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20 Airport Hacks to Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

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20 Airport Hacks to Make Every Traveler’s Life Easier

When you hear the term ‘airport hacks’ you might think of something illegal. However, the following 20 tips aren’t against the law – they are designed to help make your next trips out of town a breeze. Use these tips to help your vacations or business trips sail along smoothly:

1. Get Cheaper Parking Before You Head to the Airport to Save Money

A little bit of research about airport parking lots might be the difference between paying $33 per day at a JFK International Airport parking lot and less than one-third of that rate via discount park and ride websites designed to help you discover better rates.

2. Buy Travel-Sized Items in Advance to Avoid Worrying About TSA Rules

Search for “travel” on a website like Ulta to uncover products like this “Travel Size Bed Head Hard Head Hairspray” to load up on properly sized toiletries that you won’t have to pour out or throw away at the TSA checkpoint if you’d like to pack them in your carry-on bag.

3. Use the Family Room in the Club Lounges to Watch TV and Use Wi-Fi

If you’re a frequent traveler with children who likes to arrive at airports early, the family rooms within lounges like the United Club lounge can be worth their weight in gold. Not only can Mom and Dad grab a glass of wine and help the whole family to fruit, hot chocolate, and other snacks, they can take those goodies back to a private family room that includes a TV, DVDs, Wi-Fi and more. It can make a big difference in calming down the clan prior to a long flight.

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4. Update Yourself on the Newest Items Designed to Make Travel Easier

Manufacturers are coming up with new products all the time to help travelers lighten their load. Whether it’s a strap to attach a car seat to rolling luggage or improved folding hair dryers to help you not over-pack, it pays to keep up with the latest inventions.

5. Get a TSA Pre-Check for Speedier Screening

Visit the TSA Pre-Check website to get through airports in the United States in a faster fashion.

6. Go for Global Entry for Faster International Travel

Use the Global Entry program when traveling internationally to experience expedited clearance back into America.

7. Check the “My TSA” App for Current Wait Times to Plan Your Trip

Pop on over to the My TSA app and place your airport information within the search box to discover that, for example, the Chicago-O’Hare International Airport currently has a security checkpoint wait time from one to 10 minutes, and general departure delays due to volume.

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8. Find the Best Seats on the Plane Before You Buy to Have a Better Flight

If you love legroom or sitting near a power outlet – yes, some planes have them and USB ports – use a site like Seat Guru to pick out your best spots before you book your flight.

9. Bring Booze in Your Checked or Carry-On Bags to Get the Party Started When You Land

Surprisingly, the TSA allows alcoholic beverages to be brought onboard flights, as long as you abide by their rules. The only trouble is, FAA rules mean you can’t drink any alcohol on the plane that’s not served by the airline, so you’ll have to wait until you land to celebrate.

10. Snap Photos of Your Parking Space to Help You Remember Where You Parked

Taking a quick series of photos with your smartphone to remind you that you parked in section D on level 3 of the airport parking lot can save you plenty of hassles when you return home from your trip and want to quickly find your vehicle.

11. Hydrate Inexpensively Before, During and After the Flight

“Bring an empty water bottle and fill it up after you get through security,” suggests Ben Mordecai, an automation controls engineer. While on the plane, drink orange juice and club soda to keep well hydrated.

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12. Move All Contents from Your Pockets to Your Carry-On Before Security to Prevent Delays

Instead of fumbling around with loose change, jewelry and belts, place all those items in your carry-on or purse prior to going through the security checkpoint to have fewer items that may cause the line to pause.

13. Ask the TSA for a “Hand Scan”

Inform security in advance if you have special health concerns, like an implanted defibrillator or any other physical conditions that necessitate not going through the magnetic scanner. They will direct you to the proper place.

14. Weigh Your Bags at Home to Prevent Extra Charges

Plop your packed suitcase on your scale at home and compare that weight to the limit imposed by your airline in order to avoid paying more fees.

15. Book a Private Jet to Avoid Commercial Flight Crowds

Apps like JetSmarter are being called the Uber of airlines. And although some flights are uber-expensive, others – like a flight to Arlington from Houston for eight people – cost only $365 per person.

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16. Secure Your Luggage with Trackers

Instead of just slapping a pretty bow on your bag to distinguish it from the other luggage in baggage claim, invest in advanced technology like Trakdot luggage tracker and crush-proof, locked bags to help avoid theft.

17. Bring Frozen Solids on the Plane to Keep Your Meds Cold

Don’t fret if you have medications or other health items that you need to keep cool while traveling. “Accessories required to keep medically necessary items cool are treated as liquids unless they are frozen solid at the checkpoint,” says TSA.gov.

18. Go to the Left Because Most Travelers Steer to the Right-Hand Checkpoints

Since most folks are right-handed, studies show that lots of people naturally veer to the right when choosing a security checkpoint line, leaving fewer people in line on the left.

19. Avoid High-Cost Airport Food and Pack Dry Snacks

As long as you don’t stuff your bag full of wet foods, you can place lots of good dry snacks like nuts or candy bars in your carry-on bag to prevent hunger headaches and overspending.

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20. Take a Rest in the Chapel During Flight Delays

If you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful place to get away from the noise of busy airports during delays, hunt down the nearest chapel – but make sure to keep abreast of your flight changes whilst waiting.

Featured photo credit: CCAPix__11_.JPG By CCAYearbook via mrg.bz

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Last Updated on October 28, 2021

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

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15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

One of the age-old productivity techniques around is the classic and effective to-do list, and for good reason. It’s one of the most productive ways for you and everyone else to get anything done. Whether it’s a mental list or something that you are writing down, a to-do list is an essential productivity tool.

At the same time, it is one of the most confusing productivity tools around. Many people discredit this for various reasons and don’t believe that a to-do list is any good. But my argument is that maybe you and other people aren’t making an effective to-do list, so here we will go over how to get one done right.

Why Is a To-Do List Important?

Before jumping into strategies to make an effective to-do list, it’s worth knowing why you should bother making one. The first important point is that many people have been making to-do lists all wrong.

Two of the most common mistakes are:

  • People use lists as a measurement of whether they are productive or not.
  • They put too many items on the list.

It’s understandable why you or other people do this, though. A to-do list is a productivity tool, so it makes sense to pile on tasks. However, the brain doesn’t work that way. If you have a lot of tasks on your list, it feels like torture as the list never ends.

At first, it can feel nice that you always have something to do, but keep in mind that you only have so much time in a day. It’s important that you place more value in quality work rather than sheer quantity.

On that same note, if you are someone who has a tendency to seek validation, a to-do list can be tough. There will be days where you won’t get everything done due to life events. This creates unnecessary pressure and sends you into a stress whirlwind.

When you build an effective to-do list, the main goal of these lists is to provide clarity and focus. If you’ve been doing them wrong, you may have noticed that you are focusing in on a task on your to do list and getting it done.

This may be overshadowed by the multiple items on your list, but you are focusing on a task during a given time. You really see this in action when you consider having a shorter to-do list, though.

I understand that a to-do list isn’t for every single person, but this focus is helpful to people when starting out. You’re still not certain about your goals or the path that you want to take. You may also struggle to determine the next step to work towards.

A to-do list is a guide you can refer back to it whenever you need it. Furthermore, the techniques that I’ll be mentioning below will make to-do lists more effective for you.

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

So what should be on a to-do list? What is the best to-do list system?

You’ll begin to see how powerful a to-do list is when you consider the various strategies you can incorporate in one. This is your to-do list, so pick from the strategies below to find what suits you. If you’re not certain, don’t be afraid to experiment and mishmash several combinations.

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Remember that the road to success is one with many branching paths, so the methods you use are your choice.

1. Break the List Into Two Parts

The first strategy is to break a list into two parts. These two parts are called dailies and to do’s.

Dailies are the everyday tasks that you want to develop more. For example, if you want to make a habit out of exercising in the morning, a daily task could be following a 15-minute workout routine or going for an hour-long walk.

Your to do’s are non-daily tasks that you need to be getting done at some point. Maybe you need to prepare a report at work or make a presentation. You can put that into your to do column.

This is an effective strategy because it saves all the clutter that most people gravitate towards. As mentioned before, people stuff their lists, and a lot of it is usually tasks they you would do anyway, like going grocery shopping or dropping the kids off at a friend’s place.

2. Put a Limit on Items

If you find breaking your list into two parts too much, I’ll suggest brevity to be a virtue when making these lists. You can set any number of items, but the key is that you do have a set limit in mind. Some people have no more than seven while others go as low as three. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

The idea behind this is to narrow in on the most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Of course, there are other things that you’ll be doing during the day, and that’s fine, but you want to prioritize the items that on your to do list before the day is done.

3. Use Checklists for Complex Tasks

If you’re already making narrow lists but are putting in tougher tasks, my suggestion is to break that task down. Whether it’s full-on steps you need to take or jotting down important details that need to be present is up to you.

Either way, this allows you to ensure that you’re getting everything done the proper way and that you’re not missing any key details or steps.

4. Tackle MITs First

MIT is the “most important task.” Another way to look at this is to tackle the largest and most intimidating task first[1]. Why you want to do this goes back to how our brain works.

You may feel compelled to do the easier tasks first before getting to the bigger task, but the problem is that these tasks—even the easy ones—drain your energy. Furthermore, if you have a really big task to complete, chances are that’s going to be on your mind over the course of the day. That means you’re spending more energy just thinking about it.

All of that wouldn’t be a problem if that big intimidating task was dealt with first thing in the morning.

5. Create a “Done” List

Another interesting approach to consider is to have a “done” list. This is a list of the tasks that you’ve completed from your to-do list. Many people find it satisfying to merely cross an item off their list and be done with it, but depending on what you’re putting on those lists, a done list could be inspiring.

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Imagine if you are someone who places above-average difficult tasks on your to-do lists, activities that require an hour or two to complete properly. This can inspire you to do more if, after a day of working, you notice just how much you accomplished over the course of the day via this list.

6. Make Your List Easy to Spot

From colorful paper to posting it in an obvious spot, you want your list to be in a place where you can spot it easily. Mind you, you don’t need to have this list in front of you all the time as it could create unnecessary stress. But setting it to one side is a nice idea—a glance to the side and you know exactly what needs to get done.

7. Add Gaming Elements to It

If pen and paper isn’t your thing when making to-do lists, there are several apps that can guide you along as well. The beauty of to -do list apps is that there is more room for creativity, and some of the developers incorporate games into them.

For example, Todoist has an achievement system where individuals earn badges as they complete more tasks. There’s also Bounty Tasker, which makes you feel like your tasks are side quests in a video game.

8. Give Yourself Deadlines

Work expands to fill time allotted.

It’s an old philosophy that still rings true with how we are productive. For example, say you’re assigned to write a report, and you’re given a week to do it. You’ll likely work on it steadily throughout the week. Or if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll put it off until the night before and finish it.

But what if you’re given that same task and only allotted an hour to complete it? You’ll likely get the report done, but you’ll prioritize the main, important points and highlight those rather than fill it with unnecessary fluff.

The whole point of this is that with your goals and the items on your to-do list, you want to have deadlines. When it comes to to-do lists, my suggestion is to give yourself a day to complete the tasks there. This is enough pressure and incentive for you to work hard on them.

9. Add Tasks When They’re Fresh

Another strategy is to assign yourself tasks even when you are working on something else. Keep in mind it’s not something you have to do right now, but this can help with people who are struggling to think about what to focus on next.

This is along the same lines as when you hear something interesting and you write it down. It’s a wise thing to do as it saves you the bother of having to dwell on that idea rather than focusing on the task at hand. It also saves you from having to recall what the task is if you’re the type to write up the next day’s to-do list at the end of the day.

10. Be Comfortable With Revising Your To-Do List

Depending on your overall mindset, another good strategy is to look at your to-do list and make changes to it. If you’re practicing the previous strategy, there may be a possibility that your to-do list is getting lengthy and you’re setting unrealistic expectations that you can finish it all.

By giving yourself the opportunity to revise your to-do list, your allowing yourself to spread out your tasks rather than have them clumped up. This helps your mindset as you’re not overwhelmed by the list.

11. Write Tasks, Not Goals

You should have separate lists for your tasks and your goals. The idea is to not put goals on your task list at all.

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While tasks can help you lead to your goals, goals are larger desires and not something that you can achieve over the course of the day. For example, “learn to speak French” is a goal; however, you can break that into a task by saying “read French content for 15 minutes” or “watch a movie in French.”

This also extends to objectives, too. You can see these as milestones. Going back to the example of speaking French, an objective can be, “discuss my favorite foods with someone in French.” It’s the desired outcome that you’re looking for from your practice.

12. Keep To-Do Lists Brief

Here, brief means scannable in that you can quickly look over at the list and know what needs to get done. How you can do this is by focusing on the keywords of specific tasks and not dragging them out. For example, say your garage is a mess and you want to clean it up. Instead of writing a lengthy sentence, keep it short and write something like “clean garage for 30 min.” or simply “clean garage.”

With this strategy, you’re spending less time writing the task down when making the to-do list. Furthermore, you’re relying on trigger words to get your mind to recall specific details for that task.

13. Have Multiple Lists

As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have separate lists for various things, like having a separate list for goals, objectives, daily tasks, and to-do’s. Another way you can look at it is to have a system where you are consulting from three lists.

These lists are:

A Master List

This is where any of your long-term goals are, things like moving to a new house, getting out of debt, or building a business. These are things that will take a year or more to accomplish.

A Weekly Project List

These are things that you want to accomplish by the end of the week. These are things that will move the needle slowly towards some of the items on your master list. From the previous example, these could be doing research on getting a business loan, house hunting, or setting up a savings account.

A High-Impact List

Lastly, these are tasks that need to be accomplished today. Whether they are related to the previous two lists or not doesn’t matter. This is where high priority tasks are placed. Examples can be calling specific people or working on a project or a report that’s due soon.

By having these lists in place, you’ll be referring often to the weekly project list and the high-impact list and determining whether a weekly task should be moved to that list.

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As you do that, you’ll begin to notice how much your daily life has an impact on those goals that are written on that master list. That can be inspiring since what you are doing is actively bringing you closer to your goals.

14. Don’t Ramp up Difficulty Until You’re Ready

Some of the strategies mentioned can seem easy on the surface, but they require a lot of mental fortitude. Motivation is an unusual thing, and our brains are wired to process a certain way. If you’re looking for genuine change and something that sticks, the best principle is to keep things simple and easy at first.

It may be a drag, but you don’t often realize how those baby steps can play a crucial role in you being able to start running and chasing your dreams. Don’t be ashamed if you have to start off with simple tasks for yourself. Even going back to daily tasks that you do anyway like showering, doing the laundry or shopping for food is a good way to start.

Putting those items on the list at first makes you feel like you’ve had a productive day. From there, you can challenge yourself with more difficult tasks. Incorporate an exercise routine or spend a half-hour on a task that means something to you.

The idea is to ease yourself into a routine so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

15. Measure Your Time

The last strategy that can help you is to measure your time. How long does it take you to finish a specific task? You don’t need to go for specifics, but make a point of timing yourself over the course of a week and get the average time spent on that task.

Why is this important? This information can be broken down in two ways.

The first way is to use it as a marker to boost efficiency. Depending on the task, you can find new ways to achieve the same results in a shorter time.

It also allows you to know what you can do in a given day. If you know that it takes you an hour or so to go through your entire morning routine, you’ll be more conscious about how you move through that routine.

Furthermore, if you know what tasks you’ll be doing the next day, you can better manage your time since you know roughly how much time it’ll take to get everything done.

Final Thoughts

Building an effective to-do list is not as easy as it seems.

There are all kinds of unique strategies to try out, some more challenging that others. However, if you are motivated to use this productivity tool to make your life easier, then it will get easier.

All that you need to do is keep putting effort and experiment and reevaluate when necessary. So get started with your to-do lists today.

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More Tips on Using an Effective To-Do List

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

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