’t forget to pack a key piece of clothing! I’m sure you can relate!

Independent Traveler has a fun interactive packing checklist that you can customize for different types of trips.

Avoid Last Minute Packing

Whenever possible, pack 3-7 days prior to the trip to reduce last minute stress and a late night with little sleep. This is not a relaxing way to start a vacation. Get out your suite case and review your packing checklist and begin packing what you can. This is especially helpful if you have several family members to pack for plus yourself. You may also want to pack a separate overnight bag to carry on the plane for long flights just in case the airline misplaces your luggage you’ll have a change of clothes. Or if you spend a night at a hotel on the way to your destination you don’t have to haul in your entire luggage for one or two nights.

Savvy Travelers Packing Tips

Check the weather forecast at your destination before you begin to pack. Also, store all your travel items in a container, drawer or one location in your home. Passports, other currencies, shoe bags, luggage tags and any other travel items you use from time-to-time. This makes it easy to pack when all the items are together. Keep travel size items stocked and on-hand to avoid last minute trips to the store. Here are some other savvy packing tips:

  • Bring clothes in neutral colors and that you can mix and match for several outfits
  • Keep your travel gadgets to a minimum
  • Buy extra travel cords for electronics and keep them in a small travel case so you can grab and go at any time
  • Buy travel size containers and refill them after each trip
  • Use travel size containers and fill with your basic cosmetics. Make sure to label the containers!
  • Have two toiletry bags – one for short trips and one for longer trips. You use half the amount of product on a weekend trip and don’t need as many items
  • Use zip-topped plastic bags to store your toiletries. Bring a few extra’s in case products leak or bags tear
  • To minimize wrinkles you can roll items when you pack or use the plastic dry cleaning bags for shirts, skirts and dresses. Tissue papers works as well for delicate items.
  • Fold two more garments together. I often put outfits together this way so I know what to wear together
  • Use small cloth shoe bags to pack your shoes and under garments.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and if you travel overseas, carry it with you
  • Bring a small laundry bag for dirty clothes or use the plastic bag in the hotel
  • Refill containers of shampoo and other products when you return. Make a list of any items you need to replenish so you have it on hand for the next trip!

Have fun and enjoy the peace of mind a little pre-planning and preparation gives you when you are organized!

Travel Supplies Tip for the Frequest Traveller:

If you are a frequent traveller, then it pays to buy a second set of travel cords and accessories.  Keep them in a small compact carry case so it’s easy to grab and carry on the plane with you, your purse or in the car.

Check out these cool travel solutions at


About the Author

Sherry Borsheim, owner of Simply Productive, has been helping people to work smarter, not harder for years. She specializes in resolving paper, time and information management issues. To learn more about eliminating the paper pile-up and in vastly improving your productivity, contact Simply Productive at 604-233-7076.

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