5 Small Starts for Emergency Preparedness

small ways to prepare for an emergency

 

September is Emergency Preparedness Month for good reason.  We have faced emergencies for many years and these seem to be more frequent and more intense. At the same time emergencies frighten and overwhelm us.  Now’s the time for us to button up our resources and start small.  Some of the simplest ways to prepare are the best and here are 5 small starts to begin.

Family contacts

Online connections are easy until the power or cell service goes out.  Create a spreadsheet of family contacts and print it out. Include in your sheet cell and home phones, email addresses, physical addresses and other contact information.  Keep this spreadsheet in a kitchen or office top drawer to access.

 

Create an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit  (EFFAK)

Finances and access to funds seem easy, like simply heading to the ATM for funds. That is not always the case in an emergency.  Begin preparing your Emergency Financial Fist Aid Kit with these instructions. Most importantly, keep $500 in cash, in dollar, five dollar, ten dollar and twenty dollar bills.  Funds are hard to access if there is no power.

 

Prep your Emergency Supply Kits

Prepare kits for all the places you will be, whether at home, at work or in the car.  Your kits should include supplies for a minimum of three days worth of food and water.  Other essentials include battery radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid, medicines and toiletries. Refresh these kits annually.

 

Family plan

Family plans can be communicated during family meetings.  Talking about the plan makes it less scary and easy to accomplish. Your family plan should include where to meet if there is a fire in your home, where to meet if a disaster happens while your kids are at school and you are at work, and where to meet if you are separated.

 

Helpful apps

If you have cell access, there are 2 helpful apps to download.

FEMA: weather alerts, safety tips and shelter information

American Red Cross: a variety of apps including personal and pet first aid, blood, and hero care

 

You and your family will have peace of mind knowing you have started preparing.

Being Organized and Prepared For A Family Emergency

organized and prepared for a family emergency

 

Family emergencies strike unfortunately routinely, from a broken arm to a heart attack. Family health crises are among the most stressful for all of us.   The best way to face an emergency is by being organized and prepared.  Your lists will be what you rely on for information. These preparations can help you create the best plan prior to when an emergency happens.

 

Your Medical Health List

Each doctor you meet requests a list of health challenges, presciptions and supplments.  Make this list easy to access by keeping it digitally in your Notes app, Evernote, or other smart phone app. The list can be shared with a family member in case of emergency.  For health challenges, list the year and what happened (surgery, treatment).  For presciptions and supplements, list the item, what that is treating, and the dosage. If you have a paper list, you can take a photo to keep in your phone as well.

 

Your Medical Plan and Doctor List

With frequent changes to medical plans and doctors, keep a list of your specialists, their phone numbers and their specialty in your smart phone contacts.  Track your annual visits by making appointments that coincide with a birthday, a season (fall, winter, spring summer) or another significant milestone to remind you.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in keeping on track with annual visits to medical and dental professionals.   Your own health care is as important as those in your family.

 

Ongoing health concerns

  • Organizing your medical records is an important step for chronic illness. Keep a notebook to bring to your doctor’s office to keep current discussions and treatments.  You will want to refer to this regularly with notes and updates.  Organize your medical history in a file folder, by doctor or illness.

 

  • Organizing your medications is one part of your ongoing health concerns. Fill day of the week, time of day pill organizers and set alarms to remind you to take medication. Place pills at the point of where they are taken, such as by your bed in the evening or in the kitchen for morning.

 

  • When it comes to the many facets of an ongoing illness, share responsibility with family members.  When my mom faced her illness, my responsibility was health care and my sister took on financial responsibilities. Confer weekly on these responsibilities so everyone is up to date.  You can also create a google sheet to share information with family. Coordination is key to family communication.

 

Support for you and your family

Be ready for ongoing support for yourself and your self care. Friends and family will ask how they can help and be sure to give everyone a small responsibility. It can include setting up a Care Calendar for meals and transportation. Having someone attend the appointments can be helpful in capturing notes and keeping strong during the treatments. That support can be as small as dropping off a gallon of milk to being a listener when you are sad, anxious and afraid.

 

Take good care of yourself with good sleep and good nutrition. Get in bed on time and eat regular, balanced meals.  It’s easy to get off track with both of these during a crisis.

 

Family emergencies are part of life transitions. We age and life happens. Our family ages and abilities diminish.  Be organized and prepared to meet these transitions with positive actions.

Emergency Preparedness: Lessons Learned

emergency preparedness lessons learned

 

A little under 2 years ago, Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast.  Our community Kingwood, Texas suffered great losses. From loss comes lessons! It’s where we learn that we can help others too.  Here are several lessons learned on emergency preparedness that help you.

 

Protecting your home and finances

Most of our community suffered catastrophic losses. Flood insurance can help the financial loss.  Flood insurance is offered through a national program. It’s affordable compared to the losses you might incur in a flood.  Having this insurance helped many with replacement and rebuilding.  Check with your insurance agent to learn about coverage. Flood insurance must be in place for 30 days before using the coverage.

 

Now is the time to create your home inventory.  Your inventory can be a digital version. A video of your home is the least you can do on your smart phone.  Walk around your home identifying the items and where and when you purchased, and other significant information. HomeZada offers a digital inventory version you can complete in segments to protect your belongings in case of loss. Having this inventory saves you time and also helps you in case of loss.

 

Protecting your pets and family

There’s all types of emotional responses to catastrophe.  Many families experienced post traumatic stress after this flood.   Keep this in mind, all the while when your family appears unaffected.  Seeking support through community groups can help.  Many families were sharing their losses and thoughts through religous related affiliations.  A community event called Rainaxiety helped those deeply affected.  Seek out support as you find yourself struggling.

 

Preparing documentation for emergencies is the best step.  There are documents to prepare and keep ready for when you leave.  These documents can be gathered in a water proof safe, kept in a closet at home.  It’s easiest to organize these with labelled ziplocks.  If you have not been able to locate these, check online on ways to replace these documents now. Vital records will be needed for each of your family in case of an emergency.

 

Every day medical emergencies happen. Bike accidents, car accidents, and falling off a ladder are all things to be prepared for as much as major catastrophes.  Be sure you have your insurance in your car and in your wallet for these situations.

 

It’s the emergence of hope and community that are at work in an emergency. Those in our community rallied to help each other.   Be open to accepting help and giving help in these emergency situation. We are here to help each other.  That is the greatest blessing I learned during these difficult times. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Demand Delegating

on demand delegation

 

Do you often with you had 25 hours in the day, 6 hands or could clone yourself?  It’s often that we are faced with more to do than we have time, skills, resources or energy.  Delegating is a solution for you!  With so many resources on the internet, there’s lots of options to delegate on demand.  Technology offers many options with tools of many kinds.  With all our daily tasks, using delegation can add time to you day.

Successful delegation

What are the keys to successfully delegating? Use your strengths wisely and know where you don’t have skill. Delegate when you have a small incremental task that you especially dislike and do not do well.  It’s also good to delegate when you are not your best at consistency or routines.  You can take advantage of automation for this reason.

Delegate bill paying

Online bill pay is the most frequently used system for delegating. Paying from your bank allows you to use one, consolidated online location for payment.

 

Delegate passwords

In the complex world we live in, everything has a password. Online security is most important. It’s also frustrating as we attempt to access our accounts.  Using a secure password is critical for your safety. While there are many data breaches going on, an online password keeper gives you access to your passwords from any device. Choose one password to access your password keeper.

 

Delegate your To Do List

There are many apps to capture your ideas. There are many Artificial Intelligence capture tools in our world.  The easist to use is your iphone Siri. Siri can capture your thoughts verbally and add them to lists and dates for you.  Next easiest is Google Home and Alexa.  No more worries about forgetting and working memory with these devices.

 

Delegate adminstrative tasks

Administrative tasks, including forms, filing, and more, can often fall to the bottom of your list.  There’s help with online virtual assistants who are skilled at scheduling, research, expenses and data entry (to name just a few areas). Assess what your needs are and connect one of these many options.

 

Delegate errands and tasks

Online grocery and other shopping is just a click away now. Delivery can be set up with your specific schedule. Amazon will deliver supplies with a schedule through the subscription services.  No more running out of toilet paper or paper towels now! With a Subscription List, you have a supply that arrives without fail. Making dinner is much easier with an online grocer list. Repeat the list weekly on the same day to be sure you always have milk at home.

 

More tips here on Productivity! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Organizing Obsession: Carts

My organizing obsession carts

 

My love of carts has me extolling their use on my blog! Carts can add an extra storage space for stuff and papers. It’s rolls to where you are to work. It adds an extra space for your papers.

 

rolling file cart

The rolling file cart gives you options for accessible file storage.  Highly visual, you can see your files so that it’s easy to remember your filing system set up.  A file cart with storage below adds easy access to frequently used office supplies or tools.

 

utility cart

A cute utility cart adds storage for a craft room, office or classroom. Three tiers of storage gives you much more access to supplies.  It adds pizzazz to your space depending on the color you choose.  There’s so many uses and ways to organize.

 

 

An accent cart can add storage and decor to any room in your home. Often it’s a great spot for either keepsakes to display or to add function in a serving piece.   The fun of adding a cart in your main rooms is to add one more bit of whimsy, style and function to a space.

 

What are your favorite carts and where do you use them?  I love learning about your organizing obsession.  Don’t miss out on my other favorite organizing products!

How to Simplify Back to School Transition

 

Back to school transition

 

Back. to. school. It’s time when we reset, organize, plan and set new routines.  It’s a transition from lots of free time to structure and deadlines.  Maybe transition is more difficult for you and your family?  We can simplify this transition with these tips.

 

Simple calendars and planners

Families + school time = dates and deadlines. Make it easy for you and your family and a calendar everyone can access. Google calendar is available on all devices to connect families to what’s due when, what needs to be purchased, and when will the parents be available.  Encourage your family to all populate the calendar during your family meeting.

 

Simple labels

Stuff gets lost and families don’t know where stuff goes. Make it easy with a label.  Label school binders, devices, lunch boxes and clothes. Label your pantry where lunch fixings are found.

 

Simple bedtime routines

The age old question of preparation for a shift in bedtimes. Parent ask, “do we start a week out with earlier bedtime or just have the kids crash the first week of school from exhaustion?” Only you know the kiddos in your home best. Take care of yourself with your own earlier bedtime the week before school starts. If you are well rested, everything will be better!

 

Simple laundry

Whittle down the loads this year with fewer clothes for everyone. Laundry and closet organizing work best with less.  How many items for each of you?  Start with just 7 sets of clothes that coordinate through a capsule wardrobe. It will save money and time!

 

Simple mornings

  • Family has been getting up later and later all summer. This transition is one of the biggest!  Getting up on time for school starts with everyone having an alarm clock.  Be sure these are set correctly the first few weeks of school, then practice getting up just a smidge earlier than you think.  Make morning simple by getting lunch and what you are wearing together the night before.
  • Place analog clocks in transition spots throughout your home. An analog clock helps you see time elapsing and helps you be on time.  Clocks are best in bathrooms, bedrooms, and by the exit and entry doors.
  • Use music to keep everyone energized and positive.  A morning playlist can be played at a low volume.

 

All transitions take time.  Celebrate the first day of school success!   Give yourself the opportunity to create a positive transition by scheduling less on the first weekends school is open. This extra time translates to more rest and more time like summer with less structure.  Keep spirits and energy high with family fun bike rides, ice cream sundae parties or family game night. Expect a few tears and set aside time to acknowledge the toughness of the first few weeks of school because of this transition.

 

More ideas on ADHD here in my newsletter.

Professional Organizers’ Favorite Planners

professional organizers' favorite planners

 

My clients and my colleagues are often searching for the perfect planner.  There’s a range of options for all of us, from digital to paper.   I polled my colleagues to help you determine what planners are most popular and why!

 

Planner requirements

What helps you determine the planner you choose?

  • Ability to quickly assess and add appointments
  • Agility in adding information to your planner
  • Size and portability
  • Attractive cover and interior pages

 

Here’s the responses

MaryJo: I’m a 100% digital calendar. I can color code and set reminders. I don’t leave home without my phone so I always have my calendar.

 

Melony: I’m old school. Franklin Covey Classic, ring bound 5.5×8.5, leather zip planner with lots of pockets.

 

Michelle: I have Erin Condren, Life Planner vertical layout this year. I like the format but it is so bulky.

 

Judy: The planner I love is the discbound planner with inserts (happy planner). I use the Louis Vuitton Monogram cover to hold everything together. I love this style of planner because you can customize it to your liking.

 

Me: I love the planner pad and love Outlook reminders. I have a hybrid system that works for me. I am visual so a paper planner lets me see it all and easily write in appointments. I have a few pockets for papers and use a binder clip to keep a pad of paper in the front.

 

Whatever your system, remember to have a weekly planning time with your planner and task list. It’s time to schedule your tasks and check on appointments.

 

More on planners and time management here!

9 Ways to Simplify Back to School

 



It’s a combination of happy and sad when back to school comes around. We are reluctant to get back to routines and there’s a big to do list to prepare for the upcoming school year. We tend to think of back to school as a long series of complicated, expensive, and arduous tasks that go on and on!  Use this list of 9 ways to simplify your back to school preparations to be ready to start the school year.

 

1. Start with a list of all that is needed before the school year begins. No need to recreate the wheel here! There’s the Good Housekeeping supply list for school supplies.  There’s countdown lists for appointments on Finder.com.  Now compare and create what works for you with a timeline on your family calendar. Your family calendar is your personal guide and helps you create a team with your partner to accomplish and check off requirements.  Pace yourself or consolidate tasks with a power day.  Think of it as project management.

 

2. Kids and parents need to remember to hydrate all day. Purchase water bottles for everyone including yourself to be sure you are keeping water by your side.

 

3.  Still have last year’s papers to review?  Make it fun with one on one kiddo time together. Spend 30 – 60 minutes reviewing last year’s papers, keeping what you both think are precious.

 

4. Set up this year’s command center for incoming papers.  You will be ready for all the incoming information.

 

5. Prep for all types of communication styles with a capture tool that works for you.

  • Think about what paper or digital tool works best for you.  For me it’s my planner pad. Options include an app, a spiral notebook or post it notes.  Make it this year’s goal to use one capture tool effectively and efficiently.
  • For email, create a single sub-folder to store incoming info from your kids schools.  A single sub-folder to move emails keeps your inbox cleaner and gives you one place to look for information.  Name this subfolder by kid, by school or just a single sub-folder names Schools.
  • For text, move information to email by copying and then email yourself so you can track information to a single source.
  • For the rare voice mail message, capture that information with an email, make a note in Evernote, or write this on your paper task list.

 

6.  Set up your school supplies in a school supply center.  Grab all your existing supplies and review what you have.  Purchase what is needed and set up a center for easy access for your kiddos.

 

7. Making lunches is can be a highlight of the week for everyone.  Set up a lunch making section of your refrigerator and pantry.   Leave one shelf in each area specifically for lunch box friendly fare that is ready to place in the box.   Create a shopping list with your family to be sure items are delivered to your home that make lunch making healthy and easy.

 

8. Set up a family meeting time to talk about this year’s successes.  Your family meeting is key to collaboration and communication.  Hosting this weekly will keep your family organized and keep you productive.

 

9. Most important about back to school is getting the rest you all need as a family.  Everyone in your family needs time to relax and time to rest.  That translates to getting to bed earlier the week or weekend before and having some time at home to prepare for the transitions ahead. When there’s less sleep, everything seems harder!

 

Don’t get overwhelmed with year with back to school. Keep it simple, pace yourself and know what your priorities are.  Choose one thing to accomplish each day to feel like you are making progress.

 

 

 

How to Craft Your Hybrid Productivity Strategy

How to craft your hybrid productivity strategy

 

If you google productivity, millions of pages appear. Listed are strategies that give you systems and processes for your productivity based on that author’s experiences. What stands out to me is that while I appreciate each of these approaches and systems, it’s really about reviewing what has worked for me and the hybrid system I created to fit my personal approach.

 

To improve productivity, start reviewing your work processes.

We are surveyed all the time, when we purchase online and when we go to the doctor. What about  a review of your work processes? What do you give high marks and what needs improvement?

Here’s questions to ask yourself?

  • What time of day do I work best?
  • What’s the best tool I use to capture information?
  • What’s my best modality (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, intuitive, cognitive) to capture and create information?
  • When do I organize my week?
  • What do I use to organize my week?

Asking yourself these questions helps you refine your system and ensures that your tools work for you.

 

To improve your work processes, think big.

There are tons of productivity methods available. A productivity process give you agility in capturing, managing and executing commitments, communications, and information at a specific time. Here’s a round up of options.

Getting Things Done (GTD): GTD is a method for organizing your to-dos, priorities, and your schedule in a way that makes them all manageable.

The SMART Method: Setting SMART Goals to help you prioritize. 

Timeboxing: Converting from a to-do list (daily work plan) to a calendar system

Personal Kanban: Simple system for creating products based on continuous deliveries.

Pomodoro Technique: An alternating series of 25-minute “Pomodoro habit” sessions can help you quickly complete tasks and get things done in a streamlined fashion

Free to Focus: A system to achieve more by doing less

Does one of these mesh with your existing system? Would one of these add to your system or simplify your system? Is there one small step you can change for your system? It’s likely that either simplifying or adding one small step is all the changes you will need or want to make immediately. That’s why I refer to our systems as hybrids, in that we take what works already that we created an add in a mix of other strategies.

 

To improve your work processes, make your routines solid then find the best tools to enhance.

We’re often to quick to think, there’s an app for that! And there may be an app or other product that will help us be more productive. It’s in spending time with completely syncing your process that’s the most important step before finding the tool.

 

Here’s what works for me. I have the master list written by category. I add to my master list all the time, from work spreadsheets, work appointments, family activities, email, and text.  The paper list is at the top of my planner pad.  Weekly I check the lists and add tasks to days of the week. Throughout the year I have added important milestones and appointments. All these appointments work together, including delegating, automating and setting time aside for family.  In my process I have combined GTD, Timeboxing and Free to Focus.  See what works for you now and how to improve on your system.

 

More productivity posts here!

In praise of vacation days

Take a vacation

 

Travel, a staycation, Sunday Funday are all well known ways to improve your well being. That’s the fun of summer, whether to stay at home and vacation or whether to journey out to create memories with family and friends.  There’s research galore that establishes better productivity and creativity as a result of time away. Here’s a round up of ways to incorporate time well spent on vacation days.

 

Choose your best vacation

Adam Grant talks about the way we vacation. “To have a relaxing vacation, detach from work. To have an energizing vacation, seek out a mastery experience. We find flow through embracing new challenges and building new skills.”  Does one of these types of vacation appeal to you and spur you on to make a plan?

 

For our family, each summer we take a family vacation with our grand kids. It’s been near and far, from beaches to cities. It’s a memory that is priceless for all of us.  We talk about the travel and fun there. What’s most precious is the time together just having fun together!

 

Being budget friendly with staycations

Staying within your budget is always an important consideration.  There’s ways to make travel easier and cheaper by traveling by car or staying at home and sight seeing your city.

When I visit friends, often it’s an opportunity for us to get to know our own city as a tourist does.  Giving ourselves the time to see the local sights, we appreciate our location even more!

Did you know about these tourist destinations in Houston?

  • Port of Houston boat tours
  • Summer concerts at Discovery Green
  • Waterwall picnic area

Learn more about your city and summer cheap thrills.

 

Make Sunday your day to relax and make the day about your self care

We need regular rejuvenation and reset. Have at least once a week to do what we love, whether it’s sit, exercise, cook, crochet or other fun activities.  Sundays can be your day or another day of the week that fits your schedule. Whatever day you choose, make it your day by doing less, scheduling less and relaxing more.

 

This summer I made time for each of these ways to reset! We took a family vacation and we stayed home for the July 4th holiday.  Each of these resets helped me to do my best work with clients and enjoy precious memories with family.  Choose ways to make your vacation be a reset for you.

 

More on organizing and productivity here!