It’s back to school time! The school year is getting started and your family is probably just settling into new routines. It can’t be soon enough! It can take a little time for families organize and get comfortable with the routines of the school year.
Morning and evening rituals may require two or three weeks before sleep schedules, school drop off, and homework times are established. Give yourself a reasonable amount time to get settled in and get a little extra help from family members.
Here are some back to school organizing tips to help you get started:
Plan for Emergencies
Somehow, your kids seem to get sick on the same day as your biggest presentation for the year! Be prepared for these types of situations and set up after school and emergency care now. You will be glad you were so organized on that day!
Before you children start after school activities, it’s a great time to check out carpooling possibilities in your neighborhood — especially for families with many activities at the same time. Carpooling can reduce and give you peace of mind. It also gives your children the chance to make new friends and learn flexibility.
Arrange for a Homework Helper
Not home during homework time? Think about hiring a high school or college age homework helper for your family. Having someone (extended family member, family friend, or neighbor) available to supervise and assist can be a huge relief.
Get Help With Household Chores & Organizing
There’s a lot of help around you, so why not take advantage of that by enlisting your kids (and partner)? Let your children get involved and share responsibility of keeping your home organized. You may want to start with a family meeting to discuss who can do what jobs. Then, follow up by making a list and then posting it in the kitchen (or other highly visible location).
Be specific about what each job involves and the day it should be completed, and take the time to show them how to maintain the spaces they’re responsible for. Even the youngest of family members can help sort and put away clothes, help with loading/unloading the dishwasher, and contribute to keeping their personal areas organized. Posting the list is visible reminder of what need to be done (and keeps you from nagging, too).
Use a Shared Calendar
One of the most important routines you can put in place is to create and use a shared calendar. Be sure that parents, caregivers, and grandparents can have easy access to it. Add all the dates from school, church, travel, and family events now so everyone can prepare ahead of time. This will be especially helpful if both parents work outside the home.
Coordination is key to organization. Remember, everyone needs to have access the calendar daily so that they can add or make any necessary changes. Parents may want to schedule one day per week to chat about upcoming events over the next few days and weeks, so that there are no surprises.
Looking for more back to school help? Check out these other great resources:
- Back-to-School Supplies Checklist (RealSimple.com)
- Create a landing area for your kid’s school stuff (Unclutterer.com)
- Back to School (USA.gov)
- Concepts for Kids ~ When to Stop Organizing (Orgjunkie.com)
“… people who surfed the web or sent a text message within two hours of going to bed reported higher levels of stress than those who didn’t engage in these behaviors.“
Technology Use Before Bed Linked with Increased Stress | LiveScience.com | 5.29.13
*Product or book links are affiliate links.
I really need to fire my imaginary cabana boy.
My imaginary cabana boy is sometimes named Fernando, and other times, his name is Bennett, who happens to speak with a British, Irish, Scottish, or Australian accent, depending on what I’ve just watched on BBC America.
No matter his name, he doesn’t do a darn thing around here, and I am a woman of action – unless I’m tired. What I really need is a bunch of those adorable minions from the Despicable Me movies.
I am writing this post at 3 a.m. I’m awake because I fell asleep on the couch watching the History Channel, and when I woke up several hours later, I left the couch to go to bed. I discovered the bloody (British term!) cockroach hanging out in the hallway.
Technically, we’re in the tropics here in Houston, and the giant cockroaches are like annoying roommates. They just walk in, plop down in the middle of the floor, and act like they’re entitled to be here.
Naturally, the imaginary cabana boy was nowhere to be seen to deal with said bug, and I have the unwavering belief that men should deal with all insects and rodents. My brother said he is supposed to deal with all creepy crawlies as well, but by the time my sister-in-law screams, she has beaten the insect beyond recognition with a shoe.
The bug spray is all the way in the kitchen, so I grabbed glass cleaner from underneath the bathroom sink and sprayed the roach. Unlike their tiny counterparts who have the dignity to die in dark corners of cabinets, the giant tree roaches are melodramatic and enter the throes of death better than any silent movie star.
To make sure he was going down, I continued to spray him with cleaning fluid as he dramatically crisscrossed the hallway. I left his carcass smelling of cucumber mint in the hallway to deal with in the morning. The real morning, when the sun is up.
As a singleton, I live alone so I am unsupervised, and this little saga reminds me yet again of how singletons can’t delegate things around the house unless we pay someone. After all, you can only invite your friend with more OCD than you and loves to clean so many times before they catch on and move to another city.
My married friends often point out that having other people living with you doesn’t necessarily mean you have assistance with home stuff. Way to shatter my dreams.
So what is a singleton to do?
- Give yourself a break. No one says everything has to be done right now, and nothing has to be done perfectly. As my friend and organizing colleague, Donna Smallin Kuper, says, “Done is perfect.”
- Do simple multi-tasking. When the Keurig is heating up or the toaster is going, I put any dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down the counter, or clean the sink. It makes me feel productive.
- Clean as you go. When I actually cook, I clean as I go so I don’t have a huge mess at the end.
- Hire help as needed. This is called delegation, and it’s one of my favorite organizing techniques because it’s like having minions. It’s easier for me to pay a guy to mow the lawn every couple of weeks than trying to do it myself. Hate cleaning? Hire a housekeeper. You can opt for regular cleanings or a couple of times a year for deep cleaning. (And yes, I do have a regular pest control guy. The giant roaches taunt them.)
- Go digital. Dealing with less paper means you have to deal with less physical clutter. If you need help with paperwork, hire a virtual assistant to help.
- Get organized. Obviously, decluttering on a regularly basis helps reduce the amount of stuff you have to deal with. Everything should have a home, and that makes it easier for you when you’re trying to find something.
So, ditch the cabana boy for your own minions, or become your own minion. You still have to kill your own bugs.
Today’s post by Jay Harris has great tips on how to keep your closet in check.
In the first of C.S. Lewis’ novels about the mystical land of Narnia, Lucy finds the secret passage through a closet inside a spare bedroom. Just think, if Lucy had opened the closet and been greeted by an avalanche of clothes and boxes, she might never have helped save Narnia from the Evil White Witch.
To some people, the closet door is absolutely imperative – and, if they don’t close it in time, anything from a handbag to a pair of shoes that never fit correctly is liable to come tumbling out into the middle of the room. If you’ve longed for more excitement when you get dressed each morning and a closet that has more space with better organization, keep in mind that your own closet can serve those very purposes. With a little bit of attention, a seemingly small bedroom closet can transform into the place of your dreams.
Original Image: Closet Factory
Ditch the Dead Weight
Decide What to Throw Away
You’ll never obtain your dream closet as long as you let dead weight drag down the whole operation. Start by examining everything inside with a stern eye. A closet cleanout can be therapeutic, if you’re willing to discard anything that keeps you from moving forward. Items that are ripped, stained, outdated, or that no longer flatter you can probably be thrown away or given to charity.
- What have I not worn in years?
- What am I foolishly holding onto that I will never need or fit inside of again?
Consign and Swap
Invite friends over for drinks, snacks, and some fun swapping of clothing and accessories. Gently used items may be of value to your friends and family, so ask them. Just because you got tired of that tank top from a few seasons ago doesn’t mean that your friend won’t like it.
Consignment stores are another way to make a dollar off clothing and other items. Check out the local shops in your area and see if they can sell your threads. Make sure they are cleaned and pressed first!
Take Everything Else and Organize It
Now, it’s time to organize the items that you deemed good enough to keep. But we can’t just throw them inside haphazardly. You’ll need a system.
You should arrange things not just by season, but by how common that type of weather is in your area. For example, if you live in the Southeastern United States, sweaters which are made out of lamb’s wool should not be as accessible as cotton cardigans.
If you have many clothes and accessories for each season, you may even want to store the off-season items in airtight containers (affiliate link) or in drawers until it’s time to integrate them with the rest of your clothing. With the help of airtight containers, it’s possible to store your clothes anywhere in the house or even the garage.
Again, think about how often you wear something. Surely you don’t wear cocktail attire as often as a casual work dress. The items that are more formal or specific in their use should be toward the back of the closet — and those you need to grab easily toward the front.
Group all items of a kind – all pants, all skirts, all suits (and so on) – together inside the closet. That way, if you decide to wear a skirt, you immediately see what your options are.
Color should be the last way you organize. Some people don’t organize by color, but it will make the whole process much more visually appealing. Your closet can end up looking like the ones you see in magazines when you finish. And, you’re probably more likely keep things organized when things look the way you want them to.
Make Use of Your Shelves – or Create Some
Shelves in your closet should not be abused, but rather treated with the same organization principles as the rest of the closet. Make sure you aren’t simply throwing out-of-season items on top of the shelves (these should be stored away, as we mentioned). Shoes, handbags, and scarves make great shelf buddies and will catch your eye as something that can complement an outfit.
If you don’t have enough shelf space in your closet, there is always the option of creating more closet storage with DIY shelves. If you aren’t handy with a hammer and nails, try the scores of closet helpers (affiliate link) that are on the market and available just about anywhere (like your local home improvement store).
Make Use of Floor Space
Depending on how large the floor of your closet is, you can make great use of that space as well. It’s a good opportunity to store other items that won’t fit on shelves.
One way to accomplish this is to buy an inexpensive bookcase (affiliate link) and use it for shoes and other accessories. Of course, there are additional options out there for shoe shelves and other closet interiors, but bookcases can offer more space, especially if your closet lacks the number of shelves you need.
Add Finishing Touches
When your closet is organized, you will probably feel pretty good about it. Why not add a few finishing touches?
Try these ideas:
- Pleasant scents – Refresh your fabrics with an air freshener for the closet.
- Mood lighting – If you don’t like the bulb that illuminates your reorganized closet, change the light to something that flatters your clothing.
Remember, getting dressed for an occasion can set the mood, so if your closet is a disaster area, take the time to organize it. You’ll feel better each time you open that door. Heck, you might even leave the door open on purpose.
About the Author
Jay Harris has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs since 2005. Jay is a contributor to Home Depot’s Home Decorators.com website, and provides advice on closet storage organization and tips for bathroom cabinets and vanities.
“A survey from the folks at Jive Software, Inc. tells us that a lot of us are spending our free time on our jobs. The survey found that, when not at work, 90 percent of U.S. respondents spend non-working time doing just that – work.
The same percentage applies to Australia, while 88 percent of employees in Great Britain do the same. Of those surveyed, 37 percent of American employees reported they work more than 10 hours per week during their off time.”
90 Percent of US Employees Work During Personal Time, Survey Says | TMCNet.com | 8.21.13
*Product or book links are affiliate links.
Many thanks to Katie F. for today’s post on five key storage spaces homeowners can take advantage of.
Is your house in a state of constant clutter? Even if you clean regularly and try to stay as organized as possible, your problem could be a little more deeply rooted. Many people—even the most organized ones—can find themselves in messy situations for one simple reason: overlooked storage spaces.
Take a moment to think about what options are available in your home and consider the following five commonly overlooked storage spaces:
Storage Space #1: Under the Kitchen Sink
Many people use the space under the kitchen sink to toss boxes of trash bags, sponges, and dish soap, but it can hold so much more. Consider installing an inexpensive rod to hang spray bottles of cleaning supplies and rags for quick and easy kitchen cleaning. You can even store infrequently used kitchen tools in containers underneath the sink to free up space elsewhere.
Storage Space #2: Under the Bed
Think about how much space your bed takes up; now think about how much you could fit underneath it. Purchase long, thin storage bins to hold out-of-season clothes, needed old school or work papers or sentimental items that you don’t want displayed on your dresser but can’t throw away. If your bed is too close to the floor, invest in inexpensive bed risers (affiliate link) to lift it up a few inches.
Storage Space #3: Empty Walls
If you have blank walls in your home, you’re wasting valuable storage space. Fill your walls with pictures that have been taking up space in the basement or attic, and install shelves on empty walls to hold knick knacks and figurines that may be taking up valuable space on the coffee table.
Storage Space #4: Garages
Garages aren’t just for holding your car. Put shelves in your garage to take full advantage of this extra area for storing additional items. The garage is perfect for keeping outdoor items such as rakes or beach supplies, along with step stools, golf clubs, tennis rackets, and other sports equipment. Hang up hooks along the walls to maximize your storage options.
Storage Space #5: Entryways or Mudrooms
Just because your family probably spends more time in the family room or kitchen than in the entryway to your home doesn’t mean it can’t be utilized for storage. Use a coat rack in this area or hang hooks in the foyer for coats and umbrellas. You can also bring in cupboards or a low bench for shoes or use a bookshelf in the entryway to hold and display those items. The more storage space you are able to create and take advantage of, the more organized your home will be. If you have other ideas for turning empty space into useful storage, please share them in the comments below!
About the Author
This is a guest post by Katie F. on behalf of Hefty®. Visit www.hefty.com for more organizing tips to help get your house in order and looking great.
I provide office organization and administrative services for a client who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a small, but growing, skincare company that has been in business for a year and a half. The tasks I handle are diverse and utilize a wide range of skills, including office organizing and prioritizing tasks, as well as my prior experience as Vice President of Operations for a small entertainment company.
One minute, I may be creating systems and procedures to help build a solid foundation upon which the company can grow as it staffs up. The next, I may be reconciling the company’s monthly credit card bill to ensure prompt payment. At times, I could be working on office organizing, and rearranging workspace layouts to maximize space and create the most productive flow possible.
As I typically devote time to my client in 3-hour blocks, my real challenge is prioritizing tasks to make sure all of the essentials are addressed each time that I am in the office. Because the company is in growth mode, priorities are constantly shifting and new tasks are continually added to my to-do list.
Herein lies the issue… I need to keep track of everything that needs to be done. Remaining extremely results oriented is essential. This helps me ensure the “hot button” issues or tasks that are top of mind for the CEO are being prioritized accordingly. Even while I remain focused on the work at hand during my short block of time in the office, it only goes so far.
I have found I must continually assess the tasks on my to-do list to determine their priority, and have developed the following 3-step approach for staying on top of my ever growing to-do list.
1. Keep Track of To Do’s
I keep a written to do list of all of the tasks that need to be addressed so that I always have it with me to refer to as needed. The list is divided into sections with a page for each day of the current week. Those tasks requiring more immediate attention are assigned to a date during the week and noted accordingly. Those tasks that are considered bigger picture, or less time sensitive, like creating a National Preparedness Plan, are kept on a “Future Project” list. I review each of the day’s to-do’s at the end of the day and assign those tasks that haven’t been completed to another day of the week.
2. Prioritize & Take Care of the “Hot List”
Regardless of the length of each day’s list, I need to figure out the order in which I’ll tackle the tasks. This is where the question of importance and urgency enters the equation. Typically, I will address tasks that are on the CEO’s “hot list” first. If these are more time consuming, I will quickly identify the series of steps required to complete the task and get started on the first step right away so that I can report back that the “ball is in motion.” As for prioritizing the remaining tasks, I consider deadlines for completion, the impact on my objectives for the week, and the company’s goals.
3. Determine a Realistic Workload
In order to effectively prioritize and schedule tasks, I need to determine the amount of time required to complete each one. This becomes especially critical since I am working in 3-hour blocks and need to focus my energies on numerous tasks. So, what I might have been able to complete during a regular 8+ hour work day, now will be completed over the course of two or three 3-hour blocks. I also delegate tasks to the company’s full time summer intern whenever possible. This becomes a win-win as the tasks get completed in a timely manner and she gains additional experience for her resume.
*Affiliate product link on this page
Recently, my husband received an alert from our wireless carrier that he was close to using his data allotment for the month. I told him he had to make sure he was connected to WiFi whenever he had the chance like at home, at work and so on, so that he wouldn’t go over the data limit provided by our cellular carrier. He looked at me with a blank face and told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. And, I know he’s not alone.
With so many technological terms being thrown around these days, I thought I’d create a glossary of basic tech terms that can serve as a reference guide. I hope this clears up any questions you may have, and please feel free to leave me a comment in the box at the bottom of the page. Happy reading!
Knowing These Basic Tech Terms Will Make Your Life Easier
WiFi refers to the wireless Internet connection many people use at home and at work. You know when you walk into a Starbucks and see a sign that says, “Wifi available,” that means they have made their wireless Internet connection available to you or anyone that walks in with a laptop, smart phone, or tablet.
2. 3G? 4G? 4G LTE?
These terms refer to your smart phone and how fast they can navigate the Internet. 3G stands for “3rd generation,” 4G stands for “4th generation” and 4G LTE stands for “4th generation long term evolution.” What you need to remember is that 4G LTE is the fastest mobile data experience available at this point. If a 5G comes out, it will stand for __________________________ (fill in the blank).
If you want to have the same apps on your smart phone and your computer or the same appointments on your phone’s calendar and your computer’s calendar applications, then you need to sync the two devices. Think of syncing like sharing, whereas backing up is copying and storing.
4. Back Up
Backing up means you are making a copy of something and saving it on another device or platform. When you back up your smart phone, the back up will contain a copy of ALL the data – not just songs and calendar appointments but also apps, settings, and more.
URL stands for “uniform resource locator.” Simply put, it’s the address of a web page. For example, http://www.the-organizing-boutique.com is the address of my website’s home page. The next time someone asks for the URL of a website or web page, you’ll know that it’s the string of letters in the address bar at the top of your browser starting with “http://www.”
6. Internet Browser
An Internet browser is a computer program that allows you to surf the Internet. Remember way back when Netscape existed? Netscape was an Internet browser. Nowadays, we have browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome.
“What is a hyperlink and how do I include it in an email?” That was a question I got recently from my mom and thought it would be good to include here. A hyperlink is text that you can click on that will bring you to a web page.
In order to include a hyperlink in an email, the first thing you need to do is to copy the web address (or URL as you learned above). Then, in your email program, compose a new email and you should see an icon in your menu bar that looks like a chain link. Click on that, and follow the prompts, one of which is to paste the web address in.
For instructions specific to the email program you use, utilize a search engine like Google. Type in something like, “how to create a hyperlink in Gmail.”
8. Search Engine
A search engine is a website that allows users to search for things on the Internet. Examples of search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
“Apps” is a term that is short for “applications,” and in present day, it refers to applications used on smart phones. For example, have you heard of Evernote or Words With Friends? Those are apps that can be downloaded for free to your smart phone. Not all apps are free and many can help you to stay productive.
Now that you know what all these words mean, practice using each one in a sentence. For example:
I opened my Internet browser, Firefox, to use the search engine, Google, to find more information on how to create a hyperlink in an email.
Did you get all that?!
I hope this information helps you, and again feel free to leave a comment below if you have questions.
Are you ready for back to school? It can’t be time for school to begin already, can it? The thought of school starting can be emotional for both parents and kids alike. But, the best way to get in the back to school groove is to start with great routines. Having a regular sequence of activities can be very helpful and make life less stressful.
Here are a few routines that you can adjust before school starts …
Sleep is critical to all our well being and outlook each day.Children need a good night’s sleep and that means an early bedtime is essential for everyone. Work backwards from the time you want your kids to be asleep, including time to unwind and snuggle a little. Start early to get your kids to bed and you will have more time for your own bedtime.
There is no short changing your own sleep for other “more important” tasks. Parents need to work back from the time they get up to ensure they have 8 hours of rest. Everyone can get ready for bed a little early in order to get in bed at a good time. Begin the back-to-school bedtime routine a few weeks before school starts so that everyone in the family can get adjusted.
It will probably be very overwhelming to make three meals a day, seven days a week. Instead, consider keeping meals simple and nutritious during the week, and save special, big meals for the weekend. Get everyone’s input and create a list of what your family likes to eat. It’s much easier to work from what they like than get from scratch. The list should include twelve easy to make dinners and you can post it in the pantry. Want to add new, healthy meals to your menu? Check out The Six O’Clock Scramble: Quick, Healthy, and Delicious Dinner Recipes for Busy Families or Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes (affiliate links).
Make breakfast super simple so that there are few decisions to make. For example, breakfast can be something quick like a choice of three healthy cereals or simply a smoothie (both are easy make-and-take in the car foods). You can children can also assemble their lunches at night (saves a lot of time in the morning!) while everyone is finishing up dinner dishes. Make it easy for them by setting up a small space in the pantry for them to access lunch stuff.
Stay organized and never forget what you need by keeping a running grocery list using the OurGroceries app (Google Play | App Store) or attach a preprinted list to your refrigerator. Then, make it a routine to go to the grocery store two days out of each week. Remember, grocery shopping can be done by either partner in the home as long as you have a list.
Schedules and Family Meetings
During the summer, family meetings can sometimes get postponed due to travel or summer activities. The weeks before school starts can be a great time to get back to entering all important events/activities on your calendar so that you can get back into the planning groove.
I often suggest that families use a monthly At-a-Glance calendar (affiliate link) to plan out their vacations, holiday activities, and weekend plans. Weekly family meetings will also help everyone stay up-to-date on upcoming activities, discuss household responsibilities, and work together as a team. Many families choose a weekend day to meet and prepare for the week ahead. Get in the routine of meeting with your calendar in hand so that when school starts, you won’t forget those important dates and your children will get in the habit of sharing all the details you need when you meed. Don’t miss out on this important modeling for your kids.
Have you noticed that a few important routines that make a big difference to the flow of your day? Please share in the comment the rituals that help you get in the back to school groove.
“People whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success, because they’re more proactive than people who are at their best in the evening.“
Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm | HBR.org | 7.2010
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