Getting Organized For Quito

Louis Herman
August 10, 2018

I’ve never been a particularly organized person. My daily schedule when I’m not working consists mainly of rushing between hastily planned commitments, arriving barely on time and a little out of breath. When I am working it’s even worse: I have just as many commitments (or, you know, assignments for school) but fewer hours left in which to do them. I’ve become a master of prioritization; my standard internal monologue during the school year goes something like okay I can skip brunch on Sunday because I went for the last three weeks and they’ll all understand that I need to sleep in so that I can be rested for the all-nighter I’ll need to pull if I want to finish that paper on time so Professor Zhang doesn’t hate me.

It’s a stressful way to live, and it’s also not a particularly effective one: of the last four road trips I went on, I either ran out of clothes early or forgot something vital on all of them. It’s usually not the end of the world: when some family members and I drove down to Shenandoah, I could borrow my sister’s toothpaste. Relying on other people isn’t really going to be a viable packing plan for Quito, though. I don’t know anyone I’m going with, and besides it’d be a little weird if my first interaction with a classmate consisted of me asking to borrow their hairbrush. In short, I need to get my act together.

I’m drafting this blog post the night of Thursday, August 9. My flight leaves at 6 AM Monday. That gives me about eighty hours to pack all of my necessary clothes, toiletries, and school supplies into two fifty-pound (or less) bags and one carry-on. Once you take out time for sleep, work, goodbyes, last-minute shopping, and exercise, I’ve got about a quarter of that in viable packing time over the next three days. And the thing is, that is absolutely enough time for me to do everything I need to do; I just need to get organized if I want to get it all done properly. And honestly, I’m pretty confident that I will.

For all my disorganization, I at the very least know that I’m disorganized, and over the years I’ve developed a number of strategies that really help me keep myself on track. Of these, none has been more successful than the list. It’s a really simple idea that everyone’s familiar with—you just, you know, write down everything you need to remember and then try not to lose the list. I’ve found, though, that it really helps me get in the right headspace to begin working on any task. Just writing everything down helps me visualize what needs to get done and how I’m going to do it, and having something that I can refer to in order to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything is really helpful.

More than anything else, though, I love the rush I get from being able to cross items off my lists. Knowing that I’ve fully completed a complex task, especially in light of how disorganized I normally am, is really one of the best feelings out there. I’ve spend this whole week making lists in the hope that I’ll be able to feel that rush many, many times this weekend—and if as a side effect I arrive in South America with everything I need for a successful semester, that’ll be fine with me.

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Louis Herman

<p>Hi! I'm a current junior at the University of Rochester studying the history of early modern globalization, with a specific focus on links between Asia and Latin America. When I'm not busy writing papers, you can probably find me lying down on the beach, soaking in the sunlight, and reading sci-fi.</p>

2018 Fall
Home university:
University of Rochester
Rocky Point, NY
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