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.

 

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How to make Time work for You

Be on time and be productive

 

Staying aware of time is one of the foundations of time management. It may be that you have a bit of “time blindness,” where you don’t see or feel time passing. Without this time awareness, you may be losing time and being less productive. Let’s admit it, when time passes we feel less effective and caught off guard.

 

Here are timely tips to help you track time and use it as you plan. You can rely on clocks, routines, and work flow to help you be your most productive.

 

  • Place a clock in all the important spots in your home or office. Time awareness begins with an analog clock.
  • Have a work flow, not necessarily a set schedule. Rather than a packed time table, set up work times that naturally flow in the context and content of your work.
  • Routines are the automation of time management. Establish routines that build success and structure for you. These routines begin and end your work day, and begin and end your daily life.
  • Use the Maximum and Minimum strategy to help you know how long a task or project can take. Assess what is the most and least amount of time for these and schedule your work accordingly.
  • Check out apps that can help you with time management. These include RescueTime, Toggl, and StayOnTask.
  • Use multiple alarms to keep you on track. These include one day out, one hour out, and 15 minutes out from a deadline.
  • Bedtime is the remedy for all time management challenges. Getting a great night’s rest solves many time management issues.
  • Schedule in free time, fun time and family time. Intentional time to disconnect and reconnect makes you more productive.

Choose a simple start for yourself with just one tip from this list to make you more aware of time and more effective in how you use your minutes and hours.

 

time flies and you're the pilot

Finding your Motivation

 

 

finding your motivation

To do or not to do, that is the question. There’s many motivations for making a change, getting organized and being more productive.  There’s also many obstacles that keep us from getting started.  One of those might be ADHD, where procrastination, lack of organizing skills and being overwhelmed keep you from getting started. Having inspiration, and accountability can motivate you and get your work started. Finding your motivation is key.

 

Motivational experiences

I recently met with a client who knew now is the time to get organized. She had experienced flooding, and health challenges, and was looking at new healthy choices.  She had recently rebuilt her home and was prepared to make her home the organized and productive spot she craved. Her life with ADHD had held her back before and now she had compelling reasons to begin.

 

I have also met with client who worked long hours, raised her family and one day looked at home her and said, wow how did this all stuff get here?  She had invested her time in good and important goals and now knew it was time to make a change in her surroundings. While focused on the important parts of making a living for her family, she had gotten overwhelmed with the inflow of stuff.

 

When you know it’s time to make a change to your life, your home and work and your energy, that’s the most compelling time to get organized.  What makes for a compelling reason to change? It’s truly an individual decision and a decision you can make at any time.

 

 

Motivational media

Motivation in the form of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show is sweeping the nation this year.  It’s leading to other media connections, like podcasts, blog posts, and social media. In Tidying Up, we see many like us who have struggled with clutter.  The kind inspiration offered by Marie Kondo leads up to be grateful and let go.

 

There’s social media posts that are keeping us motivated too.  Seeing other’s conquer their clutter on instagram or Facebook help us know that we can do this too. Forming a social media group that works together to reaffirm your motivation, keep you accountable by posting your successes, and support you as you move forward are instrumental.  There’s existing clutter support on Facebook to join if you want this resource.

 

 

Motivational team members

Your team plays is crucial to your motivation.  It’s about feeling truly supported as you work.  That support comes in questions that coach you, support the acknowledges feelings, and praise with each step.  There’s no limit to your possible team members including those available by cell and facetime, professionals to coach and teach skills, to any number of those around you.  Start by building your team to help you start and stay motivated.

 

The most compelling motivation to me has always been something I keep very close in my thoughts. It’s that thought that every day whatever choices I make have positive impact on my life.  Thankfully it has been making priorities clear and simple.  I encourage you to think about your priorities and how that impacts your motivation.

 

best time to start was yesterday next best time is now

 

How Goals, Calendar and Schedule Alignment Work for You

How goals, calendars and schedule alignment works for you

 

Tire alignment, also known as wheel alignment, can help your tires perform properly and help them last longer. It can also improve handling and keep your vehicle from pulling in one direction or vibrating strangely.  

 

It’s clear that tire alignment helps you save money and time.  How might alignment work for us when we are talking about productivity?  When your goals, calendar and schedule are aligned, it helps you with your performance.  That performance is getting tasks and projects completed with less stress and more joy.  When your life is in alignment, you are feeling the bonus of work life integration.  Just how do we accomplish alignment when our life seems out of kilter?

 

Check your goals first

Review your current calendar to align your goals and your actions. Is what’s on your current calender reflecting your annual or quarterly goals?  Do you see a direct connection to what your responsibilities are each month and week?  Are there times for self care and relationship building?  Knowing how close you are already to alignment will be a guidepost for you.

Write out your best week

As you look over your calendar, you may be dismayed to see disjointed and disconnected dates and activities.  Take a whole new look at your week with a best week calendar. Michael Hyatt refers to this as your “ideal week.”  This is setting yourself up for success to know what this looks like.  With a blank calendar start with filling in what are your priorities.  Parallel your plans with consistent routines for similar activities.  That would be exercising every morning at 6 am, working with clients starting every day at 10 am, and hosting meetings at 2 pm.  See what new awareness comes from this exercise.

It’s going to take time to get your best week aligned with your current week so start small. What tweaks can you put in place?  Where are there options to create alignment? What if you have no control over your goals, deadlines or tasks?  Here’s where to talk to your team and seek out solutions together.

 

Keep aware of where alignment can occur

Changes are naturally occurring on a regular basis. A client ends, a new project starts, or a new boss comes on the scene.  When you seek improved alignment, that’s when you take advantage of a shift.   Look for where new possibilities are happening. Let’s say your 10 am Monday meeting shifts to 2 pm on Tuesday.  Now you can place your high quality work on Monday mornings instead.  Another option is to schedule shorter more frequent meetings at a lower energy time.

 

Is perfect alignment possible?

There is not necessarily that you are seeking perfect alignment as there are changes occuring regularly. What you are working toward is every improving alignment for yourself. There’s also random tasks, especially administrative tasks, that are part of your week.   If you can batch adminstrative tasks to be more productive about these.

 

Remember that for tire alignment, a periodic check is required.  Use your Strategic Planning to continually assess your goals, and then assess your alignment. What you will find as the most powerful benefit is that you are feeling more on top of your goals as a result.

 

 

4 Foundations for Productivity

 

4 foundations for productivity

 

Set yourself up for maximizing your productivity. There are foundational aspects that create the structure to maximize your time and prioritize the tasks.  These include tools and strategies that create a basis for doing your best work.   Here’s the 4 ways to create a foundation for exceptional productivity.

 

Capture all together

If you have post it notes, random scraps, several notebooks and a lot in your head, it’s likely you need a specific capture tool and a capture time.  A capture tool is where all your projects, tasks and ideas are recorded.  It’s tempting to keep it all in your head however it’s not effective.  Decide what’s the best, paper, digital or a hybrid, to capture these elements.

Capture time is the time you are recording.  There’s many ways that can work for you. ASAP is a great strategy, as well as at the beginning and end of the day. Capture by notes, with a voice activated device, or any means that makes this easy. A capture time once a week, with a high level of view of your work, keeps tasks from being overlooked.  I call this weekly planning time.

 

Assessing time

Determining how much time a task or project takes can be the biggest challenge to productivity. It takes practice with the same tasks as well as a knowledge of your strengths and skills.  Break your task into the simplest step and give this your best guess. Then multiply that time by three.  Time yourself as you complete the task and review your success.

 

Assign work times

Completing a project on time, whether it’s taxes or client work, is a true test of productivity. Look at how you structured your weeks, months and quarters. Be sure to schedule chunks of time to work or give yourself an entire day to complete your tasks.  Either way, you know that you can be sure to finish for your deadline.  Remember,  a task that has no time assigned on a calendar is not a task. It’s a wish!

Control the distractions after your assigned work periods.  That’s dificult and necessary.  Those distractions indicate you have lost momentum and energy.  If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook instead of working, take a break, get a drink of water or move your work time to another time of day.

 

Match work and energy

Work when you work best.  Use your lower energy time for when you do less important work. Know your chronotype to do your best work. If you are morning person, get to work on the important stuff first before checking email.  Come back around to work again after dinner if you have an energy spurt. bove all, the best foundation to productivity is rest and rejuvenation. Time away from work, time being creative and time to sit all contribute to being more effective.

 

The best foundation for productivity includes a plan.  Plan for planning time, however your plan should not be too specific and too detailed.  Your plan should be a work flow, incorporating some routines that keep your productivity high.  Complicated, hour by hour planning can be too much to accomplish.

 

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Getting to the finish line for those with ADHD

The energy of a new project gets you started. You are excited to create order in your home with organizing, find a new app to help with productivity or create better communication with a meeting.  In the beginning, there is fuel with stimulation and energy. What happens when your tasks and project hit a road block? How do you get to the finish line?  For those with ADHD, it’s a common question.

 

Know what the finish line looks like

What does it look like to finish your project?  Is is pinterest worthy? Does it need to be?  Keep the end in mind as you start the project so you know when it is complete. There’s often perfectionism that’s inthe way of getting to the finish line.  You can work in the space or on the routine as a practice session. That way you can course correct if necessary and finish after you redefine the end result.

 

Get coaching to get to the finish line

It’s so close and yet so far.  You are 90% done and it’s that last 10% that  is not happening. Go with a team approach with a coach.  A coach will help you flush out obstacles and see what is in the way.  Perhaps there were more decisions you didn’t see or there’s no time in your schedule.  Often those with ADHD respond well to coaching s they are verbal processors who need to work out a few last details.

 

Set the date

A simple date can draw your project to a close. It’s just like when we plan on company coming! It’s that date that helps us make things final. If you have a project, work backwards from the due date and create segments or chunks to accomplish smaller parts. Also pad your due date with an extra week.  Tasks and projects take twice or three times as long as you might project.

 

Teamwork gets you to the finish line

For me the last 10% takes the most time and energy.  The energy and  strengths of having a team can get you to the finish line.  Meet with you team well before the deadline.  Align who does what best so you are working from strong skills and knowledge. A team approach also means there are more people to celebrate your success together.

 

After getting to the finish line, celebrate your success with a list of what helped you finalize your project.  The list helps you create new strategies for your next project.

 

How to Prioritize the Most Important Task

Prioritizing

 

Prioritizing. It’s one of the hardest aspects of time management.  You set aside time to get important work done, and now what to do?  Here are 5 ways of determining what to do first when you are ready to get to work.

 

One thing

If you could choose just one thing that makes the biggest difference in your day at home or work, what would that be? That’s the essence of prioritizing and knowing the one thing that you can do each day. On the opposite hand, what is the one thing that if you did NOT do it, that your day would go awry?  Either perspective helps you prioritize what to choose that is the most important part of your work.

 

Getting Things Done (GTD) lists

GTD starts with a mind sweep and writing everything down. You divide the list into current projects and someday/maybe projects.  Then your list is grouped by the places you work will be accomplished. That can be at the computer, at a meeting, anywhere and errands.  Finally you add the single next step to each of these actions.  GTD helps you prioritize by knowing where you do your work and knowing the one next step to accomplish that task or project.

 

Mindmapping

For non-linear thinkers, here’s a way to find your priority.  There’s not always a start or end, it’s a context within the work itself.  A mind map helps you write down ideas, link tasks that support that goal and then prioritize. By creating a context of what work needs to be accomplished and knowing the many different directions that are possible, you can focus on where you are in the task and project.

 

The Painted Picture

Getting things done is not the same as getting the right things done. To do this, Brian Scudamore  uses his “Painted Picture” strategy.  Keep the big picture in mind with the top third of your capture tool, then below add quadrants for quarterly, monthly and weekly.  Select just 3 tactics that align with this goal and your projects are outlined for completion.

 

Choose the one thing you never get started

Intuitively you know what to do and you never get to it. That’s the priority for you.  It’s when you have procrastinated and let tasks lapse, you know it’s time to get started.

 

How to accomplish prioritizing also depends on setting up your weekly routines to follow through.   Set up a weekly planning time to establish a big picture view that allows you to establish priorities.  That weekly planning time also gives you the opportunity to match your weekly tactics with your calendar.

 

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How to End your Work Day Productively

How to end your work day

 

It’s well past 6 pm and your family is waiting for you. Your paper and digital inboxes are still overflowing.  You don’t feel like you have accomplished your goals for the day.  It’s time to close down and rejuvenate for the next day. Take the last 30 minutes of your day to successfully end your work day.

 

End your day with a mind sweep

Be true to your productivity plan with a mind sweep at the end of the day. Much information has come in so capture it.  By keeping it in a trust spot like your paper or digital tool, you know you can come back to it with a fresh perspective, place it in a time line, and work with others.  With the fatigue of the end of the day, giving ideas a holding spot help you.

 

End your day with your Most Important Tasks

Jump start and front load tomorrow with your 3 Most Important Tasks.  It’s a head start to the work of tomorrow.  Not sure what the 3 MITs for tomorrow are you? Write down where you are leaving off in a project you worked on today.

 

End your work day with by freshening up your environment

Freshen up your desk, computer and work space at the end of the day. Not unlike an artist, even though you are returning to this spot tomorrow to continue, a cleared desk brings you a blank canvas.  It’s sort of what our parents always reminded us, to pick up and put away at the end of the day.  If doubt this, try it for a week. It’s like making your bed.

 

Creative ways to end your day

  • Set an alarm with a special sound or music to herald the end of the work day.
  • End your day an hour earlier to pack your work into a smaller time frame. Your work expands to fit the time you give it. Give your work less time and give yourself more time.
  • Travel by public transportation and give yourself a deadline to get on that bus or train.
  • Give yourself a reward as you return home. Listen to an audio book, podcast or music you love.

 

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How to Start your Work Day

How to start your work day

 

It’s 9 am and time to get to work!  You grab your planner, you sit at your computer and you start your work.  Not quite!  Not surprisingly it often takes a warm up of sorts to get started. A warm up prepares you to do the work you intend.  It’s not only motivation. It’s also at times physical and cognitive acts that prepare us to do our best work.  What does that look like to warm up?  Here’s some possibilities of how to start your work day.

 

Self care start to your day

With so many possibilities, perhaps a self care warm up will suit your need to clear your mind and focus on work.  There’s several ways the self care focus appears to us.  Many of my clients start their days with meditation.   Spending time in meditation offers the benefits of lowered stress, greater focus and clarity.  Another choice is a spiritual start to your day, including a bible reading or prayer time. Getting in touch with God helps us align our thoughts with our spirituality.  A physical self care warm up incudes drinking a glass of water, taking any medications, exercising, and eating protein.  Your self care warm up might be also called your routine for starting your day.

 

List making start to your day

As part of the strategy of Getting Things Done (GTD), there’s always a mind sweep.  It’s how we clear our thoughts and capture them.  A list is a great way to start your day and clear your mind to prepare to start real work.  Simply writing down all your thoughts in a capture tool either paper or digital helps give you clarity.

Now what about all those thoughts and ideas?  This is when we must prioritize.  We can’t and should not do everything on the list.  It’s our priorities that rise to the top for our work.  I call these Most Important Tasks (MITs).  If you want to start your work quickly the next day, write out your MITs at the close of your work day in preparation for the next day’s work.

 

Verbal processing to start your day

Team up with a partner for a short conversation to start your day.  Many of us are verbal processors, meaning that in talking through a thought we can become clear on next steps.  It’s also a great tool to remind us where we are, what our thoughts are, and our current task.    A short team meeting can help you start your work day with priorities.

 

Creative ways to start your day

In my conversations with clients, here’s a list of ways they have decided to start their work day.

  • Start your day by drawing or writing on a white board.  A mind map, a picture or an icon can be the visual start for your work day.  Use this big space to be creative and connect your thoughts.
  • A quick morning shower where ideas percolate.  Capture your ideas with a waterproof voice recorder.
  • Don’t hold back. Start. Then assess after the first hour what you have accomplished from yesterday’s list.
  • Do the babiest of baby steps to a big goal.  Chunk your list into manageable steps over the time of a week.
  • Create a metric. Determine a measure of what you want to accomplish in a certain amount of time.

 

Once you know how to start your work day, create a daily routine that empowers this.  Write it down, share it with your colleagues, and tweak it as you work.

 

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ADHD Guide to Happier Holidays

adhdholidayguide adhd

 

Time is not your friend during the holidays. There’s so much more to do. If you have ADHD, time challenges are part of what you face during the year.  Here’s a simple guide to a happier holiday for you and your family.

 

Keep self care at the top of your list

Holidays are the season of lists, with lists having lists.  Top off your list with holiday self care. This is the time to keep your exercise, medication, meditation and sleep schedules without disruption.  Keeping these routines on track will help you stay energized and positive.

 

Set your budget early and keep on track

Finances are a major part of all holidays. There’s gifts to buy, food to purchase and always last minute unplanned expenses.  Set up your budget early, with specific names and dollar amounts. Leave a little wiggle room for last minute purchases.  There’s apps for that too! Spendee, Mint and EveryDollar help you track your funds. Even before you set out to shop, open up all the Amazon boxes and make a list of all the gifts you purchased throughout the year. The power of a small, thoughtful, handmade gift can make a big impact if your funds are small. A donation to a meaningful charity in the family’s name shows thoughtfulness.  Simple gifts are profound and from the heart.

 

Meet to know what’s most meaningful

By far the most important and valued time of the holiday season is time spent together.  Get your family calendar together in early November.  Invitations, school plays, church gatherings and other celebrations will start soon! With your family, decide what’s most important and meaningful to each family member. Be ready to prioritize and then capture on your calendar these dates early.  When double bookings arise, take a few minutes to send a gracious thank you and proceed as planned.

 

Team work makes holidays easier

Make a list of what you have to do this holiday season. Now write a name next to the responsibilities where another person, team or tech can do this work.  Delegating is the way to have extra time to get the most complete. Create partnerships for work that can be done by more than one person. A partnership means that there will be laughing and fun, not just work to get done.  Look for community members to be a part of your team too, like teens who babysit, wrap or add extra hands when needed.  There’s lots of ways to add help in the holiday season.

 

Holiday are not all perfection all the time.  Take time this holiday season to find ways to make your holiday happier, and not perfect. The most imperfect holiday is often the most memorable.