Life in a 22″ x 14″ Bag

Time is whizzing by differently in 2015. Last year, it was marked by a studio opening, product collaborations, and a one year anniversary. This year, it will pass through airplane windows, hotel check-ins, and international time zones. The 7:10 flight to Dallas. 23 hours in Miami. Layovers in Atlanta. A short stint in London. Joe and Winnie waiting for me at Terminal 2. You know life has changed when your own bed feels more exotic than perfectly tucked and starched linens.

Hola__Miami.

I can admit I’m truly enjoying the pace consulting brings. I’m working with talented teams that are making some incredible things for brands that have a real legacy to build upon. I’m lucky to be a part of it, to have a seat at the table, even though as a consultant you’re never really “one of them.” It’s your job to identify efficiencies and suggest process, facilitate and advise, built teams, and then you do it all over again. It’s a formula that’s meant to be broken (in the right places) because no two problems are the same, especially in a world where brands have to give more of themselves to reach their loyalists. It’s the new age of accountability and authenticity and luckily, our built-in bullshit detectors make it harder for brands– and people– to fake it.

It_s_here_and_it_is_beautiful___jwhulmeco_carry-on_bag._Opens_like_Mary_Poppins__magical_carpet_bag._This_one_is_forever.

I’ll stop with the vagueness now; at some point, I’ll share what I’m working on in more detail.

Quick_work_trip__including_a_few_nice_walks_in_the_city._See_you_soon__Mpls.____Covent_Garden

But for now, I thought I’d share a little bit about finding home away from home, and why lessons we learn in middle school often apply in the office, too. Here’s what a month on a road has taught me, in no particular order:

–  Good food is hard to find. After a month of hotel meals, I’m feeling less than my best self. I’ve found it better to stick to the fruit at the breakfast bar, salads at lunch, and to stash KIND bars and a big water bottle in your purse. I haven’t given up a nightly glass of wine. They are necessary. Also, co-workers are your best source of nighttime dining options. Recommendations > Open Table.

– Your bag is too big. I was traveling with my beautiful new J.W Hulme bag for the first two weeks and while it is perfect for road trips and weekend overnights, it’s way too heavy to be hauling into the office. Another consultant I travel with swears by “The Turtle,” aka her Muji small roller bag. I just bought one.

– You don’t need outfit options. I’ve gotten very good at planning outfits that work together and rarely pack extra pieces. A scarf can be worn a number of ways, a blazer looks totally different over a dress or with a dressed up pair of tweed pants. Simple is good. Also, fabrics that don’t wrinkle are a good idea. I learned that (very obvious) lesson the hard way.

– Tide Sticks. The most kind co-worker walked up to me last week, handed me a Tide pen and told me I had a stain on my dress. This woman is a saint and I will always, always do the same for someone else, should they need it.

– Bring your good stuff with you.  I love my skincare routine. The process of getting ready for bed is one I’ve kept sacred for years. In addition to face wash and night cream, I’ve been bringing Pacific products with me. I’m obsessed with their lip treatment (perfect for combatting airplane dryness), night serum, and topical treatment.

– Blowouts are awesome. When maintained the right way, your hair can look great for 5-7 days. Get yourself a good shower cap and leave the hair product and bulky styling tools at home.

– Automate this and find an app for that. Running a business while you’re helping other businesses can make daily tasks look like Mount Everest. Below are a few ways I make running WD a little easier. Now if I could just find time to blog more. Wink.

  • Bookkeeping: Bench / I couldn’t be happier with their bookkeeping service. They collect receipts, categorize them, and deliver tax-ready documents to your CPA. The nicest people, too.
  • Receipts: Shoeboxed / Links up with Bench and allows you to track deductible and reimbursable purchases with your smartphone.
  • Time tracking + Invoicing: Harvest / The simplest way to track your hours, share with your clients, and send an invoice.
  • Scheduling: Assitant.to / This extension has saved me hours a week. No joke. 
  • Bill Pay: Prism Making it easy to stay on top of all the bills when you’re away from home. Paying them is as easy as refreshing your Facebook feed.
  • Scheduling / Posting: IFTT and Buffer. Scheduling and cross-platform management made easy.
  • Travel: TripCase / Everything you need to make it to your destination. Keeps you up to speed with flight changes.
  • Passwords: 1Password / A lifesaver. Keeps credit cards, identification cards, and login info just a right-click away. 
  • Hotels: HotelTonight Be spontaneous. Get a great hotel room at a great rate. 
  • Rental Car: Silver Car / Because I’ve driven my fair share of PT Cruisers.
  • Workouts: Quick 4 / It’s amazing how effective this is when you don’t have time to hit the treadmill. 
  • Mental Health: MoodKit / For working through small bouts of anxiety and depression that can creep in. 

– You’re going to get a few things wrong to get the big things right. Consulting is a lot like being the new kid at school. The onboarding process is fast, and you’re going to have to learn as you go. This means tracking down information for yourself and making sure you have as much of it as possible. The reality is, you rarely have all the pieces, because many times, pieces are missing. I’ve found this means you have to be willing to take a few missteps to find out what the right solution is. Being wrong has brought more positive change than being right.

– Not everyone is going to like you. True in life– and in work– especially when you’re asked to share an opinion. And this is okay! Just remind yourself that it’s not personal, and if it is– well, let it roll off your back. Takes practice, but it’s necessary for a clear conscious.

–  Stick to your rituals. It’s easy to overwork when you’re traveling, but brains need downtime. Especially my brain. Make sure you take an hour or two to veg out. Make some tea, put on a face mask, and throw on some good (bad) TV. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at a reasonable time, too.

What about you guys? How have you adapted to take on a new job or workload? What have you learned about yourself along the way?

  • this is the most useful post in my entire newsfeed all month. thanks lots for helping me keep my wits about me with all the traveling i am doing this year!

  • This is random, but I just found you through the Chi Omega magazine. I loved the video you did about “ugly”. I love this post and appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you dearly. Tight hugs!

  • Great advice and it’s reassuring to see that someone with more than a modicum of success share in an informative and helpful way. The thing about creative success is that every one loves when you’re a struggling upstart but hates to see when you’re actually experiencing success. In the world of blog and brand expansion you can’t win over everyone that’s why it’s best to create happiness for yourself, develop a tough skin and hopefully make a profit while doing so.

  • Very good tips!

    Whenever I have traveled for long periods of time, the worst thing is definitely the food. I love trying new restaurants and dishes, but when that becomes too much, you would just KILL for something from your normal food rotation!

  • Great tips! I just downloaded 1Password! I definitely follow the “bring the good stuff with you” and “stick to your rituals” rules, but that blowout idea is perfect!

  • I just took an exciting new job that involves 10-15 international trips per year. In fact, I spent my first week in London (overlapping with your trip). I’m following thru on my commitment to forego checked luggage and travel with only my small Tumi roller case which saves time and potential hassle of lost luggage. What I’m still searching for is the perfect “personal item” bag that is lightweight, big enough for my massive laptop and all the “essentials” I want access to during long haul flights, and still professional enough to be lugged into the office every day. I thought I had found it in the Tumi Large Lynn bag, but alas, the hunt continues. Let me know if you find it first!

  • Claire- I’ve been using the Lo&Sons O.M.G. bag, and it’s amazing. Has so many pockets, and high quality materials. The O.G. is a bit bigger, and would probably be perfect for international travel!

  • Such a helpful article! I’m on the everlasting hunt for a good, chic, and matching set of wash bags (usually 1 for toiletries; 1 for makeup). Anyone have any they love?!

  • Oh Kate! Your perspective & words are just great! It’s true, having your dream job comes with challenges. It’s nice to get your take on how to maintain oneself while enjoying personal and professional success. You are such an inspiration. Best of luck in the coming year!