It's no secret that I love to travel - and I also love to be organized! Making a packing list is great fun, until you forget something so in this episode of Automators David and I decided to find as many ways as we could to solve the problem of creating a packing list. Naturally our techniques overlapped in a few places, but we still came up with a variety of solutions - which you can use to solve other problems too.

I've documented most of the Shortcuts in the show notes for this episode, but my Drafts action group (and accompanying Shortcut) need a little more space - so let's dive in!

First of all, no matter how organised I might be I still need a task in my task management system to actually do the packing, so I kick off my process with a Shortcut, it looks through my calendar for all day events, I choose one of them, and then it creates a new Draft (tagged with packing) before adding a task to OmniFocus with the title "Pack", a due date of the start date of the trip, and a link to my Draft in the note. You can download the Shortcut here: Create Packing List (Drafts & OF)

Now let's look at my Drafts action group, this has 8 actions (I've expanded a little since recording).

Manage Template List
This gets you started with creating your basic lists if you don't have them yet - you choose categories (it suggests Clothes, Toiletries, and Technology), and then set the emoji for each category before adding items to it.
If you already have a list you get 4 choices:

None of these actions affect anything in any of your packing list - maybe someday I'll get to it, but not yet.


Tag Packing List

This just adds the tag "packing" to your Draft so you can filter for these quickly.

Add Packing Items to List

This shows you a prompt with a list of your categories, you tap a category, deselect items within that category you do not wish to include (I assumed that you'll likely want all items in a category), and the items are added to your list. After this it runs the action "Sort Packing Items" automatically.

Sort Packing Items

You might be wondering why I'm bothering to assign emoji to my categories - aside from "they're cute". It's simple: Emoji are sortable. So everything with a 👖 tag is grouped together. This way I can both visually identify items in a category, and the sort action (which is alphabetical) groups them together. All the items are in the task format in Drafts, this looks something like this:

- [ ] 👖 Jeans
- [x] 👖 TShirt
- [ ] 🛀 Shampoo

Tapping on one of the [ ] boxes checks it off ([x]) or unchecks it. The x is sorted below the space so unchecked items stay at the top.

Uncheck All

I like to reuse my packing list on the way home to make sure I don't forget anything and that everything is charged, this unchecks everything, resets charging icons, and sorts the list again for me.

What should I charge?

Maybe I travel with too much tech, but I do travel with a lot and most of it needs charging - after all, what good is a battery pack that isn't charged? Everything that needs charging has a 🔋 icon at the end of it, this action grabs all of those items and shows them to me, selecting one replaces the battery with a 🔌 emoji, so I can see it is ready.


For items that you add outside of your list you may wish to add the battery emoji, instead of hunting though your keyboard for it use this action. It will also replace the battery with a plug or vice versa.

Delete Item

This just deletes the current row in Drafts.

This all works with scripts in Drafts, I can't guarantee it will work perfectly so I would love to hear your feedback!

To hear more about ways to create packing lists listen to Automators 33: Packing List Extravaganza. Thanks to our sponsors for this week's episode: ExpressVPN and Daylite.