Natural Disaster Guide: Be Prepared and Organized After a Natural Disaster

disaster guide

 

Houston had a terrifying natural disaster last week, on a day that seemed like a regular day with lots of weather. That followed an emergency just 2 weeks before from another weather alert. Emergency preparedness is no joke all year long, not only during Hurricane Season. We have lots of lists of how to be prepared for an emergency. What do we do after that emergency happens?

Preparing a disaster kit

A disaster kit can be useful no matter what situation occurs. The kit contents can be stored in a water-tight bin. Being organized with your kit gives you peace of mind in the event of a difficult situation.  The best case is to gather the supplies this week and review the contents once a year. The American Red Cross recommends you have the following basic supplies in your kit however you may want to add more items depending on your home and your situation.

 

Contacting others

We are all in contact with our families. However, during an emergency, keep in contact as much as possible. Gather your neighbors’ contact information and keep everyone’s information on your cell phone. Group text streams and social media are reliable, although family members are eager to hear your voice with a phone call. You can share on a family text thread on text to share news and updates. Staying in contact keeps everyone aware of what’s happening.

 

Contacting the appropriate agencies and insurance people after a natural disaster

Be organized with the insurance company app on your devices. It lists important numbers, ways to connect online, and details of your coverage. Get in touch with your own insurance company right away to make a claim. Inspect your home for structural damage, gas leaks, water damage, or electrical issues. Be sure it is safe to re-enter if you have evacuated. Document the damage with photos, videos, and detailed notes for insurance claims. Save all insurance information digitally for documentation and follow-up. You can seek disaster assistance from local, state, and federal agencies such as FEMA. Visit the FEMA website or call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585). Complete the online application form with details about the damage incurred. It is going to take time. The disaster recovery process involves a series of coordinated steps to help individuals and communities return to normalcy after a disaster.

Supporting others during a disaster

Houston is a major city where sections of the city may not be equally affected by a natural disaster. There are ways you can support others during a natural disaster. Offer your home as temporary shelter if it’s safe and you have the space. Share resources like food, water, blankets, and first aid supplies with those in need. Ensure your neighbors, especially the elderly, are safe and have what they need. Maintain a calm and positive outlook to help reduce anxiety and panic among those around you. Equally important is support for your mental health during a crisis.

 

Stay informed

Be prepared with the necessary items to stay informed from local television and radio stations. A battery-operated or hand-crank radio is invaluable in an emergency. Keep portable power banks charged and ready to recharge your mobile devices. Solar chargers are another option for keeping devices charged when conventional power sources are unavailable. Portable generators can keep your refrigerator running for days. Disasters unfold over days. Be alert and continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated. Ongoing information about the situation will help you stay on track in your response.

 

Take care of yourself

Stressful times require extra self-care. Be sure to keep your routines of meals and bedtimes as rituals as much as possible. Accept help as it is offered with the idea of paying things forward later. With more rest, nutrition, and hydration, you will be more resilient.

 

We are here to support each other during emergencies. Keep this list where you can find it for reference if needed. A plan is priceless when emergencies happen.

 

How to End the School Year Strong

end the school year

 

The end of the school year is a whirlwind of activities, fun, and stuff. With more activities going on, more fun being had, and more stuff coming in from school, we feel overwhelmed with organizing.  It takes a new mindset for transition and new strategies to reset your space. Check out these three tips to end the school year strong.

Create a mindset focusing on transition and reset

The month of May is just like the month of December with so much to do. Summer activity has already started with the swim team, holidays, and kids at home. Have a mindset of resetting between the busy school year and the upcoming summer fun. Set aside 2 or 3 days to transition between school ending and summer officially starting. That is when you have several days to reset with relaxation. Return to your regular bedtime and regain your momentum. Your energy will return after a few days to have the brain power to reset your home.

 

Wrap up end of the school year or spring projects

The last 10% of any project is the hardest part. That includes wrapping up the school year or spring projects you have started. Returning items to Amazon or other retailers, pulling together or discarding remnants of a project, or reviewing paperwork might be the last 10% of the project. During this time focus on straightening up the space and letting go of extra stuff that has accumulated through the spring.

 

Take time for gratitude and reflection

In busy times we often forget that time spent in gratitude and reflection yields big learning moments. During the last week of school, set aside time to write a note to those who have been a part of the school year and share what has been most valuable. Others are grateful for your sharing what meant the most to you. In a week or so after school ends, sit together during a family dinner and talk about the year.

  • What hard things did you do or learn?
  • What motivated you the most?
  • What was the best thing that happened?

These times of reflection will build positivity, resilience, and strength for you and your family.

Create an end-of-spring ritual for yourself

If you are beyond school years, it is also a time to reflect on goals. Too often time and seasons pass quickly. A quarterly time for reflection uplifts you and resets where you are in accomplishing your personal and professional goals.

How to Keep Organized With No Time at Home

organize with no time at home

 

During the month of May, it is not surprising how little time we spend at home. We are attending end-of-year activities, recitals, and more. It is now marked “Maycember” because of all the extra activities. I have noticed that having no time at home causes chaos with families. Laundry, meal prep, and organizing falters.  Check out these strategies to help you stay organized despite your lack of time.

 

Make a list of 15-minute tasks

Micro-steps are the winning strategy during busy times. Perhaps you think that list will be too long to accomplish. However, in reality, those are the most valuable tasks that are being accomplished. If there is a longer task, break it into more manageable tasks. If you are hosting a party, attending a graduation, or any other additional activity, use all your 15-minute time blocks to focus on your priority.

Outsource meal prep

Busy times call for resourcefulness. Outsource meal prep by ordering prepared meals and snacks. Local foodies share resources on social media, grocery stores have prepared meals at the front of the store, and local family restaurants offer family meals to go. Write down your plan so you know what you have available. Post a list on the refrigerator and freezer for your family to know what is ready. Make a routine of ordering on Sunday to be ready for the week ahead.

Focus on using what you have

Clutter builds up big time at this time of year. Extra Amazon and retail orders “just in case” come in quickly and pile up. It feels easier to order than to find your stuff in your home. Focus on ordering less and using what you have to accomplish the same end. Extra ordering at this time of year results in more expenses too.

Build a support team

Having a support team at this time of year makes life better. That support team starts with a cleaning team. It is a joy to have someone else take responsibility for dusting, vacuuming, and more when you are not available. Find local resources through referrals. Other support includes a lawn person, window cleaner, and power washing person.

Focus and reward routines

Use the little time at home you have wisely with routines. That might be an evening and Sunday reset time when all items get returned to homes. You will be more organized overall with less out on the counter. Establish a weekly administrative time to pay bills and go through the mail. Nothing lapses in payments or completed paper work if you have a time set to do this work. You might need an incentive for your routines. That incentive would be a reward that speaks to you, such as reading, crafts, or treats. Building that routine starts with visual reminders such as a chart or auditory reminders like an alarm.

 

Enjoy the moment

Family times, graduations, recitals, and other May events come around once a year. Give yourself permission to enjoy this time with others. Let go of your perfectionism around organizing and productivity and enjoy the moment. Busy times like these are what make memories for you and your family.

4 Key Areas of an Organized Home for Families with ADHD

4 key areas of an organized home for families with adhd

 

Creating and maintaining an organized living space for families with ADHD is key to peace of mind. Areas to help with organization and execution are a landing strip, command center, dedicated home office, and quiet space. Each area helps you focus, prioritize, and work effectively on your family’s needs.  These key areas are important for storage too.

Landing Strip:

A landing strip is a designated area near the entrance of your home where essential items like keys, wallets, and bags can be placed upon entry. It serves as a quick and organized drop-off point and jumping-off spot for you and your family.

  • Install hooks or shelves for items that need to be hung or stored.
  • Use a bench with baskets for each person’s shoes.
  • Routinely declutter each season to keep it fresh and ready to use.

Command Center and Central Charging Station:

A command center and central charging station are the spot for paper and technology. Place this spot in a high-traffic area like the kitchen for maximum effectiveness.

  • Consider creating a centralized hub for organizing schedules, to-do lists, and important information.
  • Set up a charging station for electronic devices to avoid scattered chargers.
  • Use a bulletin board or digital organizer for reminders and calendars.
  • Routinely meet together with a family meeting to update your events and activities. Have weekly administrative time to work on the actions that are part of family living like paying bills, creating to-do lists, and managing meal prep.

Dedicated Home Office:

A dedicated home office provides a focused and organized space for work, study, or hobbies. Your family can work together in this space for homework while you catch up on email, pay files, or sort paper.

  • Have ample desks or seating for multiple users in this space. Working as body doubles you will be more productive.
  • Choose a space with a window or add additional lighting.
  • Utilize organizers like desktop trays and cable management solutions.
  • Employ vertical storage like bookcases with decorative bins for storing crafts and office supplies.
  • Routinely reset this space by clearing flat surfaces.

Quiet Spot – Reading Nook:

Individuals can get overwhelmed and overstimulated by too much noise, energy, or movement. Create a quiet spot or reading nook to recharge and promote mental clarity.

  • Use comfortable cushions or a chair.
  • Include soft lighting and calming decor.
  • Add bookshelves for storage. Use magazine baskets or sorters for reading material.
  • Routinely refresh this room with flowers or add a diffuser for a soft scent.

Creating and maintaining an organized living space for families with ADHD transforms our homes into havens of order and tranquility. These four most important areas make a positive impact on living life as a family with ADHD.

 

 

 

Spring Organizing for Busy Families: How to Get Organized Without the Stress

spring organizing for families

 

As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, the arrival of spring is a sign that it is time for organizing. However, with our busy schedules of work, school, and extracurricular activities, finding the time and energy to tackle this project can feel overwhelming. Here are some practical tips and time-saving strategies so busy families can streamline their efforts and achieve the goal of an organized home.

 

Create a plan

Before starting, take time to assess your priorities and set realistic goals. Identify the areas of your home that require the most attention and focus your efforts there. Break down the process into manageable tasks so that even with a packed schedule you can accomplish your goals. Typically the areas that need the most effort are bedrooms, kitchen, entryway, and garage. Create a manageable plan that fits into your routine. Whether you prefer to tackle one room at a time or dedicate a specific day of the week to organizing a structured plan will be a commitment to the goal.  Involve everyone in your family and assign age-appropriate tasks to share the workload and foster a sense of teamwork. Help everyone learn the skills of time management and organizing by working together and sharing the responsibility.

 

Declutter First

Clutter can quickly accumulate in busy households, making it difficult to clean and organize effectively. Before diving into deep cleaning tasks, take the time to declutter and purge unnecessary items from your home. Encourage family members to donate or discard items they no longer need or use, helping to create a more streamlined and clutter-free living environment.

 

Make organizing fun

With busy schedules, organizing often comes last in priority. The best way to overcome this is with a fun approach to reaching your goal. Look for opportunities to incorporate tasks with music and games. Tidying up with a playlist and assigning levels of accomplishment to decluttering can make everyone feel more engaged in the process. An example of gamification might be Level 1 trash pick up gets 5 points, Level 2 decluttering gets 10 points, and so on to reach a reward level that “unlocks” a prize.

 

Remember self-Care

It’s essential to prioritize self-care to have the energy to organize. Establish break times, stay hydrated, ask for help, and have healthy snacks.  Your goal will require spreading out tasks over several days or weeks to avoid exhaustion. Celebrate your progress along the way and reward yourself and your family for a job well done.

 

Spring organizing doesn’t have to be a source of stress for busy families. By setting realistic goals, creating a schedule, decluttering, and prioritizing self-care, you can tackle spring organizing confidence and ease. With a little planning and teamwork, you’ll have your home sparkling clean and organized in no time, with time to get outside and enjoy the season.

Spring Forward for Personal Growth

spring forward for personal growth

 

Is it possible to use the change of clocks to move ourselves forward? “Spring forward” or the change to daylight savings time has become more of a challenge for all of us. We feel a sense of jet lag during the two weeks after we change the clock. Here are 5  tips to help us feel better and be more productive in the days ahead.

Plan an earlier bedtime

The change in the clock is something we can use to our benefit. Ease into the time change by starting your evening routines 30 minutes earlier. This is for us and our family. Turn your clocks ahead the Saturday in the later afternoon of Daylight Saving Time weekend to wake up to the proper new time and get an earlier bedtime that evening. The benefit of getting more rest won’t counterbalance the effect of the change, however, more rest is always a good thing! Keep this change of bedtime and create a routine to springboard for getting 7-8 hours of rest.

 

Benefit from longer evenings

The best perk about daylight saving time is the additional evening sunlight. Take advantage of this with an afternoon run, evening walk, or time outside. Creating an alternative to evening screen time benefits your sleep. Open your curtains once the sun rises and also spend time outdoors early in the day. Natural light in your space in the morning also aids in greater alertness. There are documented benefits of daylight for better rest and cognitive function.

 

Spring into better food choices

Spring into eating more plant-based, veggie options. Fresh veggies introduced at this season bring interest to the table. Focus your meal planning around veggies first, then proteins. Move toward fresh options that include spring vegetables. Reset your meal planning with options that start in the produce aisle.

 

Spring into household maintenance

Use this time marker to update your household responsibilities. That includes testing smoke alarms, replacing AC and heat filters, cleaning out gutters, or other annual household checks. This annual reminder for home maintenance saves money on repairs.

 

Spring into decluttering

As the clocks spring forward,  start your efforts to refresh our living spaces. Begin by selecting the simplest decluttering tasks to kickstart the process. Whether it’s tidying up a junk drawer, sorting through a stack of old magazines, or clearing out expired pantry items, starting with manageable tasks sets a positive tone for the larger decluttering journey ahead.

 

Embracing the opportunity for personal growth as the clocks spring forward offers more than just a chance to adjust to the shifting hours of daylight. It’s a powerful step towards cultivating a sense of renewal and efficiency in our lives. Make the time change a positive focus for your personal growth and success.

 

6 Strategies to Help You Build Routines That You May Not Have Used Before

6 strategies to build routines

 

Creating and maintaining routines can be crucial for stability and productivity. Non-traditional methods to establish and sustain routines involve approaches that might be less structured but highly effective. Variety builds interest and sustains the habit as a result.  Building routines in a non-traditional way involves creating structures and processes that are innovative, flexible, and tailored to individual needs.

 

Use Environmental Cues

Create cues in your environment to trigger specific actions. For instance, leaving your workout clothes by the bed can prompt you to exercise in the morning. Placing a book on your pillow can signal that it’s time to read before sleep. Pick one habit you want to continue or begin and place a visual cue at the spot where this routine occurs.

 

Incorporate Variety Within Structure

While routines provide structure, they don’t have to be as repetitive and boring as you might think. Incorporate variety by rotating tasks or adding an element of choice within the routine. This prevents boredom and keeps things fresh while maintaining consistency. You can use this strategy with healthy eating, by eating an apple one day and a pear the next. Both have positive health values and give you options for healthy eating. Slight variations prompt you to keep the structure with interest.

 

Gamification of Systems

Utilize elements of games or challenges to structure routines. Introduce points, rewards, or levels within the system to motivate and engage users. This can make tasks more enjoyable and incentivize productivity.  Create a point system and assign points for achieving certain milestones. For instance, you might award yourself points for each mile or kilometer completed, with bonus points for consistency (e.g., extra points for walking every day in a week). You define the levels and rewards linked to the action. Your rewards might look like this.

    • Level 1 (50 points): Reward yourself with a relaxing bath or your favorite treat.
    • Level 2 (100 points): Purchase a new workout outfit or equipment.
    • Level 3 (200 points): Plan a fun outing or a weekend adventure.

Use a tracking system such as an app, a physical chart, or a spreadsheet to log and see your points and progression. Make it visible and easily accessible so you can easily log data and see progress.

 

Visual Mind Mapping or Flowcharts

Use visual tools like mind maps or flowcharts to design systems. Visual representations make routines that are complex processes easier to understand and follow. This non-linear and creative way helps you plan, initiate, and follow through on routines. Examples of these charts are simple charts or drawings that represent glasses of water to drink throughout the day. For instance, draw eight glasses, each representing an 8 oz serving. Hang this chart on your refrigerator or place it in a visible area where you spend most of your time. Or choose a habit tracker app to help you stay on track. Your smartwatch will also help you with reminders and visuals.

 

Two-Minute Rule

Popularized by James Clear, the two-minute rule suggests starting habits with a small, two-minute version of the behavior. This approach makes the habit easy to start, which can lead to a higher probability of completing it. It’s based on the idea that getting started is often the biggest hurdle. Following the Two-Minute Rule, you would start with a much smaller and manageable version of this habit. Instead of aiming to read for an hour before bed, you commit to just “reading one page of a book.” By reducing the habit to a tiny version that can be completed within two minutes (reading one page), you’re more likely to get started. The idea is that once you start and get over that initial hump, you’re more likely to continue reading beyond that single page. Often, the hardest part is beginning, and the Two-Minute Rule helps overcome that initial resistance.

 

Continuous Improvement and Iteration

Continuous improvement builds on the success you are feeling in sustaining a routine. You are continuously iterating and refining your systems and habits. Adopt a mindset that focuses on small, incremental improvements rather than aiming for major changes all at once. You incrementally add to your routine with a small addition to that task. An example of this is after a few weeks of consistently walking for 15 minutes, you notice it’s becoming easier. To continually improve, you decide to add five more minutes to your walk. Now, you’re walking for 20 minutes daily.

 

Choosing a non-traditional strategy for routines helps you build momentum and enthusiasm for routines that have become less interesting. Each of these routine building strategies will help you create systems that work for you.

 

5 Non-Traditional Ways to Declutter Your Space

 

Living with ADHD can present challenges for decluttering and organizing one’s living space. Executive function challenges with planning, initiation, distractions, difficulty in focusing, and feeling overwhelmed by the process are common experiences.  Taking a less linear, more creative approach to decluttering and organizing can add interest and create success in editing and organizing your space. Here are some strategies for ADHD-friendly ways to organize.

 

The Spark Joy method: Inspired by Marie Kondo, this method involves decluttering and organizing by category rather than by room. Decluttering focuses on keeping items that “spark joy” and encourages discarding items that create stress, anxiety, or unhappiness.  Start by gathering the items together for one category. Once you see these together, make decisions on what to keep rather than what to let go.

 

Decluttering Challenges: Decluttering challenges bring energy to the editing process. There are many versions of these Challenges. The “One-A-Day Challenge” involves getting rid of one item every day for a set period. Or try the “30-Day Minimalism Game,” where you get rid of one item on the first day, two on the second, three on the third, and so on for 30 days. There are also social media groups that set challenges and help each member with accountability. Get started with the easiest of Challenges and track your success.

 

The ‘Just-in-Case’ Box: Too many times items stay in our space “just in case.” Create a box for items in this category. Seal it and put a date on it to open it in six months or a year from now. If nothing has been retrieved, donate the box. Get started with this with the paperwork you have struggled to declutter. Out of sight can help you be less attached to the items as well, making these easier to eliminate.

 

The 20-20 Rule: This rule was made popular by the Minimalists. Consider letting go of an item you can replace in 20 minutes or for $20. The 20-20 rules frees you up from making every decision. Get started by reviewing items that have been without a home in your space.

 

Partner Up: Invite a friend or family member to help you declutter. Having someone alongside you can offer motivation, support, and accountability. This can make the process more enjoyable and efficient. If you prefer to declutter alone but still want that sense of someone being present, consider using video calls or apps that allow you to connect with a friend or professional organizer virtually. You can both work on decluttering your respective spaces while staying connected.

 

No matter which strategy you use, committing to decluttering your space frees you up emotionally and physically.

Baby Steps for Decluttering

 

We are all always on a decluttering journey. Some times we feel we are ahead of the curve however mainly we sense we are not. Likely you do not have time or energy for full on decluttering. Choose one or more of these baby steps for decluttering to keep your space organized.

 

Set a timer

In as few as 15 minutes, you can make a difference with decluttering.

  • Walk around your home with a trash bag and remove all the trash.
  • Review papers that have built up around your house, then shred or recycle.
  • Do a reset. Put away laundry and place items back in their homes.

Find a small spot

Start small and build momentum.

  • Declutter one drawer at a time. Toss, donate and categorize your small space.
  • Use a shopping bag to let go right away of what is unused or less loved. Drop that bag off each week.
  • Practice the “one in, two out rule” as new items come into your space.

Say no to one activity, event or commitment

Your time and calendar are cluttered too.

  • Add self-care to your calendar with exercise, doctor’s appointments and time with friends.
  • Know how much time to allocate to tasks, projects and transitions. Use white space between time blocks to give yourself wiggle room.
  • Add in preparation time, dedicated to being sure you are ready for fun.

Enlist your team

There is power in numbers. Add more team members to declutter.

  • Choose an organizing playlist and include your family in decluttering.
  • Call a local charity to pick up your donations.
  • Hire a certified professional organizer or coach to speed up the process.

Empower your editing

Your mindset empowers your decluttering.

  • Establish a mantra for living with less. Gretchen Rubin’s mantra is outer order inspires inner calm. Write out your mantra to keep you on track with editing.
  • Follow a rule for living. Peter Shankman’s rules include only black clothes in his closet to keep his attire simple. Create simple, effective rules for your living space.

Stay away from swiping

Clutter comes in quickly from online purchases.

  • Pause before purchasing. Give yourself 24 hours before purchasing items online.
  • Remember the adage, when something seems too good to be true, it generally is.
  • Make returns quickly when a purchase is not a good fit. Drop off items at your local USPS, UPS or other location within a week of delivery. You save money this way also.
  • Less coming in means less to declutter later. It is hard to remember to shop your own closet, review your school supplies and find what you need in your home.

 

Using quick and easy decluttering strategies will help you enjoy your space!