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Author: Adriane WeinbergFamily General Organizing Time Management

13 Surefire Tips to Avoid Back-to-School Drama

Back to schoolIs the morning of the first day of school a frenetic, crazy time at your house? How about the next few days? Whether your child is elementary- or high-school bound, it’s hard to get her up and moving in the morning and to bed at a reasonable time. Once she’s awake, then comes figuring out what to wear, a frantic search for the missing shoe because another pair isn’t acceptable, followed by general chaos that causes wasted time, drama and stress!

It doesn’t have to be this way. With some simple planning and organization, things can run smoothly. Whether your child is starting school for the first time or a returning student, these tips will ease the transition from summer to school.

  1. Create a schedule to complete any unfinished summer assignments.
  2. Review your child’s clothes and shoes, fill in as needed and donate what no longer fits.
  3. Do the same for school supplies.
  4. Schedule medical and dental appointments.
  5. Schedule a haircut.
  6. Start your child’s school routine one to two weeks ahead. Establish regular meal times and school bedtime. Set the alarm to wake up, dressed and fed on time.
  7. Start limiting TV watching and time on devices.
  8. Except for the very young ones, have your child lay out clothes the night before.
  9. Make lunch the evening before.
  10. Create a laminated ID card with your child’s name, address and phone number, parents’ names and contact info, and important medical and other information, and secure it in the backpack.
  11. Have a system for papers coming from and going to school. It can be as simple as two labeled folders: To Home and To School.
  12. Set up a dedicated spot for homework, ideally a desk with supplies within reach.
  13. For the first few days before school starts, add a half-hour to whatever time you think you’ll need for the morning routine. It’ll make the back-to-school transition much easier, especially for you!

Being organized makes life so much easier. As one of my favorite clients said upon completing his project, “Peace through organization.”

Author: Ellen FayeOrganizing Productivity Time Management

Top Time-Saving Google Short-Cuts

Sometimes the simplest things make a huge difference. We spend a lot of time on computers, and if we could do what we needed to do faster, there would be more time to do the things we want to do. Here are my top Google short-cuts that help me save time.

1. Google is a great spell check
Don’t know how to spell a word? Type in the word using your closest guess. As long as your guess is reasonably close, Google returns the correct spelling.

2. Google searches on images
When looking for a product, type in the product description and select “images” for your search tool (gray options across the top.)

3. Google is a dictionary
Need a definition? You don’t need to go to a dictionary website. Type in “define” and the word and google give the definition.

4. Google understands date ranges
To identify a range of years, use two periods. I use it often to get the most current technology results. (iPhone updates 2016..2017)

5. Google is a calculator
Type in an equation and Google gives you the result and displays a calculator for additional calculations.

6. Google gives the weather forecast
Type in the zip code and the word weather and you get a 10-day forecast. (weather 08003)

7. Google answers questions
Type in the question and results yield the answer. (When does daylight savings time end?)

8. And my personal FAVORITE – Google is a fabulous timer
Let your computer alert you after a certain amount of time? Type in “timer” and the length of time, and a countdown timer dings when you are out of time. (Timer 10 minutes)

Author: Danielle OBrienGoal Setting Organizing Productivity Project Management Seasonal Time Management

How Do You Remember?

danielles-seasonspicSome of us love change. With each new month we tend to change our clothing, eat different foods and decorate our homes. That’s a lot of work for some of us. How do you remember everything that needs to be done? I use my calendar. Each month reminds me of what needs to be done. Below is a monthly glance at my calendar.

  • January
    First on the list is the holiday decor, accessories, and gifts. If you do it right, you will be very happy unpacking next year. Clean, sort, contain, label, and store all your holiday items. I give the house a good cleaning hoping to pick up every pine needle from the tree, plus all the spills and dribbles from my youngest guest. Next, I purge my files of last year’s documents and put them in my tax file. Even if your financial documents are online, you can do this. This updates the file for the new year. Then, I hibernate, and I don’t feel guilty!
  • February
    This month I commit to organizing my photos. I place last year’s photos on the dining room table and create one book for each of my three children. I organize my videos in the cloud which although it takes a few weeks, I get it done. In the meantime, I cook soup, lots of hearty soups. My house is warm and the aroma is wonderful.
  • March
    Now is the time to find my “green” clothes or at least put my wools away in hopes of an early spring. I visit my friends more and schedule game nights. Usually, I am freezing in the spring, so I increase my cardio exercises. I enjoy the soups I put in the freezer. I also change the clocks, check our batteries and discuss a fire evacuation plan with our family.
  • April
    Now is the time to clean all the windows and blinds and take the covers off the outdoor furniture. I clear out the dead plants/shrubs in the yard, decorate for the spring holidays and clear out the garage. I also schedule to get our air conditioning system serviced.
  • May
    Gardening begins now. Flags go out on Memorial Day weekend. Clean and repair deck/patio as needed. I air out our suitcases, Jersey shore here we come!
  • June
    Purge the children’s rooms, store school memories and wash out the backpacks. I scrub the freezer and prepare for my 4th of July Ice Cream & Fire Works party. Also, I wash our grill accessories and summer platters.
  • July
    Start to relax into summer and enjoy.
  • August
    Swim in the ocean as much as possible. Read on the beach. I deserve it!
  • September
    Concentrate on back to school paperwork and schedules. It’s school shopping time! Put vacation accessories away and repack pool bags for next year. Clear dead plants and shrubs. Harvest the veggies. Bring flags in. Put summer accessories towards the back of the garage.
  • October
    Bring my fall clothes down from the top of my closet then shop for what’s missing. Halloween décor and costumes come out just for fun. Make sure the garage is clean so I can retrieve the holiday supplies.
  • November
    Heavy kitchen cleaning is done at this time, food shopping and of course, eating. Check fire alarm batteries, smoke detectors and have that fire safety discussion again. Cover deck furniture.
  • December
    Holiday madness, parties people & food!

How do you remember?

An easy way to keep up with the changing seasons is to set an event in your calendar for each month and have it notify you. Or, maybe break up things into weekends, starting each Saturday morning with a “things to do list.” I pretty much have it memorized and enjoy the changes that the seasons bring.

danielles-autumnpic

Happy autumn to you!

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Author: Sherry CastaldiFamily Goal Setting Organizing Productivity Time Management

How To Create Your Own Time Management Schedule

sherrycastaldis-calendar-imageDo you struggle trying to accomplish everything you want to get done in a week? Are you always asking yourself “where does the time go?” Are you always running late for appointments? Instead of trying to keep it all organized in your head, start a time management system for yourself by using a calendar (digital or paper, whatever your preference), a Day-Timer, or even an excel spreadsheet will work.

Remember school schedules? The week is scheduled by the day, classes with start and end times are filled in first and the remaining time is what you have left for the week. Start with your non-flexible commitments, such as; work, and then plan the other activities or tasks by the days and times available in the space you have left. Block out the amount of time each commitment, task, or activity will take and include travel time if necessary. This will visually put your time available to accomplish your tasks for the week “at a glance” and into perspective. This is imperative for getting a handle on your time management schedule. If there are overlapping commitments and a shortage of time available to get everything accomplished, you know it’s time to reorganize your week.

Keep in mind, you do need to sleep, so only schedule your time during your realistic waking hours. Each day follow your day’s schedule of events to know where you have to be and when. Then when emergencies crop up and they will, you will have a much better handle on where to reschedule the lessor priorities.

Don’t overbook yourself. Be realistic, allow for travel time and most importantly, don’t forget to allow for “down-time”!

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Author: Adriane WeinbergEmergencies Family Organizing Productivity Project Management Time Management

OMG, What Do I Do First?

Woman Stressed-1The first day of Fall is September 22. Work and school are back in full swing. Managing your to-dos effectively is essential to maximizing your productivity at home and work.

A while ago I gave a presentation called “Stop Mumbling, Oops, I Forgot: How to Effectively Manage Your To-Dos.” With good intentions, people say they’ll do something but then forget because it wasn’t noted somewhere. People waiting for the promised ‘something’ to be done are disappointed. At work, this is a particularly bad practice. A good practice is to make notes on your to-do list or calendar so tasks are not forgotten.

Even with the best systems, life sometimes gets in the way. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Case in point: I received an email from an attendee the next day. “My kids need completely different school supplies than what we bought, my husband suddenly needs to take his car into the shop, mom’s aide left early without doing the grocery shopping, and I have a report deadline at work tomorrow. How do I know what to do first?” Let’s call her Amy and her husband Michael.

I made these assumptions: The report will take Amy’s available time to complete, and Amy and Michael each need a car to get to work.

Following was my response.

First, Amy should complete the report and meet the deadline. Her job provides needed income and benefits, so she shouldn’t potentially put it at risk.
Second is Michael’s car. There are a few options. Have Michael find out if the auto shop provides a loaner car, ask someone to drive him from the shop to work (if convenient), call Uber/Lyft or wait for the car to be repaired.
Third comes food. Cereal, eggs and PB&J (or whatever is on hand) can fill bellies for a day. Other options include ordering food from a market with home delivery, ordering takeout with delivery, and asking the aide to get groceries the next time he/she’s on duty.
School supplies are fourth. Amy can order the supplies online with next-day delivery or pickup after work.

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General takeaway tips:

Have the school provide in advance a list of needed supplies and buy them then.
Schedule non-cancelable appointments with yourself to work on and complete reports and other important work well before the deadline to avoid a last-minute crises.
Develop a Plan B to get to work in case of future car trouble or other emergency.
Join AAA or another roadside-assistance plan.
Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with essentials such as cereal, milk, bread, eggs, pasta, tuna, soup and frozen meals.

Having a contingency plan for emergency situations helps to make life less stressful. Who wouldn’t want a little less stress?

When life overwhelms you, stop and take a deep breath. Figure out what needs to be done and by when. Prioritize by most-to-least important. So, first do what needs immediate attention. If you find crisis situations happen too often, click HERE to contact a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers for help.

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Author: Yasmin GoodmanGoal Setting Procrastination Productivity Time Management

Embrace The Power of “NOW”

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 11.09.43 PMThese past few weeks, I have been grappling with a kind of spiritual awareness which continues to unearth and challenge the way I perceive life. I find myself reflecting on the way I think and feel, and also upon the actions I do or don’t do.

In wanting to explore this new era of enlightenment, I took Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now off my shelf. Its content is unwaveringly dense, often leaving me exhausted by concepts too thick to conquer. Though the pages have barely been touched, the title, “The Power of Now” remains ever present to me: challenging me, questioning me, and inspiring me.

Life lived NOW means being present to the opportunity of this moment in time. This moment is the opportunity to experience exactly what is happening, and not what I/we should or could be doing…nor the eight tasks work expects done simultaneously and seamlessly. On the other hand, the familiar sentiment, life lived “Someday, One Day” clouds being present to the gifts of now. A “Someday, One Day” attitude often creates log jams and stagnation in our physical, emotional, and spiritual space. Procrastination goes hand-in-hand with life lived from a “Someday, One Day” perspective.

Being present to NOW fosters gratitude, calmness, peace and stillness…much like the breath we are asked to be present to in our meditation or yoga practices. And in this state of NOW, life flows. Action is second-nature; it is real, purposeful, and natural. It is not sabotaged by “Someday, One Day’s” indecisions, doubts and postponements. Lightness, awakenings, and insights are encouraged by the presence of “NOW” thinking. Fear of change, the unknown, or something different, keeps the “Someday, One Day” card in our hip pocket ready to be played when life feels uncomfortable.

Eckhardt Tolle said, “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in our life for something new to emerge.” I see this played out time and time again in my own life and in the lives of my clients. Taking on “Someday, One Day’s” mantra of “later, later, later” and actually getting started now creates oceans of energy. Physical spaces are transformed uncorking the damned up to-do’s, intentions, goals and aspirations allowing life’s energies to flow again. Frequently, at the end of a session, clients feel lighter, freed up and elated as the stagnate piles and clutter dissolve into organizational bliss.

Eunice S. Carpitella, Executive Coach & Leadership Development Consultant of Transformative Dynamics, said, “LATER” is the enemy to living a fulfilled, satisfying and rewarding life. It’s always convincing you that whatever needs to be done will somehow be improved by waiting.”

Werner Erhard lightened up this dilemma for me saying, “Thinking about ‘it’ leaves you with more thoughts and older.”

Life is passing by and with it, those precious moments of NOW’s gifts. Moments are accumulating into days, months and even years. We yearn to live our dreams, not the reasons why not. “Someday, One Day” is the status quo and “later, later, later” its hypnotic song. Overcoming “later’s” mantra takes motivation, drive, a push, and support fuelled by a vision to let go of “Someday, One Day.”

Bringing order to chaos and freedom and ease to life is what Professional Organizers love to do. Call an organizer when you need a gentle nudge, a kick start, a fresh set of eyes or a partner to drive away the “Someday, One Day” blues.

Cause a life you love, lived joyously in the presence of NOW — moment by moment.

Embrace The Power of NOW!