Simple Ideas to Help Students Get Organized ~ Back to School

August 13th, 2013

As we kick-off another school year in North America, we need to reset our routines.  Folks often ask “how do you get organized for the school year?” or “help me organize my student”.

Here are simple tips to help students manage time, avoid clutter, set goals, and stay on an organized path to a successful school year.

1. DON’T RUSH.
No one likes to feel rushed. It is a process to bathe, dress, eat breakfast and get everything together for the day, Make sure your child wakes up early enough to arrive at school well ahead of the start time. If your child will bathe in the evening, you gain spare time in the morning and some extra minutes of sleep. If your child bathes in the morning, and they need at least 30 minutes to get up, shower, dress and eat breakfast, pad that time by waking them up at least 45 minutes prior to their departure. This will avoid rushing, arguments and stress.


2. WARDROBE PREPARATION.
Before bed each night, help them choose and lay out their clothes for the next day. This way, you’ll avoid arguments and they’ll be all set to dress and go in the morning.


3. DO A NIGHTLY REVIEW.
Each evening spend 5 minutes with your child reviewing their upcoming activities. Determine what needs to be done to prepare. In doing so, they will know exactly what they are expected accomplish the next day.


4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
A good night’s rest is essential for students. This will ensure they are alert and ready to learn the following day.


5. EAT A BALANCED BREAKFAST.
Students should eat three healthy meals each day, along with fruit or veggies for snacks. Studies show students who start off with a healthy breakfast had higher energy levels and better learning ability than similar students who did not eat breakfast. Harvard researchers found that students who ate breakfast were “…significantly more attentive in the classroom, earned higher grades in math, and had significantly fewer behavioral and emotional problems.” Avoid overloading on high sugar sweets, which cause many people to feel tired.


6. SET-UP AN EFFECTIVE STUDY ZONE.
Designate a quiet, well-lit area for studying. Make sure the supplies your child needs for school work is easily accessible.  This could be a desk in their room, your home office or the dining room or kitchen table. During study time, minimize disturbing activities so your child can study without distraction. Don’t allow children to study in front of the television, or in an area of your home where they are bound to be distracted.


7. AVOID CLUTTER.
Papers add up throughout the year e.g.) assignments, notices from the school, etc. Be careful not to build clutter as the year progresses. Create separate folders for school announcements, tests that have been graded, papers that must be given to parents and so on. Review your folders weekly. As papers become outdated, such as an event that has passed, toss them immediately.

8. SCHEDULE CONSISTENT STUDY ROUTINES.
We all do better when we have routines. This is more important for children. They do better when they know what is expected of them. Set aside time every day for study, and make it consistent. Set a designated time for your child’s study time for each afternoon. Whatever you do, teach your child to avoid late night, last-minute studying and cramming.


9. SET A TIMER.
Break up big tasks, into smaller, bite-sized jobs. For instance, if they have to read three chapters of a book, read one chapter at a time each day. If they have to work on a project, break it down into three or four manageable stages. It is less overwhelming for the student.

10. TACKLE LEAST FAVORITE OR MOST CHALLENGING SUBJECTS FIRST.
You teach children to eat their veggies before offering dessert. Just the same, your child should start their homework with their most difficult subjects first. Then, everything else will be a breeze, and you will encounter less resistance. AVOID OVER-PROGRAMMING. While you may sign up your child for extra curricular activities, such as basketball or cheerleading. Over-scheduling puts too much pressure on them and can lead to problems managing school work and activity balance. Review their course load. Determine how much study time they will need. Then, choose one or two recreational activities they really enjoy.

11. USE A PLANNER.
Use a good student planner or organizer. The ones that have pocket folders, dividers and planning calendars are ideal. If your child has an iPod or smart phone, you can electronically share calendars and reminder systems. Ask yourself, does my student respond better to paper or electronic notes.


Student homework12. 
WRITE IT DOWN.

Many school systems enable teachers to post homework assignments and tests online. When your child learns of an upcoming test, event, or anything they must prepare for or attend, teach them to immediately jot it on their planner and carve out study and preparation time.

13. USE ONE CALENDAR.
Use one calendar to plan all of the child’s school and personal activities, rather than two or more. When you use more than one, you run the risk of scheduling conflicts and missed appointments. Give the child one place to look for their obligations. If your child has an iPod or smart phone, you can share a calendar where you post obligations and the child can get reminders on their electronic device.


14. COLOR-CODE.
You may consider color-coding your child’s similar activities on your calendar. For example, highlight all upcoming tests in yellow, study time in green and recreational activities in pink or you could do a different color for each child. This is made easy when using electronic planners.


15. GET HELP.
Check in with your student. Teach your child, if they don’t understand a lesson, to immediately ask for help before they get to the point where they are totally confused. A sibling, friend, parent, teacher or tutor can be a lifesaver.


16. OH NO!
If you find your child has gotten off track, teach them to simply take a deep breath, find out where things went awry and get back on track. It is better to get slightly derailed, rather than giving up.


17. REWARD THEM.
Designate enticing rewards for goals your child meets, such as family night at the movies, or a quiet, relaxing walk in the park. As they achieve their goals through hard work, provide them with rewards. This will help keep incentivize them and keep them motivated throughout the year.

What are your favorite tips for getting students organized?  Here is to a great school year!

Kim signature small

 

 

 

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Tech Tip Tuesday – 10 Useful Google Calendar Settings, Labs & Extensions

August 6th, 2013

settings icon
Settings

  1. Meeting length – Change default length of an event time slot from 60 minutes to your preferred length
  2. Weather – Want to know the daily forecast by glancing at your calendar? Turn on “show weather based on my location”.
  3. Daily Agenda – Receive your daily agenda in a single email for one or all of your calendars.
    Select a calendar from calendar settings -> select “Reminders & notifications” -> select “Daily agenda”.
  4. Event reminders – Turn off or change the default event reminder notification (pop-up or email) and time in advance for one or all of your calendars. You can set multiple reminders for each event.
  5. Embed a calendar in a website – Great for business intranets, clubs, schools, family sites.
    Select the calendar from calendar settings -> select “Calendar details” -> select “Embed This Calendar”
  6. View other’s calendars on via Google Calendar (not in Settings, on main calendar view) –
    Select “Browse Interesting Calendars” -> browse and add calendars from around the world, most professional and college sports teams schedules, lunar phases, sunrise & sunsets and more.
    Select “Add by URL” to add a calendar where you have been provided code or a URL – school systems often use this method.
  7. Copy an event from one calendar to another – Great for sharing specific events from one calendar to another. Need to add the soccer team’s schedule to your own but only for events your family is attending? Share those games with your own calendar rather than retyping the event. Need to add a work event to the family calendar? Share that specific event to the family calendar.


Labs

  1. Event attachments – Attach a shared Google Document, Spreadsheet or Presentation to your event, or upload a file from your computer. Great to avoid searching for a document needed for an event.

Google-Chrome-Google-Chrome (1)
Extensions
– Google Chrome extensions from the Google Chrome Web Store

  1. Boomerang Calendar –– Syncs with your Google Calendar but lives in your Gmail. It automatically highlights dates and times in the Gmail message with information about whether or not you can attend based on your Google Calendar. It allows you to add events directly into your Google Calendar from the email or enables you to open your calendar. Reduces switching from Gmail and Google Calendar to reply to emails.
  2. Google Calendar Toolbar – Adds an icon to your Chrome toolbar. Mouse over the icon to see your next upcoming event. Click the icon to see your upcoming agenda or add events to Google Calendar.

Want to learn how to add these Google Chrome extensions and others?  Check out our video below
Kim signature small

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Removing clutter ~ It is not about the physical stuff

July 16th, 2013

When folks set out to declutter, they often worry about no longer keeping their things. Professionals in the organizing and psychology fields realize it is often not about the stuff but rather the feelings you get when you see the stuff. The emotional attachment we have with the memories or feelings associated with the stuff. I have found that people are more successful, productive, happier and more financially stable when they free up their physical space and can do more with less.

My number one tip for starting an organizing project is

  1. Start with organizing the area that bothers you most.  Think about the area that keeps you up at night.  The area that is the last thing you think about before falling asleep and the first thing that you think about upon waking.  Start there.  By creating a system, a home for those things for easy access, ease in putting away and retrieving, by seeing success organizing that area, you open yourself up for a clearer mind.  You feel a weight lifted off your back.  You open up mindspace for greater enjoyment of life and create the inertia to continue decluttering other areas.

I saw this quote on Pinterest and think it is perfect.  This  is why I offer services to help people unclutter their spaces.  I’d be lying if I didn’t get joy of seeing a clients desk free of clutter for the first time or actually being able to see the color of the floor covering.   The reason I wake up and get dressed in the morning is not to see clutter-free desks, countertops, or floors but for the satisfaction I receive by knowing my assistance in eliminating or reducing other’s clutter has helped others open their mind and spirit.   I receive joy from knowing my services have helped clients find time for them in their day, find time to spend doing the things that make them happy, find time to smile and take a deep breath without worry that things are getting lost, misplaced or falling apart.  I love what I do.  I love the feeling I have when leaving a client appointment.  There are few other things that I could do that would leave me and my clients with a high level satisfaction in their life.

Look around the room.  What types of things are cluttering your surroundings?  Set the timer for 15 minutes and grab any unnecessary things that are taking up space in your surroundings and your mind.  Let me know how it goes.

 

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What’s New in the Organizing Industry?

March 26th, 2012

The NAPO logo

Last week, I attended the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Annual Conference.  Over 850 organizers gathered at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore Maryland.  There was an Expo Hall with over 58 exhibitors, 3 key note speakers, 30 break out session options.  It was a very busy four days.  In addition to sharing my feelings on Twitter as @PutItAway, I also Tweeted the conference as @NAPONatl. As always, conference was an amazing experience.  I was able to learn, network, hang with old friends, make new friends, meet friends who I knew only from social media, be inspired and inspire others.

Over the next few days, I will share my experiences from the 2012 NAPO Conference.  I will share tips from the sessions I attended, reviews of products exhibited, lessons learned from others and pictures of some of the fun.


Great conference tote bag from tote bag sponsor Tote Buddy!
 

If you attended conference, I would love to hear about your experiences.  What was your one take away from conference or your favorite thing?  Please comment below.

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It's here! My eBook 50 Ways to Use Technology to Increase Productivity & Profitability is here! Don't let the name fool you. It actually contains over 80 resources. Check the special pricing for Need Another You readers.

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years

September 24th, 2010

Top 3 Trends in Past 3 Years (Part 1 of 3)

I believe there have been three major trends in the past three years that has changed the way we do things.  I will be sharing my insights over the next three weeks.  I’d love to hear your input and experiences.

1.    Reliance on Tech

We now live in a world where we constantly rely on technology to get us through each day.  If you are not a mobile phone user (do they still exist), you still rely on technology when you go to a restaurant, the post office, the bank.

We have all likely been to a restaurant that uses technology – a form of a pager to notify you when your table is ready.  Some restaurants take orders on a handheld device that automatically transmits the order to the bar or kitchen.  You can even place a take-out or delivery order from home without picking up the phone.

You can make calls without picking up the receiver or handset.  You can write checks, pay bills or transfer money via a mobile phone or notebook computer Skype logowithout getting in the car or spending money on a stamp.  While the security of doing any of these still has some vulnerabilities for the most part they are secure.  Some folks still fear banking online, even if you avoid it, the banks stores your information online.  Security online is one part of the equation, backing up the data is the second.

When I work with clients, sometimes they ask to go paperless and store everything on their computer.  I ask about their back-up plan.  Nine times out of 10 they have none or they can’t remember the last time they backed up, if ever.  When I ask why not, they either don’t know how or it’s too difficult or too hard to remember.  There are many options for traditional back-up.  Many folks purchase an external hard drive.  I have one.  While they are a great option, there are some downfalls.

External hard drive 1.    Your computer must be connected to the external hard drive for your back-up to be completed.
2.    You must create a schedule to back-up.
3.    They can get lost or stop working making it difficult or impossible to retrieve the data. (this happened to me, the drive stopped working and I did not know until I went to look for something on the back-up drive).

I still use an external hard drive to back up but I also use one of the the web-based options as well.  The two big ones are Carbonite and Mozy.  Both offer a free month.  Following you free month, their fees vary based on the size of the files being backed-up.  An additional option is Dropbox.  Dropbox is an online back-up and collaboration tool.  DropboxI prefer Dropbox over Carbonite or Mozy.  I like that you can access it from any online device (mobile phone, pda, iPad, iTouch, notebook or desktop computer).  There is an app for the iPhone/iPad/iTouch and Android phones.  From any of the devices you can access anything in your Dropbox as long as you have internet access.  The Dropbox folder does reside on your computer.  As you create or edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio, video or pictures Dropbox saves a copy on to your computer and updates your Dropbox account.  It also allows you to share files and collaborate with other users.  You can configure your computer to save all files to your Dropbox folder.  The free account includes up to 2GB file storage.  You can grow your storage for free by referring friends, family and colleagues to Dropbox.  They reward both the referrer and referee with an additional 250MB of storage.  You can continue to refer until you reach 32 accepted referrals or 8GB of addtional storage space.   You may not think that is very much space but you’d be surprised.  Take a look at the drive where you store your documents.  I am a heavy user.  My Documents folder currently uses 4.38GB of space.  It includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations and pictures.

Why do I love Dropbox?  Because it is mindless.  I don’t have to do anything.  I work on a document or download pics from my camera as long as I am connected to the web … voila after a few seconds, it is saved on my notebook and it is updated on Dropbox.  I don’t have to schedule anything.  If thinks for me.  I love that it is intuitive and costs me nothing (at this time).  If my storage needs grow faster than my free Dropbox grows, the cost of purchasing Dropbox storage space is very reasonable (All three online back-up systems mentioned do offer a discount if you pre-pay for a year vs. month to month fees).  I love that my documents folder looks identical regardless if I am looking at it on my computer, notebook, smart phone or a computer of a friend or at a hotel when I am traveling.  I don’t know how it could get any easier.  I only recommend it because I use it and find it is the best product available that meets my needs.  Feel free to check out Dropbox and get a free 250 KB of storage space.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  How do you protect and back-up your information?

Are you reliant on technology?  Share with us how technology shapes your life and has changed the way you operate on a day to day basis.

Stay tuned for #2 and #3!

Kim Oser

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