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Summer vacation download

In our hemisphere, and particularly in the United States and Europe, August is the month to exit the city and spend some time in a cooler, saner clime — the mountains, riverside, the ocean. As we travel back to town with September around the corner, sand still in our shoes and beach tar on our feet, our heads are clearer and our bodies are relaxed. That is, until we pull into the driveway and realize that we have five loads of trip laundry, haven’t answered e-mail in a week and desperately need a manicure and pedicure. How do we transition back to work in an orderly fashion, and maybe even get a photo album of the trip put together?

First of all, we’ve got to back up a bit and discuss what to do before take-off. Did you handle everything at work that you possibly could before leaving on vacation? Did you leave an “I’ll be out until…” message on your voice and e-mail systems? Did you put a hold on your postal service and subscriptions? Did you leave the house extra clean and tidy so that your re-entry would be less painful? A sink full of smelly dishes is not the odor you want to register after deep inhalations of Hawai’ian plumeria.

It’s also possible to do a bit while en vacances to maintain order. Although I definitely don’t recommend checking in with voice and e-mail obsessively while traveling for pleasure, a quick glance at the e-mail or checking the phone once a day — if you are in range and don’t have to make any great efforts to do it — can prevent an ugly backlog upon your return to the office. If you will be out of cell range and away from Internet service, make it very clear to your colleagues and have someone cover for you so that no one is surprised or feels blown off.

Also while traveling, be careful not to over-indulge in food and drink. Contrary to popular belief, food eaten on vacation does have calories. Nothing cools a vacation buzz like not being able to button your pants the first workday back. Maintain a little discipline in your diet and exercise while on the road and you’ll maintain order in your closet much more easily when it’s time to get back into work clothes.

That said, don’t stray too far out of your physical comfort zone when vacationing. Coming home with broken bones and sprains puts a big strain on order. Exercise, but with common sense. Triple think the high altitude hike, the double black diamond runs, and cliff diving.

When you get home, unless it is very late at night, unpack your bags first thing. Get that first load of laundry into the washer. In fact, even if it is late, try to open the suitcases and get a load together; you’ll be able to throw it into the dryer and start the second load first thing in the morning.

Put all your toiletries away. Wipe down your suitcases or backpacks and put them back into storage. Get the car washed and fill it with fuel. Pick up the mail and take the hold off delivery. Purchase groceries for the week ahead. If you did overdo it on vacation, stock up on your go-to diet foods.

On the grooming front, if you don’t have time for a manicure-pedicure before the work week starts, give your fingernails a little filing and cuticle care and wear closed-toe shoes until you have time to get to your toes.

Lastly, schedule an hour after dinner each night the first week back to download your vacation photos and organize them. Name them, date them, print them, and maybe even create a photo book at shutterfly.com or mypublisher.com. Peck away at the project an hour each night and within a week you’ll have all your vacation memories ready to share and enjoy.

A smooth exit strategy from work to vacation, a little discipline while traveling, and hitting the reorganization immediately when you return might seem a little uptight but the rewards are worth it.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to www.houseinorder.com or call 738-4346. Follow House in Order on Facebook for more organizing tricks and tips.