I’m preparing to pack for five days in San Francisco, where I’ll be writing about goings on at RSA Conference 2013 and Security B-Sides. When you have OCD, packing a suitcase is as ritualistic as the compulsive hand washing you’ve heard about.
Before I had the OCD under control, packing was an all-day affair. I’d line up all my pants, shirts, socks, suit coats and accessories in order of the days I planned to wear them. I would undergo a similar ritual when gathering toothpaste, the razor, pills, etc. I would always pack extra for fear that I’d be without socks on the second-to-last day of the trip.
I still keep track of what I stuff into the suitcase to ensure I have enough for each day of the trip. But I only look over my cargo twice. It takes less time to do it that way than when I used to look things over five to 10 times.
Packing the laptop bag has gotten easier. I used to cram five notebooks and a handful of pens in there. Now it’s one pen and no notebooks. At this stage of my career, I’m pretty good at storing notes in my head. I don’t let it sit in my head for too long. I usually write up the talks and demos within 10 minutes of seeing them. Some talks, I write the story while I’m sitting there watching.
I also don’t stuff my pockets with cigars and cigarettes anymore. That allows for more room. There are the e-cigs, but they take up less space.
Some things will never change. I’ll always try to get to the airport three hours before the flight because I always worry about unexpected problems and want time to fix what needs fixing. People think that’s crazy and it probably is. This year I’m being a little more bold. I plan to get there exactly two hours before the flight, but that’s because a predicted snowstorm is forcing me to leave a day earlier than originally planned, which is making everything tighter.
Last year I walked around in my big, heavy boots. This year I’m being smart about it and going with the black leather moccasins that slip on and off effortlessly.
I’ll have a supply of Starbucks Via packets in case I can’t find my preferred coffee in the airport.
I’ll have my Kindle, which is lighter than the books I tend to pack. I’m leaving the extra rings and bracelets behind. I figure the less I take with me, the less there is to worry about.
Which brings me to the pills. One year I forgot to grab my Prozac bottle on the way out of the hotel and only realized my mistake after getting through the airport TSA line. Now I just pack the exact number of pills I need for the trip. The rest of the bottle stays home.
Now I’ll have the rest of the day to enjoy time with my family.
Repetitive OCD behavior is a time thief. You lose so much because of it.
I’m not totally free of it, but I’m fighting back.