Work from Home and Virtual School Fall Edition

4 tips for work from home and virtual school

 

We started work from home and virtual school this spring. Now it’s Fall and we are continuing to cocoon at home.  While we were surprised by these changes, now we can be certain that these work stations are a necessity for awhile longer.  Here are some tips for improving your productivity and surviving all the togetherness.

 

Design your ideal space

Start with the end in mind. This applies to designing your spaces to work for you and your students.  Look at what has worked well and assess obstacles.  See where your home has potential to add work space for the short and long term. Use your design skills to approach this with a fresh perspective. Assess your furniture and learn what you can repurpose. Are there opportunities to change up your furniture needs inexpensively? Cute counts when it comes to organizing.

 

Organize your work and school spaces

  • Stuff has built up in our spaces since we began our work from home.  Declutter and edit what you have experienced to be weighing you down.
  • Everyone needs a designated work space, including you and your students. With cooler weather outside, this can be a chair and table in your backyard (as long as your wifi connects where.) Separate spaces are great for everyone to work without distractions.
  • Set up easy access storage for materials and resources.  Carts move to where you and your students are located. Each person needs their own storage area for school supplies and related materials.  Use an accordion file or file box for papers you are printing for your students. Label the sections with the names of each subject.  Your student can file these papers each day to keep organized.
  • Zoom and video meetings continue to be requirement of work and school life right now.  Getting the right set up and lighting, as well as background enhance your meeting.  As you are establishing everyone’s work space, think about what others are seeing and eliminate background clutter.

 

Update your technology

Get your tech set.  Technology happens! Nothing is more frustrating than inadequate internet speed or coverage. Update and increase your internet speed by adding both range extenders and a mesh network system to provide coverage throughout your home.

Technology happens in a not good way too.  It’s very important to set boundaries on technology.  Have a common charging spot for all devices and computers overnight. You will be completely charged both on your devices and physically from an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Use technology smartly.  Have a great set of headphone or air pods for everyone in your family. Label them with each person’s name so when these get lost, these are easily returned to their owner.

 

Set up routines supporting organization

The best systems require good routines. An organized work space is best supported with an end of work routine.  Model how to finish up your work day and your student’s school day with a closing routine. Reset all books and supplies to their places, tidy up your area with trash and push in your chair at your space.  Host a discussion on what your end of work routine includes so that everyone knows the value.

 

Setting up a great work space takes a little time, energy and creativity. Your newly updated space will help you be more organized, in control and less anxious.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Back to School and Back to Homework for your ADHD Student

 

Back to school and back to school for ADHD student

 

It’s the first week of school and you and your student are not ready to buckle down for homework.  With less structure and more free time, homework is an unhappy addition to going to school all day.  The first week of school is an important time for year-long homework success.  It’s time to set up a successful homework time and station for your ADHD student.  Here’s how to make homework time work for you both.

 

What most ADHD students need

ADHD students struggle with organizing and planning, getting started and getting finished, taking more time to complete work, and turning in homework.  As you plan for homework time, be sure these needs are met during homework time.

 

What works and what doesn’t

Last year’s homework successes and struggles are a great starting point to jump-start this year.  Coach your kids about what works for them, rather than tell them how.

Here’s topics to discuss

  • Are there organizing tools will they use for homework?
  • What are the possible organizing tools will they use for papers?
  • Where is a positive location and set up and location for their focus?
  • What are the times that  work best to complete their work?

While coaching, you can help by asking positive, engaging questions to set up structure for your student. Keep it simple with how to set up for success.

Organizing tools for homework can include a planner, post it notes, or a dry erase board.  For paper, your student can use an accordion file, pocket folders or binder with slash pockets.  Best locations for homework are the dining room and a study.  It’s easiest to get to work after a short break and a snack.

 

Distractions, interruptions and more

Here’s a variety of solutions for distractions, interruptions or trouble getting started.

  • Have a homework helper each afternoon to partner with your child.
  • Arrange study times with other kids, swapping spaces and moms to help with homework.
  • Use a timer to get your student started.
  • If you are away and your student is at home working, identify your student’s independent work  before you get home.

Real distraction, such as Instagram, texts and online browsing can be difficult to monitor. Internet blockers can help you student stay on track.

 

The real outcome is support. As you and your student head back to school and back to homework, you will both need support to feel successful about homework each day.  Reach out to local support with ADHD specialists, therapists, coaches and educators to make each afternoon a positive experience. Be sure to have an expansive team to support you both!

 

Want more ideas on ADHD? Join my newsletter! 

5 Tips for the First Day Back to School

first day back to school

5 Tips for Mom, Dad, Auntie, Grandparents and Caregivers

  • Plan ahead with breakfast, lunch and snacks.
  • Get up earlier than your kids to have coffee, get grounded and get ahead.
  • Music can make your family’s day. Create a playlist for your morning.
  • Surround your family with positive energy and positive talk.
  • Make self care a priority the first week of school.

 

5 Tips for Students

  • Make a plan for your best year with positive self talk.
  • Get in bed early and give yourself a little more time in the morning.
  • Make sure you have what you need to take to school that first day.
  • Encourage your siblings and create a family team.
  • Take the extra steps to follow through and work well with others.

5 Tips to Get Ready for Back to School

Back to school

 

Getting ready for back to school feels like a sprint and a marathon. It’s a myriad of details, appointments, and preparation.  What makes it easier to get ready for back to school?  Here’s five tips that prep you for being back to school.

Have your calendar and your check book ready

At back to school time, there’s two very important tools to have at your fingertips. Your calendar is where all the new dates for school, athletics, worship and more belong. It’s your guide for each day of the next 9 months.  Gather all the dates and times each day and then each evening scribe these.  You want to get ahead of the game by getting all the dates in this early.  Over the next few weeks be sure to have a weekly family  meeting to keep your calendar up to date. Your checkbook is the age old money holder, however now it’s your credit card, Venmo or other financial transaction method.  Back to school is when you register for new activities, pay for books, or pay for supplies.  Be ready and track your expenses.

 

Make appointments and shop early

Here’s a quick list of some of the appointments you might need before school starts.

  • Well check doctors’ or chiropractors appointments
  • Personal care such as haircuts and manicures

Start by assessing what’s in your kids’ drawers and fits. Get caught up on laundry to know what you have and what you need to purchase.  Set aside a time to shop with your kids just for basics to get the year started. There’s easy ways to shop online, however be sure to return what you don’t need and doesn’t fit.

 

Make a lunch, dinner and snack plan

Food makes us all smile! Breakfast can be a quick start or something to take on the road with you. Dinner time is when we gather to share our stories each day.   Make yourself and everyone happy with mindful appreciation for food.  There’s lots of ways to get meals organized, so pick one or a few that are easy for you and your family. Don’t forget healthy snacks too!  Back to school requires lots of energy and food is one of the major ways to fuel ourselves.

 

Set up family routines that work

The best types of organization require routines. It’s what we do repeatedly,  almost automatically.  These are morning, homework, and evening routines.  Morning routines are hopefully minimal and focus on getting out of the house on time.  By creating Homework routines, you are simplifiying getting homework complete and back to school.  In the evening, the goal is to gather for a meal and to get a great night’s rest.  Review your family routines during a family meeting and be sure everyone agrees.  If needed, create a check lis to insure everyone is on board.

 

Ready, set, tech

There’s tech tools that help you with back to school too.  Use a good old fashioned alarm clock to wake each person each morning.  Hang an analog clock where you can see it in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.  Set reminders on  your smart phone to leave early for school in the morning and end your day at work.  Both Quizlet and Studyblue help your student learn more effectively. Use a bank app to deposit checks or check balances to pay bills. All these small tools add up when you are getting ready for back to school.

 

Back to school is an adventure waiting! Jump in with optimism and positivity for a great start for the new school year.

 

More back to school ideas here!