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.

 

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.

 

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