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Back-to-the-Basics with Back-to-School Organization

Although most of us are enjoying a relaxing summer break, the new school year is just around the corner. August is the time to get ready for back to school by preparing ourselves with the proper supplies and organizational techniques. Follow these suggestions to create a less stressful year and to avoid that last-minute scurry before the first day of school. Even if you don’t have children or aren’t attending school yourself, we can all benefit by using this time to readjust our schedules and routines.

1) Use Calendars – Prepare your calendar for the upcoming school year. Family members should have easy access to one central calendar at home. Keep one in your kitchen or den so everyone in your family can see what is on the agenda for the weeks ahead. Record important dates such as school closings, vacations, appointments or meetings. This will allow everyone to judge time accordingly for car scheduling and pick ups. Designate each family member a coloured marker to write activities to clearly see who has what coming up. In a backpack, keep a daily planner and carry it at all times. Jot down appointments or project deadlines right away before you forget. Don’t rely on memory – write it all down.

2) Only Buy What You Will Use – Organizing and prioritizing means making space in your room, home or office to store new school work and supplies. Don’t go overboard buying new supplies thinking this will help you be more organized. Rather, look at the basic items you use and only buy those. Make a list of the items you need and only purchase those items when shopping. By gathering your pre-existing supplies, you can judge more effectively what extra supplies you will need, and what has worked best for you in the past.

3) Get Rid of the Old to Make Room for the New – Get rid of old books and papers that you no longer use. When you do come across important papers, have a specific place to store them. A filing cabinet would be a great investment, and it keeps stacks of papers out of sight. Outdated magazines should be donated or recycled. If there are articles you like or don’t have time to read, tear them out and keep them in a binder or file them by subject. This way you have all the articles that you enjoy together and can take it along with you while waiting for appointments or in between classes.

4) Keep All School Supplies in One Area – Designate one spot in your home for all your school supplies. Spend 15 minutes each night tidying up this area. This will save time in the morning and avoid the panic of looking for misplaced items. Always have your backpack ready and your homework finished the night before. Keep lunches prepared in the fridge and ready to grab.

5) Donate Old Clothes – Everyone wants to have a few new items of clothing for the first day of school. Before you go shopping, look at the clothes you already own to see how they will work for the fall season. Go through your closet and get rid of outdated clothes and those that don’t fit. If you haven’t worn items in months or years, chances are you do not need them. Getting rid of these articles of clothing will make way for your new fall wardrobe.

6) Do it Now – Start shopping early for back-to-school clothes and supplies. Don’t wait until the weekend before school starts. The stores will be crowded which may cause unnecessary stress. Make shopping a leisurely and enjoyable experience with your children or friends.

Back-to-school can mean a fresh start for your organizing routine. Prepare now to ensure you start the new school year on the right track.

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

© 2006 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577 Fax: (902) 455-0553
http://www.organizeanything.com
Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.

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How to Make it Easier to Get Kids Back to School


Professional Organizer Colette Robicheau shares the best tips for getting ready to go back to school.

She talks about how to make the yearly return to school a smooth transition and how to prepare your youngest for their first time to school.

Smooth Transition from Summer to School

>Many children, especially in the lower grades, find it hard to make the switch from the lazy days of summer (going to the beach, playing soccer, visiting amusement parks) to the school year (early mornings, routines, homework). Come to think of it, it’s not easy for parents, either. But there are ways to smooth the transition:

1. Read, read, read: Make reading an integral part of your summer. Libraries often have incentive programs for the summer months; take advantage of them. Read to your child, have 29them read to you, and read together. Read menus, books, comics, read everything and anything.
2. Buy supplies: If you have your child’s class list of supplies, keep an eye out for bargains and stock up. Some schools get parents to pay a flat rate and the teachers buy the supplies in bulk and to their own specifications. It’s a great time-saver for parents, and the teachers know each child will have the exact supplies he or she needs.
3. Take inventory: Go through your child’s closet and donate clothes that no longer fit. Throw out any that are beyond repair. Make a list of what items are needed (indoor sneakers, outdoor sneakers, backpack, etc.) and go shopping. Don’t forget second-hand stores.
4. Call the school: A day or two before school starts, call the school and find out what class your child is in and if there’s anything you or your child needs to know before Day 1.
5. Know the route: How is your child getting to school: walking, by bus, by car, from the sitter’s? Is there a change from last year? Try out the route with your child to see how long it takes. A route that takes you five minutes to walk, for instance, could take a child up to 10 minutes.
6. Ease back into routine: A few weeks before the first day, start regulating bedtimes and rising times to be closer to the school-year routine. How long does it take everyone to get ready in the morning?
7. Build excitement: Most children are excited about the return to school, at least for a week or two after it starts. Even if you’re dreading the return to hectic mornings and evenings supervising homework, control your negativity, which can be contagious. Plan some fun outings during the first few weekends, and sign your child up for some favorite extra-curricular activities.
8. Visit the school: A nice tradition is going with your child on the first day back, not just for Grade Primary. It will ease some jitters and make your child feel valued.
Helping your child transition from summer mode to school mode will make them feel prepared to take on the school year and give them a smooth start. A smooth start can give a child the confidence boost he needs to do well all year.

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
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577 Fax: (902) 455-0553

Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.

The Roadmap for a Healthy Business Trip

>A good business trip takes careful planning. So does maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weight. If you travel frequently in your line of work, or for your business, you know how difficult it can be to keep up good habits and how easy it is to slip into bad ones. The good news is that, with a little added preparation and smart choices, you can considerably reduce that risk. Here’s how:

Set realistic goals – Goals will help you stay focused while you are away, but be realistic. For example, instead of losing weight, why not set maintaining your current weight as your goal?

Be prepared – It’s easier to maintain your health and weight with a little preparation. For example, call ahead to the hotel where you are staying and see if they have a fitness centre. Or, for frequent stays, consider a pass to a local facility. And be sure to take along your workout gear.

Scan the menu – Taking time to review your choices will help you make healthy ones.

Consider avoiding foods with descriptions such as ‘fried,’ ‘crispy,’ or ‘battered.’ They are likely high in fat. Instead, look for high-fiber meals, like a baked potato or salad.

For baked potatoes and salads, avoid high-calorie dressings and sour cream, or extras such as meat, cheese, egg and croutons. Or, ask to have dressings and toppings on the side so you can control your portions.

Ordering a small or kid-size portion. This is a great way to reduce the amount of calories, sodium and fat you consume.

Eat on schedule – Skipping meals or not eating for long periods increases your hunger and the risk that you will overeat when you finally make time for food.

Curb the urge to splurge – Keep snacks like graham crackers and fruit on hand in your car, bag or briefcase. This will help keep your appetite in check when standing at the buffet table or ordering a meal.

Forego fast food where possible – If fast-food restaurants are your only option, remember that many now have health-smart choices. Be sure to ask for the nutritional information and check the calorie, fat and fiber counts before ordering. Often, these choices aren’t healthier than what is on the main menu. Avoid the value meals; the calorie content is generally equal to two meals.

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

Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Organize Anything
Phone: (902) 233-1577
http://www.organizeanything.com
Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.

Healthier Offices Lead to Healthier Returns

You know that the key to a long and happy life is good health, but it also makes good business sense.  Consider this: Physically fit employees not only take fewer sick days, they also are more productive, and that helps to keep your bottom line healthy too.  While you can’t push your employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle, you can encourage and provide them with opportunities to get and stay fit, such as:

– Take stock of your office vending machine.  Replace high-fat and high-calorie items like pop and chips with more healthy and nutritious snacks.
– Do you have an office cafeteria?  Look at adding health-smart items to the menu.
– When it comes time for a team-building retreat or exercise, why not choose a program or location with physical activity opportunities?
– Reward employees who make healthy choices.  For example, sponsor your company’s softball team.
– Office events and parties are great opportunities to promote healthy living while having fun, like a skating party.
– Create a team of executives and employees to look at and promote the benefits of good health in your business.
– Install a water cooler.  Drinking more water is essential to losing weight and staying healthy.
– Offer a weekly lunchtime program where employees can learn how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Make it fun and interactive; have cooking classes with a local chef where employees can learn how to prepare more nutritious meals, and then sample them for lunch.
– Make your office more exercise friendly.  Install a shower for employees who bike to work or jog at lunch.
– Because fitness club fees can be expensive, look into corporate rates to give your employees added incentive to get fit.
– Make physical fitness a contest between departments.  This is a great way to build team spirit in your company.  Start a walking or running club and keep a weekly tally of weight lost or kilometers walked and offer a monthly prize to the team with the best overall performance.
When it comes to changing your employees’ lifestyles and habits, think of it as an investment.  It takes considerable time, effort and dedication, but it’s one that will result in significant returns for your employees (an improved quality of life) and for you (improved profitability and profits).

How to Save 30 Minutes in the Morning

Professional Organizer Colette Robicheau shares the best tips to save half an hour in the morning.

She shares how to’s for the night ahead prep, lunch prep, the importance of using timers and laying out your wardrobe the night before.

If you have any questions, or would like to book Colette to help you find time in your schedule, you can visit us online at www.organizeanything.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/organizeanything, on Twitter at twitter.com/organizenow or at our blog: www.organizeanything.wordpress.com

Dining at Your Desk

Dining at Your Desk

8 Reasons to Make it a Dining Don’t

Eating lunch at your desk happens to the best of us – we’re slammed with projects, there’s a meeting in the break room and it’s cold or wet outside. In fact 50% of people who work in offices eat regularly at their desk.

While it’s convenient, eating at your desk is a habit you may consider breaking. Organize Anything has 8 reasons why you should mix up your lunchtime routine.

1. Breaks are beneficial. Sitting at your desk for 8 hours straight does nothing for your productivity. Even getting up and walking to the break room will increase your mental stimulation and increase your output for the day.

2.  Etiquette at work matters. Consider your cubicle-mates. No one wants to listen to you crunch down on your salad or smell the garlicky leftover pasta from last night. Don’t have a lunch room? Don’t fret, find a quiet corner and eat elsewhere.

3. Better Thinking. Often inspiration hits in the most unusual places, and if you’ve been sitting at your desk staring at your computer screen trying to write the last paragraph of the annual report you know just what we mean. By running out for lunch or taking a walk around the office will force your brain to switch gears and you may be inspired!

4. Face time creates collaboration. Use lunch to get to know your co-workers. You share an office with them; why not forge friendships as well? Lunch time chats help build moral and a sense of teamwork amongst your colleagues.

5. Fresh air and daylight rejuvenates. Take advantage of beautiful weather and pop outside to eat your lunch. Even if you’re just sitting on a bench in the parking lot, you’re getting all the benefits of fresh air and sunshine. It’ll rejuvenate you for the second half of the day.

6. Avoid mindless eating. If you keep snacks in your workspace, you can fall victim to mindless snacking. Handfuls of easy-to-eat snacks disappear while you’re spending long hours at your desk. Cut down on the calories and promote intentional snack and meal breaks.

7. Escape from the germs. Did you know that the surface of your desk is 600 times dirtier than a toilet? If that’s not enough to put you off your lunch, eating at your desk can also expose you to all the germs that are floating around the office. The intern who’s carrying the flu just dropped off a pile of paperwork on your desk on top of your lunch bag. Think about it.
8. It’s good for business. If you’re feeling refreshed, creative and productive after lunch you’re boosting business. Your colleagues will notice and so will customers. No one wants to deal with an unfocused employee.

Break the habit by aiming to eat somewhere other than your desk at least once a week if you’re normally someone who works through lunch. You’ll be amazed the difference it makes.

Routines Rock!

Here’s how to create a rockin’ routine or to rework one you already have:
1. Make a list of some of the regular activities you do in the run of a day like getting the kids ready for school, exercising, email or a report at work.
2. Estimate how much time it takes to do each task. 
3. Try to group actions by similar activity and location to minimize the amount of time you spend running back and forth, such as preparing supper, getting dressed for work, or items to be photocopied or sent out at work.
4. To finish your routine, write down your tasks in the order you will perform them along with the time allotted for each.
5. Use the times to limit the amount of time you spend on an activity (like getting dressed or primping).
6. Add up the times to determine a start time to begin your routine.
7. Be sure to give yourself a buffer zone of extra time for unexpected events.
8. Save time and adapt to curve balls by completing tasks before you need to do them.
9. To create some new habits try linking them to ones that are already in place. Put a load of laundry in as you start to make supper.
Once you make your routines rock, you’ll see how it can save you time, toil, and trouble every day.

By

Tools for Time Management

Ready to get organized to better manage your time?  Here are some helpful tools to get you started.

Day Planner.  Use one place to record all your appointments and special dates.  Be sure to record telephone numbers along with appointment details so you can call if you are running late or  need to cancel the appointment.  Instead of writing To Do lists on scraps of paper that easily get lost, record them in the notes section of your day planner.  Make a habit of carrying it with you everywhere and don’t leave anything to memory.  There a lots of different styles and sizes of day planners.  Think about which kind will work for you.  Will it fit in your bag or purse?  Do you like to look at a day at a time, a week at a time, or a month at a time?

Wall Calendar.  A calendar with large blocks or a wipe off calendar is useful for keeping a family organized or for scheduling multiple projects.  Try color coding different family members or projects to keep things easy to read.  Keep the family calendar in a popular place in your house and encourage children to check the calendar to see what they have to do today.  Schedule start dates and deadlines for your projects.

Email. Sign up for free email reminders for important events (birthdays, appointments, school events).  E-cards can be scheduled to be sent on a specific date on most e-card websites.  Take 20 minutes to schedule birthday cards to be sent to all your family and friends.  Don’t forget other occasions such as mother’s day and father’s day.  This way if your birthday present, card, or phone call is late, they will at least know that you have not forgotten them.

Clocks. If you find yourself always running late in the morning, make sure you have a clock in view of each area where you get ready—in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in your bedroom.  Many people have stopped wearing watches, since they can check the time on their cellular phone.  This is actually harder than glancing at your wrist (and less subtle) so consider getting a new battery for your Timex.

Timers.  Using a kitchen timer or hour glass is a great way to measure out lengthy projects into measurable chunks.  Constantly checking the clock can create a lot of stress and distraction.  Setting an alarm can allow you to concentrate on the task at hand without worrying about being late.  If you have difficulty estimating time, using an hour glass is a great visual to help you see the passage of time.

Inboxes and other boxes.  Label trays to help cut down on massive piles of paper.  Try labeling them according to subject (school, work, home) or action the must be taken (Email/Mail, Look Into, File).  Try setting up a special box that children can put notices from school and papers to be signed in.  If you do not have desktop trays you can make your own our of cereal or courier boxes.  Cut out half of the front of the box.  You can stack these on a desk or pin them to the wall.  To create magazine organizers measure three inches from the top of the box and also three inches from the bottom the box, cut boxes diagonally from these points.  Boxes can be painted or covered for a neater appearance.

Think about what will best fit your style and pick up the appropriate day planner, calendar, clock, or timer.  Picking the right time management tools for your lifestyle and personality will help you achieve the efficiency you desire.

Never Worry About Losing Your Keys Again!

Running late and keys are nowhere in sight?  You’ve retraced last night’s steps to no avail, and once again have to dig out the spare?  Once you do find your keys, you swear you will never let them out of your sight again.  Yet the cycle continues to repeat itself.  To always ensure a speedy dash out the front door, follow these practical stepsto end the frustration of misplaced keys.

1)  Be consistent by always keeping your keys in the same place.  Regardless of how tired or distracted you may be when you get in the door, take the time to go directly to the spot to aid in starting this routine.  Keep sticky notes on the inside of the front door, bathroom mirror, or fridge to remind you to immediately go back and put them in place.

2)  Make sure the keychain you purchase is sturdy.  Your key ring holds important items to you—keys to your home, car, office, and personal mail.  Spend a little more money on your keychain to ensure their safety.

3)  Do a key audit.  If you do not like carrying a lot of keys on your chain, sort through them and get rid of ones you do not frequently use.  Make sure all keys work and that you know what each is for.  For easy identification, you can purchase keys cut with designs and patterns.  Or, for a simple trick, paint the body of the key with colourful nail polish.  Mount a hook rack on the wall and label them for quick and easy access when needed.

4)  Whether you choose a hook, bowl, or basket by the door, make it fun.  Buy an inexpensive funky coloured hook or pretty bowl that catches your attention.  If you immediately hit the fridge when you walk in, keep your keys on top of the fridge.  Try to choose somewhere out in the open where you can easily see them.  Putting them in your jacket pocket can lead to panic when you cannot remember you put them there.  In your bag, briefcase or backpack, find a regular home for keys and get them back to this spot just as you would in your home.

5)  Being absent minded is no excuse to losing keys.  A good memory is often related to developing good daily habits.  The key is to follow the routine of always using the same location.  Once the habit kicks in, you will do it without even realizing you did.

6)  Accidents can happen, so keep an extra house key tucked in your wallet or with a close friend.

With these helpful tips, you’ll never have to worry about misplaced keys again.  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 www.organizeanything.com.

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