Thursday, January 10, 2008

Organizing and The Art of Getting Around Without Highway 40

Even with Highway 40 fully functional, rush hour traffic is not for the timid. Speeding, tailgating, lane changing without signaling – much less looking – is par for the course. It’s a messy situation that’s ripe with emotional clutter. How does a professional organizer deal with this kind of clutter?
I can’t control the volume of traffic or the crazy, devil-may-care driving techniques of the driver passing me on my right while talking on his cell-phone and drinking his coffee. But I can control my attitude and my actions.
1) I can research and plan a couple of alternate routes to my destination in case the drive becomes excessively bogged with traffic. Options are good to have.
2) I can carry a new street guide in case my sense of direction fails me. Safety nets are reassuring.
3) I can check the Traffic Center link on the Mid-Metro4 website ( before I hit the road. Forewarned is forearmed.
4) I can group my errands by location so I can minimize the number of trips I have to make. Planning provides me with control over my time. Many of the merchants featured on the Mid-Metro4 website have special deals that can save me money too!
5) I can pad my travel time with ten to fifteen minutes. Arriving late is stressful. Arriving a few minutes early indulges me with some time to read. A good book is my constant companion.
6) I can drive vigilantly because my life is worth it. Need I say more?
7) I can fill my gas tank when the gauge dips to half-full; thus, eliminating running out of gas from my list of worries.
8) I can listen to motivational recordings or calming music. The traffic might be slow, but I can turbo-charge my attitude.
9) I can practice deep breathing when things get tense. Deeply inhaling through the nose and exhaling completely through the mouth ten times effectively distresses.
10) I can realize that we are all in this boat together. Whining changes nothing but it costs a lot in terms of the stress it imposes.
11) I can car-pool when appropriate. It’s the social way to be socially responsible. Even better: I can use Metro so I don’t have to deal with traffic!
12) I can adjust my activities to accommodate the increase in travel time. Maybe I can fix simpler meals that take less time to prepare. Hmm, less cooking time -- this might be a surprise benefit of the highway closing!
Through planning, vigilance and calming activities I can shift the focus from what I can’t control to what I can: my attitude and reaction to traffic. Chances are I will continue to encounter those drivers who seem to be on a mission to turn common courtesy into road kill, but I can be resolute to remain calm and emotionally clutter-free … and give those drivers a wide berth.