Brampton - Every day many of us struggle with morning exit routines as we try to get out the door and off to work or school. Being forced to reorganize our morning timetable to accommodate increased car congestion during a potential transit strike may seem overwhelming.
Don't agonize! Instead, get organized using these tips to simplify life during the traffic chaos. Be proactive and develop a contingency plan for every possible obstacle. Remember that a transit strike will not only pose major inconveniences during the morning and evening rush hours, there will also be increased traffic when heading out to evening leisure activities.
Anticipate the domino effect – how will your change of routine affect the daily travel plans of your spouse and children? Arrange back up plans with babysitters and daycare providers and organize carpools to after school events in the event that you are held up in traffic. What resources can you call on for help? Grandparents, friends and neighbours may be available to pitch in.
You'll be leaving earlier and getting home later so simplify your essential routines and plan for wash-and-go hair, fuss free fashions, easy-to-execute meals and pack brown bag lunches to avoid having to travel during the noon rush.
Act now to create a carpool from your database of acquaintances at work, or church, or sports clubs etc. Rotate driving duties and follow simple carpool etiquette. Don't drink, eat or smoke in anyone's car without permission. Honour your colleague's time by adhering to the carpool timetable for pick ups and drop offs. If you are the driver, strictly obey the rules of the road and be prepared to yield to other drivers and pedestrians. Remain calm and avoid road rage incidents.
Co-ordinate a new commuting timetable and set a realistic departure time from home to allow for heavy traffic, picking up/dropping off passengers and locating a park spot. Gas up at night to avoid lineups; don't wait until you're running on empty. Strategically plan your route to minimize time spent in traffic and postpone non-essential errands until the strike is over and traffic settles down.
Are you planning to walk, bike, rollerblade or skateboard to get to where you need to be? Perform a safety check of your equipment and wear proper safety gear and reflective clothing. Review the rules of the road and proper hand signals. Be cautious in the traffic chaos.
Plan your wardrobe for all possible weather conditions, rain or shine. Carry a backpack or tote bag containing an umbrella, a hat, wind breaker, sunscreen and comfortable shoes. A thermos of coffee will save time in lineups at the drive thru.
Develop checklists and keep everything you need packed and ready to go by the door. Don't forget parking money and essentials such as keys, briefcase, backpack, lunch bags and homework assignments. You don't want to have to return for forgotten items.
Call ahead if you are running late for appointments. At work, avoid out of office meetings by substituting video or teleconference calls. Consider the alternatives to rush hour traffic. Ask your employer whether you can switch to flex time, trade shifts with a co-worker or perhaps work from home. Check if local hotels or motels will offer group rates for employees to stay in town to be closer to work. It will be harder on the budget, but easier on the nerves.
Most importantly – exercise patience and build extra wiggle room into every aspect of your schedule. Keep a map book in the car to determine alternate routes to get to where you need to be. Tune in to hear the latest weather and traffic reports on the TV and radio to stay ahead of the pack! Karen Sencich, owner of Havoc to Harmony, is an award winning Professional Organizer specializing in family management since 1999.