Posts Tagged "calendar"

New Year, Don’t Make the Same Mistakes with Your Time

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 in 5-minutes-a-day, Easy Organizing, Featured, Mom Moments, MomSources™, New Mom, Organizing Products, Product Reviews, Sanity Savers | 0 comments

New Year, Don’t Make the Same Mistakes with Your Time

Three Productivity-Killing Mistakes Nearly Everyone Makes

Here’s how to avoid them…What’s your typical day like? Do you feel like you’re stuck on a treadmill going slightly too fast? Always wishing there were more hours in the day? How about your priorities – do you feel like they’re getting tended to, or are you always putting out fires, one step behind?

Being stuck in a reactive, race from fire-to-fire, mode is a sure sign that you are making at least one, if not all, of the three most common productivity-killing mistakes.

Mistake #1: Confusing a laundry list with a to-do list. There is a significant distinction between a laundry list and a to-do list. A laundry list is simply a running tab of all the things, important or not, that you would like to get done. A to-do list should only comprise those 4-5 tasks per day that are truly important.

Mistake #2: Missing opportunities to batch similar tasks. When you approach your to-do list as series of individual tasks, you nearly always waste significant chunks of time. Tackling related tasks in one whack, whether they’re errands you need to run or phone calls you need to make, is the most efficient way from Point A to Point B.

Mistake #3: Failing to Look Ahead. It’s easy to do when you’re spending all your energy just keeping your head above water. But sooner or later, those important but not urgent things you keep neglecting will demand your attention – and wreak havoc on your schedule.

Pssst. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there’s a brand new planning tool from the folks at Buttoned Up that will help you avoid these 3 productivity-killing mistakes.

But they’re going fast!

The new 2012 Weekly.agenda planner from Buttoned Up is specifically designed to prevent the 3 major time traps people fall prey to.

1. The 2012 Weekly.agenda Features Built-in Prioritization. This planner makes the distinction between must-do’s and nice-to-do’s. Each week features only 24 spots for prioritized to-do’s (that’s roughly 4-5 per day), which forces you to identify what really matters at the start of the week. Use the extensive lined notes section in the back to capture your laundry lists.

2. The 2012 Weekly.agenda Has Tools that Encourage Task-Batching. This planner not only separates contact-related tasks from work tasks, but it also has perforated errand and shopping lists built-in. All work together to get you in the habit of grouping like tasks so you crack through them more efficiently.

3. The 2012 Weekly.agenda Features Weekly “Plan Ahead” Ticklers. From reminders to swap out HVAC filters to a prompt to schedule a check-up with your doctor, this planner serves up one important-but-likely-to-be-forgotten task each week. Follow through on the suggested tip each week to keep your big picture running smoothly.

Of course, there are lots of other things to love about this elegant little planner, like three bonus months that mean you don’t have to wait until January to get started and a compact size that easily fits in any purse.

But like I said, they are going fast. I managed to convince the Buttoned Up team to set aside some planners just for 30 readers. But they’re only holding them for us for 5 days. So you need to act quickly. Click here to order yours now before they’re gone.

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Scheduling & Time Management @Home

Posted by on Dec 14, 2010 in 5-minutes-a-day, Easy Organizing, Mom Moments, MomSources™, Organizing Products, Problem-Solved!, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

Trying to coordinate your family’s schedule can seem like a monumental task. Work responsibilities for mom and dad, extracurricular activities for the kids, trying to fit in chores and family time – how can you possibly manage it with only 24 hours in the day? All it takes is a little advance planning!

Set Up a Family Calendar

There is really only one way to avoid scheduling conflicts and last minute scrambles – and that is to set up a “family calendar.” Hang a large wall calendar in a high-traffic area of the house (kitchen seems to work well, because everyone goes there daily). Label each family member’s activities in a different color (Susie in blue, Jimmy in orange, mom in green, dad in red) for easy recognition. Then take a second to record every single upcoming activity for each person in the family – meetings, social engagements, sporting events, doctor appointments, you name it. Every time someone brings home an invitation to a party or permission slip for a field trip, write it down. Every time the school sends out a calendar of upcoming days off, transfer it to the family calendar. When your boss asks if you can work late or your child’s piano teacher wants to switch from Tuesday to Wednesday, change the calendar. Get in the habit of putting EVERYTHING related to your family’s schedule in one place.  To get started, try out the Smead Organomics Family Calendar.

Get On the Same Page

The next step is to block off a regular weekly meeting with the entire family to go over your upcoming schedule. Take a look at any activities occurring within the next couple of weeks – address conflicts (ex: mom’s got to work late and Johnny needs a ride home from the game, so he should make plans to go with a friend), decide on any shopping trips you need for supplies (so you can bake cupcakes for the school party or get Jimmy’s diorama put together), and add the week’s chores to the calendar. If you carry a personal planner or PDA, this is also the time to update your portable calendar with the current info (it doesn’t do you much good to plan out the week if you can’t see the schedule while you’re out of the house!) Your stress level will drop by a factor of ten, just having each person’s to-do’s and responsibilities written down in one visible place.

Get Ready The Night Before (Or Sooner!)

Now that you have your schedule in order, you need to work on your daily routines. Getting ready in the morning is much easier if you start working on it the night before. Have your children spend 15 minutes before they go to bed packing everything they need for school into their book bags. Ask each person to pick out the clothes they plan to wear the next day and lay them out on a chair. Make everyone’s lunches in advance and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Also consider setting up a “launching pad” – a table, chair, basket, or other container located near the door where each person can put the supplies they will need the next day. If your kids can never seem to remember what they need for school, create a standard checklist for them – homework, band instrument, gym clothes, sports equipment, supplies for any extracurricular activities, library books, whatever. You can even make a note of where they tend to leave things if that helps – “Gym Clothes: check the laundry basket.” The goal is to have everything in one place when it comes time to hit the road.

For information on the Smead Organomics Club, click here.

Like Smead on Facebook for more information in the future.


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Family Communications Simplified

Posted by on Aug 10, 2009 in Easy Organizing, Organizing Products, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

Family Communications Simplified

Start the school year off right by establishing a system for paperwork. A tried-and-true Family Communications Center works well to maintain schedules of events, invitations, activities, menus, and more.

What You Need

  • Bulletin board/chalkboard
  • Calendar
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Three to four Envelopes or containers
Where to Put It

Carve out a zone for a Family Communications Center (FCC), perhaps on the inside of the pantry door or on a wall in the mudroom or laundry room. Maintain control of the family schedule and activities by including the following in your FCC area:
  • Bulletin Board—Hang shopping lists, an invitations/activities envelope, phone numbers, hot lunch menu, etc. Be choosy about what you add to the board and routinely purge what is no longer relevant.
  • Calendar—A two-month calendar is a great way to see what’s current and what’s on the horizon.
  • Pens/Pencils—Use colored pencils to indicate different categories (for example, purple for baby, green for work activities, green for social activities).
  • Three to four Envelopes or containers—Label the envelopes “Invites,” “Coupons,” and “Bills to be Paid,” other related categories where you keep important Active papers.
  • Invitations/Activities—When an invitation is received or an activity is scheduled, write the time and name of the event on the calendar, then place the invitation in a pocket or envelope that is clearly labeled “Invitations and Activities.” Attach the envelope to the bulletin board. When it’s time to go to the event, simply pull out the invitation that has all the details on it.

Establish a place in the kitchen or in a common area to place a three-ring binder that can house information you refer to on a regular basis. Here are some possible sections for the binder:

  • Phone lists
  • Menus
  • Business card holder sheets
  • Running lists of the following:

Household projects to complete—Many well-intentioned projects go on the back burner when we have kids. Keep a list and consider prioritizing it so when you do have time, you can simply choose a task.
Take-out Menus—For those long days when you may find it challenging to cook a meal because of the many interruptions — or because you’re simply too darn tired! Add a section to the binder for take-out menus. With this in mind, placing menus in the three-ring binder will be useful and helpful in those moments you’re asking yourself “What am I going to make for dinner?”

Above photo is of Pottery Barn’s system. You can easily establish your own by purchasing items separately at super stores.

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White Board Salvation: Keeping Your Family’s Schedules Organized

Posted by on May 8, 2009 in 5-minutes-a-day, Easy Organizing, Organizing Products, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 2 comments

By Katie Hinderer

I admit it – I don’t have kids. I’m not even married. So, why in the world am I guest blogging on this site, and what makes me think I’m qualified to talk about the great balancing act that is the life of a mother?

I am the oldest of nine children. Yes, all from the same two parents. No, none of us are adopted and there were no multiple births. My mother is not only the Queen of the great balancing act but she’s also an organization guru having taught home management at the college level for several years. As the oldest, and second mom in a lot of ways, all those organizational skills managed to rub off on me. When I was younger, instead of hiring me to babysit, mothers would ask me to clean their houses while they went out with the kids.

While I know juggling several freelance jobs and running a youth group doesn’t make me all knowing about the ins and outs of motherhood, I do have some pearls of wisdom I gleaned from my mother that are universal – I hope to share those.

Growing up my family kept a huge whiteboard on one of the kitchen walls. While slightly obtrusive sitting on the wall in this common room, the board managed to simplify the lives of everyone at home. Here’s how it works:

The board is broken up into three sections: The two ends look like a calendar while the middle is blank. The calendar sections are filled in with the current month and the upcoming one. Every major event in the kids, parents or family’s life is documented there. The parent-teacher conferences, soccer games, PTA meetings, piano lessons, days off of school, birthdays, little league picture day, holidays, etc… all get filled in on the appropriate day.

As each child brings home dates to remember it immediately gets marked on the board. To further clarify, assign each child a different color marker, so that at first glance you know exactly who is busy on any given day.

The calendar system helps in two ways:

1. The calendar gives you more order and peace of mind. You can easily glance at the board and know who needs to be where and when. You know whether you’ll be able to make Scrabble night with your girlfriends on Friday because you can see the exact timing at a glance.

2. Your family will be able to see everything that’s going on. Instead of reminding the 6-year-old that the pool party isn’t for another 2 weeks, he can refer to the calendar and figure that out himself. The 16-year old knows that she won’t be able to have a car on Saturday afternoon because you and your husband will both be out driving to little league and soccer.

The middle section of the board is left blank for notes. The kids can leave a memo for you to call back a neighbor or you can remind all of them that this weekend you’ll be going camping.

When hanging your white board, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

1. Keep it high enough off the ground that the little ones won’t be able to write on it or erase it.

2. Locate the board near one of the telephones you use regularly. That way when the mother’s club president calls to check dates with you, all you’ll need to do is glance up to know what will and won’t work.

3. Hang it in a place your family frequents. This will help communication channels flow better and messages will reach the necessary person.

Katie Hinderer is the oldest of nine children and a freelance writer.

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No More Lost Paperwork

Posted by on Sep 8, 2008 in Easy Organizing, Problem-Solved!, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

 

Photo Credit: Better Homes & Garden

A great way to keep track of your family schedule, events, invitations and activities is to place all information in one place. To set up a Family Communications Center, try the following:

What You Need

  • Bulletin board/chalkboard
  • Calendar
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Three to four Envelopes or containers
Where to Put It
Carve out a zone for a Family Communications Center (FCC), perhaps on the inside of the pantry door or on a wall in the mudroom or laundry room. Maintain control of the family schedule and activities by including the following in your FCC area:
  • Bulletin Board—Hang shopping lists, an invitations/activities envelope, phone numbers, hot lunch menu, etc. Be choosy about what you add to the board and routinely purge what is no longer relevant.
  • Calendar—A two-month calendar is a great way to see what’s current and what’s on the horizon.
  • Pens/Pencils—Use colored pencils to indicate different categories (for example, purple for baby, green for work activities, green for social activities).
  • Three to four Envelopes or containers—Label the envelopes “Invites,” “Coupons,” and “Bills to be Paid,” other related categories where you keep important Active papers.
  • Invitations/Activities—When an invitation is received or an activity is scheduled, write the time and name of the event on the calendar, then place the invitation in a pocket or envelope that is clearly labeled “Invitations and Activities.” Attach the envelope to the bulletin board. When it’s time to go to the event, simply pull out the invitation that has all the details on it.

Establish a place in the kitchen or in a common area to place a three-ring binder that can house information you refer to on a regular basis. Here are some possible sections for the binder:

    • Phone Lists & School Directories
    • Weekly Meal Plan – On Sunday, spend 15 minutes planning your meals and writing your grocery list.
    • Take-out Menus—For those long days when you may find it challenging to cook a meal because of the many interruptions or because you’re simply too darn tired!
    • Business card holder sheets so you’re not scrambling to find the card for that awesome landscaper when you finally get around to making that call.
    • Running list of Household Projects. Many well-intentioned projects go on the back burner when we have kids. Keep a list and consider prioritizing it so when you do have time, you can simply choose a task.
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