Category Archives: Time Management
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Keep Your Cool during the Summer Sizzle
Are your kids talking about the summer yet? Are they getting excited? Chances are they don’t know how much more work it is for parents during the summer than it is during the rest of the year. To keep the kids busy with little effort, consider putting advance planning in place so that the rest of the summer can be more spontaneously enjoyed. Here are some ideas you can use to improve the summer months:
Create an activity list or an “I’m Bored Jar”
Get a large jar for the whole family to add ideas when one strikes. Have all family members write their ideas on notes and put them in the jar. Need some inspiration for summer activities? Organize a picnic dinner, swimming at a local pool, or camping in the backyard. If your kids are acting like wild animals, you might even plan a visit to the zoo.
Install a wall calendar and put the activity ideas on it.
Use some sticky notes and a marker and start by indicating the important dates, such as the first day of school or camp, or time that will be spent away on a vacation. Colour code the sticky notes by category which could make the board look more kid-friendly. Potential categories can include theme days, playdates, planned outings, and activities done at home.
Stick to a normal routine as much as possible.
To make life easier for yourself, make sure you write out sticky notes for your own well-being and apply them to the wall calendar. Write down your date nights, dinner menu plans and babysitter arrangements.
Pre-sort supplies for Grab and Go Bags
Pre-pack backpacks before an activity day. This will help you avoid the hour of preparation time before being able to leave the house. Some ideas for Grab and Go Bags are:
- Theme park bags
- Walking/hiking bags
- Playdate bags, picnic bags
- Library bags
- Pool days
If you’re going to the pool, have water excursion supplies pre-packed in a tote bag. Pack swimsuits and towels, as well as sun safety essentials including sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Don’t forget to bring a plastic bag for wet bathing suits!
- Road trip essentials
Be sure to pack items that will keep you and your family comfortable and entertained while away from home. Include essentials such as diapers, water bottles, snacks, and sunscreen. To avoid the inevitable cries of “Are we there yet?” don’t forget books, colouring books or clipboards with blank paper, and zippered pouches of crayons for each child along with the electronic device preloaded with learning games and movies.
There is nothing wrong with kids getting bored from time to time, as some ingenious and unique activities can result from that. Keep art supplies within reach in the craft cabinet, a few outdoor toys in the backyard, and fruit and sugar-free drinks in the fridge.
This blog entry comes courtesy of Eileen Pease of Dynamic Learning. Eileen is a leader in maximizing your memory and brain function to increase your productivity at work and at home. If you’re interested in learning more or arranging a training session for your organization, please visit her website.
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a misplaced item. The pressure to find it increases exponentially when it is something really important – like a passport.
Stop searching, sit down and think. There is a 99.9999% probability that the item is exactly where you left it. Here are some brain-friendly steps to help you find it.
- Stop imagining the awful things that will happen if you don’t find it. That distracts your mind away from the work you need to do with your memory to find it. Imagining awful consequences will stress your brain, decreasing your memory.
- Remind yourself in a friendly, optimistic way that you will find it soon because you know there is a logical reason why you haven’t found it yet. When you do find it, you will be relieved and amused.
- Take three deep, relaxing breaths and sit or stand exactly where you were the last time you had the item for sure.
- Keep your focus on that moment, look around slowly, and think about the next steps you took. Don’t let your mind run off into saying things like, “But I already looked there.” You have not found it yet because you have been distracting yourself with other thoughts and commands. Calm your mind and focus on where you were and what you were doing the last time you had it for sure.
- Remind yourself that this is the last place you were when you are certain you had it. Review the evidence. For example, “I had my passport in my hand while I was booking my flight.”
- Identify the one most probable place you would have put the item. Look for it there. If you don’t find it, step back and look to see if it could have fallen somewhere, slipped behind or under something, or been covered up somehow.
- If you still can’t find it, sit down again to think. Remind yourself it is exactly where you left it. What were you thinking about at the time? Was there anybody else involved? Were you listening to your radio or TV? Did somebody phone you or drop in just at that time? Did you go out to your car? Were you cleaning up in a hurry shortly afterward? It is often helpful to actually re-live and act out the sequence of what you remember happened next. Your memory knows what happened next, it just needs you to trigger the reminder.
- Continue to work calmly with your memory. Remind yourself you are going to find it and it is better to keep concentrating on it now, than to give up and search for it later. Acknowledge that physical items do not vanish into thin air and rarely get stolen or deliberately hidden by somebody else. Guard against *fantastic* solutions and reassure yourself there is a logical reason why you have not found it so far. When you do find it, there will be a perfectly logical reason for it to be there.
- If necessary, revisit in your memory the last moment when you are certain you had it in your hands. Are you making any unchecked assumptions about where you were or what you were doing? Look in your planning calendar, talk to anyone who was around at the time, and re-create that moment. See yourself holding the item and mentally follow the scene that unfolds.
- Sometimes the search becomes too irritating. Then it is better to stop and turn your attention to something completely different. Sleep on it. Next morning, rested and with a fresh perspective, start again at step number two.
Once you find the item, note the logic of where it was and recognize the assumptions you were making that stopped you from finding it sooner. I would love to know your lost and found story; please email me email@example.com or phone me at 902-483-5700. If you have faithfully tried every step above with no success, phone me and I will help you get your memory to tell you where your lost item is.
The 2016 Organize Anything 10 Ten List
Every year we ask our clients, fellow organizers and our friends what products they’re using right now that make their lives easier. These ten products are ones we’ve tried or have had recommended to us and we love how they make our lives a little simpler – whether it’s at home, on the go, or in the office. Please let us know what products you’ve tried and loved!
1) The Tile App. We’re big fans of this little piece of plastic that ensures we never lose our purse/wallet/laptop/bike/keys again. You can attach these self-contained GPS units to pretty much anything and sync it to an app on your phone or tablet. When you misplace whatever you’ve attached the Tile to, you simply log into the app and ask it to find your missing item. It will pull up a map that will show you the location down to 20m AND an alarm will start to sound from the Tile itself.
Each Tile lasts for approximately a year, and then you can re-order through their loyalty program for a great discount off the original price. To order visit www.thetileapp.com
2) The Passion Planner. We’re obsessed with the Passion Planner. It’s more than just a day-planner, it’s laid out so that you can track your personal/professional goals, your appointments, keep notes about the wonderful things that happened that week and provides space to brainstorm and journal too! We’re also fans of their pay-it-forward program and free planners to non-profit organizations. The planners come in academic (August to August), yearly or undated. You can learn more at www.passionplanner.com
3) The UpCart. The UpCart is a stair climbing hand cart that can carry up to 100lbs! The cart is designed with three wheels on each side, so you’re able to easily pull it behind you up a flight of stairs, or across uneven ground. It has an adjustable handle, and because of the design of the wheels, there is reduced strain when pulling it. Whether you have loads of groceries to carry up stairs, or gardening supplies to get across the yard, the UpCart is a great solution to save your energy and your back. To order visit www.upcart.com
4) Moonjar Moneybox. This is a fantastic way to teach children about managing money! A fun, easy way to introduce financial management to children the Moonjar Moneybox has three separate deposit jars. One is for spending money, one is for long-term savings, and the third is for charitable giving. We love the idea of introducing kids to giving back at a young age! The kit includes a transaction record and a family guide to help parents have meaningful conversations about money with their children.
5) Max Mirani Mobile Closet. This carry-on suitcase is everything you need for your next business trip. Designed to fit in most airlines carry-on luggage compartments, it’s also has compartments for all of your necessary items that fold together to keep clothes and toiletries ready to go. When you arrive to your hotel, you can hang the Mobile Closet up, and your wardrobe is ready to be accessed – no unpacking involved. We’re all about easy packing and travelling light, so this suitcase makes our list for sure. And the best part? The entire interior of the suitcase can be removed and used as a tote bag! If you’d like to learn more or purchase, visit http://www.maxmirani.com/collections/move-mobile-closet-ii
6) Nest Thermostat. How much do we love the Nest Learning Thermostat? So much! This genius piece of tech will keep your home comfortable while saving you tons of money and keeping your home eco-friendly. It tracks your patterns and builds a temperature profile unique to you and your family. It only takes a week to recognize patterns and the temperatures that your family prefers. It has a bright, stylish display that can be easily seen and adjusted and it will adapt seasonally. The coolest feature? You can connect it to your smart phone and adjust the temperature from the office or the car in case you’re coming home early or you forgot to adjust the thermostat before vacation. To purchase visit www.nest.com
7) Wireless Charging Pad. We hate cords. They’re messy, get tangled and always seem to be missing. A wireless charging pad for our mobile devices is so stress free and easy to use, that we can’t help but love it. We’re fans of the Duracell pads because they can be used with any brand of mobile device. Simply keep your charging pad plugged in, and place your smart phone on top when you need to charge it. They come in a standard 1-device size, but if you have a busy family on the go, you can get pads that charge up to 6 devices at once. To learn more or to purchase visit www.duracellpowermat.com
8) Aquanotes. We don’t know about you, but inspiration can hit at any time. We love this notepad that sticks to the wall of the shower and you can write on it, even when it’s wet! Simple and easy to use this fun addition to your shower stall is great gift or idea for the person in your life who gets struck with inspiration at any moment.
9) Tilley Hats. They’re tagline says they’re the best hats in the world, and we tend to agree! We’re really feeling their new TTW2 Tec-Wool hats. It’s made of a wool blend that keeps your head comfortable by automatically expanding in heat and contracting in cold to keep the air flow around your noggin the perfect temperature. Not only is Tilley a Canadian company but they guarantee their products for life! We’re fans of this durable traveller’s hat and love all the fun styles you can now buy for both men and women. You can purchase Tilley hats in stores or online at www.tilley.com
10) Remember the Milk. This to-do list turned task manager will have you organized and whipped into time-management shape in no time at all. This digital task manager can sync with all of your devices, allows you to add reminders for family and friends. You can have reminders sent to you by email or text or by Google reminder – the options are endless. We’re head-over-heels for this easy to use, fun, digital task manager. Create your account today by visiting http://www.rememberthemilk.com
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX!
Space Saving Holiday Gift Ideas
Gift giving, even when done with the very best intentions, is often done out of obligation and can cause problems for the recipient unintentionally. It is something to keep in mind – give something that adds value to the recipient’s life but is also respectful of their time and their space.
Consumable gifts, such as food and beverage items sidestep the dilemma of what to give the person who has everything;
- Cook a meal with a guest’s favorite food
- Take a friend to a restaurant or give them a restaurant gift card
- Give trays of baked goodies and/or fruit
- Gift cards to a quaint coffee or tea shop that they love
- A grocery gift card
- Drop-off a meal to friends who are always on the go
- Have a meal catered for a special event
This kind of gift can be customized to the recipient’s interests;
- Concert tickets, movie tickets, live theatre, comedy clubs.
- Swimming passes
- A round of golf
- A personalized tour
- A sporting event
- Massage or spa gift certificates
The Gift of Time
There are endless ways we can give our time that would be most appreciated even later in the year.
- Help with yard work, painting a room, or a household project that is on their agenda
- Provide childcare so the recipient can enjoy some free time
- Bring coffee and cake for a leisurely visit
- Go for a long walk in a beautiful location
Flowers and Memories
- A long lasting plant like an Orchid or Azalea can brighten up the long winter months
- A gift certificate to a florist could be used later in the year
- Arrange for a seasonal bouquet to be sent 4 times a year
- Make a photo or digital album of the two of you together over the years
Creative Gift Wrapping
Often the presentation of the gift card, certificate or vouchers can be just as memorable as the item itself. There are many ways to “wrap” the gift to make the experience tangible. Create a booklet, a card, or wrap the item in something else to double the pleasure.
>Keeping Things on Track: Organize for Success
Back to school! We all start the year with the intention to be organized and on top of schoolwork, bills, work, and obligations. It doesn’t take long for the best intentions to turn into the worst habits. Let these organizing tips help you start the year off right and keep things on track all year.
The Two-Minute Rule. If it takes less than two minutes to do, do it now. Your friends can wait two minutes for you to finish something. This will prevent you from having to sit for hours sorting through papers and will ensure you have a clean workspace so you don’t end up doing your homework on your bed (where falling asleep is a big possibility!). Keeping on top of your piles of papers will help prevent forgotten assignments, lost phone messages, misplaced email addresses and damaged forms and applications.
Don’t Carry Around a Bottomless Pit. Don’t let your schoolbag become a bottomless pit of papers and garbage. Make a habit of cleaning out your back pack every night when you take your textbooks and notebooks out. Stray papers shoved into your bag on your way out of class, at extracurricular events, and picked up around school (promotional flyers, brochures, newspapers) have a way of getting crumpled up at the bottom of your bag and forgotten. Put them in their proper place! If you don’t need the information or don’t intend to go to the event –throw out the flyer. Put graded assignments in a designated binder or folder for that class. If you need to dispute your course grade later you want to have all of your graded materials. You may also want to study from your past tests.
Inboxes Aren’t Just for Email. Desktop inboxes aren’t just for corporate executives. Having an inbox for things you need to complete and an outbox for things that need to be dropped off (mail, assignments, forms, money owed) can be a great way to stay on top of what needs to be done. As long as you don’t allow things to pile up and get forgotten at the bottom of your inbox, it can keep you moving through things.
File This Under ‘Awesome’. An accordion file is a portable and affordable alternative to a filing cabinet. Make sections for bills, school, jobs, housing, health, and extracurricular activities. Keep all your information in the accordion file so you only have to look in one place when you need something. This will help keep your bulletin board clear of clutter so you have more room for photos, mementos, and current event information. It’s also easy to move.
Don’t Let a Red Sock Ruin Your Day. Try using a sectioned hamper or two separate hampers so that you can sort lights from darks as soon as they are dirty. This will save you time when you are ready to do a load of wash (and prevent a red sock from turning your whites pink!). Having two different colored hampers will help you remember which is which. Try keeping laundry soap, fabric softener, quarters, and other laundry necessities in a basket so that you can easily carry everything you need without losing anything on your way to the laundry room.
Following these tips will save you time and give you a great start to staying organized this school year. After all, there are more important things to be doing than tidying up!
If you enjoyed this article, please pass it along to others who would find it useful and sign up for our Organize Anything newsletter on our homepage at http://www.organizeanything.com
© 2010 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Phone: (902) 233-1577
Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.
1) The gift certificate is often looked at as a last minute afterthought. However, letting the receiver choose their own gift will almost always ensure that they get something they will like better than what someone else would have picked for them.
2) Movie money is a great idea for someone who enjoys a night out but doesn’t always make it happen.
3) Everyone appreciates looking at pictures of their loved ones. Take an old photograph and have it professionally restored to look brand new, or take a new photograph and have it resized and professionally framed.
4) Tickets to a sporting event, play or musical are always great gift ideas.
5) Not only are homemade gifts more personal and unique, they are guaranteed to put a smile on the person’s face knowing you put such time and effort into their gift. If you know they have a sweet tooth, whip up a holiday sweet treat.
6) Look around your house for materials to use and items to re-gift. Re-gifting is fine as long as you believe the gift is appropriate for the receiver and you think they will truly like it.
7) If you are buying for individual family members, why not put the cash together and buy a family present, like a foosball game for their family room or software for the computer.
8) People often discreetly let you know what they want, so pay attention to hints, listen and make notes. Better yet, ask them to make notes and prepare a list of items they would like and the particular shops they enjoy.
Remember that it is the thought that counts, so it’s never too early to start thinking about what to give the person who has everything or is difficult to buy for.
Many of us have a day planner. Some of us never pull it out of the drawer to put it to use, instead we rely on memory or scraps of paper. Others who use their day planner are not using it to its full potential as the home for their lifetime goals, To Do Lists and more. Busy individuals may have difficulty getting through all their daily tasks and try their best to get as many done as possible. However, this might not be the best use of their time.
The first step in improving your day planner use is to right down your short term and long term goals. Once you know which of these is most important to you right now, you will be able to prioritize your daily tasks based on what gets you closer to the goals and not necessarily what is most urgent. Create a daily task list and prioritize your tasks (A, B, C). Complete tasks based on priority, not on ease of completion.
Be aware of your peak hours and schedule accordingly. Stick to your schedule and check off tasks when completed. Set deadlines for yourself and others. Break overwhelming tasks down into small, manageable steps. Write phone numbers with your appointment information in case you need to let them know you are running late or have to cancel.
To Do Lists
Do not make lists on little pieces of paper. Keep everything in the notes section of your day planner so you won’t lose it and can easily complete tasks from earlier list that did not get completed. Block off time to run errands and do them all at once. Organize them geographically so you make your stops in the quickest possible way. Consolidating tasks such as picking up and dropping off your dry-cleaning at the same time or shop for groceries once a week instead of every few days.
Get a daily planner and get in the habit of using it everyday. Only use one planner and carry it with you at all times. Set aside a few minutes everyday to review and plan your day. Don’t leave anything to memory, put your day planner to work!
Many of us think we have conquered procrastination and have become efficient workers. This may be true for some of us, but when it comes to procrastination we may have just become a little more creative. You may just be a V.I.P. – Very Inventive Procrastinator.
- I like to get a lot of little jobs out-of-the-way before starting a major project.
- I have a messy desk, overflowing in-basket and paper that needs to be filed.
- I frequently go back to work with my “homework” still in my briefcase untouched.
- I have at least two major projects at work or at home that I am leaving until I have more time.
- In the mornings I rarely get up when the alarm sounds or at the time I planned to get up.
- I like to stick with a task until it is perfect.
How many of those statements described you at least some of the time? According to Dr. Linda Sapadinin in her book It’s About Time, there are six styles of procrastination:
- The Perfectionist– Spends too much time past the acceptable level of work
- The Dreamer– Focuses on fun and easy things in hopes the difficult will disappear
- The Worrier– Is afraid to make mistakes, so never gets started
- The Defier– Puts things off as a way to object to having to do it
- The Crisis-Maker– Lives for the adrenaline of working against the clock
- The Over-Doer– Takes on more can they can do in a timely manner
- Change your “can’ts”, “should’s”, and “someday’s” to “can’s”, “could’s”, and specific times.
- Identify why you procrastinate. Do you try to perfect everything? Do you worry? Do you like the feeling of beating the clock? Do you take on too much?
- Set a goal for the thing you’ve been putting off. Pick a specific date to do it, and schedule time in your planner to get it done.
- Break down the overwhelming tasks into chunks, and do them a little at a time.
- Keep telling yourself, “If it’s unpleasant, I’ll do it now and get it over with.” First thing in the morning is a great way to start. Get the things you want to do least off of your plate so you are not anticipating how little you want to do them all day long.
- Disorganization breeds procrastination, so get organized.
- Tackle the distasteful tasks when you’re feeling good or have just accomplished something significant.
- Force yourself to start. Once started, you’ll build momentum. Keep starting, and you’ll develop the do it now habit.
- Decide on a reward for finishing a task that you have been delaying. Example: a coffee break, a new shirt, a night on the town. Provide yourself with an incentive to get it done.
If you found this article useful, you can find more like it at www.organizeanything.com.
For more information or to connect with me online:
Colette Robicheau ASP, CRSS, CPO-CD ®, Master Trainer in CD and Organization
© 2011 Organize Anything – The Professional Organizing Company
As wind and snow howls down the street, this is the time of year our thoughts turn to warmer climates. Whether your dream vacation is laying on a beach with a coconut drink in your hand, or taking a hot-air balloon safari across the Serengeti, it’s all possible with some careful planning.
Organize Anything has put together some simple tips and ideas to help guide you through the vacation planning process.
1)Location, location, location! Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? What location is the top of your travel bucket list? Do you want to explore the Mayan ruins in Mexico or be a beach bum in Hawaii? Go online and search out your dream location and discover when’s the best time to visit – you don’t want to plan a three week trek through Thailand during monsoon season!
2)What are you going to do? Are you someone who likes to immerse themselves in the local culture during their trips or does vacation mean “rest, relax, rejuvenate” to you? If you’re headed to a resort you may want to take a look at what activities and excursions are included in your package. If you are going on an adventure to a new country, borrow some guidebooks from the library and plan your trip to see the most famous landmarks and museums.
3)The devil’s in the details, especially when travelling. Before booking your fantasy vacation make sure you know all the important information about your country of choice. What’s the currency, what language do they speak, where is your country’s consulate located, does your health insurance cover traveling outside the country, is there any conflict happening within the country of surrounding countries? Knowing the answers to these questions can keep your heavenly get-away from turning into a trip to hell.
4)Have a backup plan. Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way sometimes, so have a backup plan if something goes awry during your time away. This can include having emergency contacts in the country you’re visiting, to setting up a few weeks of international calling on your cell phone so you can get in contact with the folks back home. If you’re traveling during the winter book a few extra days on either end of your vacation time in case there are weather delays.
5)Don’t forget about your house and the pets who live in it! If you’re going to be away for extended periods of time ask one of your neighbours to check in on the house, or have a friend housesit for you. Little details like putting the lights on timers and bringing in the mail on a daily basis will make it look like someone’s still at home. If you have pets, arrange for them to go to a kennel or have a trusted friend take them in while you’re away.
Planning your dream vacation doesn’t have to be scary. Just remember to look at the big picture and see beyond the white sandy beaches. If you have all your ducks in a row before you take flight, your entire trip will be smooth sailing.
If you liked this post and would like to learn more tips like it, please check out the Organize Anything website at http://www.organizeanything.com. You can also find us on Twitter (@organizenow) and on Facebook.