How to Add Routines to your Schedule

routines and schedules

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Remember those days in kindergarten when your day was brimming with consistency? You knew the day began with Circle Time, followed by Center Time, then Recess and Snack. With each day you anticipated what was expected and you worked hard at each activity. Having a schedule helps us be more productive with our time and energized in our efforts. There are many ways to implement structure in our day.

 

Routines, structure or patterns

“Pattern Planning” is a system recommend by Doctors John Ratey and Ned Hallowell in the book, ADD Friendly Ways to Organize by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau. Begin with the baby steps of your big goals and then create a pattern for the day with these. This includes a regular wake up time, breakfast, exercise, morning and afternoon work times, dinner preparation and bedtime routine for the evening. This simplified pattern includes all aspects of your life.

  • For families, this is especially important in creating a positive beginning and end to the day. Decide what is most important and then add the steps to incorporate this. Decide what time you need to be out the door, and work backwards allowing plenty of time to get ready and add 10 extra minutes just in case! Create organization around the structure of the day, including a “landing strip” to place and grab back packs to head out the door. An evening routine adds time for homework, pick up, and bedtime routines.
  • For work creating a structure to your week keeps you productive.  If you assign a major theme to each day, you are sure to keep each goal moving forward. If you assign administrative tasks to the same time each day, you keep these from building up.

 

Does consistency lead to boredom?

Add fun to the routines with a new dimension such as music, variety, or partnering.

  • Add music with a play list or a pandora station just for that routine.
  • Add variety in the way you go about the routine, starting and ending with the same task or alternating the start and finish.
  • Create different partnerships for your routine.  It may be different people, a class or a timer that are your start and stop mechanisms.
  • Make it fun and wacky!

It is important to remember that “structure” is not about rigidity, it is about consistency. The pattern should be followed more frequently than not because the schedule honors your priorities rather than your distractions.

 

Writing out your perfect routine

Get started by writing out your “perfect” schedule in a grid, allowing for appropriate time to do each step. There is power in writing.  There’s power in a check list.  Block in times with an arrow for your activities. Post it in a place you will see it regularly and use a timer to help you remember.

 

Your perfect routine may revolve around one activity being the puzzle piece. That center puzzle piece can make the difference.  That’s when other activities fall into place because you have accomplished one task first. If you read, meditate or exercise first in the morning, your other routines may work better as a result. If you do your first Most Important Task early in the day, the rest of the day works better.

 

Add a bit to your existing routine

One of the most successful ways to create a routine is to add a new routine to an existing routine. You may think you have no routines. However there is always something small you can build on.  If you want to do more exercise as a routine, add it on by going to a gym on the way home. If you want to build in better nutrition habit, add in one item to your existing grocery run.  Just adding in one small change to an existing routine makes it easier to find success.

 

 

A routine adds efficiency and effectiveness to our day by helping us focus on a specific activity. But more importantly, consistency makes for peace of mind and positive energy and of course we all want that!

 

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Houston Helping Houston

houston helping houston flooding

 

 

Thinking of our fellow Houstonians, Houston has been helping Houston. Here are three resources to help you think about small ways to help others in our city.

 

City of Houston Storm Recovery 

American Red Cross

Houston Flood Resources Facebook Group

We can all find a small way to make a difference for our community.

Spring organizing to create a Capsule Wardrobe

 

capsule wardrobe

It’s not your typical wardrobe.  The concept of the capsule wardrobe was started in the 1970s as essential, traditional pieces that make up a complete wardrobe. It includes just a fraction of the items we have in our closets typically, but all the items we currently love!  With all the interest in minimalism and essentialism, is this the time for your spring organizing to focus on building a capsule wardrobe?

What items are included?

A capsule wardrobe includes a total of 40 items.  It includes tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets, sweaters and shoes.  Start with a color palette that you love. Build pieces that work together, that can be layered and that can be paired.  Add in accessories that add sparkle to your items. This includes scarves and jewelry.

 

Why organize to create a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe pulls together all the elements of simplicity. You can wear all of the clothes in your closet, rather than just the 20% we typically wear. You love all the clothes you have so you are energized and ready to go in the morning. You save money because there is no extra spending on sale items, items you purchase without a matching piece and no impulse purchases.  Most especially you have more outfits than you ever imagined.  Mixing and matching from your capsule wardrobe brings out creativity.

Pulling together your favorites

Get started with what you love already in your closet now. Pull items that work together.  Start discarding what still has tags and does not match your capsule wardrobe.  Enjoy your new attire!  Becoming more mindful of your purchases and making it easier to get ready in the morning are side benefits of this new adaptation of your closet.

 

More closet organizing ideas here!

 

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3 Steps to Organizing Exterior Spaces

 

organize outside organize exterior space

 

Spring weather invites us back into our yards.  Your yard might include gardens, decks, a pool or a solely a green space.  It might be a space for you to rejuvenate or entertain.  No matter the use, you are creating an organized and functional space to enjoy for the season.

 

Freshen up

Your space needs freshening up. That might be power washing, pruning or general maintenance.  Make a list of what needs to be done. Decide if you are going to do the work or if you are going to delegate it.  Set a date an time on your calendar after excessive pollen has ended or other inclement weather.  Working with a team makes this work move quickly.

 

Get organized with your tools for freshening up. Set aside a space in  your garage specifically for your outside tools.  It’s easier to work when everything is together and ready to use. Use vertical shelving to keep your garden tools and sprays together.

 

 

 

Organize your zones

Just like inside your home, your outside has many different uses.  Organize by zones for entertaining and activity.  If you have seating, be sure you have company comforts like tables to place food or drinks.  If you have sports, be sure you have bins to store racquets, balls or other accessories.  Sit or stand in your spot and think about what you will use there and how to store it.

 

Large covered chests can help you store items.  Be sure you use one chest to store a single item. Use a chest for pillows, a chest for toys and a chest for sports.  Small items fall to the bottom so add a small shoe box size plastic bin to hold these.  Be sure you have ample garbage cans for trash.

 

Pottery Barn storage

Pottery Barn storage

 

Maintain your space

Every space needs a little work throughout the season. It may be small repairs. It may be storms or wind.  Keep you space maintained with a quick weekly walk through that gets all items back to where they belong and organized.

 

Pottery Barn storage

Pottery Barn storage

 

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How to Keep Organized Until the End of School

organized for school

 

 

It’s the last quarter of the school year and summer is around the corner. It’s also the hardest time to keep motivated for students.  Regardless of whether your student had a successful school year or not, you want to help them end strong. Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you keep organized until the end of school.

 

Keep organized with routines

As it stays lighter longer, it’s harder to keep your evening routines in place. It’s also hard to get up as daylight comes later.  Keep routines like homework time and evening wind down at the same hour as all year long. A good night’s rest makes it easier to get up in the dark. Starting homework and packing up the back pack at the same time makes sure that all homework is completed and returned to school.

 

Keep prioritizing organization

At this point if you look in your student’s backpack, there’s papers everywhere and no order in binders.  Get everything back in order with your student once a week to keep organization a priority.  Remove the papers that are not needed in school and place these in an accordion file that stays at home to use for semester exams.  Replace pens, pencils and other tools so the back pack is fully stocked for work.

 

Keep organized with visual reminders

Your student’s planner may not be used completely as they slip into the “why does it matter now” phase of school.  Use post it notes and dry erase boards to help reminder them why writing in their planner matters.  Use your family calendar and family meeting to share your own stories of why you write stuff down.  Most student’s hate being told what to do, so keep reminders visual.

 

Keep the end in mind as you move through the final phases of the school year.  It’s about keeping on keeping on!  A big finish makes the year as successful as can be.

 

More tips for student organizing here!

Spring Clean and Organize Your Closet

spring organizing

Our closets are our best friends and our worst enemies. Lurking in there are all sizes of clothes, keepsakes from our youth, elastic that has no elasticity and shoes that are completely fabulous but totally uncomfortable.  It’s time to get in gear and make closet decisions.  Use these tips to spring clean and organize your closet.

 

 

Evaluate then eliminate

A major source of closet problems is clothes clutter. By honestly evaluating the need and use of the items in your closet, you will find space galore! Place a sturdy handle bag in your closet to place clothes or items that are too old, too small or large, or just “not you” to donate to a worthy cause. Keep only what makes you look and feel fabulous.  Each time you take a blouse off a hanger and it does not work, place it in the bag! Think about what works together and if you have nothing that matches a certain piece. If you have professional wardrobe items, you can donate these to Dress for Success all year long. For tax donation values, use Its Deductible to create a tax deduction as well.  These lots of consignment as well in your neighborhood for trendy well cared for clothes.

Organize your space most effectively

Do you see white wall above, below or around the items in your closet? If so, there are many options to maximize the space in your closet. Double rods double your space! Use a shoe organizer to convert the back of your closet door to hidden extra space. It can be used for scarves, jewelry or other items.

Time to containerize

Looking for a certain pair of shoes? Are your scarves wadded up in a drawer, hard to find? Clear containers with labels are the way to go! Different shapes and sizes can be used to maximize your space.

 

Hangers, hangers everywhere

The first step to a more visually appealing closet is to use consistent hangers for your wardrobe. Available inexpensively, choose slim line hangers for those hard to hang items. You will find these hangers add uniformity and a visual sense of order. And remember, when you remove an item from the hanger, take the hanger off the shelf, and store it nearby for the garment to return!

 

Daily Routine

This is the Organized You – your evening routine to help you keep organized! Everyone needs a daily organization time, time to put away items and to get items prepared for the next day. Set up hooks over the door for those items that are not yet dirty enough to dry clean or launder.  When you put off organizing daily, it becomes a major chore.

 

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How Recycling Electronics Make a Difference

organize recycling

 

It’s started as a drip and now it’s a tsunami. The rate of new electronics coming into our home is beyond a pace we imagined.  New technology evolves faster and faster.  Recycling electronics makes a difference for our environment.  We can make the conscious choice to recycle electronics.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
  • For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

A scary statistic is the pollution that is occurring in our landfills due to electronics.

  • According to the E.P.A., electronics comprise 1% of the material entering U.S. landfills; yet contribute 70% of the toxins found there.

Because of the rapid changes in technology, we often have a variety of items to recycle.  We can have multiple cell phones, computers, and tablets in our homes.  Here’s the basic steps to recycling electronics in your home or office.

Steps to recycle

Before you change to a new device, be sure you are backing up. It’s easier than ever with different options. You can use the cloud (itunes), a service (Carbonite) or an external hard drive. Be sure to wipe clean your device so you can protect yourself from identity theft or other issues.  (Apple) (Android) . It takes a few extra steps but your security will pay off. You are ready to decide  then if you want to sell, donate or give away your electronics. Inspect your devices to decide if you are going to donate or sell your electronics to be sure they are in top condition to sell.

Places to donate or sell

You can donate your used equipment to Goodwill, a local charity or at retail stores like Best Buy, Staples, and OfficeMax. Specific sites like Ebay Giving Works or  CellphonesforSoldiers recycle your device and may use the funds for a good cause.  These items are recycled and used for others. Sell your used equipment to Amazon, eBay, Gazelle, Glyde and uSell.  This gives you a little cash for your investment. Other resources include AllGreen and Earth911. No matter which path you take,  you are eliminating extra items in your home and clearing space.

 

Good deeds that benefit all of us

Recycling your e-waste takes a few extra steps. Just like all recycling, it’s about creating a good habit.   You can find other ways to recycle electronics in your own community.   This contribution to global well being is well worth the time.

 

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Beginner’s Guide to Time Management

time management

 

Each year we start off with great intentions about our time management, like arriving on time, scheduling appointments, and prioritizing our time with our family. Even the most organized can feel stressed by time challenges. Having a few guidelines can make it easier to be productive and feel in control.

 

• Time for bed. Even adults need a bedtime. The National Sleep Foundation finds that adults need 7 – 9 hours of rest to be most productive at home and work. Setting a reasonable bedtime and establishing good routines to promote sleep make a big difference. Start by having a time in mind to get in bed, and work backwards to get ready for bed. Turn off TV, iPad and any other electronics an hour before your head hits the pillow. Strive for a consistent bedtime to get a great night’s sleep.
• Give yourself time. Being realistic about how long a task takes and giving yourself permission to take the time to get a task complete can be a relief. If it takes you an hour, two or three to pay bills, set a time that allows for you to completely get this job done. Not sure how long any task will take? Double up on your best guess and then write it in your calendar. It is sure to be completed with this accountability.
• Take time between. When we schedule appointments back to back or have a long series of tasks to complete, having a little wiggle room (“white space” visually on your calendar), takes the stress away. It is rare that anything runs smoothly, so giving yourself this space eases the stress. Just in case you arrive early or have extra time, take a magazine in your car or carrying case just for fun!

 

time management

• Planning time. Be proactive this year with a weekly planning time and family meeting. Get ahead by looking ahead, setting time to gather up what you need and be prepared. This time is priceless for organization and success.

 

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Spring into Organizing

spring organizing

 

 

It’s not been a long winter, but we are already hearing robins chirping, the sun rising earlier and the sensing feeling of change.  It’s also the time we feel ready to tackle organizing in our space.  It’s time to spring forward into organizing.

 

There’s a few important spaces that need attention.  These spaces require a fresh start with a new perspective.  Organizing your office space, laundry room, landing spot and linens help you get a fresh start for spring.

 

Office space

Your office may have become the dumping ground for anything and everything.

  • Get this space back to functioning with a mass purge of papers.  Check out what to keep and for how long and get down to shredding.  Now you know what to keep when papers come in. Keep filing simple with broad categories or just the box for the year.  Simple filing makes it easier to file and takes less time.
  • Reset this space by moving items back to where they belong.  Often offices have lots of bags and boxes that simply need to be redistributed.
  • Recycle your dead technology.  Check on Earth.911 to know where and how to recycle items.

 

Laundry room

Have an overload of clothes taken over your laundry room? Is it impossible to enter?  Get a fresh start in this space.

  • If your laundry room is really your closet, it’s time to move items back.
  • Set up a system with baskets, laundry sorter or other product that helps you start and finish one load at a time.
  • Less clothes make laundry easier. Eliminate clothes in your closet you are not feeling joy and make space for what makes you feel fabulous.  Organizing your closet is a gift to yourself!

 

Landing spot

Winters gone and so should your heavy coats!  It’s time to get the landing spot ready for spring.

  • Go through coats, sweaters and boots to see if these are ready to be donated and bless others.
  • Add a basket for flipflops and other summer shoes that gather in this area.
  • Add hooks for swim and other summer season bags.

 

Spring linens

Give yourself an extra gift with sorting through the linen closet.  Often we have many seasons of linens.

  • Are there stained and torn towels or sheets that can be donated?  How many sheet sets or comforters do you need?  These are sold as rags at thrift stores and used for animal shelters.
  • Is your linen closet in disarray? Just a little decluttering and straightening can help.
  • Need a fresh perk in your bedroom?  Purchase new linens and let go of your existing linens.

 

Choose one of these a week to spring into your organizing this year!

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Six Simple Solutions to keep you Sane every Season!

simple organizing solutions

Do things seem more complicated than ever? Rather than joy and anticipation, are you feeling overwhelmed at the thought of the new year and all it will bring? Start the year with simple organizing solutions to create order and balance in your life.

 

Your calendar

Have a great calendar you love! It can be paper or electronic, whichever is most compatible and engaging for you. It should be portable to travel with you and the format should be week or month at a glance. Rules for using your calendar include writing in everything regularly (from doctor appointments to work meetings) reviewing it daily. Add a weekly planning time for you to review what is coming up and adding items from your master list. This is the single most important tool you can have for time management.

 

Your list

Most people have too much to remember on a daily basis to remember it all without writing it down. Having a list keeps you in the moment, so that you can keep energy and focus on the project you are doing. Keep a spiral notebook or PDA with you at all times, so you can easily jot down notes and lists when the thought occurs. By consolidating all of this in one place you can review and prioritize actions and projects, combine activities and errands and be more productive each day.

 

Command center for your papers

Create a space for papers that require action. Your command center holds all the very important action papers, including bills and other papers requiring an action. Add a section for papers that will be filed. Each day open your mail at this station, recycle junk mail, shred potential identity theft papers and bring catalogs and magazines to a reading spot. By creating a specific work station for these papers, you are ready to act on them with an hour of weekly administrative time.

A place for everything

Often clutter is the result of items needing a specific “home” or space. Designate that space by deciding where the item is used most often and determine to place it back each and every time. By designating a space, you are also setting a limit to the quantity of the item you can own. For example, all clothes must fit in the master bedroom closet or all laundry products fit on the shelves above the washer. Defining a place for everything helps you save money, ease the stress of looking for items and maintain the order you have created in your home.

simple organizing solutions

Keep it Simple Sweetie

By keeping our projects and routines simple, we can enjoy our lives more fully. Routines like laundry and dinner should be as easy to complete as possible. These are activities that enhance our lives by completion rather than complication. Think of simple ways to create routine for you and your family. Can each family member having their own laundry basket eliminate laundry in the family room? Can dinner be sandwiches and soup? The K.I.S.S. principle makes the difference in our homes and activities.

15 minutes of organizing every day

Every day have 15 minutes of organizing to maintain the systems you have set up. After our busy days, we come home tired from our work, but we still need to get a little organizing completed. What can you do in 15 minutes? Get things back to where they belong, get ready for the next day, get lunches made, get your list together, get paper sorted into your command center and get your sanity back! We all can do anything for 15 minutes, especially, if it adds peace of mind and quality to our lives.

 

 

Work on these simple solutions a little each day. Uncomplicated, easy, straightforward and effortless organizing solutions for every season will make this year your best!

 

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