TotalMed Blog

Here are three organizational systems that can make all the difference when traveling from assignment to assignment.

Marie Kondo your life.

Whether you’re a travel nurse who’s in a different city every 13 weeks or someone who just travels occasionally to hospitals around your home, getting rid of things you don’t need can help you focus on what’s important. 

Marie Kondo is the organizational zealot whose book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sparked a decluttering revolution when it came out in 2012. Since then, she’s written other books and has her own tv show, all of which share her strict philosophy on object maintenance: keep only the objects that spark joy for you. 

While there’s been some good-natured teasing about this philosophy (my spatula doesn’t spark joy, but I’d be miserable flipping pancakes without it), the spirit of her advice is essential for travel nurses.

Get rid of what’s inessential.

While some of your utilitarian possessions might not spark joy, the question is a good one. Think about the possessions you keep with you. Are they necessary to you? Do they add to your life? Have you used them in the past year? Did you use them on your last assignment? Questions like these can help you recognize the objects you need to keep — and the ones you need to let go of (I’m looking at you, cache of TravCon swag!). 

Pro-tip: It’s okay to get rid of gifts! Kondo has some great tips on thoughtfully letting go of what no longer serves you (great advice for life, too!)

Keep your home space tidy.

Developing an organizational system at home will help make it easier for you to travel from place to place. Though you might have slight variations depending on the space, decide where and how you want to store your belongings, wherever you go. This will make it easier for you to pack and unpack for assignments, too.

Be thoughtful about what you take with you on assignment.

Speaking of packing, apply the Kondo philosophy to what you bring on assignment, too. Just as you make a list of all the things you need on an assignment, pay attention to the objects you take with you from assignment to assignment that you don’t need. Challenge yourself to pare down your belongings, just to the essentials. By traveling lighter, you can save yourself time, money, and energy — which everyone can use a bit more of.

GTD your to-dos. 

GTD (Getting Things Done) is a tried and true productivity system. Its beauty lies in the fact that it’s a single system that organizes everything you need to do, period. Work, life, errands, chores, no matter what you need to do, GTD captures anything you need to do and provides an airtight system for you to get things done. Here’s an eagle-eye view of the system:

  • Capture. Anything that’s in your inboxes, your mailbox, your to-do pile, or your head gets captured.
  • Clarify. Define the next steps for each item.
  • Organize. Place reminders in appropriate places. 
  • Reflect. Review frequently.
  • Engage. Do!

The benefits of GTD is that your to-do list will be comprehensive and organized by context and priority. You’ll know what you need to do, when, whether you’re at the hospital, at home, or on the road. 

Pro-tip: Start with the GTD book, which started the fervor around this system: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stressfree Productivity.

Pack like a marine.

Nurses and marines have a lot in common. You both work in high-stress situations and need to prepare for critical situations. Here are some packing tips from marines.

  • Plan before you pack. You’ll need your very own staging zone to plan out everything you’ve decided to bring along with you.
  • Consider weight. When you’re planning, consider how much you can carry or tug along with you in your rolling suitcase.
  • Forget folding. Folding takes up too much space, leaves gaps in your suitcase and boxes, and wrinkles your clothes.
  • Roll, roll, roll. Instead of folding, master the skivvy roll. These expert rolls will pack as much as possible in the space you have and help you organize your clothes. 
  • Pack backward. Think about what you’ll need when you first arrive at your assignment.

Pro-tip: Combining rolling with bundling will save you even more space.  

Looking for more travel nursing organizational tips? Check out our article on organizing your finances


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