A Trick to Make Traveling So Much Simpler

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Jay and I at the Colosseum.

I’m feeling refreshed and reinvigorated after returning from Italy and Switzerland last week with Jay and a few of our friends. Jay and I went to Rome on our own — taking a tour inside the Colosseum and the Roman Forum plus having our favorite pizza in the world at Baffetto.

We also ate our way through through the Testaccio neighborhood.If you go to Rome definitely take a food tour with Eating Italy Tours — it was a highlight. And I’ve recently had to follow a gluten free diet as a complication of my appendix rupture and they were so sweet and accommodating about it!

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Eating my favorite pizza at Baffetto.

Then we were off for Geneva to meet up with our traveling friends Peter & Nicole and Nancy. We hopped in an SUV and drove an hour to Montreaux for the 50th annual Jazz Festival there.

The jazz festival was lots of fun with wonderful gourmet food, wine and lots of cool music. The town of Montreaux itself is really adorable with lots of shops and restaurants. Plus it’s right on a lake so the views are amazing. A note if you’re ever in Switzerland – it’s super expensive. Think 35 dollar cheeseburgers and 15 glasses of wine (and the pours are miniscule.)

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In the adorable town of Montreaux, Switzerland.

Off to Lake Como from there with a 4 hour drive through the Swiss Alps. Such a cool experience to drive through nearly untouched mountainsides. We saw snow capped mountains and lots of animals on our twisty travel. Those roads are all over the place and obviously very high up. It was a bit unnerving at times but we made it through with good music and snacks!

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The beautiful Lake Como!

We stayed in a small town called Varenna and absolutely loved it. It was so charming and picturesque. We were in love. We stayed at a villa called Casa Stacy and I highly recommend it. Not only did Stacy make sure we had everything we needed but she also hooked us up with some fun excursions. We went on a boat tour of the entire lake and had a private wine tasting that was amazing.

On a boat with our friends Peter and Nicole

On a boat with our friends Peter and Nicole.

Then it was off to finish the trip in Milan where we got a full tour of the city and got to see The Last Supper thanks to Milan Day Tours. It’s so interesting to see ancient art up close. When I saw the Mona Lisa I was a bit underwhelmed because it’s so tiny.  Not like you’d expect.  But this piece by Leonardo di vinci is huge. It takes up an entire wall and I thought it was in very good shape. We learned all about the restoration and history. I’m glad we did that tour.

My vacation was full of amazing food.

My vacation was full of amazing food.

Trick to Make Air Travel More Bearable

Our travels throughout Italy and Switzerland went off without a hitch. Air travel is usually the biggest headache for me when I’m on vacation.  But here’s the trick I promised — get Global Entry. It’s amazing how much time you save.

Global Entry gives you several benefits for 5 years and a $100 price tag. First you are eligible for TSA Precheck within the United States.  That means you get to basically skip the line at security, keep your laptop in it’s bad and forego taking off your shoes and sweaters.

Then when you travel internationally there’s another perk – you get VIP treatment when you return home and go through customs.

We just had to scan our passports and fingerprints. We got a printed pass and brought it to the customs officer.  It took us about 7 minutes to do this.  So from the time we landed to the time we were in a taxi at JFK heading home — just 37 minutes went by. That is a far cry from the usual experience we have when coming home internationally.

Other than the cost — the other catch is that you have to go for an in person interview to get access to Global Entry. It’s a pain to carve out the time in your calendar – I totally get that. But I have to tell you – not having to wait in line and prolong an already long trip was key for me. I’ve been trying to mitigate stress in my life and this is definitely one way to do it while traveling.
If you go for Global Entry let me know how your experience is. I’m giving mine two thumbs up!

The Perfect Combo: Tea and Productivity

IMG_6149Last week I held the very first ever ProductiviTEA event at Podunk tea shop in New York City. I’m still beaming from the amazing energy in the room. (Maybe it was the boozy tea too?) The group was a mix from all different backgrounds.  We had lawyers, fashion designers, personal trainers, financial services gurus, productivity coaches and branding experts.

Between sips of delicious tea and bites of yummy scones — it was clear that despite the differences in careers we all shared similar productivity issues.  Some of the problems that popped up included:
1. Focusing on one task at a time (I suggested trying the Pomodoro technique where you work on a IMG_0008given task for a set amount of time — like 25 minutes.)

2. Dealing with email overwhelm (I’ve been there too – I love to sign up for newsletters newsletters,PDFs and free gifts of all kinds.   If there’s a free promo code out there — I want it. All these goodies are delivered right to my inbox and I always have the best intentions to read them all but….the truth is I rarely do anything with that stuff.  I created a system to Take Back My Inbox! For some tips and tricks on that front check out my new course.

3. Stopping your brain from going 100 MPH before bed (Reading a fiction book is a great cure for this. I used to read non-fiction all the time because I’m just so curious and always want to be learning somethinglaura new.  But about a month ago I realized it wasn’t working and switched to fiction. It’s amazing how much it settles you down before bed.)

We also talked about productivity styles and how you have to find out what works for you. I had so much fun helping people with their list and productivity problems and cheer on their successes. I created ListProducer.com to help those who where struggling to get organized – it feels really good to see the effect the blog has on people.  Thanks so all who attended and hopefully we will have a repeat event sometime soon.  I’m even thinking of doing a virtual event so people from all over can participate.

 

6 Ways to Improve Your Life in Under a Minute

Improve yourself in under a minute! Goals like getting healthier and being more organized can sometimes seem quite big, daunting and worst of all time consuming. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are little things you can do each day, that may not radically change your life, but they can make it a bit better.

Here are some little ways to improve your life and, since I know how time conscience you are, they’re all things that can be done in less than a minute:

1. Eat a blueberry – Blueberries are not only delicious, they’re also really good for you. They’re high in antioxidants, high in fiber and low on the glycemic index. Plus this study shows eating blueberries can help ward off degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Stretch out – A minute is not enough time to go for a run, but you can still get a little workout while you sit at your desk. These desk exercises are a great way to get your blood flowing again. Or there’s a new book called Happy Go Yoga that gives you some quick yoga moves to do on the go.

3. Doodle – When you’re scribbling away on a piece of paper it may seem like a waste of time. But studies show that doodling helps you to focus and increase your memory. So feel free to doodle away at your next meeting. Read more

3 Items for Your To-Don’t List

Stop_sign_at_sunsetSome mornings when I wake up – I start running through all the things I need to do that day in my head. Even though I already have my to-do list written from the night before. Does this happen to you? But I’ll tell you what I don’t do – I don’t think of things that I need to STOP doing. And I would bet you don’t either. But maybe we should…

The New Year is coming up and you might already be thinking about your resolutions, which I think are a waste of time if they aren’t super targeted. Maybe you want to stop obsessively checking your emails, or drinking less soda. Why not start with some simple things so you’ll be in good shape when the New Year rolls around? Read more

What’s a ‘Listicle’ Anyway?

ListiclesThe word listicle, a combination of the words list and article, has officially made it onto OxfordDictionaries.com. It is defined as ‘An article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.’ While it may have only recently come into common use, I’ve been writing listicles on this blog for years now. So to celebrate the new dictionary entry I’m making a listicle of my favorite listicles from ListProducer.com!

1. 10 Gluten Free Grains For Everyone – I spoke with Leslie Cerier from ‘The Organic Gourmet’  and she gave me list of grains everyone should try. This is one of my most popular lists, especially as more and more people are going gluten free. Read more