Archive for July, 2012

Whatever Works

July 31, 2012

The other day I had a wonderful conversation with my younger son, Andy. He said,  ‘Mom, you’re going to be so proud of me! Wait ’til I tell you what I’ve done.” I was trying to imagine as he said that what was coming next. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted what he told me. Andy went on to say “I just bought an accordion file. I’m filing all my receipts and important papers. It’s really working well for me.” He was right! I am proud of him. As the conversation progressed I learned that he was tired of having to hunt through stacks of paper to find what he was looking for. He was also tired of looking at the stacks of paper. Awhile ago, I had suggested that he find a filing system that works for him. I wanted him to be able to find important documents without wasting time hunting through piles of paper. In fact, I believe I had sent him some pictures of different methods to control paper chaos. As a mom of a young adult living on his own I can only make so many suggestions before they become an annoyance rather than a help. I was very pleasantly surprised that Andy had taken the initiative and found a system that works for him and that he was willing to use.

That is a key component to being organized. Figure out what will work for you and then commit to using the system. It does no good to sit back and figure out what works unless you are willing to put in the time to implement the system. Clearly, Andy was motivated. I asked why he was using an accordion file instead of a two drawer filing cabinet. He responded that the accordion worked for him because he doesn’t have a dedicated work space yet. He told me he puts the accordion file on a shelf in his coat closet. He loves that he knows where the papers are currently and where to put more as they come into his house. I pointed out that this system will accomodate only so much paper. He told me he was aware of that and that he plans to cull the individual sections a couple of times a year. I think he has it all figured out and that this system will work for him!

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Back to School – already?

July 24, 2012

It’s hard to believe that school starts here in Atlanta in a couple of weeks. Already there are back to school sales and all the office supply stores have their back to school displays front and center. Are you ready to have your children back into the school day routine? Maybe a better question is: Are your children ready? Did they have school work to complete over the summer? Do you know if they have finished it? If your children are in elementary school it’s a good idea to begin reviewing some of those math facts – addition, subtraction, multiplication tables and division. Another thought is to encourage your children to read for half an hour to an hour each day. Maybe they can read aloud to you while you are preparing dinner?

Is your home ready for school to start? Have you gone through last year’s school papers? If not there’s no time like the present. Have your children go through the papers (including art work) with you. Weed out everything that is not crucial to keep. So, what should you keep? Keep the best of the best – whatever that means for your child. Do not keep the daily worksheets. Think about what is meaningful – you know, the creative works, not the papers that show your child simply reciting back facts. Keep an awesome book report or a research paper. Maybe keep a mobile. You and you child can figure it out together. It’s important, though, that you make room (lots of room) for this school years papers to begin coming home. Do you have a central collection point for these papers? Maybe you should have one spot for each child? If you have wall space you can attach magazine holders to the wall – one per child, labeled with the child’s name – as a collection spot. If you start thinking about these things now when school starts you will be prepared and your child will know exactly where to put these papers!

Since summer schedule is often more relaxed your child may be accustomed to going to bed late and also sleeping late in the morning. If this is the case, you may want to start now to ease them back into a regular school time routine. Find out what time the bus will be picking up your children. Then figure out what time they will have to get up in order to have some breakfast before they catch the bus. Finally, set bedtime a little earlier each night and get them up a little earlier each more so that they can be accustomed to that routine before school starts. This will make for a much easier transition back to the regular school day routine.

Going to College?

July 11, 2012

Are you the parent of a rising freshman of college? If you are, I bet there are lots of things on your mind. I’m also sure your child has lots on his mind, too! He (I’m using ‘He’ but you substitute the pronoun ‘She’ if you have a daughter) has probably received information from the college about his new living space (dorm room) and maybe even the names and contact information of his roommate(s).

I was at a client’s house a few weeks ago and my client’s son was talking to me about his dorm room. He received the dimensions of the room (it’s small) and now knows that he’ll be sharing the space with 2 other guys. He’s always had his own room! He’s starting to wonder how he’s going to keep everything he wants to bring with him organized. He’s also wondering how he’s going to manage his time – have fun and do school work.

I gave him a little advice which I’ll share with you. Make use of vertical space. Use the space under the bed. Many companies make plastic storage drawers that fit beautifully under beds. Use the vertical space in the closet – maybe invest in hangers that hook onto each other. Don’t forget to label all electronics – cords, chargers – everything. So many people use the same or similar devices. So, keep track of what’s yours by labeling it!

As for managing time… even though you and your child may use the calendar in your phones buy him a calendar to hang on the wall in front of his desk. Get one that is large enough so that he can write down the important things to remember. This way important meetings and paper due dates will be front and center. Prioritizing tasks and keeping track of everything you need to take care of is a learned skill. Try writing these tasks down. Do the one you think will take the most time and that you want to do least FIRST! This way you get it over with (no procrastinating) and maybe it won’t take quite as long as you thought!

If you live near Metro-Atlanta my colleague, Jonda Beattie, and I are presenting a workshop on July 20th which will cover topics like setting up a dorm room, budgeting, paperwork and time management. Complete information about the workshop is on my website under ‘Events’. Maybe I’ll see you there!