COVID-19 How to Use This Time Purposefully

covid-19 how to use this time for purpose

 

There are many emotions and daily changes that are happening. Some days are better than others. It seems that the only constant is change with daily updates on how to live life, what’s next, and what is being put in place for our community. We are all cultivating resilience and courage, as well as learning more and more. Please know I am here to support you and be part of your Quaranteam.

 

We can use this time purposefully.  This pause has given us the gift of time in an unusual way and that hopefully we will never have again. We can be intentional with this time and give ourselves the gift of purpose. I have chosen two strategies to give purpose to each week. For me it is building new habits and giving back. These two elements have given me structure, focus and meaning.

 

Building new habits

Being at home more, I have the opportunity to build better habits that have been harder to develop.  There are many strategies to make habits stick. (Yes, certified professional organizers are a work in progress too.) Simple habits like exercising more and drinking more water have eluded me because I was not able to work these into a reliable time during the week. Early appointments and long days made it hard to get in enough steps.  Carrying a water bottle seemed cumbersome during the week. Time at home has given me an opening in the morning to accomplish my 10k steps a day. The benefit I imagined, such as improved sleeping and ongoing positivity, are reason enough to continue past the end of quarantine.  Drinking more water, with a sliced lemon, has become my beverage of choice through the day. Just adding these two simple parts of daily life are important to my well being, my work and my family.

I encourage you to choose one small, valued habit to make a difference during this time.  On top of my list would be a great sleep routine, next being healthy eating. These foundational self care elements help you live your best life!

 

Giving back to others

How to Help and Give Back is front page news on the Wall Street Journal. Research fully supports the value of helping others during times of stress. Helping others does not have to be big.  It’s in small acts and gifts. Thank you to everyone making masks. These contributions are already making a difference for everyone (especially as we are now required to wear masks.)

In addition, here are some amazing stories I am hearing. A friend brings Chick-fil-a to a “work from  home” family with 2 kids under 5 to brighten the day. A friend writes “I miss you” notes and tapes these to the her friends’ back yard gates. There are countless donations of gift cards to service industry professionals like nail salon workers, hair stylists and cleaning ladies. Do what you can with what you have to be a contributor.

There are big needs for our community too. These are links to needs local to Houston.

 

We have some bumpy roads ahead as we make our way through this dark time.  The time passes more quickly if we all have purposeful intentions and actions.  Comment below on how you are making a difference! I’d love to hear from you!

COVID-19 Establishing Time for Tranquility

time for tranquility

 

There is a lot going on right now as we continue social distancing.  It is a long list to think about with the virus, our work, our families, our community and our country. As we move through each week, we are all in this together both literally and figuratively. Despite knowing what we can’t control, there are times we can establish for tranquility. Tranquility times offer us ways to feel positive, reset our energy, renew our energy and be prepared for what is next.

 

Parenting tranquility time

Parents continue to be working double shifts with both their own work and their kids corona-schooling.  Setting up an organized work space and organizing your home are important. Equally important is setting up a space for calm.

  • Setting a bedtime for everyone helps.  Toddlers and elementary age kids require a regular bedtime through the crisis. Your teens may not go to sleep at that set bedtime, however they can be ready to relax in their own rooms then. You can request placing their devices in a common charging spot with your device and head to be yourself.
  • Organize everyone’s own bedroom. These spaces promote tranquility in that their primary function is sleeping. Remove excess clutter and paperwork to create a calm environment.
  • Put on your and everyone’s headphones, ear buds or air pods.  Everyone listens to their own music, meditation or podcast.  It’s silence for everyone at the same time.

 

Personal space tranquility time

Each of us needs a time and place to reset and rejuvenate. That’s harder with everyone at home.  The joy of outside exercise can be  your personal space tranquility area.  Set out for a walk, run or bike ride to regroup. Rainy day or too little time to get outside? Use YouTube for yoga, especially Yoga with Adriene.

 

Extrovert tranquility time

I see a lot of sillies suggesting our extrovert friends need to be connected.  For extroverts, there is energy in being with someone.  A reset includes connecting by facetime, join.me, or phone.  Take the opportunity daily to get in touch and to reach out.

 

Spiritual tranquility time

Many spiritual groups are setting up time to worship virtually.  Tap into this tranquil time through online worship. You can attend your ongoing worship or choose new spots to worship.  Many churches and temples are offering daily times to connect too.

 

More ways to establish tranquility time

  • Set boundaries with social media and news.  We are bombarded with information all the time.  Know that you can step away from all of this and come back refreshed. Set yourself up for success by taking breaks from your devices.
  • Intentionally pay attention to positive energy.  Check out SGN, Some Good News. New episodes are available each Sunday evening.
  • Know what works for you to establish tranquility. Psychology Today article suggests prayer, reading, meditation, yoga, creative activities, positive self-talk, cooking, gardening, journaling, deep breathing, listening to music, household projects, spring cleaning, meditation, puzzles/games, playing with your pets and kids, and doing something nice for someone else.    Expressing what you are worried and anxious about is a good thing.

 

Your tranquility times can be as needed or scheduled each day.  Be sure you are generous in the amount of time you give yourself as self care.  We all need a break to reset and regenerate energy.

 

 

 

 

Being Your Best Self in this crazy, mixed up, upside down world

 

be your best self

 

Intentionally engaging in positive thoughts and self care help us combat the anxiety we are all feeling right now. Being your best self in this crazy, mixed up, upside down world is our best strategy for coping.  Here is what sets me up for success right now.

  • Intentionally focus and act on positive emotions. Know what brings you joy and be ready to focus on it when you feel anxious. For me it’s taking a walk or a bike ride. Being outdoors gives me a sense of well being.
  • Connections matter to us. We have all been experiencing Zoom Happy Hour and family bike rides. Reach out to others to connect by Facetime or Facebook Messenger to see faces and chat. There is so much to connect about and share with family and friends.
  • We have learned new technologies this week that bring us closer together. Seeing so many schools teach by technology have taught parents and kids new ways to connect and learn. Colleagues are working remotely and collaboratively. Learning new technology will always be a part of our lives.
  • Learn about the ways we have conquered past health challenges. We have brilliant researchers at work right now, just like in the past.
  • Create a daily schedule for you and your family. Start your day with exercise and lemon water. End your day with getting to bed on time. Predictable schedules and routines anchor us.
  • Declutter, get organized and share your blessings with others. Go from space to space to edit what you have not been using or needing. You can use GiveBackBoxes.com to send items using your Amazon boxes. (Donate wisely.)
  • Giving back makes a difference. I was moved to see this cell phone choir. Everyone sharing their gifts, talents and skills. Where can you make a difference today? I have created a new series of YouTube posts to help you declutter, tackle paper clutter and more.
  • Resetting and rejuvenating is good. Take time for sitting, thinking, listening and relaxing. It’s an ideal opportunity for strategic thinking for personal and business goals

Gratitude fills my days. I am always practicing gratitude and affirming the good around and in us. I am grateful for the privilege of being able to work from home during this time and share tips for work at home. I see love, laughter and connection with you, family and friends on social media.

How to Organize Your Pantry When You Have Emergency Supplies

 

We are in our pantries more than ever right now! Meals are shared times that bring us comfort and hope during stressful times. Emergency preparation has us supplying our pantry so that we are prepared to eat at home while we work at home. The combination of both access and extensive supply can be a challenge for us. Here are 7 tips for getting organized and making meals happen in your home.

 

Pull it all out and expect chaos

The first step of all organizing is decluttering and categorizing. Start this step with lots of counter space available. Even the most organized cook has items that are past expiration dates.  Check dates and let go of items that you feel are past the prime. This first step may feel chaotic and overwhelmed, however push through to clear the pantry and wipe the shelves clean.

 

Categorize and group items together by use

Think of your grocery store and how items are grouped together.  Use this to group items together for your pantry.  You can also create useful zones which apply to your family, such as the breakfast zone, beverage zone, and snack zone. You can group as you empty your pantry too.

 

Think about auxiliary locations

Most of us have added a substantial amount of additional products to last through the time we are at home. Locate auxiliary storage in an adjacent closet, in a nearby laundry room, or near the door in your garage.  Before you return items to your pantry, think about where you would store which items.

  • Store items used frequently in your kitchen pantry.
  • Store back up items in your adjacent closet.
  • Group items used together (speghetti, sauce) in the pantry or adjacent closet.
  • Adjust shelves or add additional organizing products to add space.
  • Add storage to your door.

 

Place items by use in your pantry

The best organizing advice has to do with placing items by function.  Place what you use most frequently at eye level. For your kids, place snacks at their eye levels. Heavy items go on the bottom of your pantry and be sure to keep entry clear for access. Use the top shelf for overflow items.

 

Use organizing products for access

Here are some favorite bins for organizing your pantry.

 

Use labeling to be sure your pantry stays organized

My favorite labels are simple with black lettering and white background. A Brother P Touch labeler is what I use. There are tons of fun options on Pinterest. I label both the bins and the shelves.  Its easy for everyone to put away groceries and help!

 

Keep your extra supplies organized

In your new auxiliary space, organize just like your pantry. Be sure to use a list posted in the auxiliary space to be sure you keep on top of inventory.  Use vertical space wisely to maximize the access and space as well. For the freezer, you a magnetic dry erase board to list what is located there.  Group items by shelf or use a plastic bin in the deep freeze. Categories in your freezer include veggies,

 

Have fun with getting your pantry and extra stock organized. Organizing is a team sport! Your family can join in sorting and categorizing. One family member will love to help you with labels.  Organizing is a skill like all others your kids are learning at home schooling. Take this to the next step with sharing meal preparation and kitchen clean up too. If you are on your own, pull up your organizing playlist for fun.

 

 

More pantry organizing here!

 

Thankful. Grateful. Reflective.

 

 

be happy and be grateful

 

Like all of us, I am feeling anxious and unsure of what is ahead.  There is an enormous amount of sadness and grief, for loss of life, jobs and connections. At the same time there is a deep underlying sense of gratitude.  During this global crisis, I wanted to say how grateful I am and how gratitude shapes my daily life. Here is my list of what I am grateful for, despite our “new normal.”

  • My daily walks keep me in touch with nature and family. We are quarantined with our family and grateful to be engaging with them everyday through a morning walk.  There is a lot of joy in spending time together.  This would not occur in other times when we are all living our pre-virus life. I hope for you that you are also getting outside in the green space and feel supported in this time.
  • Each day I have the opportunity to cheer others on and serve others. Finding small ways to give back make this time meaningful and purposeful.
  • My home is a place of serenity. I am often asked how organized my home is. I am also doing my own decluttering and organizing. My home is where I find peace and rest. I hope you find that same in your space.
  • There is a pause for me to reflect. Life is busy. This is an opportunity for me to think about what I will apply moving forward.  I have been spending time thinking about who and what will be an every day part of my life after quarantine concludes. I want to surround myself with positive people, experiences and work.
  • This time has given more the opportunity to connect more. Every week I connect to clients to see how everyone is doing.  Every day I reach out to two friends. That brings so much joy to my day! I have laughed harder, smiled more and said I love you more than any other time.
  • My work brings me so much joy! I have worked on my YouTube channel as I planned this year. It is time to spend on learning more to help my clients. I realized that there is always a new opportunity to create a schedule I love every day.

 

I am here to encourage you. Find the positive in your time during COVID-19. I look forward to hearing what is “sparking joy” for you right now. I think many of us are thinking of the powerful positives that have come our way.

 

thankful. grateful.reflective

COVID-19 Four Essential Tips for Work From Home Success

 

With COVID-19 we are quickly navigating a new normal, that of working from home during a global crisis. It is not the same as working at home over the long haul or working from home during a traditional time.  There are 4 essential tips to ensure your success as you continue to work, home school and more in the same space daily. Follow these tips to keep your sanity and work success.

 

Start with great self care

The pandemic requires a lot of emotional and physical well being.  Start prioritizing self care.  That means creating an environment that supports you and your family.

  • Create a night time and bed time routine to support rest.  In times of transition, we rely on routines to help us. A productive day starts the night before.  End work in order to have dinner together, spend time together, and get in bed for 8  hours of rest.
  • Include time outside in your work and school routines. A family walk or bike ride in the middle of the day helps everyone clear their head and get re-energized.
  • Boundaries are necessary with social media.  It’s tempting to spend time checking social media when you are feeling drained and unsure of your next priority. Help everyone, most especially your teens, by modeling and setting expectations.

 

Set up your space

By now you have been spending time at home adjusting to your new space. You know what is not working for you and your homeschooling.

  • Declutter and create space in your office to do real work. It’s a reality check to clear out what is unnecessary and edit your stuff. You will be glad you did!
  • Set up multiple spaces for your kids to work.  It can be unconventional like a hammock in the back yard or a make shift tent in a family room. Separate spaces are great for everyone to work without distractions. It also gives everyone a little space to decompress and focus in on work.
  • Video meetings are a requirement of work and school life right now.  These are the social connections we have during the pandemic too. Think of this area as you video studio.  Be sure you have reviewed best practices for you and your kids at a family meeting.
  • Check in with appropriate attire for your work day. Dress for the meetings as you would in real life unless otherwise noted by your employer.

 

Communication

Over-communication during this transition keeps everyone connected, up to date, and sure of next steps.

  • Discuss work hours with your employer, especially to the start and end of your work day.
  • Clarify expectations about tasks and projects.  Will there be daily check in? How will priorities be discussed? What will be the success metrics? Be sure everyone agrees and has this in writing as well as verbally.
  • Resolve challenges with a phone call. It is easy to misinterpret information and tone with text and email. A phone call makes it easy to clarify what has happened and how to rectify the situation.
  • Create a system for sharing documents. Agree to one online system that everyone can use and share. Use what’s easiest to access and be sure there is password protection.

 

Work life integration

Now let’s add back in the rest of the story – those kiddos are home too.

  • If your kids’ assignments arrive on Monday at 9 am, plan around that time. Allocating time to get the kids started will allow you to work more productively.
  • Share responsibilities and tag team if possible. Parents can share shifts of homeschooling.
  • Manage expectations of yourself and your kids’ assignments.  You are all learning resilience as well as math and reading.

 

There is a lot of “life learning”going on at this time. Be aware of nuances in you and your family’s transition to work from home.  It’s a great opportunity to give your family kudos.

 

COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness for Your Papers, Passwords and More

emergency preparedness for papers and more

 

 

Emergency preparedness goes beyond organizing your stuff. It starts with a will, durable power of attorney and legal documents and moves to online passwords and your digital life.  We all have important documents that we need access to during our lifetime and that our loved ones might need access to in the future. With the time we have, it’s a great time to organize these papers and more.

 

Tools to get organized

In an emergency, the last thing that should be an obstacle is locating paperwork. We need easy access to health insurance details, medical information, and advance directives. Estate plans, financial and insurance information, property and business interests should be documented and organized. Your digital life and passwords are also key to ensuring that information can easily be accessed.

Clients have often asked me how to do this and what is easiest to accomplish what seems like an overwhelming accumulation of data.  There is a comprehensive system called My Life Packet (www.mylifepacket.com.) It is an organizational tool that walks you through what you need to collect, record, and share. (Note I have no financial gain from sharing this tool.)

In My Life Packet,  you can pace yourself to consolidate the documents you need.  By taking inventory of what documents you have and where they are located can save everyone time, money, and stress. It is about peace of mind to have all these documents ready.

 

Time to get organized

Like all projects, take a big picture on organizing your important papers.

  • What do you want the end to look like? Is this an electronic document or a binder with papers?
  • What do already have accumulated?
  • Can you spend an hour at a time assembling these documents?
  • Who else in your family will you share this?

 

Time to share your documents

Documents like these are a gift to yourself and your family.  Take this project on,  like all big projects, as a way to share important conversations. According to Real Simple, there are 4 important family meetings all families need. These include the “Senior Summit” to discuss life documents, care and more. Having a Senior Summit is for all ages, not just seniors.  It’s not a one and done conversation in that as decisions can change and be updated.  Set a date as a deadline to start your first conversation.

 

Here is a basic list of what you will be needing to get started.

 

COVID-19 Why your Family Meeting Matters Now More than Ever

covid-19 family meetings

 

Family together has taken on a whole new meaning.   Families are together 24/7 with home schooling and work at home.  How does that impact family communication? Is a family meeting necessary if we are all together all the time?  What’s important to share at a family meeting?  Using your Family Meeting to connect and communicate remains an important resource during this time.

 

Family Meeting Basics

Family meetings are a part of great communication. Meeting once a week gets everyone on the same page with calendars, family activities and ongoing family planning. It’s also a great way to discuss important topics like your family values.  In this time, there are many responsibilities being communicated that are new and different. Home schooling with learning menus and Zoom calls are new additions to family life.  Your family calendar can look busy even with most activities canceled.

  •  Keep your calendaring going for you and your kids. Add dates and information ongoing each every day.  Your Family Meeting is where you can capture more information weekly.
  • Plan some family work parties and family fun! Have each person make a list of things they want to do (board games, tell stories, watch movie) and things that could be done (clean house, organize closet, wipe baseboards and doors). Prioritize the list, assign dates and voila! Both responsibilities and fun happen.
  • Be sure you meet regularly to keep momentum and information flowing.

 

Family Meeting Tricks and Tips

Like all meetings, there are some small tricks and tips that help.

  • Keep it short. Boredom sets in quickly.  If you see distractions coming up, walk and talk.
  • Get buy in.  Buy in can come from many different strategies. Always serve a snack. Everyone loves to eat!
  • Have an agenda. Be consistent in your agenda.
    • Update calendars
    • Talk about an upcoming event or discuss a family value
    • Set time for next meeting
    • Have fun

 

Family meeting visual aids and reminders

Now let’s share what we know with each other to keep up to date all the time.

Dry erase boards are the most popular way to share Family Meetings agendas. You can pair two calendar dry erase boards and a blank dry erase as a complete command center for your family.

Family Dry Erase Calendar Wayfair

dry erase calendars

Family Dry Erase Calendar The Container Store

 

Family Dry Erase Board Blank Wayfair

 

 

Smead justik dry erase

Smead justik dry erase

 

 

 

 

If your calendar is digital, you can share the calendar on your devices for everyone to view.

Google calendar printed for Family View. Post in a common space.

Each of us has our favorite reminder app on your devices. Set these to maximize the actions you determined at your meeting.  You can include multiple family members with some reminder apps too.

 

 

Your family meeting is the time to support and nurture your family. Bring out the best in each of your family members by addressing concerns, sharing important information. and being available together.  At the most anxious of times, setting aside a specific time to address routines and new information makes a difference for everyone in your family.

 

Search COVID-19 for all my Professional-Organizer.com posts on my blog.

COVID-19 Bingo Fun!

We are all taking this COVID-19 health situation seriously with the world wide pandemic.  It’s a scary time for us all. Research shows that laughter is the best medicine when it comes to difficult times. Not only does laughter help, being busy and productive helps too.  When we are productive, we know we are making a difference in our home and work.  With that in mind, download these free Bingo cards.

 

Self Care Bingo

The Self Care Bingo helps us keep perspective on what is most important; that being putting our own oxygen mask on first.  Self care is what makes the difference for immunity too.  According to Good Housekeeping research, following self care strategies improves your overall well being.

 

self care bingo

 

Declutter Bingo

The most common challenge to decluttering and organizing is time. We never have enough time to declutter. Because we think it will take a lot of time, we don’t get started decluttering. Now is the time.  Use this Declutter Bingo card to help you get started on closet, computers and small spaces.

 

declutter bingo

 

 

Enjoy these bingo games to help you feel accomplished and well taken care of during this tough time. These can be printed to use at home and keep you moving forward.

COVID-19 How to Establish Schedules for Home, School and Work

covid-19 schedules for home, school and work

 

We have been at home for a few weeks now, settling in after COVID-19 news that staying home is important.  While the first week or so may have felt like snow days, it’s time to settle into schedules that help you stay productive and positive.  Schedules are repeated patterns that we use to empower our priorities.  Right now our priorities can be simple. We can embrace our new normal by patterning our days.

Basic concepts

Setting up your own schedule can be baffling to some. It is creating structure for yourself, which you may not be comfortable with or skilled at.  For some it’s natural to do. These basic concepts can help you craft your schedule.

  • Prioritize what is most important first. Right now that is simple, that being you have work and your kids have school. First this in first to your schedule. Depending on your own work and your kids’ schools, this may set your schedule directly.
  • Know your own personal strengths. Are you a morning person or not?  Take this quiz on The Power of When to know what works best. Most of us know this from all our personal experiences. Use your best time of the day to do your most important work.
  • Be sure to include self care, exercise, meals, bedtimes and reset time in your schedule. These routines help us be our best selves.
  • We tend to be overly ambitious about our schedules. Choose time blocks that help you keep focused and productive.  Too many time blocks and too much transition deter productivity. Use time blocking to help you create a schedule that works well. For example, choose a morning and afternoon 2 hour block rather than two one hour blocks each morning and afternoon.
  • Post your schedule for everyone to know the plan for the day.  Talk about your schedule at your family meeting, emphasize the value, and keep everyone on track with clocks and timers.

 

 

Sample School for a Morning Person

Monday – Friday Schedule  Morning Person Sample Schedule
6:00 AM Wake up

Reflection time or Meditation

6:30 AM Shower and dress
7:00 AM Wake kids
7:30 AM Breakfast
8:00 AM Daily exercise/Listen to a podcast
8:30 AM
9:00 AM Work and School start
9:30 AM
10:00 AM
10:30 AM Break
11:00 AM Work and school continue
11:30 AM
12:00 PM Lunch and Break
12:30 PM
1:00 PM Outside time
1:30 PM Work and school continue
2:00 PM
2:30 PM
3:00 PM
3:30 PM
4:00 PM Outside time
4:30 PM
5:00 PM Dinner
5:30 PM
6:00 PM
6:30 PM
7:00 PM Family time
7:30 PM Prep kids for bed
8:00 PM
8:30 PM Kids’ bedtime
9:00 PM
9:30 PM
10:00 PM Parent’s bedtime

 

Sample Schedule for Not a Morning Person

Monday – Friday Not a Morning Person Sample Schedule
8:00 AM Wake up

Reflection time or Meditation

8:30 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Shower and Dress
9:30 AM
10:00 AM Work and School begin
10:30 AM
11:00 AM
11:30 AM
12:00 PM Lunch and Break
12:30 PM Outside time
1:00 PM Work and School continue
1:30 PM
2:00 PM
2:30 PM Outside time and Break
3:00 PM Work and School continue
3:30 PM
4:00 PM
4:30 PM
5:00 PM Outside time
5:30 PM
6:00 PM Dinner
6:30 PM
7:00 PM Family time
7:30 PM
8:00 PM Prep kids for bed
8:30 PM Kids’ bedtime
9:00 PM
9:30 PM
10:00 PM Parent’s bedtime

More Resources

How to Work from Home with Your Kids

CHADD Suddenly Working from Home

ADDitudemag Learning from Home Schedule

ADDitudemag Are you Corona Schooling? 

Kids Activities Blog Free School Resources

Today Show How to Home School

 

 

schedule

Family Schedule for Home School