What to Organize Now Back To School Technology and Apps

what to organize now back to school technology and apps

 

This year we have seen a major shift in the use of technology and apps. As corona home school began, we all had a crash course in Google classroom and more.  Most of us felt overwhelmed and behind the curve. Get in the Back to School groove with technology apps that can help you and your student do your best work this year.

 

Digital planners

MyHomework

Your students can use a digital version of their planner. MyHomework offers ways for students to track their assignments and get due date reminders.

 

Google calendar

Favorite because it integrates with all things Google, your kids can use this as their planner with easy access.

 

Trello

Trello is a visual tool that works using boards, lists, and cards to enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way. It’s like shuffling a set of cards and laying these out by priority and project.

Kid Productivity

Time Timer

This app is a visual timer to use to help you student stay on track and stay focused. It works by visually showing time elapsing. It’s especially helpful for students with ADHD.

 

Pomodone

Much like the Pomodoro Method, this app helps student set up work and free times. It helps student keep from procrastinating and learn time awareness by knowing how much time they are spending on studying.

 

Focus@Will

Personalized focus music to help you get stuff done by customizing music at intervals.

Freedom

Freedom helps your student stay focused by blocking distracting websites and apps.

 

Favorite learning apps

Quizlet

Quizlet makes repetitive studying fun and effective. Many classes already have set up their vocabulary and your student can find existing study materials. This app has video and audio components to make learning more interactive and engaging. There’s also an option to create your study materials with flashcards, tests and games.

 

StudyBlue

StudyBlue is similar to Quizlet, offering virtual flashcards, vocabulary review and concept repetition. The study aids have text and images.

Grammerly

If your student needs a spell and grammar check, this is for you. It can be installed on multiple devices.

 

EasyBib

EasyBib helps your student create a bibliography with a free tool to generate citations.

 

Family Organizing

LastPass

So many passwords! Keep these all here on LastPass.  Free and purchase options available.

 

Headspace

Meditation might be just what we all need when it’s Back to School. This app for mindfulness helps you relax and encourage focus.

 

Cozi

Cozi is free, easy-to-use planner for all family activities. You can keep events and activities, set up your weekly schedule, create, store and and share the grocery list in real time.

 

 

To get started, choose one app to start and test it out. See how well you and your student use it.  After 2 weeks, assess if you are feeling accomplished with this. To organize your new apps, group these apps together in a cluster on a single screen for easy access.

What to Organize Now Back to School Online or In Person

back to school

 

This Fall during Back to School time we are again challenged with the uncertainties of online or in person school.  Among the challenges ahead in this situation are work from home and school at home, anxiety about illness and gauging your kids’ academic success balanced with social interaction. Facing these unprecedented times we can be intentional with organized study areas dedicated to learning and forming good habits and consistent routines. Kids needs these certainties to do their best work. As with all organizing, there must be a space and a routine that work together to accomplish your goals.

 

Dedicate a learning space

Whether your children attend school in person or online, they will need a dedicated study area to work.  Many makeshift areas were created this spring. Now is the time to set these areas up for success.

  • Partner with your kids as you coach them and help them be accountable for their academic success. Everyone has their own reasons to be successful at school and hearing these helps you as a parent frame your discussions.  Discuss the positive value of a dedicated learning space and how this helps achieve success.
  • Choose your dining room or kitchen table. These are areas you can supervise while doing your work as well. If you need multiple spaces for your kids, think about other options in your home. The living room or home office can be part of a learning space rotation.
  • Add a cart to hold books and supplies. Supplies can be easily accessed and organized with a 3 tier cart.
  • Add headphones for kids to listen to classical music and block distractions.
  • Set a routine study time.  For online school, begin in the morning and take breaks for lunch and recess. For homework start after a snack and work around dinner.

Create a space that limits distractions and create clarity. For families and kids with ADHD, think about setting up body doubling in your learning space. Body doubling is where two people work parallel. Your home office can have an extra seat or extra folding table to work in this fashion.

 

Develop good routines

There are many important routines associated with school success. Calendaring with your planner promotes good time management and improved productivity.  The best tool for a student is a week at a glance calendar. No matter how big or small, all assignments need to be written in the planner. Students consolidate online or in person assignments to their calendar to see all their assignments together. A week at a glance calendar gives kids the opportunity to plan completing assignments and studying for tests. Have your students  highlight long term assignments and break these into manageable chunks through the week or month. Calendaring  and writing stuff down is the best way to get the grades your child wants.

  • Good routines include exercise, healthy eating and self care.  Your kids and you need a bedtime that gives you all the rest you need. Having a central technology hub offers everyone the chance to recharge their devices and sleep well.  During your family meeting, talk about how to set these guidelines into motion. These are the routines that become life skills for us all.
  • Routines thrive when we help ourselves be accountable. That is tracking our success and tabulating how long we have been keeping consistent.  We want to keep the “chain” of successes moving forward daily.  Also, making the routines visual with notes and charts helps us remember each step. We may have a lot to keep in mind so a chart helps us track each step.  The chart can be digital or paper, just so to keep these details top of mind.

Families with ADHD will find developing good routines to be the most difficult part of work, school and life.  Start small and work in increments. Tag on a routine to an existing routine. Use praise and positivity as rewards for success. If at first you don’t succeed, re-examine where this fell apart.

 

What to organize now for Back to School reminds us, that while there are many things we don’t know and can’t know, there are many things we can do. We can set into motion the positive elements of success.

 

 

What to Organize Now Back to School Kids’ Essentials

 

what to organize now kids' essentials for back to school

There is so much uncertainty with Back to School in 2020. Changes are happening each day.  There are items to organize to get ahead, be prepared and get started as the school year begins.  We always need to organize our clothes, our time and now our technology.

 

Kids’ clothes

No matter if your child is attending online or in a school building, kids always need clothes for school.  School attendance is being delayed for some districts, however your kid will need a uniform and school clothes as the year progresses. Dive into your kids’ drawers and closet and edit what does not fit currently. This will make it easier to get ready every day and there will be less laundry.  How many clothes do your kids’ need for school? I recommend 5 – 10 sets currently so that you have less to purchase and less to store. This will be easier to maintain with your laundry cycle. Set up your kids’ clothes where they can get ready on their own each day and put away their own laundry.

 

Kids’ appointments

Just like every year, you want to start the year fresh with doctor, dental and grooming appointments. These essential appointments have been delayed this summer and now it the time to cautiously attend to these. Be sure to contact your doctor to learn the protocol for the office.  Grooming like nails and hair appointments can be made at low attendance times. Be sure to get your required immunizations and health history records.

 

Kids’ school supplies

Take stock of school supplies already in your home.  We often stock up for more than a year at a time and have an over abundance of supplies. Consolidate supplies to an easy access area for your kids.  Wait to purchase items to see what is required this year. Set up an easy access system for your kids to retrieve school supplies through the first part of the school year.

 

Kids’ technology

Last school year we learned how vital technology is during online school.  Assess what you have and what is needed after last year’s at home COVID school. Were there sufficient computers or devices for everyone to be online at the same time? Did you have enough internet service to work smoothly? Working through your technology challenges early will smooth out your school year. Set up a common charging spot for all devices to be placed each evening. A great night’s rest comes happens in a technology free space.

 

Meals and more

Gather your family together and create a family meal list. On the list are all the easy to prepare meals that everyone loves. Add this list to your online grocery shopping now and test it for 2 weeks.  Add in breakfast and lunch items that you are grab and go to ease preparation. There are many easy ways to be sure that we gather together, laugh and talk.

 

Family Meeting time

Gather everyone together to start your family meeting routine. Setting routines, discussing school success and reviewing family values are important parts of family communication and collaboration.  It’s going to continue to be a different school year and talking about this with your kids helps them and you.  Together you are teaming up to support and nurture each other while back to school.

Now is the time to get back to your family calendar. Add dates during your family meetings and model how to use a calendar. Whether paper or digital, a family calendar keeps everyone up to date on activities and events.  It’s also the time to update your kids on family gatherings and holidays. Most especially this is also time to schedule self care.  Reset and rejuvenate time happens only because it is scheduled into your planner.  Be sure you have added this to your week and your family’s time.

 

While it is going to be a different school year, organizing your kids’ essentials for Back to School give you and your kids a sense of time and purpose. This year most especially we need to intentionally and purposefully focus on personal growth and education. It’s a time to focus on reading, math and science for stimulation and education. The big take away as school starts is to focus on doing our best work, being resilient and that learning as an important part of life.  Being prepared and organized helps us remember that there are consistent, ongoing and important activities that happen regardless of global situations.

 

Hugs and Happy (Virtual) Organizing: Junk Drawer Organizing

 

Hugs and happy organizing are client success stories.  Here’s a story about a client’s work on her junk drawer. Our work together was through virtual organizing where we met by Join.me.

 

With our New Normal, there’s a buzz about virtual organizing. Virtual organizing is working together by telephone, facetime, facebook messenger or Join.me.  We work together in the same way with goal setting, creating a plan, working together, and making organizing and productivity real. I am excited to share the successes for my recent virtual organizing client. We started with her command center in her kitchen to sharpen up her space. We discussed what to edit, what to categorize and how to set up the space. Additional areas we are working in are her office and her basement. She is thrilled making these changes.

 

Virtual organizing and productivity makes a difference!

What To Organize Now

 

During the first half of the year this year, we have been working through many challenges of life. We have faced these challenges with empathy, positivity and hope. Through our learning, we have come to think about what we can organize now and do now to make our home and our community a better place. For me, I work on one small thing at at time. That small thing compounds to make a big difference.  Here is my list of what to organize now for a sense of well being and productivity.

Take one small step to build a routine

I am hearing from people with ADHD how much they want to build a routine. That routine usually means how to start the day.  Start with one small addition to existing routines or one general habit that will be a foundation for establishing a routine.  The first, best choice is to set a bed time. It is a difficult first choice and worthy of that difficulty.  Strategize what time to get ready for bed, how to decrease blue light and device use, and what sets you up for getting a good night’s rest. Track your success to help you know your return on time investment.

Take one step to better health

We’re learning the importance of general good health.  One small step to better health will help you feel better physically and emotionally.  That might be adding exercise daily, even in the smallest increment, to your schedule.  Walk 15 minutes a day, take the stairs, park farther away to walk more or eat more veggies daily are all small ways to a path of better health. There are many small ways to improve your physical and mental well being.

 

Take time to connect daily

Our busy lives can prevent us from true connection with friends, colleagues and family.  We must intentionally schedule time to talk on the phone, write a note or text.  This small step brings us immeasurable joy. I’ve shared many conversations with long time friends where we laughed and processed this crazy mixed up time. Give yourself that joy too!

 

Curate information

We are literally bombarded with information that is “useful and helpful.”  Curate your trusted sources to help you stay balanced and informed.  Keep the big picture in mind as you learn new information and process how to use this.  I find epidemiologists and virologists to be amazing resources currently and follow them on social media.  Determine what is “enough” information and move onto another activity when you feel anxious.

 

Create an environment of joy

What surrounds you lifts you up. Now is the time to level up your space. That is decluttering first, then using color and decor to bring you joy. There is a lot of home renovation happening, including painting, landscaping and interior decorating.  Creating something beautiful when there is discord keeps you engaged and away from all the extra “noise.”

 

Give back

You can make a difference in a special way.  It is in thanking a shop person after a purchase, listening to a stranger who had a rough day, talking kindly with customer service when something went wrong or sharing a meal with others. There are many ways to give back.  It is in our power to respectfully work with others.

 

We’re in times of great change. What we can organize now is our spaces, our time and our thoughts. Set yourself up for great positive connections, more productivity and better self care with the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

 

Celebrating Milestones and Achievements for Professional-Organizer.com

Celebrations are important ways to mark milestones.  It’s important to not only celebrate personal milestones like family celebrations. Business success milestones share how far a business has come as well as high points and achievements. Milestones for business acknowledge core values and successes. It is a thrill to share with you dear blog readers who have followed my path steadily over the years.

 

Golden Circle

I am celebrating my 20th year in business and my 20th year in the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). To mark this occasion, I just received designation as a 20 year Golden Circle member. NAPO celebrates the 5, 10, 15, 20 and more years in our industry with a special badge. Professional-Organizer.com and myself as the business owner celebrate the values of consistency, tenacity, communication and dedication with this recognition.

 

 

NAPO Specialist Certificates

Education is a powerful part of my background, my life and my values.  I am excited to share that I hold all 5 of NAPO’s specialist certificates. NAPO Specialist Certificates are for NAPO members who are seeking to set themselves apart in one or more specialties. For me it is a way enhance my work with my clients.

NAPO certificates

With the classes in the Household Management certificate, I am helping my clients build structure, processes and routines for their families.

Using the Residential Organizing Certificate, I am helping my clients with paper management, decluttering and space arranging in the residential setting.

 

With the Team Productivity Certificate, I am assisting clients who work in teams in both their homes and offices by boosting both their organizing and productivity.

The Workplace Productivity Certificate provides me information to help clients build a solid foundation with productivity in their homes and workplaces.

Life Transitions are a part of all of our lives. I am helping clients navigate the challenges of major life transitions, either at home or work.

 

 

Certification

Professional organizers can be certified through the Board of Certification of Professional Organizers (BCPO).  I am an inaugural Certified Professional Organizer, holding certification since 2007. Since then, I have taken hundreds of hours of classes to maintain my certification. These classes include client interaction classes and specialty certificate classes. Certification also includes adhering to our BCPO Code of Ethics.

 

 

What does this all mean to you as my blog reader and for clients?  In all my work, my goal is to provide the expertise that helps you achieve your goals.  Through expert, current and in-depth training, our work together is enriched.  Each of these certificates adds value to our work together as we determine systems and routines that work with your personal style and strengths.

 

 

6 Ways to Create a Home To Recharge and Re-energize

6 ways to create a home the re-energizes

 

Our homes continue to be our place for work and play. Since Spring we have been “safe at home” with COVID-19 and now we are home this summer more than ever with restricted travel. This summer is the time to create spaces in our homes for tranquility and vitality. Every family needs space in their home to recharge and re-energize.

 

Declutter first

Decluttering first gives us energy. Maybe you haven’t realized how much your stuff is weighing you down. When we edit and remove that which is not loved, used or needed, we open up space in our homes. Start in your family room and then move to your kitchen, then next to your bedroom.  In the family room decide which collectibles are still important to you.  Do you need to edit photos or add more recent photos? Are there books you can donate to the library book sale room?  Create a space that helps you gather together for games and family fun. In the kitchen, simplify what you use for preparation and storage. Have your extra dishes become more than you need? Are you ready to slim down your food storage containers (aka tupperware)? In these high traffic areas, look to simplify and create easy access for what is most frequently used.

 

Create Tranquility Zones

Set aside time each day for tranquility.  Comfy sofas and bedrooms are ideal for napping.  These spaces for tranquil rest are where we can renew with cool temperatures and the whirl of a fan.  Add a soft throw or coverlet and you will enjoy your short rest.

 

Create a Book Nook

We’re learning and reading more than ever. That reading includes audio books, paper books, kindles, devices and magazines.  Book and magazine storage can be a small basket beside your night stand or in the family room. You can create a family library by installing additional shelving in a hallway with low two shelf storage or tall five shelf storage that matches the wall color. Decide how much book storage you would like, set that as a boundary for the number of books you want and then donate books that won’t fit into your space.

 

Create a meditation or yoga space

More of us are using meditation and yoga for calm starts to our day.  Your family room can be divided into zones for a variety of uses including media and exercising. Place your yoga mat in a wicker basket for storage in a corner of your family room for easy access and room to exercise.

 

Invite your family outdoors

Time outside in the sun and the shade energizes us.  Getting our daily dose of vitamin D is important as well as fresh air.  Invite your family into the outdoors with a hammock between trees, an oversize Adirondack chair in the shade or a bistro table and two chairs for snacks outside.  New sports like pickelball and old sports like crochet are fun family activities to play throughout the summer.

Create a common charging station for everyone’s devices

Prioritize your family’s tranquility each evening with a common charging station in a common space. Each evening place all the devices in your home in the station to recharge.  Everyone will benefit with a better night’s rest.

 

Re-organizing your home this summer will re-energize everyone.  This boost will make a difference for summer fun and time together as a family.

Creating Resilience in Difficult Times

resilience

 

Are you beginning to think we have been thrown back to ancient times and there are many plagues before us? We are going through a global health crisis, economic bumpy roads, and social unrest.  It’s certainly a time to create resilience during difficult times. Here are some strategies that can hold you in safe space with the unprecedented times.

 

Solid routines

I am a professional organizer and productivity consultant. Naturally the first recommendation I have is to create a rock solid routine for your morning, evening or the day. Your routine can have flexibility without begin rigid.  Rock solid routines include your set bedtime, your daily exercise and your productivity time blocks. A solid routine helps you know what your plan is for the day, which can be rearranged as needed.

 

Sacred self care

Self care and resilience are like peanut butter and jelly. Your self care will keep you well rested, well hydrated, and positive.  We need energy to stay calm and carry on. Many people are learning new games, crafts and outdoor activities. When you give yourself time to do what you love or to learn something new, you feel energized and upbeat. Self care is required during these times, and beyond.

 

Trusted sources and resources

Media and social media are filled with many emotions and lots of information. By now you have drilled down to what is your trusted source.  Stay true to what you trust and rely on.  Double check facts online.  I have been relying on science based information rather than many opinions. Use many facts to find the truth of the situation.

 

Spiritual learning

There is not much in the media that is sharing thoughts about faith. This is a time to lean into your faith. That may be through religious ceremonies via zoom, a daily evening prayer, grace at meals or with a prayer book at home.  Knowing there is a great good and a higher power empowers our hope and resilience.

Authentic connections

Authentic connections help you process the world and keep you grounded. Throughout the pandemic, I have called two friends a day to spend time processing what is going on around us. They have helped me find meaning and purpose in this bumpy time.  This is the support we all need as we discuss and sometimes laugh at the tough times.

 

 

Find the good. It’s all around you.  It is the awareness that even in the most troubling of times, good is here.  That is resilience. Knowing the good is here.

 

3 Tips to Help You Get Organized to Stay Healthy

 

 

Health has been a long time priority for our family. Above all else, we prize taking care of ourselves and building good routines that support wellness.  Our motivation includes being a role model for our kids and grands kids. We know that what we do reflects on their choices.  As a family we have sadly had parents die at an early age. We want to live a long healthy life to spend time with our family and friends.  We have prioritized health and well being and you can too by adjusting a few tweaks to your self care and lifestyle.  Check out these 3 tips to help you get organized to stay healthy.

 

Make time for exercise in your schedule

Exercise is a stress fighter and immunity builder. It’s that important to be sure that even with the busiest of days with the longest hours, you add in exercise. There are so many ways you can make sure you exercise multiple times a week.  Set a schedule to include some exercise, whether it is a class at the gym or a far walk from your car to your office.  You can exercise with your family when you all take a walk together, ride bikes or online classes.

Finding the exercise you love helps you commit to this. Since 1988, I have prioritized taking a walk every day. I have the opportunity to set my own schedule, I start my day early with a walk. A variation of my walk can include a “walk and talk” with friends to keep connected or “think big time” about my business, professional next steps or personal goals. I have made the commitment to walk 10K steps a day currently and love that I am accomplishing this early in the day.

 

Make it easy to take medications, supplements and vitamins

While not everyone agrees on the value of supplements or vitamins, we do all agree that to take care of ourselves we need to make it easy. What is easy? It is placing your medicine or vitamins where they are easy to see and take each day.  Using a medicine organizer, you can be sure you are taking your daily doses timely. It’s easy to take medications by setting your alarm on your phone to be sure you take these at the correct time.  I carry a small ziplock of over the counter medicines to keep with me as I go about my day.  Using auto refill, it’s easy to have all your medications without hassle.  You can pull up to the pharmacy window to pick up your refill when texted. When things are accessible and easy to see, it’s easy to be sure we take what we intend or is prescribed.

 

Plan a great night’s rest

There’s nothing more powerful for wellness than a great night’s rest.  Experts share the many ways to help you relax and rest. With so much to think about and worry about, it’s hard to settle in.  However, getting more exercise helps us rest better. We slip into slumber more easily and stay asleep all night. As adults it is tempting to stay up late, binge watch and then hit the snooze button in the morning. It is a matter of creating a schedule that includes a bedtime that works for you.  By establishing time for tranquility, we are setting ourselves up for a better day tomorrow.

Here is how I get started scheduling my bed time. I start very early in getting ready for bed, like ridiculously early, at 6 pm. I wash my face and get ready in my night wear. I keep my bedroom very cold and very dark. Also my bed sheets are heavy and weighted. I plan on eight hours of rest. My bedtime and rise time are the same every day, including the weekend. As you can see, I love being rested! I am a creature of habit that makes it easier too. While you may not be a person with solid routines, take one of these tips to use for your bedtime.

 

Get started on these lifestyle changes with one small step. Over time, your new habits will be something to brag about to others.  Your family will be thrilled too.