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.
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.
Do you face too many choices of what to do and when to do it? Do you get paralyzed without a plan? Are you distracted rather than productive? There is a way to move to a more structured day to gain control of your time and be proactive about your tasks and projects. Time blocking is documented strategy to be productive and effective. It gives you the opportunity to prioritize.
Time blocking fundamentals
What is time blocking? Time blocking is a time management strategy where you divide your days and weeks into units of time. Each time block has an assigned tasks or project. It is useful at both work and home to assign rather than choose an activity at a specific time. There are many uses for time blocking. It prioritizes completing specific work rather than chopping up your day with distractions. You can set aside time blocks at home to get your errands done. You can also use time blocks to establish transition time between meetings, activities and errands. Time blocking establishes the “when” of your “what To Do” list. You will be adding an assigned time to accomplish the tasks you have listed. By minimizing distractions, you are setting up productivity success. As Cal Newport writes, “my goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right pace for the relevant deadlines.” You can have this success too!
Establishing Time Blocks
Here is how to get started with the time block concept. During weekly planning time, choose your top 3 Most Important Tasks for the week. These are tasks that are required to be done, and may not be urgent and are important. Project forward to see if any responsibilities are elevated to this level. At home this might be personal taxes, upcoming travel, bill paying or administrative time. At work this might be upcoming reports, meetings, or any assigned project.
Set time blocks for the duration that works well for you. As you know about your best work, choose a block of 1 hour or 2 hours, or a specific day of the week. People with ADHD tend to like longer time blocks for 2-3 hours. For me, I like one hour blocks because my energy moves quickly in this time. I use several blocks over a week to complete my tasks. I am a morning person so my best work is in the morning.
Assign a task or project to your chosen block periods.
- I also refer to this as a “power period” which is a time of single, intense focus for working on or completing a project.
- Set aside a day to do a single focus (Money Monday, Marketing Monday, Training Tuesday)
- Assign highest priorities with the best time block depending on what time of day you work best.
- You may need to assign multiple blocks for completion of your task or project.
- Set up your team to work with you too on these projects. Communicate your new strategy and coordinate working together to benefit from collaboration.
Work and home successes leads this strategic use of time.
Routines and time blocks
At home and at work there are necessary routines that need attention every week. Here are my favorite time blocks that are common at home and work.
- Home: Paper management, Finances and Bills, and Family Meeting
- Work: Email, Administrative, Financial, and Client
Check to see what is not being accomplished in a week and schedule a time block for this. By time blocking these priorities, you will have a greater sense of control and foundation.
Scheduling time blocks is the answer to your distracted, unproductive day. It helps you accomplish your goals and keep on target. Filling in when to accomplish a task means you are not at the mercy of decision making and paralysis. It’s the best solution for assigning your time and attention to your priorities.
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.
- Baskets and labels for snacks and condiments
- Plastic bins of various sizes to consolidate pasta and floppy containers
- Clear plastic bins for various uses
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your calendar is digital, you can share the calendar on your devices for everyone to view.
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.
Please print this handout before you begin the tutorial.
ADHD Friendly Ways to Clear Clutter and Organize Your Home
- Start Small
- Plan your time
- Challenges of Perfectionism and procrastination
- Emotional attachments
- Financial attachments
Organizing strategies for your stuff
- Plan your work and work your plan
- Letting go (consignment, Facebook Marketplace, philanthropies)
- Categorizing and organizing
- A “Home” for your items
- Organizing products
- Working your plan and keeping organized
Tips for Getting and Staying Organized
- Create routines for you and your home (Admin Day, Decluttering appointments)
- Tricks and tips of labelling
- Strategic work zones in your home
- Finding a partner with a clutter buddy, body double, or paper partner
- Make it fun with a playlist or reward
ADD Friendly Ways to Organize
The Magic of Tidying Up
Professional-Organizer.com Ellen’s Blog
Decluttering questions to ask yourself
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?