Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Getting Prepped for Back to School

It seems unreal that it is already time for school to begin but yet it is indeed that time. Planning ahead will make the transition from school break to back-to-school less stressful.

School generates a lot of paper even though more and more of it is on line. Make a plan for it now.
You will likely receive:
  • General school information such as calendar of events, school hours, rules, fees, team sports available, contact information, PTA news
  • Welcome letter from your child's teacher with her information
  • List of needed school supplies
  • Lunch schedule
  • As the year progresses, student work and art will also pour in
I have seen people do very well with having a notebook for each child holding their school information and schedules as well as report cards. Others have scanned forms and reports and stored them on their phone or computer. A bin is helpful to store papers and art work.

Always keep graded school work until the end of each grading period. If there is a question about a grade, you have something to carry into the conference. At the end of each grading period, cull most of the work keeping only the best.

When the school calendar comes in, immediately put important dates into the family calendar. You don't want to be caught short when there are teacher work days, early dismissals, known field trips, etc.

When the first general informational letter comes in, put into your phone important contact numbers such as the main office, the guidance counselor, or the nurse. Put titles into the contact list as well as the name (Nurse Sara Nightingale).

Set up a plan for all incoming paper your child carries home. Have a landing pad for all papers that you need to see such as field trip permission slips, picture day schedule, and item requests. At the beginning of the year, each day ask your child "Do you have anything that needs to be put in the basket for me to look over?" As the school year progresses you can fade out the questioning and let him become independent.

Most schools have planners where the children log in their homework assignments. At the beginning of the school year, check these daily. Have a calendar at your child's workstation where he can learn to schedule projects that take more than one evening. Weekly clean out the backpack and put all graded work and art into a bin.

The first weeks of school can be stressful so plan ahead. Start practicing the week before school waking up to an alarm and following a morning routine. In the beginning use timers so that your child can play "beat the clock". How much you break up the morning routine will depend on your child's age and maturity. Older children might just need:
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Gather all supplies to go out the door
While younger children might need:
  • Wash up
  • Brush teeth
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get ready to go out the door
Have an assigned place for backpacks. Make it a nightly ritual to have backpacks ready and in place for the next school day.

Establish regular routines to minimize the morning hassle. Shoes will be lost. The soccer uniform will not have gotten washed. The dog will throw up on the rug. So control what you can and leave time for life absurdities.

Have a great school year!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Always Do Your Best

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been a favorite book of mine for many years. Each time I read it, I am in a different place and different sections of the book pop out at me.

Recently, I have been rereading the fourth agreement - Always Do Your Best.

I like that the book says "always do your best, no more and no less." It reminds me that my best on some days will have a higher quality than on other days and that is OK.

If we overwork something, we may sacrifice something else. If we can do something in two hours but spend eight hours on it, then we grow tired and wont enjoy the process and our life. Doing our best shouldn't feel like work because we should enjoy what we are doing.

If we do our best, we are going  to be productive. We are going to be good to our self. Our actions are going to make us happy. Doing your best is doing something because you love to do it, not because you expect a reward. If you take an action because you have to, then you will not do your best.

You can have a lot of great ideas, but you need to also have action. Without acting on your ideas and doing your best, there will be no results and no rewards.

Live in the now. Enjoy your life. Do your best!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips For Handling Those Tasks You Hate

I think we all have those tasks that languish on our "to do" list waaay too long. One of my procrastination tactics is the old cut and paste this chore until later in the week,  or better yet next Monday when I am fresh and the week is young.

For me, some of these tasks are phone calls I don't want to make (that client who keeps cancelling - the request to have someone review my book). I dread the possibility of rejection. Then there are  the projects I am working on (my digital estate plan, promoting my virtual organizing). These tasks seem both overwhelming and not as urgent as other tasks.

So, what to do?
  1. Acknowledge that I am doing this.
           Just verbalizing how I feel and why I keep putting off this task gives me some perspective. Instead of just feeling the negative thoughts, I can start to make a plan for action.

     2. Think about how I am going to feel once the task is complete and how I am going to reward myself.

          I know that I will be much lighter without this monkey on my back. I will feel free to do something I really want to do without feeling guilty.

    3. Look at the possible positive outcomes from doing these tasks.

         The client may be just waiting for my call as her nudge to action. People may be very happy to review my book. They just hadn't thought to do so. My projects are all ones that will give me peace of mind.

    4. Break down large projects into small parts.

         Stop putting on my "to do" list things like "work on visual organizing promotion."  Instead put down "brainstorm everything you need to do to promote." This is doable and then I can start to list each little task.
    5. Use if-then planning (got this out of Psychology Today article). 

         If I haven't finished (put in task) by 3:00 p.m., then I am going to file it away and work on (new task). If the client hasn't responded to my email by Wednesday evening then I am going to call her at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. According to the Psychology Today article, by deciding in advance what you are going to do and when and where you are going to do it, there's no deliberating when the time comes. If-then planning has been shown in over 200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200-300 percent on average.

OK! I have my plan. Let's just do it!

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Routines - An Often Overlooked Organizational Tool

Almost all of us have certain routines. I would hate to get up every morning and make decisions about should I brush my teeth, take a shower, or make my bed. I have my morning routines and they are certainly on autopilot at least until I have had my first cup of coffee.

Not having to make decisions about when to do necessary chores can really streamline tasks and save time. I know that on certain days I do laundry. I have a set time each week I pay my bills. I know when I am going to plan my menus for the week and make my grocery list. I shop for groceries once a week and that time is scheduled.

The word routine sounds boring and maybe a little rigid but good routines manage your time and energy. By always clearing out your sink and clearing your kitchen counter before you go to bed, you minimize clutter and leave your being rejuvenated. Good routines  give you peace of mind.

Routines ensure that what is really important to us really gets accomplished. Your day has a certain rhythm to it. It feels good to go through your day knowing that you have previously chosen these tasks and that now they are routine.

I challenge you to think of at least one new routine that would make your day less frantic.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer