7 Ways to Help Your Kids Transition to Their School Routine

Summer is a great respite for your kids. It gives them an opportunity to do their own thing on their own time frame. But too much freedom can make it difficult to adjust when the new school year begins. Here are some ways you can help your children transition smoothly into their school routine.

1. Stay busy.

Sign your kids up for summer activities—dance lessons, swimming lessons, piano lessons, art class, soccer, or baseball games. Giving your kids fun activities will require them to maintain a schedule. It won’t be as busy as school, but at least they won’t stop activity completely. School activities demand a lot of their time, keeping your kids active during the summer will prepare them to comply with those demands.

2. Assign daily chores.

Daily chores may not be fun for the kids, but it gives them something to do, and helps them learn the value of stewardship. Encourage them to set an alarm so they can get an early start on their chores and have more time to enjoy themselves.

3. Maintain a weekly planning session.

Even though their schedules may be lighter during the summer, maintain a weekly planning session with your kids to address their schedules and the activities they hope to accomplish before school begins. Doing this will encourage and motivate your children to do more with the time that they have.

4. Spend time teaching your kids.

Set aside a time each day to teach your kids something new. Read with them, listen to their reading, give them writing and penmanship assignments, and create math problems for them to complete. Students lose about two months of math computational skills and a significant portion of reading and spelling ability if they are left to do nothing during the summer break. But studies show that when parents take an active role during summer the loss is greatly reduced, if it happens at all.

5. Attend the public library.

Visit the library and check out some new books. Set a goal for the number of books each child will read over the summer. Ask questions as they read to make sure they comprehend the meaning of the stories. Assign a small written report or project about one or two of the books they read. Don’t simply ask them to paraphrase the book, but encourage them to write how they felt while reading the book, how they would change the ending if they could, or have them explain the characteristics they liked most about one of the characters and why.

6. Read a book and compare the movie.

Find a movie that is based on a book and read the book with your children. When you finish reading, watch the movie together and compare the things they discovered in the movie that differ from the book. Have them explain what they like best about the book and what they liked best about the movie.

7. Help them celebrate summer.

Give them an assignment to write a narrative, shoot a video, or create a visual arts project that addresses their favorite part of summer. Give them an opportunity to share their work with the family.

Doing these small activities throughout the summer, and ramping them up as you draw nearer to the start of the school year, will make the transition back into the school routine significantly easier for your kids. Their study habits will be stronger and they will be able to start the school year running.

We hope these suggestions have sparked some ideas of your own. If so, we’d love to see them in the comments below.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Help Your Child Discover Their Planning Style

Planning is a simple skill with enormous benefits. The sooner a person develops the habit of planning, the better they’ll perform in school and in life. Show your kids how you use your planner. Teach them some basic time-management skills to help them see the importance of taking charge of their choices. Determine together what sort of planning style your children prefer and help them pick out their own planner based on how they plan, schedule homework deadlines, and take notes. Include your children in your personal planning sessions during the summer so they can see how you plan. Help them recognize the benefits you find from planning. During the school year, treat their planning sessions like you would treat their homework. Help them become masters of their own fate.

Click here to view our 2017-2018 Academic Planners.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Using Your Planner to Stay on Top of Your Chores

We all have household chores, but they vary to some degree depending on our living space, our stage of life, and what we value most. For example: In the early stages of marriage a husband and wife can plan and schedule weekly cleaning days and crank cleaningthrough the apartment quite quickly—leaving plenty of time to enjoy the weekend.

As children are added to the mix and our homes expand, the chores start to feel a lot more like chores. Toddlers aren’t great cleaners, but they are amazing mess makers—sometimes defying us to keep up. Eventually they grow older and become part of our team—taking on chores appropriate for their ages, until keeping the house orderly is a whole family affair. Then one day we realize our nest is empty, but the chores still need to be done. Interestingly, it’s the smallest things that take up most of our time and are often the hardest to manage each day.

Clearly, how you plan your everyday chores is in constant flux. However, some aspects of planning can remain the same. Here are a few of our suggestions:

Step 1 – Brain dump.

When life gets busy we often put off certain household chores in favor of the more noticeable jobs. For example: vacuuming the floor makes such a sudden difference, that if we’re in a rush we’ll vacuum but leave the bathtubs for another day. During exceptionally crazy months we may realize that our bathtubs have gone a bit too long without a good scouring.

One way to avoid this issue is to create a master list of all the chores you accomplish regularly. Include everything from daily to-dos to seasonal chores.

Step 2 – Categorize your chores.

Once you’ve made your master list, separate them into smaller lists according to frequency – daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal. Seasonal chore lists will need to be broken down into daily chunks. Remember as you do this that you still have daily chores that are going to dominate some of your time. We recommend adding a tab in your planner to keep all of these lists so you aren’t spending valuable time writing them again and again. When spring rolls around, simply pull out your spring list and get started.

Step 3 – Divide and conquer.

Before you jump into your chores, divide your lists again into segments that you can accomplish in short spurts of time. You’ll also want to create lists for family members, so the chores can be finished as quickly as possible.

Step 4 – Make it happen.

Now you’re ready to get started. Be sure to incorporate your weekly and monthly chores into your daily plans each morning, so you don’t fall behind.

As you work through your daily chores, you’re sure to have interruptions or find that some chores are bigger than you first thought. Be flexible and willing to move items to another day rather than burning out.

If you are looking for a place to keep your lists of chronic chores, consider using a page finder that moves with you day to day or create a stamp so you don’t have to rewrite them over and over.

Daily tasks fit nicely into your Prioritized Daily Task List in your daily planner, and among your to-dos in your weekly planner. They are also ideal for a Progressive Task List, or the back of your Weekly Compass® Card. Keeping track of your daily chores will help you move more efficiently through your day and give you more time for the activities you enjoy.

Everyday circumstances will alter our chore lists. Important events in our home, such as holiday get-togethers will require that we increase our housework in order to present a clean home before the party—and sometimes you’ll do even more work after the party is over. On the other hand, after school activities for our children will eliminate some of the time we have to work on chores and we’ll need to decide what is necessary and what can wait for another day.

However you plan and work through your daily chores, we appreciate you bringing your Franklin Planner along.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

All You Need To Know About Time Management

By Carmen Coker

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?
b. A moderately effective person?
c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how?

The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them. As such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in “all that stuff” first, then there will always be little to no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time. Here’s how you can learn more and get started today!

Ready for more time in your life? Download your FREE copy of The Ultimate Productivity Planner™ right now, and start saving 90 minutes (or more) every day…even if you think time management is a myth!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

3 Reasons Why Using a Planner Can Build Your Child’s Confidence

There’s no understating the benefits of confidence. It comes when your efforts and your expectations line up with your capabilities. With fear and insecurities out of the way, you’re free to succeed.

But learning this process doesn’t happen automatically. To have faith in yourself, like having faith in anything else, you have to take action and evaluate the results. The results of your actions strengthen your expectations for the next time, whether you succeed or fail.

For your kids, school is the laboratory where this process takes place. Whether it’s their professional development through attendance and homework or their social development through extracurricular activities and appointments with friends, the results of their time in school will shape how they think and feel about themselves.

A FranklinPlanner is an invaluable tool to help your kids flourish in school. With the proper instruction, your kids can know what’s expected of them, raise their own expectations for themselves, and develop dependability with everyone on their schedule, from teachers to friends. Here are three benefits from teaching your kids to use the FranklinPlanner system:

Anticipating Deadlines

With assignments in each subject to track, school can be overwhelming at times, especially when taking challenging subjects. Teach your kids how to mark their assignments for the week in their Prioritized Daily Task List, with a due date listed by each.

After making this list, they can assign priorities to each task. It can be as simple as tackling assignments with the closest due date first, or it can be allocating time for various term projects throughout the week. With this daily list, it’s much easier for them plan enough time to get everything done.

Achieving Goals

It can be easy for kids to see the world as a bunch of external forces working on them, and to feel that they can’t control their lives. It’s the reason that parents hear “It’s not my fault!” from their kids as explanation for problems at school. You can help them combat this insecurity by setting goals and subgoals in their planners. For example, to achieve the goal “Get an A in AP Physics”, a student could write “Complete assignments the evening they’re assigned” or “Find demonstration videos on YouTube”. As your students meet each subgoal, they’ll start to understand how the small steps they take make big changes in who they are and what they can achieve.

Scheduling

From heading to school in the morning to staying after for sports, band, or the homecoming parade committee, your students have people counting on them to arrive on time. Teaching them to schedule their activities in their planner lets them take charge of their own life, whether they’re earning money at a high school job, playing starting linebacker, or just having fun with their friends.

When it comes to developing confidence, there’s no substitute for preparation. Help your kids prepare with the FranklinPlanner system, and there’s no limit to their success.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Create a Homework Station

If your kids have trouble finding a quiet place to do their homework, then it’s time to create one. The ideal location is somewhere out of earshot of noisy televisions and off the main traffic areas of your home. Organize a desk with pencils, paper, and other supplies, and have “Things Mom Needs to Sign” in-box. After the kids submit everything, you can put them in the “Take Back to School” tray. Remove their excuses and distractions, and they’ll see what an impact personal responsibility has on their education.  This space also makes a great place for daily planning sessions.

41714_lrgcase

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Plan Your Lunches for the Week

Wouldn’t it be nice if summer came with a lunch menu? Elementary school students are used to selecting a school lunch or a sandwich from home, while your teenagers choose the cafeteria or a fast food restaurant for each day. How about you? Go through the past week in your planner and note what you had for lunch. Then use that information to plan out your lunches for this week, whether you’re eating at your desk or cooking for your family.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Start Right with a Morning Routine

The easiest routine is the one that your circumstances dictate for you. But when the school bus isn’t coming, what will get your kids out of bed? Discuss a good morning routine with your family, decide how to spend your time, and set it down in your planner to help keep things on schedule. With a plan, you’ll do more memorable things with your summer. And when the school bus pulls up to the curb in the fall, you won’t have to convince your family to meet it.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

7 Ways to Help Your Kids Transition to Their School Routine

Summer is a great respite for your kids. It gives them an opportunity to do their own thing on their own timeframe. But too much freedom can make it difficult to adjust when the new school year begins. Here are some ways you can help your children transition smoothly into their school routine.

1. Stay busy.

Sign your kids up for summer activities—dance lessons, swimming lessons, piano lessons, art class, soccer, or baseball games. Giving your kids fun activities will require them to maintain a schedule. It won’t be as busy as school, but at least they won’t stop activity completely. School activities demand a lot of their time, keeping your kids active during the summer will prepare them to comply with those demands.

2. Assign daily chores.

Daily chores may not be fun for the kids, but it gives them something to do, and helps them learn the value of stewardship. Encourage them to set an alarm so they can get an early start on their chores and have more time to enjoy themselves.

3. Maintain a weekly planning session.

Even though their schedules may be lighter during the summer, maintain a weekly planning session with your kids to address their schedules and the activities they hope to accomplish before school begins. Doing this will encourage and motivate your children to do more with the time that they have.

4. Spend time teaching your kids.

Set aside a time each day to teach your kids something new. Read with them, listen to their reading, give them writing and penmanship assignments, and create math problems for them to complete. Students lose about two months of math computational skills and a significant portion of reading and spelling ability if they are left to do nothing during the summer break. But studies show that when parents take an active role during summer the loss is greatly reduced, if it happens at all.

Library Books5. Attend the public library.

Visit the library and check out some new books. Set a goal for the number of books each child will read over the summer. Ask questions as they read to make sure they comprehend the meaning of the stories. Assign a small written report or project about one or two of the books they read. Don’t simply ask them to paraphrase the book, but encourage them to write how they felt while reading the book, how they would change the ending if they could, or have them explain the characteristics they liked most about one of the characters and why.

6. Read a book and compare the movie.

Find a movie that is based on a book and read the book with your children. When you finish reading, watch the movie together and compare the things they discovered in the movie that differ from the book. Have them explain what they like best about the book and what they liked best about the movie.

7. Help them celebrate summer.

Give them an assignment to write a narrative, shoot a video, or create a visual arts project that addresses their favorite part of summer. Give them an opportunity to share their work with the family.

Doing these small activities throughout the summer, and ramping them up as you draw nearer to the start of the school year, will make the transition back into the school routine significantly easier for your kids. Their study habits will be stronger and they will be able to start the school year running.

We hope these suggestions have sparked some ideas of your own. If so, we’d love to see them in the comments below.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

This Idea Will Change The Way You Organize Your Time

By Carmen Coker

A popular Zen parable tells of a Wanderer who happened upon a raging river. He wanted to cross it, but there was no bridge.

Afraid to wade across the river on foot with such a strong current, he spent hours building his own raft from vines and trees, which ultimately carried him safely to the other side.

However, once across the river, he thought to himself: “This is a good raft; I might need it again if I must forge another river.”

So the Wanderer carried the raft with him for the rest of his life.

The Big Reveal

From the outside looking in, the Wanderer’s decision might seem ridiculous. Why would this obviously resourceful guy carry a heavy raft around when he didn’t need to do so?

Often times, we make this same decision in our own life. In doing so, we hang on to something that was useful at one point but has since become irrelevant clutter.

Now, your “rafts” may come in various shapes and forms – maybe it’s too many commitments, maybe it’s a poor-fit household routine, or maybe it’s too much stuff. No matter, the underlying question remains the same: Is this clutter in your schedule, in your work, in your life holding you back?

The Ins & Outs

It’s important to be fiercely protective of not only your time and how you spend it, but also your space and what you bring into it. Wise decisions about your time and space allow you to preserve these precious resources, whereas foolish decisions can do just the opposite.

No one wants to play the fool! So to help you make those wise decisions – and help you release the “rafts” that are taking over your calendar, wasting your time, and diminishing your space – answer these five questions:

1. What areas of my home/work life could benefit from systems like checklists, automation, etc?

2. What commitments no longer support my top priorities and should be erased from my calendar?

3. Where does clutter stop me from enjoying and/or fully utilizing my home/office space, and how can the clutter be removed?

4. Where do I waste time and/or procrastinate throughout the day, and how can I stop doing so?

5. What are the biggest things about my life that I/my family complain about, and how can I/we smartly resolve these issues?

The Bottom Line

“Rafts” that clutter your mind, your time, and your space (amongst others!) are all stumbling blocks to your best life. A highly organized and productive person understands that doing less and having less often means creating more time and space for the things that truly matter.

So…where can you remove clutter that may be hindering your quality of life?

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, The Washington Post and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Help Your Child Pick Out Their Own Planner

No two people are the same, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution for planning. Before the start of the school year, discuss different planning styles with your child, and then help select a planner. If your child has many extracurricular activities, then a daily planner would provide space to schedule everything, while a child who just wants help remembering homework assignments might do better with a weekly planner.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Plan Your Meals

If you’ve ever resolved to eat healthier, only to have your produce turn to compost in the crisper bin of your refrigerator, then you can benefit from a meal plan. Plan out a week of meals at a time, and look at your schedule to ensure that you have time to prepare the meal you plan for each day. When you have a couple of meals, match any leftover ingredients like green onions, lettuce, or broccoli with other recipes, and fit them into your schedule.

65641_lrgcase

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Dad taught me how to use a planner

By Larrissa Geiger

My experience with the Franklin Covey system began with my dad. He worked in outside sales, and always had his “arm” with him. He wrote down EVERYTHING in that planner. Over the years his dedication to recording all of his calls, visits etc. helped us to figure out that he was having some serious health issues and to get him healthy again. Because of his constant example of using his planner, Dad was instrumental in me developing (or begin to develop) my own habit of use.

PhotoWhen I began a new job as office manager, he encouraged me to pick out a planner and the pages that I liked, going so far as to buy a complete system for me for my birthday that year. I have now had that same planner for close to 10 years.

Over the years, I have picked it up and put it back on the shelf. I have been using it steadily for the past five years, and now I find that it helps me more and more to organize the multiple roles in my life….Wife, mom, employee (juggling multiple projects), business owner/partner, volunteer and brainstorming how to start my own business. Over the years, I have discovered and changed the way that I use my planner, but I always find myself at a loss when I’m not actively using it.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Quiet The Chaos! Work-Life Balance Tips That Work

By Carmen Coker

Have you ever been at home, and yet thinking of something that needs to be done at work? Or been at work, and yet thinking of something that needs to be done at home?

No matter if you try to separate them, your personal life and work life are intrinsically linked. That is to say, if you feel unbalanced personally, then that feeling can bleed into your work life and leave you feeling unbalanced professionally – or vice versa.  This is a fact that many articles with work-life balance tips fail to mention.

This linkage is especially problematic for women who tend to become emotionally attached to both home and office, and it even affects celebrities, who typically have assistants to help them manage their mounting to-do list. Kelly Ripa, co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael, shared: “I’m like any working mom. When I’m at work, I’m remembering what I forgot to do for the kids, and when I’m with the kids, I’m remembering what I forgot to do at work.”

couchWhen you are feeling unbalanced, in order to find relief, you must become aware of your clutter.

Now, you may be thinking: “I know where my clutter is! I trip over it every morning on the way to the bathroom.”

But that’s just the problem! We tend to think of clutter as “stuff” in our space: piles of paper on the desk, clusters of toys on the rug, and mounds of mail on the kitchen counter.

While this is true, there are other types of clutter that can creep into your life.

For example:

  • Do you over-commit to people, organizations, or causes? Then you have something that clutters your schedule.
  • Do you have someone in your life that bleeds your energy and patience, so much so that the very mention of their name causes you great stress? Then you have something that clutters your spirit.
  • Do you look for a distraction, like a TV show, whenever you know you have work to be done? Then you have something that clutters your habit patterns.

Clutter can permeate more than just your surroundings; clutter can permeate all or parts of you. In the same respect, organizing is more than managing your belongings. Organizing is managing you – all parts of you – so that you feel balanced and in control.

So the next time you seem discombobulated … stressed … overwhelmed … chaotic … unbalanced … then examine the areas of your life – both at home and at work – that need to be de-cluttered. This will ultimately help you pinpoint the source of the problem so that you can find relief fast.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Lesson My Mom Taught Me About Organization

Good communication skills are hard to find. It takes a gift to speak to someone’s soul. My mother had that gift. She was an amazing teacher. I learned a lot from the things she said, but I learned even more by watching what she did. Her actions resonated—powerfully.

Mom worked as a medical professional and couldn’t stand the thought of germs, so you can imagine how intently she worked to keep things clean and in their place. Her house always smelled of lemon disinfectant, as she swept daily and mopped at least weekly.

She kept a hand-written daily cleaning schedule taped inside a cupboard door in the kitchen. Mom taught us that cleaning a little bit every day eliminated the need for huge cleaning projects. No job was hard because it was practically clean before we started. I can’t begin to tell you how many Saturday mornings I spent cleaning mirrors that were already spotless. We picked up the clutter throughout the house constantly, and each room had its day to be vacuumed, dusted, and polished. By the end of the week, every inch of the house had been thoroughly cleaned—except my room.

My bedroom was so cluttered it was hard to find. Sure, you could find the door, but opening that door was like stepping into a foreign land. It was otherworldly. Mom reminded me daily to organize my mess, make my bed, and put away my clothes, but it never got through. The way I saw it, my mess didn’t affect anyone but me.

I was wrong.

One day after school I discovered that Mom had had enough. When I opened my bedroom door I found my shelves were spotlessly clean and empty. My desktop was sparkling clean also. Not a scrap of paper. Not a book. Not a pencil. Nothing. The top of my dresser was the same way. All of that stuff was in a huge pile on my floor. My bed, which I had left unkempt, was now a bare mattress with bedding wadded into a ball in the center. The message was perfectly clear: If I wanted to sleep that night, I had to do something about my room.

I learned that the first step to organizing any space is to clear everything off, wipe it clean, and then thoughtfully replace the items you truly want to keep. The second step—keep a trash bag handy. I couldn’t believe how much junk I had collected in that small space. But I hadn’t yet learned my most important lesson.

Over time the clutter slowly returned—like a bacterial infection that hadn’t been hit with the proper dose of antibiotic. It was unnoticeable at first—a stack of paper on the desk, a dirty hook-shot-sock that missed the hamper, a stack of clean clothes that had fallen to the floor, a forgotten pop-sickle stick. Before I knew it, my room was sick.

Again my mother reminded me to clean, and again I gave only a meager effort. Then one morning Mom walked into my room with a stack of clean, folded clothes. Instead of placing them on the end of my bed for me to put away, as was usually the case, she dropped them on the floor, stomped on them, and kicked them around the room. “There,” she said,  “Now they’re just the way you like them,” and she walked away.

I laughed. She didn’t.

As I looked around my room I finally realized what Mom wasn’t saying: keeping my clothes in their place and my room tidy didn’t only affect me, it was a reflection of my respect for her and the efforts she was making on my behalf. She didn’t have to do my laundry or keep a spotless house, but she did all that because she loved us. Keeping my room clean and my things in their place was the least I could do to show my appreciation. I can’t say I kept my room spotless after that realization, but I can say I tried much more often, and was reminded much less often.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of how often my mom showed me how to plan, organize, and accomplish my goals. Every time I put my clothes in a drawer, sweep the floor, or organize my garage, I think of the lessons she taught. Every time I open my pantry door and read the lists I have taped inside, I think of her. And each time I set a goal or write in my planner, I remember how often I watched her do the very same thing. After 75 years of planning, goal setting, and living an organized life, my mom has accomplished nearly all of her goals. I plan to do the same, and one of my highest aspirations is to be more like mom.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

When To-Do Lists Don’t Work

By Carmen Coker

Generally speaking, a list is a good thing because …

When you write a list, it helps you focus. When you follow a list, it keeps you on track and moving toward list completion. And when you cross off list items, you feel productive.

And yet, despite proven results and positive qualities, lists don’t always work for everyone, every time because …

When you have to make a list, it means you have lots to accomplish. When you have lots to accomplish, you suddenly don’t want to do anything but sit on your couch, watch TV, and eat ice cream.

In other words, making a list is making you procrastinate. At this point, you’ve entered into a mind-game between your lazy self and your productive self, and your lazy self is winning!

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to fight back by creating a NOT To-Do List to help you get organized.

The NOT To-Do List is exactly as the name implies – a list of things you do not want to do.

For example …

The Not To-Do List for Housekeeping

  • Throw shoes by the front door
  • Let mail pile up on the kitchen counter
  • Forget to file bills at the end of month

The NOT To-Do List for Time Management

  • Hit the “snooze” button on the alarm more than once
  • Check email more than 2 times per day
  • Turn on TV while getting ready for work

With the NOT To-Do List, you’re giving your lazy self permission to be lazy while, at the same time, giving your productive self permission to get things done.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Last-Minute Tax Organizing Tips

By Carmen Coker

In the words of Dave Barry, “It’s income tax time again…time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”

Filing taxes = huge pain. We all know it. We all go through it once a year. And while there’s no way around tax season, there is a way to make the process less stressful – preparation. A little bit of preparation can make a huge difference in your tax filing experience, whether you do so weeks in advance or at the last minute. Not only can it help you get your tax refund faster if you qualify, but it can also help you avoid the high levels of stress normally associated with finishing your taxes.

If you’d love to come out the other end of tax season unscathed, then here are the best organizing tips to help you do just that. Think: T–A–X–E–S!

(1) Tally: Decide how many hours you need for tax prep. 

First, choose a final date, such as “I want to be done with my taxes by April 10th.” Then work your timetable backwards from that date, planning around your work schedule, family responsibilities, and extracurriculars.

Second, think about how long it has taken you in the past to complete your taxes. If six hours of tax prep has been enough previously, then this year will likely be no different unless you had major changes in your life. So pencil in two hours on your calendar for three days between now and April 10th, or maybe one hour each evening for the next week.

(2) Assemble: Gather all tax-related documents.

Search your files, baskets, and bins. Your objective? To find any and all receipts, canceled checks, and other papers that support an item of income or deduction. Plus, be on the lookout for important tax forms like W-2s and 1099s in the mail.

Don’t forget about the charitable donations you’ve made over the last year! TurboTax ItsDeductible™ is a free software that tracks and adds your donations year-round and accurately determines the value of your donated items.

(3) X-cessorize: Compliment your tax prep efforts.

I’m not talking shoes and purses here! It’s all about storage. Now that you’ve got each and every one of your tax documents assembled, they must be organized in one central location, so as not to get lost.

There are lots of different tax organizers that can keep your tax papers in order.  If you’re not into fancy-schmancy, then you can dress ‘em down with the oldie but goodie manila envelope.

(4) Evaluate: Assess how you want to file your return.

Will you prepare your return personally or will your accountant? Are you eligible for free help at an IRS office or volunteer site? Will you purchase tax prep software or e-file online?

There are many possibilities to consider! Weigh them all and find the option that best suits your needs. These variables may require modifications to your tally and time line. If so, refer back to #1.

(5) Schedule: Make a date to officially file your return.

If you’re doing your own taxes, make an appointment with yourself. If a tax rep is doing your taxes, promptly make an appointment with that individual. In either case, schedule asap – before the calendar fills up – and schedule a date several days ahead of the April 15th filing deadline, just in case a contingency comes up and you need more time to complete the filing process.

Remember: It’s never too early to start tax prep for next year! Looking ahead prevents a last-minute tax crunch and all the pressure that comes with it.

How do you get organized for tax season? I’d love to find out! Please share your thoughts, experiences, ideas, and other comments below.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Top 5 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Organized

By Carmen Coker

Getting organized means…quality of life…high levels of energy and productivity…creating space in your home and life for the things that really matter…being fully present. Getting organized is a huge part of being all you can be physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.

Given these amazing benefits, what’s stopping you from getting organized? Here are the TOP 5 reasons why you can’t get organized:

1 – Can’t break free from the daily grind

Whether you’ve got one small organizing project to tackle, or you’re looking to organize your entire house, the question becomes: “How do I fit in organizing in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…laundry and housekeeping…Scandal and bedtime?”

Being perpetually trapped in the day-to-day could mean another year (or two, three, or more) passes you by – and still you are no closer to your organizing goals.

2 – Not being prepared for common situations

There are some spots that need organizing regularly, like mail, toys, and clothes. I bet if I ask you to list off the clutter hot spots in your home or the ways in which you waste time, you could list them 1, 2, 3 – without much thought.

You likely know the moments that make you disorganized, and if you let them, these moments will continue to steal away your hope of getting organized.

3 – Not connected to your why-power

Just saying “I want to get organized” will not sustain you. Why? It shows that you are interested in enjoying the many positives that organizing affords, but you aren’t 100% committed to doing what it takes to fully realize those positives in your own life.

If getting organized – whether it’s your kitchen or your attic or your files – is not connected to your why-power (aka your deepest motivator), then you’ll easily fall off the get-organized wagon.

4 – Don’t know what you don’t know

In order for getting organized to work for you, you need a complete organizing system, or know-how. Know-how generally consists of more than just tips like “to organize your shelves do this”. These are what I call surface tips, since they tend to repair the surface of things, and often just for a short time.

If you don’t have the know-how or don’t have access to the know-how, then getting organized can be an uphill climb.

5 – Too many negative influencers

Negative influencers are anyone or anything that hinders your organizing progress, either intentionally or unintentionally (spouse, kids, parents, pets). Despite your best efforts to get and stay organized, these guys just get in the way.

Not understanding how to deal with negative influencers will have nothing but a negative effect on your organizing success.

Did you know…there are not just five reasons why people can’t get organized – there are 26 total? Good news! All of the reasons can be easily fixed. To learn more, go here http://bit.ly/GetTotallyOrganized now. Let me show you how to say goodbye to clutter and finally create the home and life you desire (and deserve)!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Teaching Children to be Organized

By Naomi Cook

“Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime.”  This Chinese proverb explains the importance of education and in turn the value of responsibility and accountability for one’s self.

Kids learn by example when it comes to actions.  Walking, talking, laughing and more…Have you thought about how the state of your home can impact a child’s organizational skills as well?  Since television shows on hoarding have been appearing, the world has learned how impactful the disease really is, especially on children.

On a lighter note, children are visual creatures, and that is something good to understand when it comes to helping them get (and stay) organized.  Read below for ideas that can help at any stage of life.

Preschool aged children – These little guys will need your help.  Appeal to their visual senses, while also turning clean up into a game, and they should easily grasp organizing fundamentals such as:

  • Using Simple Storage: Those fabric cube bins with handles seem to come in every color these days and are appearing in more and more stores.  They are also soft and easy for little hands to carry around.  Better yet, they can slip into most bookcases easily.
  • Using Pictures: For toys small enough to fit into the bins, attach pictures of the toys, showing which items go in which bin.  For bigger items, attach pictures to the wall over its “parking spot”.
  • Using Size Arrangement: For books, dolls, and game boxes.
  • Using Color Arrangement: For stuffed animals, construction paper, and art supplies.

Elementary school aged children – These guys are learning independence through a full day at school, but will still need your help.  Let them continue to build on the fundamental organizing skills and let them input fun new ideas.  At this stage, arrange the bars and shelves in their closet for them to be able to pick out their own clothes.  Work with them to group like items together by size, like short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants.  After that, if you’re really adventurous, work on arranging each of those groupings into color order.

You can also introduce them to one of my favorite tools…the Label Maker!  Let them have fun labeling where everything goes.  Choose tapes in their favorite color and a fun font!  Warning…labeling can be addictive!  Supervise them or you will be going to your local office supply store every day to buy more tape cartridges!

Middle school aged children/ High School Aged Children – These guys have reached independence yet their schedules are filling up at this point and organizing may not be a priority.  Build on the fundamental skills by introducing magnet boards, dry erase calendar boards, and assignment/activity planners.

At this stage in life, most parents will implement an allowance in exchange for doing chores around the house, including keeping their rooms organized.  Money talks, so any other form of bribery isn’t really necessary!

Ultimately, you want to give your kids an appreciation for their belongings, as well as your home.  By following the organizing fundamentals and building upon them gradually, you will set them off to become organized adults.  In turn, they will teach their children, and when those grandchildren come to your house notice if they are sprouting buds of understanding organization.  If not, tell your children that you want their years of allowance back!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Solve This Productivity Riddle and Save 10+ Hours of Time, Every Time

by Carmen Coker

Riddle me this: What is something that is no-cost to do, but if not done, is very costly? Hint: the answer has to do with time management, goal setting, and being productive in your home, work, and life.

The Big Reveal

If you answered “plan,” then you are close. If you answered “planning,” then you are spot-on! While the former is important, it shouldn’t be confused with or used in lieu of the latter.

Reason being, plans are pretty. Plans make us feel productive. Plans are what people should have. Life plan – check! Career plan – check! Weekend plan – check!

The problem is this: a plan easily becomes stagnant and outdated. More often than not, as soon as a plan is created, it is in need of revision, even though it may be just days (or hours) old and even though a lot of time and effort likely went into the making of.

Planning, on the other hand, is dynamic. It is the action to a plan’s inaction, and it always moves you and your life forward.

This is a vital distinction that successful people have been making for years. Case in point: Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was one of only five U.S. Army officers to ever wear five stars (and, oh yeah, who was also the 34th U.S. President), once explained: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

The Ins & Outs

In any endeavor, not just in battle, Eisenhower’s words ring true. Planning is a powerful tool to improve your life – and it’s free. There’s no reason not to do it.

But, hold up! Who has time to throw in a bit of planning in between breakfast and morning meetings…diapers and dinner…Scandal and bedtime?

In the day-to-day of life, planning becomes one of the first things to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. And, if we’re totally honest here, sometimes it falls off the to-do list completely!

However, if you consider that a SINGLE hour of planning saves TEN hours of doing, then the avoidance of planning altogether drains more time than the actual planning itself. Phew! It seems you really do have time for planning after all.

Now that you’ve solved this productivity riddle, here are five ways to become a power-planner:

1 – Make it real.

Allow for a planning morning or afternoon at least once a quarter, and in advance, schedule these as non-negotiable appointments on your calendar. (Yeah, you “know it.” But…do you “do it”?) This step not only sets a positive intention, but it also turns planning from a nice thought into a new reality.

2 – Own it – loud and proud.

When you keep something to yourself, it’s easy to get away with…doing nothing. Tell someone – your spouse, your best friend, or your personal assistant – that the planning process is now a top priority for you.  Saying so aloud to this person should keep you honest.

3 – Take inspired action.

If you doubt its potential, then the planning process won’t ever seriously happen or create fruitful results for you. Read the autobiography of any influential person you admire – no doubt, planning will be part of their recipe for success. Let their example, in turn, reframe how you look at planning and what it can do for your personal growth.

4 – Bring in the heavy weights.

Planning on your own can have low impact. Ask mentors or trusted friends to get involved and mastermind the planning process with you. They will not only introduce new ideas but also challenge you to reach higher than, if left to your own devices, you would ever dare.

5 – Filter, filter, filter.

Infuse your personal priorities into the planning process. Put up a list of your top priorities for everyone to see, and filter all planning concepts through this list. Trusting your priorities is the way to avoid chasing poor-fit opportunities and getting off-track – and wasting time and productivity as a result.

The Bottom Line

Never underestimate the power of planning. A highly productive person uses planning as a secret weapon to save time, exceed goals, and “get stuff done”!

So…how can you leverage planning to improve your home and life?

 

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

What Aristotle Exposed About Getting Organized

Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

It’s hard to argue with Aristotle, one of the greatest scientists and philosophers the world has ever seen. It’s even harder to argue, given that his very name means “the best purpose.” Indeed, his advice encourages you to be the best that you can be.

I’d like to take this example of Aristotle’s logic a step further by changing “excellence” to “organizing.” (Here’s hoping he won’t mind me taking a little creative license!)

So…let me ask you: Is your life full of chaos and clutter, or order and serenity? Your answer reveals what you repeatedly do.

aristotle

Need perpetual inspiration? Download the above graphic here for your personal use.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. Thousands of busy people have benefited from her expertise featured by CBS, NBC, and Real Simple magazine – now it’s your turn! If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, apply for a complimentary 60-minute Get-Organized Strategy Session today!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

10 Easy Ways to Get More Organized Today

How long have you been telling yourself that you need to get more organized? Honestly. A month? A year? A decade? A lifetime?

No matter how long you have been tolerating clutter in your home and life, you will likely agree that:

  • Nothing good comes from clutter – only chaos, stress, frustration, loss, pain, wastefulness, hassles, and ineffectiveness.
  • Any amount of time is too long to struggle with clutter and the ill-effects it has on your space, time, mind, energy, money, and more.
  • You can get started today, removing clutter and making space for the more important things in life.

If you are like most, acknowledging the above factors is easy; acting upon them, especially the last one, isn’t.

You may explain away your inaction with: I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. It’s too hard. I’m too overwhelmed. I’ve gotten by so far, so what’s the point? Even so, the reality won’t change – tomorrow, you will either be one day closer to your organizing goals and the home and life you desire, or one day further away.

It’s time to face the stories you are telling yourself about getting organized and set your excuses aside. Here are 10 action items that will help you get more organized today – in less than 20 minutes!

  1. Pick one chore that you’ve been doing but that could be done by another person, like a spouse, older child, or assistant – then delegate it. Permanently. Doing so will free up some “me” time or…some time to get organized!
  2. Consolidate half-full bottles of cleaning or laundry supplies. Doing so will free up extra space in your cabinets and on your shelves.
  3. Create a project/task to-do list for something for which you’ve been procrastinating. Doing so will make you feel as if you are getting things done, and boy – isn’t that a good feeling?
  4. Go through your kitchen fridge/freezer and toss any expired food, beverages, or condiments. Doing so will inspire you to restock with some big-energy foods that will help you be über-productive.
  5. Open your mail that’s been piling up, recycle or shred what isn’t needed, and file the rest away. Doing so will help you finally get rid of that nagging task that has to get done anyway!
  6. Remove three pieces of clothing from your closet that have seen their better days, and recycle them. Doing so will help tidy up your closet – and help Mother Earth.
  7. Clean out your purse or briefcase, making it more orderly. Doing so will make your day lighter!
  8. Choose a never-before-used recipe from a cookbook and plan a healthy, home-cooked meal for this week. Doing so is like milk…it does the body good! (Psst! That’s the most important part of finding life balance.)
  9. Start writing your Christmas cards early, before the season catches you off guard. Doing so will make your friends and family insanely jealous that you have got it so “together”!
  10. Schedule an appointment you’ve been putting off, like one with your hairdresser, auto shop, or doctor. Doing so will help you feel like you are finally getting back on track.

Pick one to do today, or do them all over the next week. Either way, you will feel more energized and organized!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

All You Need to Know About Time Management

When it comes to your life, would you categorize yourself as…

a. A highly effective person?

b. A moderately effective person?

c. A poorly effective person?

Now, here is the cold, hard truth about your answer, no matter which it may be: YOU CAN BE BETTER.

Granted, this very truth brings up the million-dollar question: how? The answer is simpler than you think! Better yet, the effects are immediate. Even better still, it is a rinse-and-repeat system that will take your time management and productivity skills to new heights.

The Big Reveal

In life, there are those individuals who are goal-setters and those who are goal-getters. A goal-
setter is someone who either likes the idea of or is very good at setting goals, but doesn’t put the necessary actions behind them; as such, the goals never come to life and remain well-meaning (but worthless) words on paper. On the other hand, a goal-getter doesn’t just set and believe in goals, but also has the follow-through to achieve them.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote about the secret of goal-getters in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

A-ha! Much of what comes into your day – emails, text messages, phone calls, meetings, snail mail, conversations – they are just vehicles for other people’s priorities in your life. If you always schedule in all that “stuff” first, then there is no room for your own priorities, goals, and dreams.

The Ins & Outs

This is the very reason why you should trust your priorities to help you make decisions, infuse your priorities into your daily routines, and stick to your priorities, no matter what challenges you face. In the end, doing so is the best way to avoid common time-sinks like lack of focus and procrastination.

Here are three guidelines to defining your priorities and becoming a goal-getter who is the envy of everyone around you:

1 – Deep down, you are driven by a set of core values and principles. For example, maybe you are motivated by faith, family, excellence, independence, love, power, honesty, wealth – or maybe a mixture of. From the get-go, decide what these values are. They will set the tone for your goal-getting success.

2 – Brainstorm the wish list of objectives that you would like to accomplish, either in the short-term or long-term. Next, break this wish list down into projects and tasks.

3 – Calendar out the projects and tasks in order of importance and also set a date for project completion.

REMEMBER: act as the gatekeeper for your time. Before putting anything on your schedule, ask if it will support your priorities – fully, partially, or not at all. While there will be surprises and unavoidable hiccups here and there, stick to your schedule as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

Your priorities act as your internal compass, helping you to stay focused, make clear decisions, and feel balanced and fulfilled. A highly productive person uses his/her values to guide every step, including how and where to spend time.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

30th Anniversary Story: Larrissa Geiger

Read Larrissa’s story to hear how her father passed down the gift of organization into her life.

My experience with the Franklin Covey system began with my dad. He worked in outside sales, and always had his “arm” with him. He wrote down EVERYTHING in that planner. Over the years his dedication to recording all of his calls, visits etc. helped us to figure out that he was having some serious health issues and to get him healthy again. Because of his constant example of using his planner, Dad was instrumental in me developing (or begin to develop) my own habit of use.

PhotoWhen I began a new job as office manager, he encouraged me to pick out a planner and the pages that I liked, going so far as to buy a complete system for me for my birthday that year. I have now had that same planner for close to 10 years.

Over the years, I have picked it up and put it back on the shelf. I have been using it steadily for the past five years, and now I find that it helps me more and more to organize the multiple roles in my life….Wife, mom, employee (juggling multiple projects), business owner/partner, volunteer and brainstorming how to start my own business. Over the years, I have discovered and changed the way that I use my planner, but I always find myself at a loss when I’m not actively using it.

Sincerely,

Larrissa Geiger

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The 5 Senses: Help Your Kids Ease Back Into School Time

By Naomi Cook

Do you remember that commercial for Staples where the Dad is skipping around, gleefully tossing school supplies into a shopping cart, with his sullen kids moving sluggishly behind him, while “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is playing?  That was aired in mid-July!  Meanwhile, the school year for your children may have ended just a month before!

So what can you do to get your children excited and motivated for the school year that is now upon us?  The simple answer is to keep it fresh and fun!  Here are some elements to focus on now to help get your kids excited about starting the school year…as excited as they can be, that is!

Sight:

  • Color and Pattern – Incorporate your child’s favorite colors and patterns into their binders and accessories.  There are many more fun options these days, versus when I was in school, when primary colors were the primary options!  Or buy the basics, which can be cheaper, and dress them up with colored and patterned duct tape.  If you have more than one child, this will help define which items belong to each of them.
  • Lighting – Make sure that the lighting is bright wherever your child sets up to do their homework.  Also, make sure that their surroundings are as clutter free as possible, to avoid distractions.  Consider keeping a closed bin nearby; to temporarily house those items that may be in the way.

Hearing:  Music can be a motivator depending on the type.  While metal hair bands may not help much aside from giving you a headache (!), some soft ballads and instrumental pieces can be soothing after a stressful day at school, or work for that matter!

Taste:  Work on creating some healthy and delicious lunches and snack ideas that are easy to pull together for that inevitable rushed morning.  Look on Pinterest for ideas and spend some afternoons with your child now, playing chef.  If a child is involved, they may be more willing to try something new.

Smell:   Scents can evoke such feelings as productivity and stress relief.  Try candles, or essential oils, in any of the following scents to help you and your kids face an evening of homework after a long day at school.

  • Lemon promotes concentration and calmness and helps when feeling angry, anxious and run down.
  • Lavender controls emotional stress and can sooth headaches as well as migraines and feelings of nervous tension and depression.
  • Jasmine calms nerves and produces feelings of confidence, optimism and energy.
  • Rosemary improves memory retention and fights exhaustion, headaches and mental fatigue.
  • Cinnamon improves concentration and focus and helps fight metal fatigue as well.
  • Peppermint is one of my favorites, especially when writing articles like this!  It helps to boost energy, invigorate the mind, promote concentration and stimulate clear thinking.

Touch:  As part of their back to school clothes shopping, have your kids pick out comfy clothes especially for the afternoon and evening hours.  There is no need for them to be restricted by a uniform or tighter fitting pants and jeans.  A soft throw would be a nice addition too on chillier nights.

By incorporating these 5 senses now, before school starts, hopefully you will be on track to an organized and fun new school year!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Lost Productivity Secret

By Carmen Coker

If you could have a conversation with the late Steve Jobs, right here and now, and he offered you the key to productivity and success – would you listen to his advice?

Why wouldn’t you?! Every era has their icon, and one could easily argue that Mr. Jobs was the king of the computer age, and beyond. His ideas revolutionized the world in which we live. Sadly, he was taken before his time, as many of the great ones are. But he was, in fact, generous enough to leave us with his productivity rule of thumb. So…listen up!

The Big Reveal

When asked the reason for Apple’s achievement and innovation, Steve Jobs explained: “It comes from saying ‘no’ to a thousand things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

Doing too much seems to be part of modern life. Every day offers new chances, friendships, challenges, and ideas. Indeed, the world is a creative, exciting – and busy – place to be.

But are you letting these explorations, if you will, distract you from the most important thing? From making forward progress? From being truly great?

The Ins & Outs

The word “no” is the most powerful weapon in your productivity and time management armory. It’s simple, and it’s free – a true win-win. The problem is that many people find it difficult to say it for many reasons like: maybe you’ll seem rude, maybe the proposition feeds your ego (if you’re honest about it), maybe you feel pressure from others, maybe…the list goes on.

Here are three guidelines to ensure you can say “no, thank you” when you need to most:

1 – Clearly define your vision and priorities.

While this may seem like an oh-yeah fact, human beings often lack mindfulness about these very fundamentals when making decisions, and this can quickly cause a loss of focus. [Tip] It’s vital to separate your vision and priorities into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, going from most important to least important. Keep a master list beside your desk, in your planner, or on your mobile for reference at any time.

2 – Use your vision and priorities to strictly screen all opportunities.

In the busyness of life, sometimes the day-to-day overwhelms the big picture. [Tip] Review your vision and priorities daily to keep them top-of-mind, plus constantly utilize them to screen decisions, big or small, about what you purchase, how to use your time, what projects you allow, and more. Weigh each opportunity according to whether or not it supports your primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. If it doesn’t, then mark it off the list.

3 – Have your no-can-do response ready.

When other parties are involved and demanding answers, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be at a loss as to how to send regrets in a genuine and honest way. [Tip] To avoid bumbling and why-did-I-say-that moments, create and memorize a simple script like: “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d love to support you, but I am unable to right now due to other obligations and priorities. Keep me in mind for next time, ok?”

The Bottom Line

Say “yes” to only those experiences that let your vision and priorities shine brightly. A highly productive person knows when and how to respectfully (and authentically) turn down anything that doesn’t sustain his/her values, goals, and dreams.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Eat Healthy Tip

We all know that it’s important to eat healthy, but it isn’t always easy to do. The best way to eat healthy is to keep healthy food on hand. 39673_lrgcaseNutritious food tends to be more filling than unhealthy food; so healthy snacks help us consume fewer calories. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, we could grab a handful of almonds or a few carrots.

We don’t have to restrict our healthy eating habits to home. If we keep extra snacks in the car, we can resist slipping into the convenience store while we fill up with gas. If we send healthy snacks with our kids, they’ll have energy for their after school activities. This doesn’t mean that they won’t spend money in the candy machine, or slip across the street to McDonalds now and then, but giving our kids a healthy snack can reduce the number of unhealthy calories they consume.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Meal Planning Around the School Schedule

We’ve all seen people stopping by the grocery store on their way home from work to purchase the items they’ll need for dinner. There’s nothing wrong with that—we’ve all done that at some point. But you have to admit; last minute shopping gives you even less time to prepare your meal, and less time with the kids. We can make mealtime a bit more relaxing by simply planning ahead.

After all, the few hours of family time you have between the end of your workday and bedtime are crammed. You have sporting events to watch, play practice, dance lessons, piano lessons, and art classes to taxi, and community meetings to attend. We haven’t even mentioned the yard work and house cleaning you hope to finish before you fall into bed. Finding time to prepare a meal among the chaos can be a real challenge. Making healthy meals you and your family will love can be even harder. So what do you do?

Plan to plan. Meal planning is easier said than done. You need to schedule it into your week before it will happen. Designate a time each day to look through the coming week. Take note of after-school events and evening activities on your schedule. Those events will determine the meals you prepare. Busier days might require a simple meal, or something that you could prepare ahead and keep in a slow cooker. The days that are more open might allow you time to get really creative.

Meal plan when you’re hungry. It’s hard to think of food when your stomach is full, so plan meals when you’re feeling a little hungry. That hunger will keep your mind open to several meal options and help you keep variety in your plans. Write down your meals for each day and a list of ingredients you’ll need to buy. Try to think of everything so you can get it all in one trip.

Shop when you’re full. Plan to shop after a meal, for example: Saturday after breakfast, or Thursday after dinner. Shopping on a full stomach helps you resist impulse items and loading up on unhealthy snacks. Get everything you’ll need for the week (or even two), so you aren’t running back and forth to the store. Fewer trips to the store will give you more time with your family.

Don’t forget school lunches. Planning out lunches or snacks at the beginning of the week makes it easier to know what to throw into their lunch sacks.

Use a meal planner to sort out options for the week. Preparing healthy meals every day is a challenge. It can 1405025 GOMenuPrintable_Finalbe tough to provide healthy foods that you know your family will eat. Once you’ve determined meals that fit that bill, try to keep things interesting by avoiding repetition. Our free, printable meal-planning sheet can help you keep your meals interesting, nutritious, and diverse.

Take requests. If you feel like you’re stuck in a meal prep rut, ask your family for suggestions. Sometimes knowing you’re fixing someone’s favorite food is all it takes to keep you excited about dinner.

Create your food budget. If you haven’t already, take some time to assess your finances and decide what you should reasonably spend on food. If you’re really serious about it, you can keep all your receipts from grocery shopping to fast food and determine what you spend each month. Then you can decide if you need to cut back. Often the fastest way to cut down your food expenses is to eat fewer meals that are prepared outside your home. Of course, that makes meal planning even more important.

The best-laid plans are bound to fall apart, evenings will turn crazy, and your amazing kids and grandkids will keep you running from one event to the next. Knowing what’s for dinner can give you a sense of calm in the storm. Of course, even then, you will find days when you simply need to pull out sandwich fixings or grab takeout, but now those days will be an exception rather than the rule.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Coordinating Schedules

As the new school year begins, take the time to coordinate everyone’s schedules so you don’t miss any events.

Write each item in your planner so you don’t double schedule your time. You’ll also want to track all of these items on a 60376_lrgcasecentralized Family Calendar.Having a centralized calendar will ensure that schedules stay organized and that your family stays informed.

Back to school means back to busy. Make sure you don’t miss a beat.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

30th Anniversary Story: Julie Bailey

Read Julie’s story to hear how her Franklin Planner helped her keep life as a working mother of eight organized.

My story is probably much different than others. I am a mom to eight, and a wife of 32 years. I have used many different types/sizes/styles of planners to keep us all running on smooth tracks, but FC is my favorite. Here’s why: the superior quality of the paper and binders, the versatility of the various inserts and the ease of ordering.  At this point in my life, I am so excited to have a leather planner! For many years it was whatever I could find at Walmart! I use it every day, and find great peace in tracking our lives. I would love to win this contest, and already sing your praises to many folks, including my six lovely daughters pictured here with me.  🙂 Sincerely, Julie Bailey

Optimized-ArticlePictureEdited

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Wanna Get Organized? 4 Must-Do Steps

By Carmen Coker

You’ve vowed to finally transform your “clutter mountain” into a “clutter molehill.” Now that your mind is set, how do you successfully negotiate the ins and outs of getting organized?

(1) Have specific goals.

Don’t say: I want to get organized.

Do say: I want to organize my estate.

Speaking in generalities leads to doing in generalities – or no results. Take the time to make specific organizing goals so that you get the fabulous organizing results you deserve.

(2) Calendar it to make it real.

Don’t say: I’ll get to organizing the garage when I have time.

Do say: I need to schedule a day to organize my garage.

If you treat organizing like a regular appointment, you are more likely to take it seriously and follow through on your get-organized goals.

(3) Focus on one thing.

Don’t say: This week, I’m going to overhaul my kitchen, organize my files, get ready for taxes, clean out my closet, update my address book, re-do my schedule…

Do say: This week, I’m going to organize my tax paperwork.

If you try to take on too many organizing projects, you will surely fail. Focus on one task, and one task only, until it is complete. And let that success, as little or big as it may be, propel you onward.

(4) Have a positive attitude.

Don’t say: Organizing my closet? Yikes! I don’t know if I can…

Do say: Organizing my closet? I’m ready! I’ll save so much time getting dressed each morning…

Your thoughts channel real power to help you achieve your organizing milestones – so think positively not only about the process but also the end result, and put those brain waves to good use!

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

12 Unusual (And Cheap!) Organizing Tricks

By Carmen Coker

If you’re like most people, you want to get organized and stay organized, but you don’t want to spend a fortune on containers, bins, and other storage solutions in the process. Trade store-bought organizers for one of these inexpensive, out-of-the-box clutter busters created from everyday household items.

  1. Pantyhose. Cut off the waistband of an old pair and slip it over a rolled-up sleeping bag, securing it neatly. Or cut off the legs and place a roll of wrapping paper into each one, eliminating crimps from rubber bands or tears from taping.
  2. TP Roll. Need a mini-plastic bag dispenser for the glove box, a diaper bag, a pet travel bag, or elsewhere? Stuff a TP tube with 4-5 bags, and voilà!
  3. Headband. Tired of losing those tiny board game pieces? Wrap an elastic headband, like Goody’s Ouchless Elastic Headwraps, around the width of the box to hold it shut. Color-code to match the game itself or perhaps your home or personality.
  4. Pie Pan. Is your exercise ball on the loose? Put a circular pie pan wherever you’d like the ball to stay and rest the ball inside the pan.
  5. Empty Case. Are you a caffeine junkie? When you’ve emptied out an 8, 12, or 24-pack soda case box, use it to organize socks in drawer.
  6. Sea Shell. When situated belly-up, a sea shell acts as a beautiful jewelry organizer. All you need to do is find the right spot for it, like near the kitchen sink for when you need to remove your rings for dishwashing.
  7. Junk Mail. You’ll often get free personal address labels as junk mail. Attach these to the inside cover of books, planners, wallets. If ever lost or loaned out, the item will automatically have “return to” information enclosed.
  8. Container Lid. Have a loner lid from a large plastic storage container that’s missing its “mate,” or the container itself? The lid, situated top-up on the floor, will work well as a round-up for shoes in your entryway.
  9. Button. Place the backs of earrings through the holes in a button and clasp – it’ll now be easy to spot your earrings in your purse, suitcase, or gym bag.
  10. Picture Frame. Use a large frame, such as an 8 x 10, to corral remote controls or gaming controllers. Just slide a piece of fun paper or fabric under the glass, lay the frame flat on a nearby table, and then arrange the remotes on the glass.
  11. Trouser Sock. To calm cable chaos, cut off the foot of a trouser sock, unplug cords and cables, and feed them all through the sock. Then re-plug everything back into the power strip and/or sockets. If you repeat this process, overlapping multiple trouser socks, you can make a long “tube” to cover the entire length of cables.
  12. Door Knob. Fasten an old door knob to the top corner of a wood table – it’ll act as a great catch for purses, umbrellas, sweaters, etc.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Making an Organized Transition to College

By Monica Friel 

Are you sending a child off to college soon, or do you know someone who’s about to embark on this great adventure? Here are some tips for an organized transition to college dorm living:

Weed Out. Eliminate what you can before you even begin packing. Think clearly about what you’ll need to keep now that your life will need to fit in a tiny dorm room.

Organize. Organize the space you live in now. It will help with packing up properly and you’ll be happy to return to a simplified and organized place during breaks.

Prepare for small space living. Make the most out of every inch of space so that you won’t be feeling cramped. Use vertical wall space and contain like things with baskets/containers.

Financial. Make sure you are linked to the students debit card so money can be sent quickly. Chase Quick Pay is a terrific option.

Coordinate with your Roommate. You don’t need two coffee pots and 2 refrigerators. Get in touch and make a plan for who will bring what.

Move with Plastic Bins.  Pack up the car with plastic bins. They can be pack & unpacked easily. Parents can also take the empty bins back home.  They’re reusable and great for packing and storing at home over the summers.

Shop before Departure. Don’t wait until you arrive on campus to complete your checklist. Avoid making last minute purchases. College towns know you’re coming and hike up the prices accordingly.

Monica Friel

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Scheduling Success

MAGNETIC DRY ERASE CALENDAR BLACK FRAME 18 X 22 BY BOARD DUDES

The beginning of the school year is a great time for a family’s schedule. With new time commitments after a relatively unstructured summer, it focuses the family’s attention back on daily patterns and schedules. If you do it right, updating your family scheduling in the fall can become a recurring habit of organizing your life.  Here are some tips to make it stick:

1. The Family Calendar:

The more people you have in your family, the more the events multiply and fill up your weeks and months. Putting up a color-coded family calendar can make all the difference, especially when you organize the calendar listings by name.

2. Plan Ahead:

Getting ahead on the calendar can save you from a night of last minute scrambles. Putting your kids’ assignment schedules, project due dates, and extracurricular events down on the calendar will let you anticipate and avoid any 1:00 am surprises – like the diorama due the day after the band concert.

3.  Delegate

When the appointments and activities reach a critical mass, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Grandparents can watch the kids for appointments, older children can babysit or drive kids to activities, neighborhood friends can take the younger ones for a playdate with their kids. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.

4. Prioritize

Before you cram activities into all 24 hours of the day, sit down and prioritize. While it might seem fun to turn a birthday party into a crafty wonder to show off on Pinterest, it will be less fun in practice if you use all your free time pulling it off.

5. Schedule Downtime

Make sure that your family has more time to be together than the five minutes it takes to head out the door. Schedule movie nights, quiet afternoons, and family dinners, and spend the time getting to know each other. It will pay off in the end.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organizing Tips Fit For The Royal Baby – And Your Children, Too

By Carmen Coker

William and Kate have made no secret that they want to be hands-on parents to their new royal baby George Alexander Louis. As any parent can attest, children and messes go hand-in-hand – and so, Prince George is sure to disrupt the tidiness of Kensington Palace a time or two! Here are five ways the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge can instill the best of organizing into George over the course of his formative years, and how you can do the same with your children.

  1. Younger children will have a completely different perspective of their living space than their parents. When organizing an area for your children, it’s important to get in touch with this perspective. Sit on the floor to see the space from your children’s point of view. Then hang hooks, place containers, and situate closet rods at a height that works well for them, not you.
  2. Automatically include “student planner” on the back-to-school shopping list, when it becomes age-appropriate to do so. Take the time to show your children how to use their planner, emphasizing how it will help them to remember tasks and balance time. Then encourage your children to use and actively engage with their planner. After all, time management is a significant life skill to pass on!
  3. For families with more than one child, allow each to pick a color. When it comes to organizing, keep to the color selected – so if Bobby prefers orange, all his containers are orange, and if Susie wants purple, then all her containers are purple. This is a great organizing tactic for kids of all ages because it allows for a quick I.D. of what’s theirs and what’s not. Additionally, if children are still learning to read, they will always recognize their respective color – no label necessary!
  4. For an organized start to the day, ensure that there is an assigned to-go zone, where – just as the name implies – everything is ready to go quickly. Before bed, have your children prep their individual backpacks for the next day and place them in the zone. Ensure there is an outlet in this area, so that any electrical gadgets can charge overnight. For things that tend to be forgotten during the morning rush, like lunches, include a “don’t forget” list that remains within line-of-sight each day.
  5. Encourage your children to help tidy up by disguising it as a game. For example, place a basket in the middle of the room, set a timer for one minute, and race to see who can put the most toys in the basket before the buzzer. Another idea: make pick-up a game of “I Spy,” asking each child to locate and dunk a specific toy in the basket. Games of this nature not only teach children about the importance of organization, but also save parents the time and effort associated with cleaning up alone.

Carmen Coker is a former US Air Force officer turned professional organizer. If you want to get organized and calm the chaos in your life, go to CarmenCoker.com for her free video how-to called the Secrets of the Super Organized™.

CarmenBlogBannerUpdated

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

7 Steps To Get Ready For A New School Year

2013/2014 Academic Planner by Sarah PintoBefore you know it the kids will be heading into a new school year. Yellow buses, backpacks, and lined paper will be part of your daily routine—coupled with a little extra stress. Stress is a part of every healthy person’s life, but a little back-to-school planning can keep it to a minimum. Here are 7 ways to make the transition easier.

Find their closet. Set aside a day to help your student attack their closet. Create piles to keep, to toss out, and to donate. Purchase closet organizers, dividers, and even small crates to keep things orderly. Use small shoe boxes in their drawers to act as dividers for socks, underwear, hair bows, and jewelry.

Encourage them to plan their wardrobe. Go through their clothes with them. Older kids really don’t need you to hold their hand, but a little company can help the job go faster. Chances are they have a lot of clothes that are still in good condition. Decide which ones they still like to wear and see if they have any gaps in their wardrobe. Shopping to fill the gaps will cost less and save time. Encourage them to set aside 5 outfits for the first week of school, so they aren’t stuck staring blankly into their closet each morning.

Buy school supplies early. If you start shopping now you’ll have smaller crowds and the selection at the store won’t be picked over. You can also shop at your leisure—one store today, another tomorrow—and you won’t be stuck with a shopping marathon three days before school starts.

Create a study spot. Clear a spot in their room, in the kitchen, or family room and designate it the study area. Reduce as many distractions as possible. Load it up with pens, pencils, calculators, erasers, sharpeners, etc. Give them enough time each day to finish their work without interruptions. Be flexible. Remember that what worked last year may still need to be adjusted for this year.

Brush up. It’s easy for students to lose some knowledge over the summer break. Take some time to look over some of the concepts they studied last year. Give them a math problem from the end of last year and work through it with them until they remember how to do it. Keep them reading good books throughout summer break. Pick up a foreign language dictionary so they can look through it before their Spanish class begins.

Think through lunch. There are a lot of delicious, healthy lunch options available, but we need to purchase them ahead of time in order to pack them into the kids’ lunch boxes. Stock up the pantry now, so you aren’t rummaging at 7:00 a.m.

Set the bedtime routine couple of weeks before school starts. It isn’t easy to get to bed during the longer summer days. But inadequate sleep can be a huge problem for students. Most kids need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Get them in the habit before school starts so they aren’t struggling with that transition at the same time that they’re learning a new locker combination and trying to remember their schedule.

Remember that managing the school year is more like running a marathon than running a sprint. Getting off to a good start is important, but there is still time to make adjustments along the way. Good luck, and happy transitioning.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Easing Your Child’s Transition to High School

Uptown Backpack by Timbuk2
There’s a saying about being a big fish in a little pond. The best understanding of this phrase comes when your child transitions from junior high to high school – they go from being a big eighth grader to a small freshman, with new schedules, classes, and pressures. Help make the transition easier with these ideas:

1. Do a Dry Run

Before the first bell rings, see if your school district has a program that lets incoming freshmen explore their new surroundings without the pressure of missing classes. You can go through their day, from trying out their new locker combination to making their way from class to class. It’s also a good idea to explore bus schedules, especially for kids that take connecting buses.

2. Catch the Problems

Even the best office staff still makes mistakes, so double check your student’s schedule before the year starts. Even though he might enjoy taking an extra gym class instead of calculus, it won’t do his college applications any favors. Catching the mistakes early gives you time to straighten things out without your student missing out on any lessons or having to change his or her schedule.

3. Emphasize the Value of Grades

If your child has a lax attitude toward grades, she might be in for a surprise now that she’s in high school – even as a freshman, grades mean something. You can illustrate it this way: the average cost of tuition and fees for a four-year program comes out to $116,224 for a private school or $34,620 for a public university. Now, let’s say that your child earns a full tuition scholarship from getting straight A’s all through high school: eight classes multiplied by sixteen terms gives you 128 A grades, so the dollar value per A is approximately $908 if they get accepted to a private university, or $270 for a public education. Those are not small numbers!

When talking about grades, though, be sure to emphasize the reward rather than ratchet up the pressure. As long as your child is trying his or her best, they have a bright future ahead of them – even earning a half-tuition scholarship can save them hundreds of dollars per A.

4. Stop to Listen

As with many of the other changes going on in children’s lives, the best thing parents can do is stop to truly listen. With all the pressures of life stacking up on kids while their brains are still developing adult capacities, big changes like this can lead to big emotions. When you listen to your kid’s problems without interrupting and trying to fix things (or to tell them how you would do it), you’re showing your kids that they matter more than their report cards.

5. Experience Extracurricular Activities

Along with the pressure, high school can also be one of the greatest times for your child to explore new interests and activities. As you prepare for the new school year, help your child find out about the clubs, sports teams, and music programs at the high school. Not only will picking activities help enrich your child’s school experience, but they can also improve her social circle and make the difference on college applications as well.

6. Model a Positive Attitude

One thing’s for sure – when it comes to how to feel, your kids are paying less attention to what you say and more attention to what you do. Keeping positive yourself during this time will show your child that it’s going to be a fun four years, and that with the right amount of organization, he can have his valuable A’s while still having fun. So if you feel like stressing out about what the future holds, take a moment to collect yourself. Having confidence in your child can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here’s wishing the best of luck to the freshman class this coming school year!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Create a Study Corner

With studying, as with so much else in life, it’s all about location, location, location. For learning outside the classroom, it helps to have a dedicated study space. Here are some ideas on how to make yours:

  • Get out of sight (and sound): make your study corner in a place that’s far from TVs, video games, or gathering places for your family or roommates. Keeping visual and audio distractions to a minimum can give you room to think.
  • Net/Paper access: if you study with your iPad or laptop, then your study space is more effective if it’s wi-fi enabled. This could be at home, or in a quiet bookstore coffee shop, or even in some outdoor places. Wherever you go, though, you’ll want a comfortable surface to put your writing materials and notebooks.
  • Comfort: you will be spending quite a bit of time in this spot, so make it a comfortable, organized one.
Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh!

By Naomi Cook

Perhaps you’ve heard of this song before.  If not you definitely should!  It’s one of those fun summertime songs that actually won a 1964 Grammy Award for comedy.  The gist of the song is a kid writing a letter home to his parents about his time at overnight camp.

This reminds me of the years that I spent at my overnight camp.  The bunk beds, the bug juice and time spent in the infirmary after bee stings and mosquito bites!  Plus the gong which my camp used to announce wake up time, lights out time and meal time.  I also remember my mom sewing my name in my clothes or writing on the tags with a laundry pen.

Maybe it’s time for your own child to head off for his or her first year.  Just like getting a student ready for college in the fall, there are lots of things for you to prepare for your camper.  Come to think of it, just like a college dorm room, camp quarters are really small and you have to be creative when it comes to storage.

Here are some space-saving suggestions to try:

  • Trunk – A good space to store extra sheets and towels, as well as heavier sweatshirts and jackets for cooler evenings.   It can also house snacks and a stash of cash for the canteen or snack stand, for when the dining hall food stinks!
  • On the Bunk Frame – A clip-on fan for those hot nights and a clip-on light for digging into a great book late at night after lights out!
  • Care Package Boxes – Check the height of the rise underneath the lower bunk bed when you drop your camper off.  Aim to send care packages in boxes that will fit underneath.  Those boxes can then be used to store projects that there is no room for elsewhere in the bunk.   If there is a visitor’s day midway through the summer, you can bring them those items back home with you and the boxes can be filled once again.
  • Bathroom Caddy – Just like you would for college, stash bath essentials like shampoo and conditioner and soap in a caddy to keep them contained…and don’t forget the flip flops for the shower floor!
  • Bunk Wall – Pack some rolls of  removable poster tape for your campers to hang up posters, post cards and pictures.  Without pictures in frames, more space is made for clothes and other essentials.
  • Clear Plastic Shoe Boxes – These are good for storing supplies like stationary, postcards, stamps and pens used to write all of those letters home!
  • Finally, if room allows on the main bunk door, use an over the door shoe holder for the campers to stash smaller items like flashlights, sunglasses, bug spray, sunscreen, water bottles and anything else for on the go!

Get your campers as organized as they can be so that they can spend the summer enjoying themselves and their camp experience and share that with you just like the kid in the song!  Happy Summer everyone!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

How to Manage Work with Kids Home During the Summer

By Monica Friel

Do you work at home and feel like you can’t get anything done with kids home from school during the summer? Unless your kids are in camp or summer school full time, they are around much more during the summer months, so intrusions and distractions abound. There are many different scenarios with little ones of different ages, but here are some tips to help you get work done without the guilt of closing the office door on the kids all day long.

Plan “special” time. It doesn’t have to be a full day, but an hour or so around lunch or two hours at the pool can actually help you be more productive in the long run. Your kids will have something to look forward to and feel that you are giving them attention.

Special activities with “conditions.” We all have to get work done before we can go somewhere fun — so should the kids. They are also more likely to be motivated to do chores when there is a fun reward at the end. Make a list of all the tasks you expect them to do before the outing (age appropriate of course). The kids may not do it as well as you, but at least something is getting done, it’s keeping them occupied and you’re able to get some work done at the same time!

Work in an out of the way space. Having an office on the main floor near an entryway is a recipe for disaster when kids are coming and going. If it’s possible to move to an out of the way place like a basement (which is cooler in the summer too) it will be quieter and there will be far less interruptions.

Play “bring your kids to work.” If you have an old computer around that the kids can use for playing games, you can set it up right in the office next to where you’re working. If they are able to play quietly, they can spend some time “working” with you in the office.

Change your working hours. With the kids home during the summer, count on the fact that there are going to be plenty of distractions. Plan some uninterrupted work time either early in the morning or late at night to ensure that you will have time available to be there for the kids during the day as well as quiet time to make sure work gets done and deadlines are met.

Get organized. Working with a professional organizer from Chaos To Order will not only minimize the paper piles, but setting up a good efficient system in your home office will allow you to be much more productive, thus allowing more time with the kids.

Kid swap. Make plans with a friend nearby to swap the kids. You take their kids for a day and they take yours another day. This can be fun for the kids as well as a way to squeeze in some quality work time.

Remember, the work will always be there, but kids grow up very quickly. Prioritize and make an effort to have fun with yours this summer.

Thanks Monica for more great tips! 

Monica Friel

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Mother’s Day

E-GO 15" Laptop Valise by Jill-eMother’s Day is always the second Sunday of May. This year, it’s May 12—a little later than you might have expected. But that’s no reason to procrastinate your gifts for the mothers in your life. You’re sure to remember your wife, your mother, and mother-in-law, but you may also choose to do something special for a sister, an aunt, or even a daughter. If you plan ahead, you can come up with a thoughtful gift. Flowers are always nice, but you can also get something personal that lasts longer—maybe a new purse, laptop bag, or something for their digital devices.

Guys: here’s a hint. There’s a good chance the women in your life wish you listened and spoke with them more. Studies have shown that women connect by talking and communicating—and guys…well, not so much. Give the women in your life the gift of words. Write a letter, send a message, or better yet, set aside time to talk without distractions. You probably shouldn’t expect this to be your only gift, but it’s a great way to make Mother’s Day more meaningful.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Create a Yard Sale Game Plan!

The month of March can mean different things to different people.  For sports fans it is all about March Madness, and for fans of warm weather it is about the first day of spring.  However, for fans of organization like me, a Professional Organizer, it is the start of yard sale season and the time to pitch those things in your home that you don’t want or need, and that are taking up valuable space in your home!

Why not start collecting things around the house now, so that by April or May you have a good amount of things to sell.  That way you won’t be under a tremendous time crunch and it won’t be such a tedious process…I promise!

Go room by room and pull the whole family into the action.  Make it worthwhile to kids by telling them that they will get the money that comes from the sale of their items.  Remind them and remember yourself, that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.  Now see how fast things suddenly disappear from their rooms and end up in a pile to be sold!

Get together some boxes to collect the items.  Not sure where to find boxes for free?  Call ahead to your local office supply store and see if they can hold onto some for you. When you get there to pick up the boxes, pick up a pack of the circle sticker labels in a bright or neon color, some even have pre-printed prices on them.  The brightness will stand out on your items.  Most office supply stores also have premade yard sale/garage sale signs that are clear and concise.  Or again involve the kids and have them make some!

Like food drives keep boxes in a central location to collect food, keep one box in the kitchen or foyer and fill it up with the items to be sold.  After each box is filled to its capacity, move them into a corner, a closet or the garage and stack them on top of each other.  Don’t worry, this will only be temporary!  Think ahead and write down everything that gets put in a box and set a price for it.  Use your own judgment when it comes to pricing, or do some research.  I generally price items at one third of their original value.  Then put a price label on each item.  That way when it comes to the morning of the sale, setup will be a breeze because everything is already priced!  This especially comes in handy for those inevitable early birds who come asking “How much is this?  How much is that?”!

About a week before your yard sale…

* put signs up around the neighborhood.

* post an ad in the garage sale section on Craigslist, which is free!

On the day before your yard sale…

* head to the bank to get lots of one dollar bills and quarters for change.

* type up the written list of items in the boxes and save it as a word document.

On the day of your yard sale…

* wake up early and start setting up.

* watch the money roll in!

After the yard sale is over, please do not be tempted to bring anything back into the house.  Maybe you think you’ll try to sell something on ebay, but chances are you won’t want to be bothered with it and the time it entails.

Using the boxes that you collected items in, put the items that did not sell back in.  Have the typed lists handy to circle the items that are put in.  Once that is complete you can quickly edit the document to include only those items.  Once you have that, you’ll have a final document to pair with a donation form from where you choose to donate your items, and that means self satisfaction as well as a tax deduction!

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

On-The-Wall Organizing

Happy Family by UrbioIf you ever attend a junior high school dance, you’ll learn a lot about organizing. First: People sort automatically. The “popular” girls will be huddled in a corner away from the speakers giggling over their shoulders. The athletic boys will have their own section with a convenient wall to hold them up while they pose. Then there will be the rest-sorted even further by interests and habits, but mostly by perception. And only the bravest will be huddled around the refreshment table.

But the biggest thing these awkward kids could teach us about organizing is: You can fit a whole lot against a wall. See that wide-open space in the middle? Yeah, that’s the dance floor.

In our homes and offices, we tend to reserve the walls for paint and a few special pieces of art, and our work surfaces become cluttered with the business of the day. Evidently, work surfaces aren’t meant for working. Like these youngsters, we could certainly make better use of our walls. A few shelves or a bookrack can turn special trinkets into display pieces instead of desk clutter.

Gadget Wally Organizer by KangaroomEven the things that were never meant for display can have a spot on the wall. You can keep all your gadgets, from video game controllers and cables to smartphones and remotes, neatly organized and easy to find in the Gadget Wally Organizer. With its unobtrusive neutral color, various pockets, and pouches, it will clear the clutter on a desk or in a drawer in just a few minutes-keeping it permanently off your desk, and on the wall where it’s easy to find.

If you want to turn your wall organization into a beautiful blend of art and order, check out the Happy Family wall organizers. These beautiful magnetic vases and bins attach to specially designed plates or to a metal door and give you an impressive assortment of shape and design that both intrigues and organizes.

Do you find yourself buried in mail, magazines, coupons, or schoolwork? Make sense of it all with beautiful, understated Mesh Wall Pockets. They look great empty, and when they’re full, they won’t look nearly as cluttered as your countertop.

Panel Bin 9 Pocket by SafcoIf you enjoy crafting, or just have odds and ends that you can’t find a place for, the Panel Bin 9 Pocket is a great so44260lution. It mounts easily on the wall giving you nine bins with spring-loaded, see-through lids to keep you from losing that special rivet or set of buttons.

Managing your time is easily done on the wall too. If you have a big week ahead you can keep the whole group informed with the Magnetic Dry Erase Weekly Planner. It provides ample space for your daily events and gives you room for notes or a shopping list, so you don’t forget the important things. Plus, it wipes clean so it’s ready for the next week.

So if your workspace could use a wide-open area in the middle, take a hint from the kids at the junior high school dances and stick a few more things to your walls.

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Finding a Work/Life Balance

Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else? It might come when you’re looking at family pictures on Facebook during work hours, or when your kids call you late in the evening and ask you when you’re coming home. Finding the right work/life balance can be one of the biggest (and toughest) parts of finding satisfaction with your day-to-day experiences. Luckily, the key to developing an effective balance lies in proper organization and time management.

Our 2013 Resolutions Survey featured a new entry on the list of top resolutions – “Improve Family Relations”. With so many people working extra hours during this time of economic uncertainty, it’s not surprising that this resolution worked its way up the list.

So how can you balance your work life with your personal life? Start by scheduling out times to spend with your family and friends. Having a bowling night or girls night out scheduled on your calendar can give you something to look forward to, giving you more motivation to make it through the workday. You can also schedule time in the morning before work – a daily breakfast with your kids can be a great time for building relationships without other tasks getting in the way.

When you get to work, focus on working efficiently. Taking time from your tasks to check social media sites or listen to your co-worker’s latest drama can put you further behind than you might think – along with the time spent during the distraction, you face a loss of concentration on the task at hand. If you find ways to increase your focus, you might find that you can finish your nine-hour day in less than eight hours.

In the end, concentration is key. If you take time to exercise and get enough rest each evening, you’ll have an improved mental state that can help you work quickly. And during your relaxation time, focus on relaxing – without the constant pull of the mobile office.

Click here to view the 2012 vs 2013 New Year’s Resolutions Infographic.

 

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

7 Things To Do With Your Family Over Winter Break

With so many demands on our time, it’s a rare day indeed when we can devote a few hours simply to laughter and conversation with the people we love. Winter break is the perfect time to do just that. So now that you have the time, what do you do? Here are a few ideas.

Slide down something.

Snow makes things slippery. That stinks when you’re driving your car, but it’s great if you’re sitting in a sled with your kids, or hitting the slopes with skis and snowboards. Don’t live where it’s cold enough for snow? Buy an ice block for each of your kids and take it to the top of a hill. Place a towel or two on top of the block, sit on the towel and lift your feet. Ice is slippery too. It s a fun ride, but it’s a little less comfortable than a sled.

Watch classic movies.

It’s a Wonderful Life is a family favorite at this time of the year, but it’s not the only classic movie. Slip out to the video store or download something from the Internet that you remember watching as a kid-something your own kids have probably never seen. See if they enjoy it as much as you did. You may all be surprised. Can’t think of any? Fiddler On The Roof, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Popeye, High Noon, Where The Red Fern Grows…you get the idea.

Volunteer.

Teach your kids to look out for others by doing so yourself. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, make a visit to the homeless shelter with some new toys, or just clear the snow off your neighbor’s walk. But don’t do it alone, make it a family affair. There’s something extra special about stepping outside yourself and pushing the edges of your comfort zone that brings you closer to the true spirit of the season.

Make homemade cookies.

Find your favorite cookie recipe and make them with your kids. Make a bunch of them and deliver them to friends in your neighborhood. At first, your kids will complain that they aren’t getting any for themselves, but once you assure them they’ll have plenty, they’ll be asking, “Who’s next?”

Go to a cultural event.

Take the family to see a play, a ballet, or symphony. Let them dress in their best clothes and experience a night on the town. They’ll remember it for years to come.

Catch a movie.

There are bound to be several great movies during the winter break that your whole family can enjoy. Check what’s playing at your local theater, load up the kids, and head out for a great couple of hours.

Play board games.

Remember board games? They’re pretty cool. They don’t need batteries, plugs or controllers-no sound effects or graphics, but they’re still great. Pull out that game of Clue, Monopoly, Risk, or Candyland and settle in for hours of fun and conversation.

Whatever you decide to do, here’s hoping you have a wonderful time doing it with the ones you love.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

7 Things To Do With Your Family Over Winter Break

With so many demands on our time, it’s a rare day indeed when we can devote a few hours simply to laughter and conversation with the people we love. Winter break is the perfect time to do just that. So now that you have the time, what do you do? Here are a few ideas.

Slide down something.

Snow makes things slippery. That stinks when you’re driving your car, but it’s great if you’re sitting in a sled with your kids, or hitting the slopes with skis and snowboards. Don’t live where it’s cold enough for snow? Buy an ice block for each of your kids and take it to the top of a hill. Place a towel or two on top of the block, sit on the towel and lift your feet. Ice is slippery too. It s a fun ride, but it’s a little less comfortable than a sled.

Watch classic movies.

It’s a Wonderful Life is a family favorite at this time of the year, but it’s not the only classic movie. Slip out to the video store or download something from the Internet that you remember watching as a kid-something your own kids have probably never seen. See if they enjoy it as much as you did. You may all be surprised. Can’t think of any? Fiddler On The Roof, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Popeye, High Noon, Where The Red Fern Grows…you get the idea.

Volunteer.

Teach your kids to look out for others by doing so yourself. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, make a visit to the homeless shelter with some new toys, or just clear the snow off your neighbor’s walk. But don’t do it alone, make it a family affair. There’s something extra special about stepping outside yourself and pushing the edges of your comfort zone that brings you closer to the true spirit of the season.

Make homemade cookies.

Find your favorite cookie recipe and make them with your kids. Make a bunch of them and deliver them to friends in your neighborhood. At first, your kids will complain that they aren’t getting any for themselves, but once you assure them they’ll have plenty, they’ll be asking, “Who’s next?”

Go to a cultural event.

Take the family to see a play, a ballet, or symphony. Let them dress in their best clothes and experience a night on the town. They’ll remember it for years to come.

Catch a movie.

There are bound to be several great movies during the winter break that your whole family can enjoy. Check what’s playing at your local theater, load up the kids, and head out for a great couple of hours.

Play board games.

Remember board games? They’re pretty cool. They don’t need batteries, plugs or controllers-no sound effects or graphics, but they’re still great. Pull out that game of Clue, Monopoly, Risk, or Candyland and settle in for hours of fun and conversation.

Whatever you decide to do, here’s hoping you have a wonderful time doing it with the ones you love.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Simplifying December

Simplifying DecemberDecember is a month to spend with family. Sometimes though, it’s a month spent as your family’s air traffic controller, keeping track of holiday parties, school concerts, classroom treat days, and family traditions. Here are five tips to help you simplify your December and reclaim some quality time with your family.

1.      Organize Your Holiday Gift List

Helping Santa get the things on everyone’s wish list can be quite a chore. You can simplify this with a basic spreadsheet: list the names of your family members, the gifts they want, where you want to buy it, the cost, and a running total on your budget. Then, when you’re going through the holiday ads and find a great deal, you’ll have a space to record it, saving you the trouble of bringing the mailers with you on your shopping trip.

Color Code Your Life by Board Dudes2.      Track Your Family Events

As your kids bring their school schedules home, take the time to mark their events on your centralized calendar with different colors for each child. Putting events up ahead of time can help you resolve scheduling conflicts with a minimum of hurt feelings.

3.      Make Room For Traditions

With all the holiday fun going on outside your home, make sure to make time for your own family’s holiday traditions. Whether it’s decorating the house, baking pies, dipping chocolate, or watching your family’s favorite holiday movie (“I can’t put my arms down!”), don’t let the holiday rush crowd them out.

4.      Prepare For House Guests

If you’re planning on having family or friends stay with you for the holidays, or even just inviting people over for a party of your own, you will want to present a clean and organized house. If you have any organization projects that you’ve been putting off, it’s better to tackle them well before your guests arrive. You’ll be dealing with travel schedules and other logistics – the last thing you need the day before they arrive is trying to find a home for the boxes in the guest bedroom.

5.      Schedule Down Time

Most importantly, as you look at your holiday calendar, make sure to schedule some down time. With many family members to visit, and all of them expecting a visit on the holiday itself, it’s easy for a series of celebrations to feel like a set of errands. Scheduling out visits on days other than the actual holiday can help make your holiday together time more enjoyable.

 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Make Time For Family Traditions

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s all too easy to crowd your schedule with school events and holiday party preparations. As you make your plans, make sure to include some unstructured time for your family to have fun and create new traditions. Your spontaneous gingerbread house might end up looking like a tornado blew through Candy Land, but moments like these are what your children will remember as they grow older.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Traditions – Anticipating the Holidays

In the culinary world, it’s well known that presentation is just as important as taste. The best meal in the world just doesn’t taste the same if it’s all jumbled up in a Tupperware container.

Holidays are the same way – how you present them in the weeks leading up to them plays a large part in how much you and your family enjoy them. Family holiday traditions help take away the daily grind and give you something to look forward to.

Thanksgiving always happened at my maternal grandparents’ house. Since my grandpa has Celiac disease, there were all sorts of gluten-free dishes, including Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) and my grandma’s delicious wild rice and mushroom stuffing. We’d spend the time talking and playing games with the cousins that lived hundreds of miles away, while the adults reminisced and made witty jokes.

My family would always have an extended family Christmas party. We would meet at my uncle’s house and have food from a different nation – over the years, we’ve tried Thai, German, French, Mexican, Chinese, and School Lunch (my uncle looks funny in a hair net). Then everyone participates in a White Elephant gift exchange game, with popular items reappearing from year to year, everything from a bowling ball with “Louise” inscribed on it to my cousin’s homemade “Tree of Death” sculpture. I think the cat-in-a-sack toy held the record with at least seven years, until my wife got it and didn’t want to keep it for a year. Party pooper.

I grew up in the VHS era, so my family had a Christmas tape. It had all the classics, including Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and pretty much anything else that was on TV in 1987. Since my parents were new to the whole VCR thing, there was a jump cut in the middle of the Sesame Street characters’ musical number. To this day, I can sing the jingles from the commercial snippets my parents missed editing out, and my brother and sister will sing along.

Holiday traditions are organic, and fun. They’re a way of passing your own history on to the next generations, whether it’s going shopping on Black Friday or making homemade caramels as gifts for friends and family. You never know what will become your family’s tradition. But chances are, if you relax and try new things with your family, you’ll be able to grow your own traditions that will last much longer than your videos.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Traditions – Anticipating the Holidays

In the culinary world, it’s well known that presentation is just as important as taste. The best meal in the world just doesn’t taste the same if it’s all jumbled up in a Tupperware container.

Holidays are the same way – how you present them in the weeks leading up to them plays a large part in how much you and your family enjoy them. Family holiday traditions help take away the daily grind and give you something to look forward to.

Thanksgiving always happened at my maternal grandparents’ house. Since my grandpa has Celiac disease, there were all sorts of gluten-free dishes, including Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) and my grandma’s delicious wild rice and mushroom stuffing. We’d spend the time talking and playing games with the cousins that lived hundreds of miles away, while the adults reminisced and made witty jokes.

My family would always have an extended family Christmas party. We would meet at my uncle’s house and have food from a different nation – over the years, we’ve tried Thai, German, French, Mexican, Chinese, and School Lunch (my uncle looks funny in a hair net). Then everyone participates in a White Elephant gift exchange game, with popular items reappearing from year to year, everything from a bowling ball with “Louise” inscribed on it to my cousin’s homemade “Tree of Death” sculpture. I think the cat-in-a-sack toy held the record with at least seven years, until my wife got it and didn’t want to keep it for a year. Party pooper.

I grew up in the VHS era, so my family had a Christmas tape. It had all the classics, including Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and pretty much anything else that was on TV in 1987. Since my parents were new to the whole VCR thing, there was a jump cut in the middle of the Sesame Street characters’ musical number. To this day, I can sing the jingles from the commercial snippets my parents missed editing out, and my brother and sister will sing along.

Holiday traditions are organic, and fun. They’re a way of passing your own history on to the next generations, whether it’s going shopping on Black Friday or making homemade caramels as gifts for friends and family. You never know what will become your family’s tradition. But chances are, if you relax and try new things with your family, you’ll be able to grow your own traditions that will last much longer than your videos.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Trick Your Kids Into Earning Their Treats!

By Naomi Cook

You will see lots of ghosts, princesses and superheroes roaming around your neighborhood on October 31st, but do you see lots of clutter around your home every day of the year?  Add piles of candy into the mix and the clutter may just end up intermixed with candy wrappers!  But wait!  You parents can gain the upper hand when it comes to doling the candy out and attempt to control energy intensified sugar highs!  Try the methods below; after all a little bribery never hurt anyone, and rewarding hard work (think going to the gym) with a treat (think buying a cute new workout outfit) keeps productivity levels consistent.

If you are still feeling the stress from back-to-school time, try incorporating a new routine for your family, including candy (yes, I said candy!) into your daily schedule.  Starting at Halloween, get your family involved in keeping your home less cluttered by:

  1. Dumping out each child’s stash on the kitchen table and looking for any candy that is not wrapped, has a torn wrapper or a hole in the wrapper.
  2. Repeating the process with each child.  You do not want to mix any of their candy up!  Kids are territorial when it comes to their treats!
  3. Allowing for trading between siblings, because one may have candies that they don’t like and the other one does.
  4. Storing the candy in larger kitchen plastic containers; think inexpensive ones like from Ziploc or Glad, which can be used again for storing cookies, etc. later on.
  5. Heading online and doing searches for Halloween images and free Halloween fonts, and letting the kids cut them out and tape them on to decorate their container or containers –depending on the size of their haul!
  6. Creating a simple chore chart, to encourage your children to help around your home with tasks that they can handle.   Then for each task they complete they get a piece of candy!  How do you make a chore chart, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

Creating a Chore Chart

  1. When shopping, look for packs of Halloween stickers.  You may want to get several packs depending on how many children you have.
  2. Head to your printer for computer paper, and take out one piece of paper for each child.  Assuming you already have markers and a ruler, that’s all your really need!
  3. Arrange the paper, so that the long side is parallel to your table.
  4. On the far left vertical side create a block with the child’s name, while on the horizontal side, create a block for each chore.  Use the ruler and markers here to make the blocks.  The more chores you can add on, the better, as it is another opportunity for them to get another piece of candy!  For lists of household chores for children ranging in ages from toddlers to teenagers, do an online search; there are a lot of sites out there on this topic!
  5. As your child completes each chore, simply have them put a sticker in the box referring to that chore!
  6. Consider creating a new chore chart for each month, and add on chores specific to the holidays of that month.  You can find stickers for nearly every holiday, so you can keep the process fun all year round!

By incorporating a chore chart around Halloween, like this, children of a young age will learn responsibility and gladly receive one piece of candy for doing a task.  For other months, you can have them “earn” a certain amount of stickers to exchange for a small prize – think the dollar aisles at Target.  However, as they grow older, that won’t cut it, and they will be looking for an allowance.  Yet, by the time they are teens, if they are still trick or treating, let them deal with their own candy…and maybe sneak a piece once in a while for yourself…

Until next time, stay neat people!  

Naomi, thanks for the clever Halloween inspired organizing tips.  Now I just have to remember not to eat all the candy myself.  

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Read As A Family

Reading as a FamilyWant your children to develop a love of reading? Read with them. Even children who are too young to speak or struggle to read can benefit from having stories read to them. It helps them develop language and improve their comprehension skills. Besides that, it’s a lot of fun.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Planning for Halloween

Big Click by iPop - Happy HalloweenIf you’re like a lot of parents, the list of things that could go wrong on Halloween is enough to make you walk right out of your skin. The last thing you want to do is scream into the holiday without a plan. That would be ghastly—horrific even. So here are several Tricks to help ensure that your little goblins have a safe and fun holiday:

1.  Don’t let your party sneak up on people. If you’re planning a Halloween party, send invitations now. You’ll want to give the other parents plenty of time to arrange for your little get-together.

2.  Don’t wait until the last minute to buy candy and costumes. In fact, your local Halloween store may already be running thin in the costume department. You’re better off to start looking now. If you’re handy and plan to make your own costumes, be sure to give yourself enough time to finish.

3.  Sort and save the candy you collect. Sorting your young children’s candy makes it easier to ration. You could sort it by child to be sure each kid gets their own candy, or you could dump all the loot into one collective pile and sort it by candy type: chocolate in one bowl, chewy candy in another, sours in another. You decide. But keeping it separated and stored can help you control what gets eaten and when. (And it makes it easier for you to find your favorites once the kids have gone to bed.)

4.  Create a costume organization system. If you have several children of varying ages, you’re likely to have perfectly good costumes from previous years. Keep them in a large container in a closet that is separated by age and size so you can quickly find a costume for a child. It’s also a good idea to share your costumes with family and friends. Halloween is a one-day event, and you may not want to purchase a new costume each year that you’ll only wear for a few hours.

5.  Don’t postpone taking down decorations. The day after Halloween is November first—just weeks away from Thanksgiving. Don’t let your Halloween decorations molder on the lawn into November. That’s just scary. Put them away quickly so you can start celebrating the next season.

6.  Keep all Halloween decorations together in a labeled box. It’s much easier to decorate and get into the ghoulish spirit when everything you need is in one convenient place. Plan ahead for next year when you take down this year’s décor.

7.  Shop for new decorations right after the holiday ends. The day after Halloween is the best time to buy Halloween decorations for next year. Stores are in a hurry to clear their shelves for Thanksgiving and Christmas and you’ll find incredible sale prices on what’s left of their Halloween display. Although, by then you may just be picking at the bones.

8.  Shake things up with local events. You may be surprised at the number of fun family-oriented events that are taking place on Halloween. Local churches may be holding parties where all are invited. Your community center is sure to be alive with amusing activities. And there’s always a haunted house somewhere for the oldest members of the bunch. But while you’re running around, it’s wise to keep someone at home to man the door for the trick-or-treaters. You’d hate to disappoint the ghosts and goblins—there’s no telling what they might do.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Meal Planning – Filling Stomachs and Schedules

Simplicity Wire-bound Weekly PlannerHave you been in a dinner rut recently? Every family has their own menu of quick standbys – spaghetti with canned sauce, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, pizza. You hear about how important it is to eat healthy, but end up watching well intentioned produce wilt in your crisper drawers. To make the most of your mealtimes select your meals in advance and make sure they fit into your schedule.

Let’s face it – making a delicious, home-cooked meal takes time. Some recipes might call for overnight marinating, constant stirring, or other time-intensive tasks that conflict with your busy schedule and can’t be put off until the last minute. So when sitting down to make your meal plan for the week, have your weekly schedule close at hand. Many recipes list the preparation time involved, so you can use these estimates to match preparation times with the downtimes in your schedule.

CheckME Shopping List Pad by LobotoMEWhile you’re making your list of meals, make a grocery list on the side. If you lay out everything you need, you can make a single shopping trip and save on time and fuel. You can also consider how long your ingredients will stay fresh (3-5 days for most vegetables) and plan the meals that use them before the expiration date.

And if you end up with more carrots than you need for your soup, don’t hesitate to whip up a healthy snack. While many recipes are complicated, you can also find several quick, simple, and tasty snack recipes that go beyond opening a box or picking something up at the checkout stand.

We’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes. What’s your favorite standby? Or how about the most daring recipe you’ve tried?

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Scheduling – 5 Important Tools

Leadership Ring-bound Daily Planner RefillWhen you’re planning out how your family spends time, it can be tricky to get everyone on the same page. Even after overcoming the first hurdle of creating a schedule that works with everyone’s busy lives, you still need reminders to help everyone stick to it. Here are five important tools to help you through this process.

 Planner

As the first line of planning, your planner can go with you wherever your life takes you. Putting down your daily and weekly tasks in your planner can help you keep up with standard events that repeat from week to week.

A Calendar for You2013 Calendar - Passport to the World by Graphique de France

Keeping a calendar for your personal schedule gives you an at-a-glance reminder for special appointments and occasions, and is indispensible in setting up your planner. Hang a personal calendar near where you keep your planner to make easy to write appointments while the reminder is fresh in your memory.

A Calendar for EveryoneMagnetic Dry Erase Weekly Planner 16 x 16 by Board Dudes

Once you have your own schedule under control, you can move on to organizing your family’s activities. Getting a whiteboard with large spaces for weekly activities gives everyone space to put details like start times and locations without filling up a tiny calendar square.

Reminder Alarms

Most modern cell phones have an alarm function, letting you program it to play a ringtone at a designated time. Some even let you decide which days the alarm goes off (which works well for weekends). Programming standard daily or weekly events can help you accomplish your goals. For example, if you want your kids to go to bed on time, set an alarm for a half hour before and have them start getting ready. Then you can offer punctuality incentives – if they get ready for bed before the snoozed alarm goes off again in ten minutes, they can have two bedtime stories instead of just one.

Specialized Schedules

Baby Tracker - Childcare Record by Time TooWhen bringing home a baby, there are many different things to keep track of: feedings, naptimes, diaper changes, etc. This schedule could overwhelm your regular planner and cram your calendar. In this case, it makes sense to get a specialized schedule for your littlest one.

We’d love to hear from you: what scheduling tools do you use to keep your family on track?

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Scheduling Family Dinner

With all the distractions of today’s busy families, it can be difficult to schedule time for family dinner. But if possible, set aside a half-hour together as a family for eating and talking about the day. As you do, remember to keep it positive – if it turns into an airing of grievances, your kids will prefer to eat alone. Talk about successes during the day, and listen to your kids’ opinions. As you do, you’ll grow closer together as a family and find out new and interesting things about each other.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Tips for Organizing Medical Files

Keep critical paperwork together and easily searchable.  By Joshua Zerkel

Files related to you and your family’s health are important documents and should be effectively organized. The first thing to do in organizing the paperwork you receive from your doctors or insurance company is to separate it into categories. One category would be actual diagnoses or lab results. If you ever switch doctors, you’ll want these documents at hand and easily accessible for your own records or to pass on to the new doctor. Separate from that you’ll keep the financial paperwork—insurance, bills, EOBs, etc. When it comes to medical-related files there can be a voluminous amount of these documents, so it is important to separate it out into small, easily searchable chunks.

If you want to cross-reference your files, the easiest thing to do is to store them on your computer. That way you can tag your files by year and keep them in sub-categories or sub-folders. Before you begin tagging your files, think through the circumstances under which you might need to cross-reference them. If you are going to put in the time of digitally organizing and tagging your files, you want to be sure you’re doing it in a way that will be helpful to you months or years down the road.

If you prefer to keep the paper records, you can purchase specialty binders for medical records. These are typically meant for someone who has an ongoing condition that they are treating. If you are seeing a series of doctors about a specific condition, there is sure to be a lot of paperwork you’ll need to keep track of. These binders have different pockets for categories like lab tests, and things to talk about with the doctor at your next visit, or tracking what one doctor said versus another.

Excellent organizing advice Josh, thanks for sharing! 

Joshua Zerkel

 


Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Plan Ahead—Make Summertime Simple

Organize as you may, summertime is loaded with spontaneity. Kids don’t normally plan the way you do. The phone rings and poof! Your day just changed. Somebody’s mother will be by to take Suzie to the pool in 15 minutes. Of course, there are times when you need to breathe your own air for a few seconds, so you send the kids outside to run through the sprinklers. And what about those days when you hear the mountains begging you to grab a few hotdogs, and head to the nearest campsite for a picnic? It happens.

Spontaneous recreation—time to play off the stress of the day—that’s the beauty of summertime. But even spontaneity works better with a little planning. Sure, planned spontaneity sounds like an oxymoron, but bear with me. These simple suggestions will make those unplanned moments run a little more smoothly. Unplanned activities don’t have to be unexpected.

Messenger BagCreate a To-Go Bag

Organize a bag that you keep in the garage, mudroom, or coat closet that’s easy to grab on your way out.  Make sure you include sunscreen, water bottles, hats, Chap Stick, etc.

Plan For Water Play

Keep a basket filled with all the kid’s swimsuits, sunblock, towels, and a lock for the locker at the pool. Next time they have a last-minute swim party you can simply grab everything they need at once.

Duffel BagPrepare For Outdoor Recreation

Keep a basket, bin or duffel bag in the garage loaded with roasting sticks, insect repellent, sunblock, and hats so you can simply slip the basket in the back of the car or van and you’re ready for the outdoors. Of course, if you plan to hike or fish, you’ll need to have the appropriate gear close at hand as well.

Stay Up-To-Date

At the beginning of each season, go through the items in your baskets and bags to be sure they still fit. Toss or donate items you no longer need and items you didn’t use last year to help make packing easier. Keep in mind all the activities you may enjoy at the last minute from swimming at the beach to camping in the desert, and make quick to-go boxes for each activity.

Having something near the door at the ready is a great way to reduce stress when the spontaneity bug hits. What are some ways you prepare for the unplanned events in your summer?

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Creating a Family Organization Center

Have you ever wished you had a place in your home where you could keep your whole family organized—a central hub from which everything emanated—an air traffic control center of sorts? We call them family organization centers and they’re all the rage on Pinterest these days. We’ve pinned a few ourselves. Believe it or not, they’re not that difficult to create. Here are some quick ideas to help you get started.

Decide where your organization center should be.

The kitchen is the real hub of every home—the place where we gather and discuss while we eat, prepare food, etc. You may choose to locate your organization center near the kitchen. But sometimes organization centers get a little cluttered. Perhaps yours should be in a less visible location. Wherever you decide to create your organization center, make sure it’s a relatively high-traffic area. You need to be sure your whole family will see it at least once each day.

Decide what you’ll organize in this location.

What do you plan to keep track of in your organization center? If youhave a no-shoes policy in your home, this could be a good place to keep shoes, or coats. One idea is to include a bench in your design with baskets for each family member under the bench where they can slip their shoes when they come inside. Do you want to keep your mail here? Would this be a good place for your children to keep their schoolwork and their backpacks? What about your monthly calendar and a message board?

Lay out your design.

Like everything else, this project needs a plan. Draw what you have in mind relative to the area you have so you can be sure it’s pleasing to the eye. Cut out large pieces of wax paper or butcher paper to match the sizes of the items you plan to hang on the walls, and tape them where you would imagine each element would go. This will give you a better feel for how it will look when it’s done. It’s easier to change things at this stage than it is after they’ve been nailed to the wall.

Set it up.

This is the fun part. Find a bench that suits your style and some baskets to slip beneath it. Do you want to be able to see what’s in your baskets, or would you rather they be opaque? It all depends on your personal taste.

Find the perfect monthly planner for your family. Would you like one that never changes—something that erases easily with room for notes, or would you prefer a calendar that you can write on and keep as a reference for later? These items usually hang on the wall above the bench. To add a personal touch, it’s fun to hang family photos around these elements so they look like they fit into the décor.

Find strong, attractive magnets to hold your notes on your message board or white board, and perforated sticky notes that you can take with you when you leave.

Dedicate an area for incoming and outgoing mail. You’ll find all sorts of ways to organize your mail from mail sorters to wall pockets, even pouches that hang on the wall. This is a great way to keep your kitchen counters free of the clutter that comes into your home every day.

Some families hang coat hooks in this area for jackets, hats, or backpacks so everything they need when they leave the house is in this one spot. (It’s a good way to be sure they see the calendar and message board.)

When it’s all done, stand back and admire your work. Now you’ve got an organized, attractive place to keep everyone hopping throughout your busy day.

Do you have an organization center in your home? What are some things that work well for you?

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organizing a Staycation

By Naomi Cook

With today’s gas prices and flight costs rising, taking a simple summer vacation has gotten to be a lot more expensive.  Add in paying for meals and entertainment and say goodbye to even more of your hard earned money.  Oy vey…what a headache!  Why not forgo all that stress, save some money, and instead have a Staycation in your very own home!

Merriam – Webster defines a Staycation as “a vacation spent at home or nearby”.  Turn your home and backyard into an outdoor oasis that everyone in the family will enjoy. Think about how a hotel is set up and organize your home as such, for the whole summer or even just a week!

Start in the kitchen:  Set up an island or part of a countertop for a breakfast buffet/snack bar like you would find in a hotel chain.  Set out those single serve cereal boxes, some fruit and granola bars; maybe even whip up a large amount of pancake batter.  Buy an inexpensive waffle maker and you can have fresh waffles every morning!  Since you are saving money by staying at home, splurge a little here.  Find melamine dishes and bowls and acrylic cups, and stash your everyday dishes and cups up on a higher shelf.  Tie them together with a bright tablecloth and you have a fresh new look.  When you decide to eat al fresco, just take those items outside! 

Head into the great outdoors:  After a nice breakfast head outside for the next phase of the day.  If you are in the mood to relax then set yourself up on your patio or lawn.  Put on some music, bring out your favorite books and/or magazines, and even work on a hobby that you’ve been neglecting.  Keep a cooler filled with your favorite beverages and you’ll be set!  If you are in the mood to get out of the house, then use those at home days to figure out where to go.  If you don’t have a pool at your home or community, consider a membership to a local pool.  Or maybe you’d rather go shopping; an outlet center is a great way to spend a day and most offer coupons for additional savings.  Another idea is to become a tourist in your own city.  So often, our lives get so busy that we can’t appreciate the historical areas and landmarks that our own city has to offer.

End in the bedroom: Use as a sanctuary to rest and recharge after a busy day outdoors.  Put crisp linens and a light comforter on the bed in soothing beach colored neutrals.  Try to keep it as a technology free area, which shouldn’t be too hard, because most TV shows are on reruns!  Keep a book on your night table and read that instead. 

However you decide to spend your Staycation, take the time to savor every minute of the day.  Push aside obligations and expectations and put the focus on you.  You deserve it! 

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

The Bittersweet Graduation Day

As parents, we love to see our children grow. At first, we smile at their independence, and rush to the phone to report each new accomplishment—the first time they roll over, their first step, their first word. But before long we find our excitement tinged with a touch of trepidation—their first day of school, their driver’s license, their first date. Somewhere deep inside we realize that each awkward step moves them further from our grasp. We wonder if we’ve prepared them for the big “Out There.”

Graduation is a bittersweet day for parents. Whether they’re graduating from kindergarten, high school, or college, we realize that they’re inching closer to the door. “Out There” is beckoning.

As daunting as that sounds, it’s also incredibly exciting. As they learn who they are and what they want to become, we see a glint in their eye that makes us proud. Graduation is a great time to demonstrate our trust in them and their decisions. We can do that with the gifts we give.

My parents gave me a set of luggage when I graduated from high school. It was a cool gift that encouraged me to take the next step to college and beyond. I also received a top-quality pen and a set of fine stationery to remind me to write. (Back then we couldn’t send an email or shoot off a text.)

Now that the kids can send email, text messages, and Skype, you may consider protecting their digital investments. Gifts such as protective covers for their iPad, tablet, or e-reader will encourage them to carry their gadgets with them wherever they go. And that will give you peace of mind, knowing you can contact them whenever you wish. You may also consider chargers and extra power sources. You can’t be too prepared.

Being out on your own and staring reality in the face often leads to reflection. Encourage them to document their thoughts, wishes, dreams, and disappointments in a quality journal. They may not think much about their thoughts and dreams now, but they’re sure to smile when they look back on them later.

Of course, if they ever want to reach their goals and live their dreams, they’ll need a plan. Help them out with a day planner. Teach them to start each day reflecting on their goals and scheduling what they plan to accomplish in order to reach them.

Whatever gift you give, we’re sure it will be thoughtful and heartfelt. After all, it’s one of the last gifts they’ll receive before they head “Out There,” and you’ll want it to make a strong impression.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Family Schedules

As spring gets going, family schedules start getting busier. There are suddenly sporting events, school concerts, and other reasons to drive all over town. Before these events get to be too much, and before your kids blame you for not foreseeing any scheduling conflicts, set up a planning board in a common area of your house. Then you can help encourage your kids to keep track of their own events.

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Teaching Children to be Organized

“Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him For a Day. Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him For a Lifetime.”  This Chinese proverb explains the importance of education and in turn the value of responsibility and accountability for one’s self.

Kids learn by example when it comes to actions.  Walking, talking, laughing and more…Have you thought about how the state of your home can impact a child’s organizational skills as well?  Since television shows on hoarding have been appearing, the world has learned how impactful the disease really is, especially on children.

On a lighter note, children are visual creatures, and that is something good to understand when it comes to helping them get (and stay) organized.  Read below for ideas that can help at any stage of life.

Preschool aged children – These little guys will need your help.  Appeal to their visual senses, while also turning clean up into a game, and they should easily grasp organizing fundamentals such as:

  • Using Simple Storage: Those fabric cube bins with handles seem to come in every color these days and are appearing in more and more stores.  They are also soft and easy for little hands to carry around.  Better yet, they can slip into most bookcases easily.
  • Using Pictures: For toys small enough to fit into the bins, attach pictures of the toys, showing which items go in which bin.  For bigger items, attach pictures to the wall over its “parking spot”.
  • Using Size Arrangement: For books, dolls, and game boxes.
  • Using Color Arrangement: For stuffed animals, construction paper, and art supplies.

Elementary school aged children – These guys are learning independence through a full day at school, but will still need your help.  Let them continue to build on the fundamental organizing skills and let them input fun new ideas.  At this stage, arrange the bars and shelves in their closet for them to be able to pick out their own clothes.  Work with them to group like items together by size, like short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, jeans and pants.  After that, if you’re really adventurous, work on arranging each of those groupings into color order.

You can also introduce them to one of my favorite tools…the Label Maker!  Let them have fun labeling where everything goes.  Choose tapes in their favorite color and a fun font!  Warning…labeling can be addictive!  Supervise them or you will be going to your local office supply store every day to buy more tape cartridges!

Middle school aged children/ High School Aged Children – These guys have reached independence yet their schedules are filling up at this point and organizing may not be a priority.  Build on the fundamental skills by introducing magnet boards, dry erase calendar boards, and assignment/activity planners.

At this stage in life, most parents will implement an allowance in exchange for doing chores around the house, including keeping their rooms organized.  Money talks, so any other form of bribery isn’t really necessary!

Ultimately, you want to give your kids an appreciation for their belongings, as well as your home.  By following the organizing fundamentals and building upon them gradually, you will set them off to become organized adults.  In turn, they will teach their children, and when those grandchildren come to your house notice if they are sprouting buds of understanding organization.  If not, tell your children that you want their years of allowance back!

 

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Spring Schedule Surprises

Every season has its own rhythm. Summer excitement leads to autumn relaxation before settling in for the sleepy winter months. But spring has a way of shaking things up, with everything from nature to your own family accelerating at different rates. While your kids might be ready to stay out as long as the sun, you might still want to hibernate. Keep up with spring’s surprises by staying ahead in your scheduling.

Two words strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere: spring forward. Daylight Savings Time pulls the rug from under your schedule – bedtimes suddenly feel like they’re an hour earlier, and school and work come an hour earlier each morning. Then spring adds in sporting events, school concerts, and old-fashioned fun outside until twilight.

Of course, kids being kids, they will expect you to keep all these events straight, reading their minds to remind them of what’s coming up. Before they blame your lack of telepathy, introduce them to the family weekly calendar. Each weekend, have a schedule review with everyone, and then let them know that if it’s not on the schedule, it will be their responsibility to make last-minute arrangements.

Once everyone has posted on the family calendar, you can transfer the appointments to your personal planner, letting you review things ahead of time. It works much better than a sticky note on the fridge.

What are your plans to stay on top of your spring schedule?

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organize Your Family Schedule

Color Coded Family Calendar dry-erase whiteboardIf you’ve ever seen a busy railway yard, you have some idea of what family scheduling is like. There’s activity everywhere, and everyone’s competing to get where they need to go. If you find yourself double-booking activities or stretched thin as the family chauffeur, try laying out the schedules side-by-side in a central location, where everyone can see it. This will help you plan your errands around other activities, and catch appointment conflicts before your week becomes a train wreck.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page

Organize Your Family Schedule

Color Coded Family Calendar dry-erase whiteboardIf you’ve ever seen a busy railway yard, you have some idea of what family scheduling is like. There’s activity everywhere, and everyone’s competing to get where they need to go. If you find yourself double-booking activities or stretched thin as the family chauffeur, try laying out the schedules side-by-side in a central location, where everyone can see it. This will help you plan your errands around other activities, and catch appointment conflicts before your week becomes a train wreck.

Share with your friends...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page