3 Ways to Get Dinner on the Table

 

 

3 steps to get dinner on the table

 

There’s nothing more exciting than getting home and smelling yummy dinner!  Whether you are the parents and kids, living with roommates, or living alone, getting dinner on the table makes a difference every day. It’s about self care and care for others.   Taking care of ourselves and our family, we nourish our bodies and our community with dinner together. How can we make getting dinner on the table easy? There’s lots of organizing steps to getting dinner ready.  There’s planning, shopping, preparing and clean up. Here’s some easy steps to short cut and dinner help is here.

 

Beginner’s guide to meal planning

Getting dinner on the table is no accident. It requires a plan.  A meal plan approach makes sure you have what you need, when you need it and with healthy options.  The plan starts with knowing how many meals you need to plan.  It also requires a balance of veggies, fruits, proteins and carbs.   The more colorful your plate, the healthier.  Having a plan means that you will have the ingredients on hand to prepare.

  • Start with just one of the food groups.  Start with proteins and work around this.  Pair the same protein with many different veggies or fruits.  When you start with only one food group it’s less overwhelming to create your dinner plan.
  • The family dinner list is a family friendly way to plan dinner. Your family shares with you 12 ideas that they will all eat for dinner. It can be super duper simple, like grilled cheese or baked potatoes, or taco bar. The idea is to have your family gather, share and then eat. Keep this list and the necessary ingredients handy when you shop.
  • The Family Dinner Project gets you started with the online dinner program, Food, Fun and Conversation: 4 Weeks to Better Family Dinners.   This guide helps you make family dinners a household staple in just four weeks. This free guide includes healthy recipes, dinner activities and loads of conversation starters.
  • Pantry staples and a freezer inventory make meal planning easier. What’s already here to use?
  • Short cut meal planning using a pre-set menus and prepped ingredients like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron or other meal kits. 

 

Ready, set, shop

Now it’s time to get the goods.  Create a list and shop by store. Make it digital so everyone who is out of the house can shop. Cozi, AnyList, and OurGroceries all have easy to use online lists that are accessible by you and your shopping buddy. Use online coupons from the stores you typically shop. A shopping trick that helps is to shop that same day every week. You can shop twice a week and always have milk. Belong to a  Automate non-perishable delivery with Amazon Subscription and your toilet paper arrives regularly.  Remember to:

  • Always bring a list.
  • Organize your list by aisle. The perimeter of the store is where essentials are purchased.
  • Stick to your list.

 

Quick and easy preparation

Can you make dinner in 15 minutes or less? Can you make a day of making dinner?  What’s your quick and easy hack to get dinner on the table?  Take help to get dinner on the table by partnering with your kids, partner, or those in the vicinity.  Use short cuts from the grocery store with prepped or frozen veggies.  Prep what you can one day a week and store in the plastic ware ready to use.  Just like other routines, getting dinner on the table requires thinking ahead.  Get your protein ready by defrosting the night before in the refrigerator.

  • Make a no- cook dinner that requires only assembly. Try cold foods, like sandwiches or salads for dinner.
  • Early prep with a slow cooker for all day cooking.
  • Instapot cooking speeds up your dinner.
  • Prep and cook on a weekend.  Consolidating all the work of dinner makes for a quick evening dinner.

 

What’s your biggest take away from getting dinner on the table? Family dinner together! It’s the opportunity to review the day, learn what’s happening for each of you, and a time to connect. It’s time to cook dinner together and learn a new skill. It’s really not about the food. It’s about the time together!

 

More dinner ideas here! 

After the Flood Decluttering and Organizing

 

After the Flood decluttering and organizing

 

In the past few weeks we have seen decluttering and organizing in sad circumstances.  Families and businesses have suffered great losses due to flooding.  Families and businesses have reached out across the country to supply those in need with items they are letting go of.  The catastrophic circumstances have lead to an all time new attetion to decluttering and organizing.  In reflection, the response to life altering circumstances is letting go and decluttering.

 

Holding onto things

There have been lots of reasons in the past that we have been holding onto things.  There’s emotional attachment, unrealized value, and that “just in case” thinking.  When we see that our things have been ruined, we feel regret.  Several of my clients mentioned that although it was necessary to let go of items in their homes after the floods, it still was hard despite these being ruined. Despite, the blessings of help during the flood, it was still difficult to bag up clothes and home goods.  There’s an art to letting go.

 

Emergencies don’t give us time to process holding onto things and why. In a quick decision, regrets occur.  Let’s remember that grief is a part of holding onto things and that grief can resurface later despite the most awful of circumstances.  It takes time for perspectives to shift in holding onto things.

 

Letting go of things

“When natural disasters of this magnitude strike, they bring out the best impulses in many of us. We feel empathy for the victims and an urge to reach out and help them in any way we can, ” according to Psychology Today.  We want to help by giving.  Most encouraging has been the financial donations for those in need.  There are many local and national agencies to give donations for these emergencies.

 

It’s also a reminder to ourselves that disaster can happen to anyone and anywhere.  When we see that our friends, neighbors and families have suffered through the loss, we know that we could be experiencing the same.  It’s a prompting to us to use this new awareness in a positive light and let go of our own things too.

 

Difficult times take time to process. Whether you experienced flooding as either a helper or a victim, take time to tell your story, share your experience and reflect on the new perspectives after the flood.

Lessons Learned From Hurricane Harvey

 

 

Lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey

It’s been a rough week in Kingwood (suburb of Houston), Texas. We have seen rain for days followed by epic flooding.  While it’s been a scary, sad, chaotic, unprecedented week, there are always lessons to learn when life takes you on a spin to Plan B (or C.) Here are the lessons I learned this week from my life in Kingwood after Hurricane Harvey

 

#HoustonStrong #KingwoodStrong

  1. Stand up and be counted! You can do this! You got this! Hastag or not, Houston shows it’s underlying strength in times of adversity. The hashtag has surfaced everywhere showing us to be tough but big hearted and strong enough to face what it takes to rebuild our city. Being strong takes courage however we know we can rebuild our city. Our stengths comes from knowing how to work hard, be kind, and take on what comes our way.

 

Team Up

Many hands make for light work. That’s especially the case when disaster strikes. Having a team not only eases up on the work itself, it also helps with the stress. Research shows that surrounding yourself with positive people, energy and conversations makes hard situations easier.  When you are together, process the situation, make it fun and also get work done.  It’s overwhelming and endless when you are undoing the damage of flooding.  Be the person that turns things upside down and make team work happen. Think about how to be a part of the solution! In our community local churchs banded together to aid families in need.  Food was available all over the community.  Boaters from the “Cajan Armada” rescued our people over and over.  Find a fit for your strenghs and share the work and fun.

 

Find the good

It’s not always easy to find the good. It can be distracting when traffic snarls while getting to your home to clean up.  It’s an emotional roller coaster when you are working on your home and emptying all your first flood onto your lawn.  Find a way to find the good.  Here’s the little things I noticed in the last 2 days that helped me find the good in our community.

  • A “corner store” on the corner of 2 streets, giving away from cleaning supplies, food and supplies.
  • ” A boat came and got us,” driven by the Cajun Armada, people from Louisiana who knew the devastation a hurrican causes. Thousands were rescued by these men and women.
  • Families helping families rip up flooring.  Kids, moms and dads working together to help other families that they had not met.
  • Chain saws, manned by anyone and everyone, ripping through trees making passage ways available
  • Free food, supplies, and support at every corner in our community.

 

There’s never a good time for disaster. Our country has been through a lot this year.  Texans are showing what it’s like to be strong, stay positive, and make a difference by helping others in our community.

 

What lesson have you learned from Hurricane Harvey?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Walk Every Morning

why walk every morning

 

As an organizer coach, I write about routines, self care and productivity. As one who “walks the walk,”  each morning I literally walk.  I get up at the same time (another routine like walking) to make time to start each day with a walk.  My morning is a productive and organized start to my day.

 

Morning is a glorious time of day.

The birds are singing and the sky is blue. I am grateful for the smell of wet grass.  Being a morning person, this is when I do my best thinking about life, work, family and health.  Taking a morning walk is the best start to my day.  All the sights, sounds and smells remind me of all I am grateful for each day.  My morning walk brings a smile to my face and starts the day off with jubilantly.

 

Setting my priorities

My health is a priority. I want to live a strong, healthy life. I have walked my neighborhood for nearly 30 years.  With the emphasis on walking 10,000 steps a day, I typically get in 5,000 steps in the morning.  It’s an easy way to boost my energy and strength. Not surprising, walking is a brain boost too. Research shows, “One year of walking increased functional connectivity between aspects of the frontal, posterior, and temporal cortices,” thereby reducing brain dysfunction in aging.  Walking enhances brain health.

 

Finding support

I walk alone or with a friend.  I appreciate my time alone to reflect, find new perspectives and gather my thoughts. I reflect on many different goals, like connections with other, my work and When I walk with a friend, I assess, set new goals, and laugh at life. Sometimes I call a friend or catch up with a mastermind partner where we together help each other. You can reach your goal with support, whether the support is a team effort, a teacher, or a friend.

 

What is your morning like? Is it a chaotic rush to get out of the house? A crabby, frustrated start to the day? Here’s how to make your start to the day what you want it to be.

  • Decide what makes your day “work.”  That means, what gets you started and what gets  you ready for a positive and productive day.  Spiritual reading, practicing meditation, and doing yoga are all ideas that I frequently hear from friends and clients as how they WISH they started their days.  Make a commitment to yourself to start your day in the best possible way.
  • Set your bedtime and adhere to it.  Too often the best morning is derailed  by a late bedtime.  Get in bed at a time that gives you ample rest to be ready to start your day refreshed.
  • Commit to keeping a morning schedule that works for you.
  • Set your goal and work out the steps and the process to make your goal happen.
  • A productive and organized start to my day leads to a productive and organized day.

 

I look forward to my morning walk and feel like something is missing if my day starts without a walk. I know you will find that one thing that makes for your best start of your day too! You will find that a productive and organized start to your day makes a difference.

One ADHD Family, Five Planners

 

1 adhd family 5 planners

Back to school means back to planners.  Planners are what keep families and individuals sane during the school year. It’s where we keep dates, deadlines, meetings and ideas. With ADHD, having a great planner is a must.  When I work with families, one of my first ways to make a difference is to recommend a planner.  In one family I work with, all the members know the value and are excited about using their planners.  Here’s the story of one ADHD family, five planners.

 

Mom’s traditional planner

Mom uses a traditional, month at a glance calendar.  She is working 2 part time out of the home jobs and her “family manager” mom job.  Mom loves to quilt and is a member of a quilt guild too.  Her calendar keeps her on track with where she should be on what day.  Mom like the month at a glance view to keep from being overwhelmed.

 

Big sister’s creative calendar

Big sister is starting an advanced degree. Her schedule includes a part time job and part time school.  Big sister’s calendar is customized for her routines, like cleaning her apartment, and self care, like hydration.  Big sister has a combination, daily, weekly and monthly calendar system bound together in a spiral.  She loves that all her priorities are in one place.

 

Little sister’s  Agendio planner

Little sister is starting her final college years, works a busy part time job and attends college full time.  She found a daily planner overwhelming and uses a template in Agendio to create a weekly/monthly planner.  She keeps her syllabus in her planner, as we as uses time blocking to keep up with her schedule.

 

Little brother Academic Planner

Little brother is beginning college.  While not a big fan of planners, Little sister has highy recommended this as a crticial element for colleg success.  Little brother uses order out of chaos academic planner because it’s big blocks to enter information.

 

Dad and his digital planner

Dad keeps all his information digitally.  He views it at wor on Outlook and checks his phone at home.

 

The big take away from this family is:  Use a planner that works for you and be productive!

5 Simple ADHD Time Management Tips

5 simple adhd time management tips

 

Do you feel there’s not enough time to get important work complete?  In the corporate world, a “perennial time-scarcity problem” afflicts executives all over the globe. In small businesses, owners wear many hats from marketing to providing services, which can stretch anyone and everyone.   Here’s 5  simple ADHD time management tips to help you be productive and get stuff done.

 

Write down your 3 Most Important Tasks each day.

Start your day with your 3 most important tasks.  Look at your calendar, your tasks, your projects and your goals.  Look far enough out to assess how much time you need for these.  Either written or digital, your tasks should be prioritized by your Return on Investment. Pick what has the biggest impact for your work.

Set a power hour and eliminate distractions.

Set and protect one hour during your most high focused time of day.  It’s important to know when you work best which is when you work most effortlessly and with flow.  A single distraction can set you back 20 minutes so turn off electronics, shut your door, put up a note on your cubicle or have a colleague catch distractions.  In one hour you can accomplish so much!

 

Use a timer to get started.

A timer is a great motivator for you.  Set your timer for 15 minutes to get you going.  Timers are part of the Pomodoro technique, a well-known productivity method with intervals of 25 minutes of work followed by a 5-minute break. RescueTime is a free tool to record your time online by tracking websites and applications.  It helps you understand where you are using your time each day. It’s an automated time for your online time.

Assess the amount of time needed.

Whether it’s a task or project, a general idea of how long to accomplish will help.  There are two truths to this: that we may not know how long and work can expand to fit the time we give it.  A rough estimate, then doubled, can be a guide.  It will help you realistically project completion.

 

Time block your time.

Every task and project needs an assigned time to accomplish.  Block your work in chunks, assigned to specific times.  Scheduling is required to get stuff done. Your schedule can include routines that happen weekly at the same time.  These routines can carry you through what seems like small insignificant administrative work, work that you may have been trying to squeeze in.

 

While we can’t really manage time, what we can do is use better tools to be productive.  Choose just one of these tips to get started on making time work better for you.

 

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Easy Organized, Productive Back to School

easy organized productive back to school

 

Back to school means school starts, activities gear up and nightly routines begin again.  While it is sad to see Summer end, we welcome getting back to school as a fresh start for our kids and ourselves. Let’s make it an easy, organized, productive year for our families at back to school time.

Easy, organized, productive routines

By far families feel the crunch most in the morning and evening. Mornings feel rushed with getting out the door. Evenings fly by with activities and dinner.

  • Create and keep a personal checklist for everyone to follow for morning and evening. Post it where your family each can see it. Parent nagging does not promote getting things done, while a checklist can.  The list includes the most basic and most important things to check off.  Keep it short and simple. However, it can include things can are easily forgotten like brushhing teeth and combing hair.
  • Pattern your day.  That is create a pattern, routine or time assigned for important tasks. Homework should have a set start and finish time.
  • Make meals easy.  Many families have opted for Sunday prep day, a dinner box, or dinner prep (and easy decisions) that arrives like Hello Fresh.
  • Make time for gratitude. During dinner or at bedtime are great times to share what we are grateful for, high and low points of the day, and a special acknowledgement for your kids’ and your successes each day.  There’s power in ending the day positively.

 

Easy, organized clothes and school supplies

There’s clothes, school supplies and other supplies required to start the school year.  Take stock and assess what you have already. This may require making a huge mess when gathering it all together. It’s worth it since you know what you have and purchase only what you need.

  • Think of creating a “uniform” for your kids to wear to school. Like the concept of the capsule wardrobe, use color and your child’s style to pull together a minimum number of outfits.  It will clear the closet clutter this way too!
  • Purchase your school supplies and 2 back ups for future use. Help your child set up their supplies for homework and for school.
  • Keep one bag for each child for each activity. Prep your landing strip by having enough sturdy hooks for each.
  • A productive day starts the night before.  Set your and your kids’ clothes out the night before.  Do as much as you can.  Se bags and backpacks in the landing strip and technology charging in a common space.  Make these steps part of your evening checklist.

 

Easy, organize, productive paper routines

On the first day of school, a tidal wave of paper comes in. Be prepared this year to be organize and productive with a command center for your papers.  The command center is where action papers are located.  The command center can be as simple as a single drawer or inbox or a series of categories customized for your family.

  • Your kids and you drop paper here daily.  You triage it and then add tasks to your list.
  • Once a week, or daily if you need to, spend one hour to get the paper work done. That means pay bills, fill in information, add dates to your calendar and all other administrative tasks.
  • When your “to file” is big enough, you can file it easily.
  • Your list can grow and grown, however choose 3 Most Important Tasks to complete that day or that week.

The key element to remember is keep it simple sweetie!  The easiest, simplest way to get organized is the way to go!  Wishing you the best back to school ever!

 

More family organizing tips on my newsletter.  Join here!

 

Back to School Rules for your ADHD Family

 

back to school rules

 

The nightly homework battle starts as soon as school opens.  It’s a daily chore to keep up with papers for both parents and kids. There’s too much to do, not enough time, and not enough rest.  The unending cycle of tension and anxiety takes  a toll quickly for families.  Here’s back to school rules for your ADHD family that can help your school year run smoother.

 

Back to school successful systems

Set up stations in your home which as dedicated to what’s important.  A specific “home” for items keeps them easy to access and keeps your home uncluttered.

  • Have a landing spot near the door for charging devices, hanging keys, and hosting backpacks.  This is where all these items go at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Create a command center, which is an action spot for papers.  A simple command center includes either wall pockets, a desk top sorter or baskets for papers. Kids drop papers here and it’s where the mail goes.
  • Centralize school and office supplies.  Pull all the supplies together and see what you have.  Now it’s time to go shopping!  Contain and label the supplies so everyone can use these.
  • Decide on a homework station or stations.  Research shows that kids can benefit from more than one location for homework.  Be sure these stations are as distraction free as possible.  Set up supplies to travel to each station. The dining room is an excellent spot for a homework station since it’s just a few steps away from the action in your home and there’s few visual distractions.

To get started setting up your successful systems, start with the command center.  Assign a spot for this center, decide what system is going to fit best in that location, and set up the station with labels.  Next, work on your supplies.  Finally, set up your landing spot and then decide on the homework station.  It will take you an hour or two to set up each system.

 

Back to school rules

  1. Wake up. Be awesome.  Go to bed. Have a morning and evening routine.  At your family meeting, create a list of what is a great start to the day including what it takes to head off to school and work.  Discuss each individuals role, as well as how long each responsibility will take.  Set a time for everyone to get up, with an alarm clock.  Some parents choose to get up earlier in order to get more done first.  For the evening routine, start with a set time to begin and end homework. A good start begins with a snack and a good end is when all the papers are packed away and the backpack is in the landing strip with all technology plugged in.   A chart can reinforce these decisions so everyone knows the agreements for the day.
  2. Plan your work and work your plan.  Everyone must have and use a planner. No matter the grade in school, everyone needs a planner.  It’s where all assignments, family events and other information is written. An additional family calendar, located centrally or digitally, can also keep everyone on track.  A completed planner includes notes about every class, including a note saying “no homework.” Using a planner may require some incentives and regular accountability. It’s the one rule that must always be reinforced regularly. More ADHD homework rules here from parents in the homework trenches.
  3. Be the best we can be. Host a family meeting once a week.  Family communication and collaboration is what life is all about and here’s where it happens.  A family meeting gives everyone a chance to share what’s gong on, what’s coming up, and share family values.  Sharing why school is important, what’s behind all that work, and other values helps you and your kids connect. Start with a complement. move on to the calendar and end with fun.
  4. TEAM – together we accomplish more. Partner with your kiddos to help them accomplish goals. Set standards that can be accomplished together.  Track the successes and use “not successes” as learning opportunities by reflecting back with your child what has happened.  Be available as a body double, in their space while they do homework and work alongside them. Create a reminder system to add to, check off and complete homework.  The partnership you build will have long lasting positive impact on your kiddos self esteem and successes.

Back to school rules for your ADHD family

 

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Start Small Go Big

Start organizing small, then go big

 

 

How can SMALL and BIG be used together for organizing?  When we think of these opposites, can we use these together in getting organized?  Well here’s how!

 

Organizing and productivity are overwhelming. The most frequent question is how do I get started?  Whether your view is a cluttered desk or home, it’s not clear where, when or how to get started. And what about the next steps? Is that starting with the small of units, like organizing your paper clips or the shoes in your closet?  Or do you go big with the big stuff? Here’s answers to these 2 important questions.

Start small

I love the question, how do I eat an elephant? Its the analogy I use most often in presentations.  Of course the answer is one bite at a time!  It’s in getting start in a small way that gets you started at all.  It doesn’t matter if you take a nibble at the trunk or the foot, starting with a nibble gets you started. Your nibble in your home could be the junk drawer in your kitchen, the floor of a closet, the shelf in a linen closet or the papers in your kitchen.  Nibbling can be an amount of time, like only 15 minutes.  A nibble can be a number, like picking up 3 items to donate.  Your office nibbling can be your inbox, a bookcase, or a file drawer.  Decide what small looks and feels like to you then set a date on your calendar to commit.

 

Go big

Look around at your home or office.  What’s the big stuff in your way?  We organizers call it macro organizing.  Start with the big stuff when you keep on organizing.  It’s not the time to launch into complex sort ing of your stuff. It’s also not the time to go to that shoebox full of small random items.  Work on the big stuff first.   Big stuff open up space. That’s the space you see and feel.  It’s the big stuff that helps you break through being stuck and you feel the openness of your space.  Take a big picture with your papers too.  What are the big categories you can sort?  Broad categories make it easier to work through tedious papers.

 

Is this a new perspective for you?  Have you thought you needed hours to organize and never started?  Have you walked about from your papers after creating an overly complicated system?  Here’s a new way to make organizing happen for you.

 

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Words Matter: My Organizing and Productivity Mantras

organizing and productivity

 

 

For over 15 years, I have been sharing organizing mantras with my clients. These come out when we are working together on organizing and productivity.  These also come together as I create presentations and work with virtual clients.  These come from years of experiences, in a variety of settings, for organizing and productivity.  I am sharing these here to help you on your organizing and productivity journey too.

 

Less Stuff = Less Stress

All your stuff takes a toll on your. You have to take care of it, put it away, make sure you have it, and make sure it works when you need it.  That’s a lot of care for stuff.  The more stuff we have the more stress we have on just how to take care of it.  It’s hard to do, but less stuff means you have less stress.

 

A little structure goes a long way

Structure is the way you set up something. It could be the way you set up a space, like a desk or a kitchen, or a day, like your schedule and calendar.  It’s the way that we establish what’s around us that matters most.  The impact of structure is that you set yourself up for success.  The reason a little structure makes a difference is to keep you nimble.  A little structure keeps you within a good working routine and complete chaos.

 

People matter, stuff doesn’t

Recently at home we had a small accident.  There was sadness and, well, some blame.  As I said to my family, people matter, stuff doesn’t.  It’s a reminder that truly relationships are the most important part of our lives.  The stuff we have either adds or diminishes relationships.  Let’s make people matter the most.  That’s not to say that taking care of your stuff isn’t important, however its important to keep it all in perspective.

 

Plan your work and work your plan

Planning in itself is not enough.  It’s getting started and working your plan that makes the difference.

Keep it simple sweetie

If you tend to over complicate and make work too complicated, this is the mantra for you.  It’s about choosing the most simple process to get the results  you want.

 

Hugs and Happy Organizing

Hugs and happy organizing is how I sign my success notes for my clients.  It’s that happy feeling because you are more organized and productive.  Check out lots of before and after successes with my clients in this Hugs and Happy Organizing category of Ellen’s Blog.

 

I’d love to hear the mantras that inspire you to be more organized and productive.  Add a comment here!

 

 

people matter stuff doesn't