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.

Questions to ask yourself while decluttering

decluttering

 

Letting go of stuff is hard work.  Besides your every present thought that “I might need this,” there is a pull at your heartstrings of an emotional attachment and a pull at your purse strings for what you paid for that stuff.  As I meet with clients, we are sorting through their items and asking questions to help them make decisions to edit. Asking yourself questions to help you declutter makes this task easier.

 

Questions about use

Questions about use help you determine how often you use an item and if so, whether to keep it.

Do I love it or use it?

When was the last time I used it?

If it is less than $20 and it takes less than 20 minutes to get it again, can I let it go?

If you could fit in this right now, would you wear it?

 

Questions about quantity

Questions about quantity help you let go of excess.

How many of these do I need?

Would I buy this again today?

Where do I store it to find it again?

 

 

Questions for lifestyle

Questions about lifestyle help you acknowledge your feelings about an item.

Does this help me be my best self?

Will my future self use this?

Is this holding me back?

 

Questions about emotional attachment

Questions about emotional attachment define whether to keep an item or let it go.

Is this something that makes me sad or reminds me of a sad time?

Does this make me smile?

Do I honor it as a keepsake?

 

Questions about finances

Does this have value greater than $50?

Should I sell this or donate it?

Can it be a blessing to others who have great need?

 

As you are decluttering and editing, think about this question, will your life be better for editing your stuff?  At the end of the day, less stuff means less to take care of and more life to experience.

7 Clutter Free Holiday Gift Ideas

clutter free gifts

Two Important Holiday Reminders

Here are two important holiday reminders for you this year!

 

holiday self care

Self care is in short supply during the holiday season. We have so much to do!  Take your self care seriously this holiday in order to have fun throughout the season.

 

There are elves everywhere!  Keep open to the possibilities!

holiday team work

3 Strategies for Effective Team Leadership Communication

 

Team leadeship communication

 

Keeping your team up to date is a critical communication strategy. There’s always more information, more to say and more to update than we can communicate easily.  As team leaders, we want to be transparent, efficient and effective in communication.  To be transparent, we strive to update all our team members simultanously on the current  initiatives, tactics and operations. It’s all about what’s the most efficient way to do this, rather than a blanket email.  Being effective encompasses both of these values as well as doing our work as a thought, vision and strategic leader.  Here are 3 team strategies that I use routinely for effective communication.

Strategic routine phone calls

It all started because there are so many details and so many emails in my work as NAPO President.  Rather than email daily with an unconsolidated list,  early on my Executive Directors and I determined that two calls a week could cover what we needed to cover with strategies and tactics.  These calls have an agenda that we complete as we gather information. The agenda has a spot for actions that we can refer to and complete.  Our Executive Directors value this since our conversations are high level, strategic and succint.  We allow 45 minutes for the calls, talk at the beginning of the week and end of the week.  It’s brought us and our work together.

 

Strategic use of tools

Google docs has become our most strategic tool for communication.  Google docs are an array of possible documents including spreadsheets.  This is a free option and we can access on all devices.  We have several google docs that are used for different agendas.  The President and Executive Director doc includes topics that are most important to discuss, FYI (not discussion, just for your information), and the list of Requests for Action (RFA) for our next meeting. The Executive Committee google doc is an open agenda.  As a leader of your team, determine what is required for weekly discussion.  This tech  tool is one of many different tools I recommend for leadership for many different actions.

 

Strategic long term communication

There are several factors important to communication. It’s what you are sharing, how frequently you share it and who you share it with.   A monthly update, posted to a community internal board, keeps everyone apprised of strategic work.  The update can be an excel spreadsheet chart with a column for completion or a narrative update.  Posting these with a year then month gives your team the option to see several months and review progress.  This all starts with your annual strategic planning, leading to initiative throughout the year.  Posting this monthly offers the opportunity for updated projections, updated tactics and assessing success.

 

Start your communication with a discussion about options.   Set a routine time to meet that offers everyone a time to do their most important work first and then update at a least productive time.  Be sure everyone updates their planner at the start of your collaboration.  Be open to flexibility when needed and be on target enough to keep the boundaries of your work together.  Fortune favors the prepared leader!

 

More leadeship ideas here!

Bring Spring

Bring spring

 

It’s been an extra long winter for us in Houston this year. With real snow, cold temps and dreary rain, we’re ready to bring spring. When we think of spring we think of fresh.  Bring spring into your home by freshening up and organizing.  A checklist also helps you keep every nook and cranny decluttered and organized. Getting organized is the best way to get out the old and start fresh.  This short list of areas in your home will help you bring spring into your domain.

 

Entry

The entry is where everyone drops everything as they enter.  It’s probably currently a collection of gloves, scarves, and boots.  Match it all up and get it back to it’s long term storage solution, which is best the back of an auxiliary closet in your home.

 

Guest room

Has your guest room become a dumping ground for returns, extra holiday wrapping paper or things you have yet to decide on?  It’s time to spend time clearing this space out, freshing up the bed linens and getting this room back to a welcoming space for friends and relatives.

 

Laundry room

One of the busiest and most neglected rooms in your home is your laundry room.  Have winter linens, single socks or just too many clothes gotten stuck in here?  Dig out with a few minutes of donating or distributing what’s stuck and reclaim efficiency here.

 

Master closet

Winter has about concluded. Now is the perfect time to let go of the winter clothes not worn.   Since this was one of our more serious winters, if you did not wear a heavy sweater, pants or other garments, it’s the time to donate what you are avoiding wearing. It’s a quick scan of what you have not worn, dropping the items into a shopping bag, and then off to your car to bring them to donate.

Dont forget your home away from home, Your Car

Your car has collected not only trash but lots of random books, clothes and other stuff this winter.  It’s time to run by the car wash for an interior cleaning.  Taking care of our valuable asset will also make us feel like we took an extra step of care.

 

Just like you, I am ready to bring spring into my home, office, and car!  Take time this weekend to welcome spring, get organized and enjoy your refreshed spaces!

 

More organizing and productivity tips here! Join my newsletter!

 

NAPO Cares! NAPO

 

 

National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals

 

NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, supports a cause each year. This year our efforts are focused on hurricane relief.  Our members have compiled a consolidated list of hurricane resources for your donations.  Many of us in the greater Houston area have already been giving our time and energy to individuals and groups locally. The greatest need is financial donations to help rebuilt homes and businesses.  #NAPOCares for our communities! 

 

TEXAS:

Bayou City Fellowship
www.bayoucityfellowship.com

Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston
http://www.bgcgh.org

Carter BloodCare (covers hospitals in North, Central and East Texas)
http://www.carterbloodcare.org

Diocese of Galveston-Houston
http://www.svdphouston.org/services/disaster-relief

Feeding Texas
www.feedingtexas.org

Food Bank of Corpus Christi

Houston Community Tool Bank

Houston Food Bank
www.houstonfoodbank.com

Houston Humane Society
http://www.houstonhumane.org/

Houston NW Church
https://pushpay.com/p/hnwhouston?src=hpp (select Harvey Flood Relief)

Houston SPCA
http://www.houstonspca.org/

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (Greater Houston Community Foundation)

Real Life Ministries
https://app.clovergive.com/f/f2?formid=71aec719-e0f7-476b-9c33-e902121ea159

San Antonio Human Society
https://sahumane.org/

Society of St. Vincent de Paul
http://www.svdphouston.org/services/disaster-relief

South Texas Blood & Tissue Center
https://southtexasblood.org/harvey

Texas Diaper Bank

The Dallas Mayors Relief Fund
https://www.dallasfoundation.org/donate.aspx?tp=1000&fn=mayor%27s%20disaster%20relief%20fund (select

United Way of Greater Houston Hurricane Fund
https://www.unitedwayhouston.org/flood/flood-donation

Windwood Presbyterian Church
https://windwood.wufoo.com/forms/windwoods-hurricane-relief-fund/

SOUTH FLORIDA

Florida Keys Emergency Relief Fund

Global Giving
https://www.globalgiving.org

Good Samaritan Foundation – local senior living community
https://www.good-sam.com/foundation/donate

Hurricane Irma Relief Fund – by GlobalGiving – Vetted

The Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for Immokalee and Southwest Florida Farmworker Communities
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/immokalee

Senior Connection Center – Your Aging & Disability Resource Center
https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/WestCentralFloridaAreaAgen/OnlineGiving.html

The Miami Foundation (has a list of organizations that are accepting donations)

 

PUERTO RICO

United for Puerto Rico

HOW TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED:

Before giving money to an organization, do your research. Charity Navigator, which identifies worthycharities, has a list of organizations responding after the storm.
The Internal Revenue Service has search tools that reveal whether an organization is eligible to receive tax deductible charitable contributions. If you suspect an organization or individual is engaging in fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. For advice on avoiding fraudsters, read Charity Navigator’s post on how to protect yourself, and check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission. Be very cautious when donating funds. There are impostors seeking contributions to false disaster relief charities in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Learn how to spot and report scams here! The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends checking with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster for a list of trusted disaster-relief organizations in Texas.

Gratitude Quotes I Love

gratitude Maya Angelou

 

Gratitude Oprah

 

Gratitude Ralph Waldo Emerson

Helpful Tips for your newly diagnosed ADHD Family

Helpful tips for your newly diagnosed ADHD Family

 

Remember the saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” And so it goes with ADHD.  Many newly diagnosed kids in turn have newly diagnosed ADHD parents.  If you and your family have multiple generation ADHD, it is important to learn about your diagnosis and learn the next steps too.

 

Creating your team

Think of this diagnosis as one that includes challenges to Executive Function, a part of your brain that involves planning and processing.  It is more than just attention and hyperactivity.  Executive function can affect you and your child’s daily life, not just at school or work.  Aspects of ADHD include transitions, getting started, organization, prioritizing, motivation, and working memory.  In every day life that might be getting ready for work and school or organizing your paper work and school papers.

 

Getting a good team together to inform and address ADHD is critical, including professionals in the medical, counseling and coaching arena.   Developing a trust relationship, putting aside judgment, and focusing on care  will help you develop a plan that works for you and your family.  Start with your family pediatrician or your general practitioner to know who would be a good addition to your team.  Your team may include a psychiatrist, counselor, ADHD coach, and professional organizer.  Be sure to add team members who are well qualified ADHD professionals.

 

Learning more about ADHD

There are many venues to learn about ADD.  Associations such as the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (www.adda.org) and CHADD (www.chadd.org) are two of the primary first steps.  These associations have online, national and local presence for you to tap into and learn about ADD.  Finding a local chapter makes for camaraderie and a sense of belonging in your community.

 

Reading may be a top priority for you.  Blogs and books offer a look into the life of families and individuals with ADD.  Among the top are Terri Matlin http://www.momswithadd.com/, Tara McGillicuddy http://www.myaddblog.com/ and Arianne Benefit http://blog.neatandsimple.com/  and Laura Rolands http://myattentioncoach.com/adhd-coaching-blog/. Books include The Family ADHD Solution by Dr. Marten Bertin,  Empowering Youth with ADD by Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, or Journey Through ADDulthood by Sari Solden.

 

Basic first steps

If you are looking for a few basic solutions for your family, these are a few first steps for you.

  • Set up good self care with bedtimes and good nutrition for everyone in the family. Having adequate sleep and high protein meals can make a difference for everyone.  Often this is the first area that families overlook.
  • Take care with over scheduling for the family. Allow more transition and down time than other families. For families with ADHD, the transitions and the rush of daily life ends up tripping them up.  Be sure that you are mindful of all members’ commitments. Use a family calendar, either with Google calendar or a large month at a glance calendar, posted in the kitchen where everyone can see it.  Host a family “meeting” weekly to go over who is going what, who is going where and what other new “surprises” are going on this week.
  • Address the stress with exercise, yoga, art, therapy and other ways to release the tension.   These activities help everyone with clarity.  Just being outside, taking a walk or even just a little movement can make a difference. All families have stress, but even more so with ADHD.
  • Place clocks in many places throughout your home.  A timer is a great investment in helping you and your child stay on task, get started and get done.  Choose a clock and timer with a “clock face” in order to see time elapsing.  Use it in transitional times too.
  • Put into place additional help throughout the week.  A daily Homework Helper can be a blessing for both parents and students. A local college student, older high schooler or other person can help your student focus and work as a partner with less stress than the parent.  A cleaning service, additional driver or daily money manager can be a blessing to a parent who struggles with these aspects.
  • Make a morning plan and evening routine with your family.  Talk through the plan, note the obstacles, make a chart and stick with your design for smoother family times.  It is always a struggle to be consistent for those with ADHD, but implement a smooth, simple plan for both the beginning and ending of the day.

 

Families with ADHD do best by focusing on the positive in specific, genuine ways.  Remember that a hug, a smile and a pat on the back can bring about the desired behavior and most especially the emotional feeling of being understood and loved.

 

More organizing and productivity tips here! Join my newsletter!

 

 

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