Tips for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Apps for New Year's ResolutionsTo achieve your wishes and dreams, setting goals is an important step. Goals fuel your motivation and as you make progress, seeing the results boosts your self esteem and encourages you to work even harder. The key to success is to make a plan and take action, and eventually you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Great news. Whether you want to get fit, lose 10 pounds, improve your health or help others in 2014, the Life­Topix personal organization app includes what you need to set goals, make plans and track your progress. It’s simple. Below you’ll find a slideshow that provides tips for achieving your New Year’s resolutions.

Good Luck!

Please comment and let us know how your goals are progressing!

Holiday Travel Tips from LightArrow


6531440We know that traveling during the holidays can be stressful and difficult so we put together this short guide with some helpful tips for surviving the travel season through better organizing. Keep in mind that travel is unpredictable. Keep backups of travel docs, alternate routes, and backup plans for those unexpected times. Packing stress relief items such as sleep masks, neck pillows, and noise-canceling headphones can help you unwind during delays or other unexpected events. Pack snacks for kids and make sure to stay hydrated — especially during flight travel.

Key Features of the Travel + Places Topic in the LifeTopix App

The LifeTopix app’s Travel + Places topic includes many features for organizing travel; however, you’ll find little gems throughout the app to make your trip more organized.

  • Ability to create entries for all your trips, visitors, outings, and places, and to view them at-a-glance
  • Ability to share trips and visitors via email with other users
  • Automatic reminders through integration with your device’s calendar
  • Touchpoints to the People + Services, Events, Shopping, Tasks + Projects, and Notes + Files topics

Travel Tips from LightArrow

 

Earth Day – Eight Things You Can Do Today to Save the Planet

Earth Day 2013

Each year, Earth Day is celebrated to educate Americans about ecology and what they can do to reduce their environmental impact. Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in 1970 and it’s still celebrated today to honor our planet. In this post, we’d like to do our part to educate you about a few simple things that you can do today that will protect and honor planet earth without drastically changing your lifestyle.

1. Set Auto Shutdown on Your Laptops

According to Casey Roe, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, Duke Sustainability Office [source], it takes 60 to 300 trees to absorb the annual impact of a computer that’s left on 24 hours a day, and only 60 percent of US adults turn their computer off during the night. A simple change that you can make today is shutting down your laptops and devices at night.

To make it super simple, in many cases you can set up your computers to shut down or use other energy-saving options (such as sleep or hibernate) automatically. Macs have options that enable you to automatically shut them down during times that you’re not using them.

Earth Day 2013

You can use the Energy Saver preferences in the System Preferences application. Just click the Schedule button, and you can set up the schedule that works for you.

2. Eliminate Junk Mail

According to 41Pounds.org, “more than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.” Furthermore, they state, “The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.”

So what can you do about it? There are services that allow you to stop the influx of junk mail that you receive at your home. And if you’re a marketer, consider more green (digital) options. I recently started using Catalog Choice. Catalog Choice unlists you from marketing lists for catalogs and allows you to search for and choose the catalogs that you no longer wish to receive. What’s neat about the site is you can also view the environmental benefits of your contribution and the contribution of others as a whole.

3. Buy Used or Borrow Things That You Only Use Once in a While

Many of us rush out to buy something new any time we need it. In fact, according to the The Daily Green, “studies have shown that the average power tool is used for only about half an hour it its lifetime.” If statistics are correct, you probably have some lonely and dusty power tools in your garage. Instead of rushing out to the nearest home improvement store, consider purchasing used items and borrowing tools and other items. 

Nowadays, there are many choices for borrowing items such as tools, and when you no longer need an item you can consider donating it. In the United States, a “Tool Library” movement has begun and continues to gain momentum, which allows you to borrow several type of home and garden tools. Just perform a local Google Search and you’ll find many options for lending and borrowing.

4. Use Cloud Services

Using Cloud Services is a popular trend, but it also can help you to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to Go Green, “large companies adopting the cloud can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent. The better news is, small businesses even save more energy than the larger counterparts – up to 90 percent.”

We often talk about cloud services and how you can use them to store your documents, photos, and other media to help you achieve your paperless goals (as opposed to printing these items and placing them in file folders). We also commonly talk about how our app, LifeTopix, allows you to access these documents in context with all the things you’re doing and planning in your life. Examples of cloud services that are popular and can be used for free include Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, Evernote, and Google Drive.

You can refer to their websites to sign up and learn more about these services.

5. Reduce Travel

Whether you’re traveling across town or traveling across the earth, consider video conferencing as an option to reduce your carbon footprint. An article published by Yale University by Elisabeth Rosenthal [source] states that, “According to various estimates, emissions from aviation currently represent 2 to 3 percent of CO2 emissions and are likely to double or triple by 2050.”

To reduce the number of trips that you take, consider video conferencing options. Lower cost and free options that are available include Skype, Google Hangouts, iChat on Apple Computers, or Adobe Connect Pro among many others. Refer to their websites for more information.

6. Cancel Paper Newspaper Subscriptions

Are you still receiving the daily newspaper? Have you ever wondered about the environment impact of that daily newspaper? According to the Daily Green, “The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector’s carbon emissions” and “Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).”

Understanding this, I investigated a local newspaper and found that there are several options for online, iPad, and various tablet subscriptions. I also found that the tablet choice was more economical than choosing the paper option with full online access. Consequently, there’s no need to give up the subscription altogether.

7. Use Reminders, Notes, Lists, and Calendar Applications

iOS reminders, calendar apps, shopping/to-do list and note apps, and personal organization apps such as LifeTopix are excellent for helping you incorporate green habits into your life, such as reducing the amount of paper that you use. For example, you can use a variety of apps or use LifeTopix to:

  • Set a reminder to carry your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • Schedule times that local farmers sell at the markets.
  • Schedule recycling day.
  • Create digital shopping lists and ditch the paper lists.
  • Stop using paper notes and create digital to-do lists and notes.
  • Set reminders to turn off the lights in your house.

8. Better Plan Your Errands and Carpool

Near_MeOne great way to reduce emissions is to cut back on the amount of time you spend in your car commuting and running errands. According to the EPA, “Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year.”

Your built-in map app on your iOS device or Google maps can help you plan the most efficient route when running errands. And, if you use an app such as LifeTopix, you can use the handy Near Me feature to view shopping and other items on your map to ensure you’re taking advantage of the best route.

There are several websites and apps that can help you find ways to carpool. Social media is also a great way to arrange rides with friends.

Please comment and let us know your tips for reducing your carbon footprint. We love to hear from our readers. 

Getting Organized After Your Travels — Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of our three part series that cov­ers man­ag­ing your trips and travel with the Life­Topix app. In this series, we’ve been fol­low­ing Polly on her bird­ing trip on the coast of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Polly has returned from her travels, and a brand new year is underway. It’s important for her to get back to her regular routine, and to get acclimated to her work and personal obligations.

Enjoy the fol­low­ing slideshow to get an understanding of how Life­Topix can help Polly combat post-vacation blues, organize her life quickly and simply, and settle back into her normal life and routine.

[This SlideShare was cre­ated using Life­Topix 5.2, which is com­ing soon.]

Create post-vacation to-do lists

Like Polly, most people have a multitude of chores and tasks that pile up while they’re on vacation. Keeping everything you do in one place will make sure that you don’t forget anything important — like picking up Mr. Jinxy from the vet!

Stock the kitchen

After return­ing from a vaca­tion, the refrig­er­a­tor and cup­boards might be bare. Prepa­ra­tion is key. Make sure you have frozen meals stocked before­hand so you have some­thing to eat as soon as you arrive home. Next, cre­ate a shop­ping list and sched­ule time to pur­chase gro­ceries. After eat­ing at restau­rants for an extended period of time, your bud­get might be low and your waist­line might be expand­ing. Home-cooked meals will help solve both issues.

Re-establish a routine

Sometimes it’s an adjustment after travel and holidays to re-establish your normal routine. You’re accustomed to the freedom and enjoyment of doing what you want to do and when you do it. When you return to reality, using software  to schedule your appointments, create your post-vacation to-do lists, monitor your energy level and nutrition, and delegate tasks will help you feel in control of your life.

Keep your energy level up

Taking care of yourself is important after travel because, like Polly, you might be feeling a little deflated. Taking vitamins, drinking water, avoiding highly-processed foods, and re-establishing your exercise routine will help you stay energized. With LifeTopix you can log and track these items and monitor any trends.

Share your experience with friends and reminisce about the good times

LifeTopix makes sharing your travel experience with your friends easy. Your journal, favorite destinations, photos, websites, and people you met are all kept in one place. And with the social media and email sharing of LifeTopix, you can share experiences in just a few taps.

Tweet Us!

We honestly hope this helps you combat post-vacation disorganization and blues. We welcome your questions and comments!

Or even better, send us a tweet @LightArrowInc!

Get Organized and Make the Most of Your Travel Time — Part 2

Wel­come to Part 2 of our three part series that cov­ers man­ag­ing your trips and travel with the Life­Topix app. In this series, we’re fol­low­ing Polly on her bird­ing trip on the coast of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Polly is in search of the rarest birds in Cal­i­for­nia so she wants to make sure all the impor­tant details are cap­tured — and kept with her at all times. Enjoy the fol­low­ing slideshow to get an under­stand­ing of how Life­Topix can help Polly so she can spend time enjoy­ing the birds, instead of fum­bling through her backpack.

[This SlideShare was created using LifeTopix 5.2, which is coming soon.]

Whether you’re a recreational or business traveler, the LifeTopix app can help you make the most of your time while traveling by helping you to organize the details all in one place.

Best Calendar and Itinerary

The best way to view all the details of your trip is through your calendar. With LifeTopix’s powerful calendar, you can view everything that you’ve planned. LifeTopix works with your device’s calendar, and allows you to see your Outlook or Google Calendar events. And with the Agenda view, you can see what’s coming up today, tomorrow, and the next 7 days — in one glance.

Track Expenses

Whether you’re traveling on business or for entertainment, it’s a good idea to keep track of expenses — especially if you require reimbursement. LifeTopix lets you keep all receipts together for easy reimbursement filing. And, if you’re traveling with friends, tracking expenses will help you share the cost of excursions, meals, or other events.

Associate Photos and Other Media

Associate audio files, photos, and videos with LifeTopix Places so you always remember when and where you took a photo, made a video, or recorded a note.

Create Journal Entries

LifeTopix notes let you record memoirs. Take notes about special dinners with friends, keep a diary of your daily activities, record unique and special finds, or (coming soon) draw a quick sketch of a special person, place, or thing.

Use Location Services

LifeTopix location services allow you to see what’s near you so you can plan your route and day accordingly.

Take Advantage of Bookmarks

With LifeTopix, you never have to go to a different app or web browser to find the websites that are important for your trip. Create bookmarks in context to the trip or to the individual places you’re visiting — directly in LifeTopix.

Tweet Us!

We honestly hope this helps you enjoy your next vacation or excursion — in context with everything else you do in your busy life. We welcome your questions and comments!

Or even better, send us a tweet @LightArrowInc!

Don’t Let Bad Planning Derail Your Vacation – Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of our three part series that covers managing your trips and travel with the LifeTopix app. LifeTopix is one of the most complete apps available for planning your travel; for documenting your travel; and for making a smooth transition back to your daily life when your travels are complete.

In this series, we’re following Polly on her birding trip on the coast of Northern California. Polly is in search of the rarest birds in California so she wants to make sure all the important details are captured — and kept with her at all times. Enjoy the following slideshow to get an understanding of how LifeTopix can help Polly so she can spend time enjoying the birds, instead of fumbling through her backpack.

LifeTopix Travel from LightArrow

LifeTopix Travel Planning Quick Summary and Ideas

With LifeTopix, the possibilities for recording your travel arrangements are endless. I’ve included a list below to spark some ideas for when you’re planning your next trip.

  • Trip checklist
  • Trip to-do lists
  • Packing lists
  • Shopping lists
  • Places to visit
  • Bookmarks to brochures, field guides, directions, restaurants, parks, tourist attractions, transportation, or hotels
  • Password management for airline sites
  • “My Apps” for quick access to Yelp, Trip Advisor, or other apps
  • Photos of places you wish to see
  • Audio notes
  • Agenda sharing
  • Planning notes
We honestly hope this helps you plan your next vacation or excursion — in context with everything else you do in your busy life. We welcome your questions and comments!
Or even better, send us a tweet @LightArrowInc!

13 Ways LifeTopix Can Improve Your Life in 2013

What are your goals for 2013? Everyone wants to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life — but how do you get there? We’ve compiled a list of 13 ways that the LifeTopix calendar, productivity, and organization app can help you do more. The result? Get more done, reduce stress, and spend more time doing the things you really want to do.

1. Improve your nutrition

After the holidays, many of us are mortified when we step on the scale. Perhaps you can relate and you’re wanting to make better food choices and to maintain a healthy weight in 2013. LifeTopix can help you track your food consumption. For example, you can record and view the calories, protein, solid fats, alcohol, desserts, or almost any other item that you’re consuming each day in a graphical format. As an example, in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can use the LifeTopix Nutrition Log Forms to view the maximum number of calories that you’ve set to make sure you’re not exceeding this number. Or, if your goal is to eat more vegetables or protein, you can set this too!

2. Get your health under control

Ignoring health issues can have serious consequences. LifeTopix includes many features for tracking your health stats. Are you dealing with hypertension and your doctor has asked you to log your blood pressure? Are you anemic and you need to track your blood count? Do you have sleep problems and you want to track your sleep quality? LifeTopix can handle these items and many more via the LifeTopix Medication Log and Wellness Log in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic.

3. Take vitamins and medications consistently

Do you have good intentions about taking your vitamins and prescription medications, but frequently forget to take them or cannot remember if you’ve taken them? With some medications, it’s imperative that you’re taking them each day, and sometimes even at the same time each day. With the LifeTopix Medication Log form in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can record your intake of vitamins and medications each day — and the log automatically includes the current date and time when you add a medication entry.

4. Reach your fitness goals

Are you wanting to start a fitness routine, maintain your current fitness level, or bump your fitness up to a new level in 2013? Perhaps you’re training for a triathlon or planning your first marathon. Or, maybe you want to make sure you take a 30 minute walk with your dog each morning. Whatever your fitness level, LifeTopix provides the flexibility for planning and tracking your fitness. You can use the LifeTopix Activity Log Forms in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic to set and view any type of exercise you wish — and just like nutrition, you can see if you’re reaching those goals via a graphical format.

5. Make shopping trips more efficient

Do you spend hours planning your family meals and shopping at the grocery store? Do you want to spend less time shopping and more time with your family or friends, catching a game, or spending time on your hobbies? If this is one of your goals for 2013, LifeTopix can help. Many of us are creatures of habit so LifeTopix helps you organize the stores you go to frequently and the items you buy most often. You can add the items that you purchase — along with the seller, unit price, unit, quantity, and total price to your master list of products. Then, simply select these items, add them to your lists, and check them off as you buy them. It’s as simple as that.

6. Save money and stick to your budget

After the holidays, you might want to put a little jingle back in your pocket. And with the downturn in the economy, sticking to a budget in 2013 might also be one of your highest priorities. The LifeTopix Finances topic was created for just this reason. Not only can you track all your financial accounts, credit card and debit cards, and investment accounts  — it lets you record the recur­ring bill pay­ments for all the ser­vices you use and the one-time pay­ments you make. You can view all of these pay­ments on your Expenses Calendar. And you can track the things that you sell, such as through a garage sale or ebay. And, as an added bonus, you can track your online coupons in the Shopping topic to help you save a little extra money.

7. Get smart

Whether you’re a student or a professional who’s focusing on their personal growth or professional skills, LifeTopix can help you organize and track the things that you need to further your education. If you’re a student, the Education topic enables you to take notes about education, set up projects and assignments, and add the subjects that you take. As a student, you can create a class schedule and associate a location with each of your classes. Or perhaps you’re a professional who’s obtaining a HIPAA certification, taking graphic design classes to improve your design skills, or becoming a fitness instructor — with LifeTopix, you can utilize personal growth categories to help you track your certifications and training in the LifeTopix Education topic.

8. Be creative

Are you planning to start a new business, write a novel or screenplay, or compose music in 2013? Have you ever had a creative thought related to your job or hobbies, but didn’t catch that idea immediately and then forgot it later? We just can’t predict when a great idea is going to pop into our heads so being prepared through journaling is wise. Mobile devices are amazing for capturing those ideas because we carry them almost everywhere we go. The LifeTopix Notes + Files topic is perfect for this use. You can take notes everywhere you go and if you prefer to use Evernote for note taking, LifeTopix conveniently works with it too.

9. Build relationships

In 2013, one of your goals might be to build business or personal relationships. To build relationships, it’s helpful to record your interactions with friends, family, or colleagues. For example, perhaps you’ve included all your friends’ and family members’ birthdays and you want to ensure you wish them a happy birthday and send them gifts. Through LifeTopix, you can set a reminder, plan the gift you wish to purchase, and automatically add it to a shopping list. Any time you associate a person with an item in LifeTopix, those people are filed under the People + Services topic. The possibilities are endless. You will be the star of your next family reunion. And, LifeTopix works with your iOS contacts so double entry is not necessary.

10. Make more time for yourself

For your well being, it’s a great idea to schedule time for yourself. If you’re the type of person who takes on too much responsibility and needs to share more of it, then LifeTopix is for you. Through the LifeTopix “Discuss” features, you can share your projects, checklists, events, shopping lists, trips, visits, notes, and more. For example, you can create a shopping list and then share it with your spouse. Or you can create a “honey-do” list with chores for your husband. Your spouse can view it via email and then add it to LifeTopix in just one tap.

11. Go paperless and reduce clutter

Is your home office a cluttered mess? Do you want to reduce your consumption and accumulation of paper to reduce your impact on the environment? Do you want to lighten your load when meeting clients or going to the office? If so, LifeTopix is for you. LifeTopix works with popular cloud-based file storage systems such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive so you can store all your items digitally — and then associate those documents in the context of your life items within LifeTopix.

12. Get things done

Do you have DIY projects that you want to complete such as organizing your closet, remodeling your kitchen, or landscaping the backyard? Or perhaps you’re planning to build a new website? With LifeTopix, you can plan your projects and tasks with ease. The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic gives you the abil­ity to enter, orga­nize, pri­or­i­tize, track, and check off your projects’ tasks.

13. Take a vacation

Now that you’ve saved money, got more done, built up your client base, got your health under control, finished your projects, and lost a few pounds — it’s time to take a vacation. Luckily, with the Life­Topix Travel + Places topic, you can plan your vacation from end-to-end. You can track the dates, set reminders, make packing checklists, set bookmarks to travel websites, and make note of places you want to visit such as restaurants, golf courses, or tourist attractions.

We hope this gives you some ideas of how you can use LifeTopix to improve your life in 2013. Please share and comment! Happy New Year!

Download LifeTopix:

Video Blog: Raise Your Productivity to a Whole New Level

LightArrow believes in pro­vid­ing solu­tions that nat­u­rally sup­port the way peo­ple think about the infor­ma­tion in their lives — that’s why we’ve created LifeTopix.

“Every once in a while a product comes along that raises your productivity to a whole new level. And so it is with LifeTopix.”

To learn more, watch our video. Enjoy!

 

Life­Topix is a complete productivity app for personal organization. Manage your calendar, tasks/to-dos, projects, notes, files, shopping, finances, household services, people, assets, events, travel, education, health and much more – with a 9-view dashboard, customizable categories and context tags. It works seamlessly with popular online productivity tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs/Drive, Evernote, Toodledo, and other best-in-class applications.

You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.

Organize Travel Details Like a Pro with LifeTopix

Cabo San Lucas

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas

Do you find yourself scrambling at the last minute when preparing for your summer vacation? Are you searching for websites, digging through your email inbox, wallet, or handbag for notes and itineraries at the eleventh hour? Do you write checklists that eventually get lost? Do you worry that you might forget important details — like remembering your passport?

Best Travel Apps

If you need assistance organizing and planning, apps can help. There are several best-of-breed apps and websites for purchasing airline tickets, booking accommodations, and making reservations for attractions — but how do you organize all that information into one place? For example, how do you keep track of flight information, hotel reservations, car rentals, weather forecasts, meetings, and more? If this is your goal, the LifeTopix app for iPhone and iPad can help.

Some travel organization apps allow you to forward confirmations from airlines, etc. to an email address and those apps compile your itinerary. If you’re like me, you might prefer that the itinerary is not compiled automatically because I don’t trust that it would be created accurately. I like to be able to locate the original itinerary as a PDF file or email, and I also prefer to see my travel information in context with everything else in my life. Our philosophy is to allow you to access all these items (and create them your way) — all in one place with everything else you are managing in your life.

Travel Strategy

LifeTopix brings together all travel-related information under the Travel + Places topic. Trips, Visits, Places, as well as travel related Notes, Bookmarks, and Services can be accessed from this topic. Since Places, Notes, Bookmarks and Services are “touchpoints” into the appropriate categories under their native topics: People + Services, Notes + Files, and Bookmarks — these can be managed from either topic, based on the context you might be in at any given time. The slideshow below demonstrate the management of this information from multiple topics as relevant to the information being created.

When traveling, some things you might want to keep track of are listed below. Good news — LifeTopix has a feature to cover all of these items — and all the information is accessible through a LifeTopix Trip:

  • Calendars — LifeTopix Trip Calendar
  • Travel Agents, Pet Care, and Child Care — LifeTopix Service Providers & Travel Bookmarks
  • Travel Checklists — LifeTopix Checklists
  • Places to Visit — LifeTopix Travel Bookmarks
  • Trip Notes — LifeTopix Notes + Files (also including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs)
  • Sharing — LifeTopix Social Collaboration (Facebook, Twitter, Email, SMS)
  • Itineraries and Confirmation Numbers — LifeTopix Notes + Files (also including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs),
  • Weather Forecasts — LifeTopix Travel Bookmarks
  • Meeting Information — LifeTopix Notes + Files (also including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs)
  • Contacts — LifeTopix People + Services
  • Insurance Information — LifeTopix Notes + Files (also including Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs), LifeTopix Health + Activity
  • Auto Rentals & Transportation — LifeTopix Service Providers
  • Directions — LifeTopix Near Me, Maps, and Travel Bookmarks
  • Photos & Video — LifeTopix Media & Travel Bookmarks

The LifeTopix Way — Now and Beyond

Today, with the LifeTopix app, you can compile your travel information from file attachments and bookmarks. You can also obtain those files directly from your desktop using LifeTopix AirAc­cess™. AirAc­cess is a pow­er­ful and effi­cient desk­top client that allows you to con­nect wire­lessly from your Mac to Life­Topix run­ning on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. In LightArrow’s next major upgrade, 5.0, LifeTopix will directly extract those files and put them into the trip that you are planning — allowing this process to get even easier.

View the following slideshow to see how we’ve used LifeTopix to plan an exciting vacation to Cabo San Lucas.

LifeTopix Travel

View more presentations from LightArrow

You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.

How do you stay organized when traveling? Please share your tips & tricks.

EVERNOTE, the Evernote Elephant logo and REMEMBER EVERYTHING are trademarks of Evernote Corporation. All other company and product names and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners in certain countries.

10 Ways to Achieve Post Vacation Harmony

With summer in full force, many are returning from their summer holiday break or planning their next exciting getaway. Whether you’re just now purchasing your tickets or if you’re still enjoying the glow of your Caribbean tan, you can benefit from our tips and tricks for avoiding post vacation overwhelm.

Did you enjoy a week in Orlando with the family, spend a long weekend in Vegas with your girlfriends, or hike the Inca Trail in Peru? Regardless of the venue, these productivity tips can help you deal with the stress, overwhelm, and dread that goes hand-in-hand with coming back to reality.

Make sure your projects are under control before you embark on your journey

Be proactive, rather than reactive, to reduce the pain and dread of returning to work or home. The key is preparation. Make sure your projects and tasks are under control before your departure. At the office, take care of your high priority tasks, communicate your status to your manager and co-workers, and delegate any tasks that require completion before your return. If you’re managing a household, use project management techniques from the experts. Break large projects such as laundry and shopping into manageable tasks. Create shopping lists, checklists, or to-do lists.

Clean and organize your house before your departure

Nothing makes you feel more post vacation stress than returning to a dirty and disorganized house. Schedule time before your departure to clean and organize. Mow the lawn, if necessary. Outsource, if you have the budget. Hiring a cleaning service or lawn service will free up your time for packing and making plans, such as pet care, vacation itineraries, and reservations.

Create out-of-office or “unavailable” messages

Create out-of-office messages for both professional and personal voicemail and email. It’s basic office etiquette to ensure others are aware you’re not available, and co-workers tend to be self sufficient when they understand you’re away. For personal email and voicemail, create a message to let friends and family know that you won’t be answering email or returning calls for an extended period of time to avoid a flood of messages upon return.

Allow yourself time to recover

Schedule an extra day of vacation to unwind and prepare at home before returning to work or school. Don’t feel obligated to finish all projects, complete all tasks, and return all phone calls and email messages the first day you return. It’s especially important to schedule extra time if you’ve traveled across time zones and you’re suffering from jetlag.

Unpack and sort laundry

Upon return, unpack your bags, and sort your laundry immediately into piles or baskets. This is where your family can help. Ask children, spouses, or partners to assist with sorting, folding, and putting away laundry.

Attack your email inbox

Have you ever returned from vacation to an inbox full of hundreds or even thousands of email messages? If you haven’t started using Merlin Mann’s 43 folders techniques for email (Inbox Zero) this is a good time to start. It provides great tips to get your inbox to zero quickly and efficiently.

Quick email tips include:

  • Set filters on email beforehand. For example, sort email from your manager into one folder so you can start there upon return. Sort noisy, repetitive email into another folder that has a lower priority. You can address those items later.
  • Respond to email immediately. Answer email that you can immediately, and remember it’s not necessary to write a long response.
  • Create lists. Create a to-do list or task for anything that requires an action, then don’t be afraid to archive or delete the associated email.

Attack your “snail mail”

Sort the items from your mailbox into the following groups:

  • Coupons. Place any handy coupons or gift cards into one folder.
  • To do. Place any mail that requires a task into one folder.
  • To file. Place any mail that requires scanning or filing into one folder.
  • To pay. Place any bills that need to be paid online or by mail in one folder.
  • To read. Place catalogs, newspapers, and magazines that you wish to read later in this pile or folder.

Everything else goes into the recycle bin.

Stock the refrigerator and cupboards

After returning from a vacation, the refrigerator and cupboards might be bare. Once again, preparation is key. Make sure you have frozen meals stocked beforehand so you have something to eat as soon as you arrive home. Next, create a shopping list and schedule time to purchase groceries. After eating at restaurants for an extended period of time, your budget might be low and your waistline might be expanding. Home-cooked meals will help solve both issues.

Delegate your tasks

You can’t do it all yourself. Make sure your family pitches in, and avoid the temptation to redo their work. Make tasks clear and age appropriate. Set realistic deadlines. Give younger children single tasks and set a timer for completion. Consider using a reward system for completed tasks.

Find tools to help

There are several tools that can help you manage these items to achieve harmony. Choose a tool that works for you. LightArrow has created the app, LifeTopix, to help manage most of these items. LifeTopix is a calendar based productivity app for personal organization and time management available on the iPad and iPhone. It helps you manage your to-do lists (checklists), projects & tasks, notes, files, grocery shopping lists, service providers (such as pet care, cleaning services, or lawn maintenance), travel, and much more. You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.