Want to improve your time management? Use a calendar!

January 8th, 2014

Getting organized always ranks within top 10 New Years Resolutions in the United States. It may not be just “getting organized” but related effects of organization such as reduce stress or have more free time.  Getting organized helps you improve both. 

 

What does getting organized mean?  

For some it can be clearing out paper or things, for others it may mean reducing the clutter in their head or putting a stop to double booking or missed appointments. The easiest way to get organized is to make a plan.  Where do you make or keep your plan?  On a calendar or planner, of course!  Writing (typing for the digital folk) on a calendar makes you more aware of your time.  This is the same way keeping a food diary makes you more aware of what you are putting in your mouth.

 

Using a calendar to improve time management

What can you do to improve time management?

Use one calendar.  If you are not using a calendar, start.  Whether you prefer a paper planner or an electronic, digital calendar, it has to be one that is mobile.  The key to success using a calendar is it has to be one you are comfortable carrying with you.  When you are making an appointment with a business contact, a friend or the dentist or doctor, you need to be able to consult your calendar.  You may forget about the appointment or the specifics of the appointment by the time you get home or back to the office or lose the scrap of paper or reminder card.  Smartphones have built-in calendars and many of them allow you to speak your appointments. Your device adds the appointment to your calendar.  Digital planners allow you to set visual and audible reminders.  They can act as a digital assistant keeping you on track.  

If you are using both a paper and digital calendar, pick one and stick with it.  Using both can cause confusion and add unnecessary time.  Using one calendar avoids having to look in two places to determine your schedule and the risk of double booking.

Before starting each day (could be the night before or in morning), write down your three most important tasks (MITs) for the day.  There may be more than three but these are the three things that must get done.  It allows you to build them into your day rather than panicking at the end of the day.

Do you use a planner?  If no, please share how you keep track of your appointments and commitments.  If you keep a calendar, please comment below about your experiences of using your paper or digital/electronic planner. What are your favorite time management apps?
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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!

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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.

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
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50 Tech Tools

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.

Home Office Set-up for Optimal File Management and Productivity

July 23rd, 2013

Do you have a home office?  Or do you use your tablet, phone or laptop and your home office is all over your home?  The key to reducing household paper clutter and increase productivity is having a centralized home office.  A home office could be a designated area of a room or a specific room.  Your home office should have a place for papers to be dropped as they enter the home.  It should also have an area where papers that require action or follow-up are placed.  Your home office is an extension of your home and should be treated as such.  You should give it an inviting coat of paint, good lighting and hang some artwork and/or pictures of your family and friends.

Last week, I was interviewed by Robert Lerose of Bank of America’s Small Business Community.  Their site provides great resources and support for small businesses.  Check it out.  It is free to sign-up and participate. I will let you know once the article is published.

Here is a video I created a few years back on creating an ideal home office.

Do you have a dedicated home office? Do you use it?

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50 Tech Tools

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.

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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50 Tech Tools

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.

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