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SuccessI am returning from a little blogging hiatus. Over the past month I have been coordinating a community Back-to-School Clothes Swap, organizing workshops for students, and getting my daughter geared up for kindergarten. It’s been hard not to feel guilty when all those little things I wanted to accomplish didn’t fit onto one plate (i.e. blogging, social networking, household projects, personal goals, etc). However, the guilt lessened when I reminded myself of the things I did accomplish and that life wasn’t a race.

This past month I have made a point to acknowledge my achievements by patting myself on the back and doing a little ‘happy dance’. It didn’t matter if the task was large or small, I did a ‘happy dance’. Boy, does it feel great! By being aware and acknowledging my ‘gold stars’, I have felt my self-confidence increase as well as a sense of success. The need to beat myself up over not getting to a task/project has decreased.

If you are tired of feeling like a failure at the end of the day for not completing your to-do list, make a point to shift your thinking and focus on your successes. Reward yourself for the simple, little things in life that get accomplished.

Examples are:

  • You ate lunch: not many people take the time to eat lunch these days!
  • Brushed your teeth: you are taking care of your teeth and smile.
  • Cleaned the dishes: keeping the kitchen clean and decluttered leads to healthier meals.
  • Took your multi-vitamin: giving your body the nutrients it needs to thrive!

To get started, create a journal of your daily achievements. Post everything you completed that day – big or small, even itsy bitsy things. Don’t save the gold stars just for the children, use them for yourself too! Give yourself gold stars and do happy dances throughout the day. If you forget to journal one day or for the whole week, don’t beat yourself up. Start again the next day (make sure to give yourself a sticker for starting up again!). It is amazing how great you will feel in only a few short days. Focus on your successes and not your failures!

I’d love to hear your feedback. Take a moment to comment on how you celebrate your successes. If you currently are not acknowledging your achievements, start the journal and report back with your comments.

For more tricks and tips on organizing your time, goals, priorities, and life, sign up here to gain access to my ‘Organizer’s Tool Bag’. It will offer you inspiration and keep you motivated monthly.

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Grace

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young-boy-gradHigh-achieving students don’t forget when a report is due or arrive at an advanced math class without a calculator. These kids have learned the benefits and importance of having good organizational and time-management skills. Through trial and error, they have also learned what study habits work best for them.

These students, with their parents’ and/or a professional’s help, have unlocked the secrets to being super-motivated, enjoy studying, and know how to get results.

Here are 6 steps a parent can take to increase their child’s academic success and self-confidence.

Step 1: Homework Station

Children need a desk-like area designated for studying. This area should be comfortable, inspiring, organized with supplies within arm reach, and away from any distractions. However, still central to a parent so the child can be monitored if he/she has questions or needs help staying on task. Consider having this homework station located in the home office, living room, or guest room. A child may be too tempted to play with toys, get distracted by other family member’s conversations, or turn on the TV if studying in their room, family room, or kitchen.

According to Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, says that “if kids are texting or their siblings are talking to them, they’re not devoting their full attention to learning, so they learn less. When kids know this, they’re more motivated; they think, Uh-oh, if I’m not in a quiet place, I won’t learn as well. Having the proper learning environment for your child is crucial.”

Step 2: Fully Stocked

Eliminate reasons and excuses for a child to procrastinate by having the homework station fully stocked with study materials, pencils, pens, sharpener, scissors, tape, calculator, dictionary, and other needed supplies. Consider having a side table or rolling cart stocked with healthy snacks and water to keep the brain charged and running efficiently. The working surface should be cleared of all clutter and provide ample space for open books and binders.

Step 3: Tune In

Some children enjoy listening to music or watching TV while studying, but parents need to consider their child’s learning style and the type of media he/she is tuning in to. Parents who enforce distraction free work are on the right track. According to three recent studies, spending too much time watching TV diminishes kids’ ability to learn, their academic success, and even their chances of graduating from college. Depending on your child’s learning style and if they insist on having something on, choose songs without words such as soothing, classical music.

Step 4: Choosing a Time

When determining the best time to do homework, consider your schedule and your child’s temperament and personality. Some children need a break when getting home from school, while others lose steam if they don’t do their assignments right away. Experiment with different times to do homework and see where you have the greatest success. Once the study time has been determined, create a consistent routine based on what works best for your child.

Step 5: Make Learning Fun

Try to avoid saying statements like, ‘Let’s get your homework out of the way so you can play’. Children tend to see academics as a negative experience and as a chore. Instead, value their schoolwork and present it as an endeavor that sparks your curiosity. Have conversations about their school work and your work projects.

Be sure to encourage the lighter side of learning by playing educational and word games, along with doing jigsaw puzzles and playing Monopoly. Give your child the freedom to choose when to do leisure reading. When kids are doing something they enjoy they retain more information.

Step 6: Managing Time and Assignments

Having and using a planner is one habit most high achievers swear by. Just like adults, children should get into the habit of writing down important dates, assignments, and other tasks that need to be completed. Planners visually organize information for students, so they can see when papers are due, when tests will be taken, and when the next big game is scheduled.

Encourage children to take on the responsibility of beginning and completing homework by creating a system such as a checklist. When a child starts receiving long-term projects, help he/she map out the work by using their calendar so he/she learns good time management and organizational skills. Break down large projects into smaller steps/tasks and assign a specific day to take action on them. Using a checklist will help the child and the parent to make sure he/she is staying on track.

Children are overwhelmed with information and after school activities these days. It is imperative a child has one calendar to managing their school work, personal life, and home life. To ensure academic success, make sure children have time to chill-out and unwind each week so they can de-stress and use their imagination. By getting children into the habit of scheduling free time for hobbies and to play with friends, children learn that life isn’t just about work. It is about having fun, building relationships, and enjoying oneself.

Do you ever have the need to jot down a note to yourself while enjoying the Sunday paper and find yourself without a scratch piece of paper? How about the times when you are enjoying a cup of coffee at a co-worker’s workstation and realize you might be forgetting to do something? Always losing your to-do list, but never your coffee?

There is a silly yet smart solution to these problems! It is called the Write-On Mug by FredFlare.com. Schedule as you sip with the Write-On Mug. You can keep your daily tasks and appointments in sight (right under your nose) while sipping your favorite cup of coffee or tea. Use a ballpoint pen or pencil to add your daily to-do list and urgent tasks. When done, simply wipe them off with a eraser.

No need for that fancy PDA! 🙂

Last year I read the book, The 4-Hour Work Week written by Timothy Ferriss. Timothy has some great ideas for cutting down on working hours and increasing relaxation and travel which he refers to as ‘mini retirement vacations’. He speaks a good deal on eliminating time-wasters, being productive, and making wise choices with your time. In the chapter, The End of Time Management, Timothy asks a question that really stuck with me. In fact, I have the question printed and hanging in my office as a visual reminder. The question is this, “Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?” In other words, Am I being productive or just active?

Before reading the book, I thought that cleaning my house was ‘being productive’. Instead, I was cleaning my house to avoid the ‘important’ things (the action items that would push my career forward and continue to grow my business). I now ask myself each morning, “What am I going to do today that will make me money?” (As a small business owner working out of my home, making money is important!) I still clean my house, but I make sure not to clean it during business hours. This simple question has really helped me make wiser choices with my time. chasing the dollar

So I ask you that same question now, “Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?”

There is a great new product available for parents who are frustrated with their children’s time-management skills. It is called On Task On Time for Kids.

If you are tired of yelling at and nagging your children to get out the door for school, to get into bed, pick up their toys, or start on homework, this may be the solution for you! It is perfect for little ones just starting school and learning about time.

It was designed by a mother of triplets and took 12 years to develop. To find out more on how this handy timer got started, read their story.  To get more information on how this product can reduce a parent’s stress level, and increase a child’s independence and purpose, click here.

I often hear people complain that they ‘don’t have time to get organized’ or time to work on a task that needs completing. One complaint that I most frequently is, “I hate to file papers and the piles of paper keep growing and growing. What should I do?” I have a simple answer that requires little time. Use a timer!

Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes depending on how ambitious you feel and begin filing. Once the timer goes off, you are done for the day. Do this either weekly, bi-monthly or monthly to stay on top of the paper clutter. With the ‘permission’ of the timer, you can go about your day without feeling the pressure or guilt the piles of paper bring into your life.


If you have other projects looming over your head and find yourself continually procrastinating on them, set the timer and go for it! Determine a fair amount of time per project and begin conquering the task at hand. You will feel a sense of peace and satisfaction once that timer goes off.


A timer is a great tool to use when decluttering, organizing, controlling paper, completing homework, and doing household chores. Have a timer located in various zones within the home. One in the kitchen, one where homework is done, one in the office, and one in the vehicle (great for time-outs while away from the house).
 

Example of Digital Timer

Example of Digital Timer

Does your family or household have a central location which is designated for incoming & outgoing mail, calendar/schedules, phone with answering machine, and a tickler file (refer to Organizing Tools – Tickler File)? Every household should have something I call a ‘Command Center’. This is where each member of the family or house posts appointments, birthdays, important events, etc.. and temporary stores documents that need action taken. This is also the location to take and leave phone messages and other notes for members of the house. It could be as simple as a countertop in the kitchen.
It is important to have one member assigned as the manager of the Command Center. There is usually only of caption on a ship and one manager of a Command Center. Often this role is given to the mom. If there is another person that is responsible, good with following through on chores and/or projects, and enjoys managing schedules, give this person the role of Command Center manager.

Here are a few items each Command Center should have:

  • Phone with answering machine
  • Large calendar with room for multiple schedules
  • Various colored pencils/markers with one assigned to each member of household
  • In and out box for mail
  • Trash can with shredder
  • Office supplies (pens, tape, stapler with staples, stamps, rubber-bands, return address labels, envelopes, scissors, etc.)
  • Tickler file
  • Some kind of magnetic or cork board for posting memos, notes, shopping list, etc.
  • Chalk or white board
  • Frequently used and important contact names and phone numbers

This center can be customized to your family’s needs. With a system such as this setup and used regularly, your family will not miss appointments, forget important dates or events, bills will be mailed on time, and everyone will be well-informed of the whereabouts of other family members. The benefits are endless!

 

 

For as long as I can remember, I have loved using lists (and forms). There is something about a list that brings a sense of order, peace, and accomplishment over me. I work with lists everyday and love to find new types of list on-line, in books, or create my own. If it simplifies a task, I use a list!

Here is the lowdown on lists. There are three main types of list to manage your tasks. They are a Master List, a Daily List, and a Checklist.

A Master List concise of all of those to-do’s that aren’t yet scheduled. Anything you don’t want to forget about, but will not complete today. This list is helpful to remove all the ‘clutter’ from your brain and put into onto paper.

A Daily List should only include what you will get accomplished in the next 24 hours. An important tip to remember when creating this daily list is to not over-exert yourself. Adding too many items to this list leads to a sense of failure if they are not completed in the time allotted. Each entry should be manageable, specific, and take you to the next step on a long-term project. A good rule of thumb is to keep this list under 6 entries per day. This list will also include your personal errands.

(Restrict the amount of time you spend on less important tasks by using a timer or alarm clock.)

Finally a Checklist contains information you use over and over. These list may include, grocery items, packing essentials, household inventory, baby-sitting basics, and diaper bag necessities. Store these lists in a computer for easy updating. A binder with sheet protectors is a great way to store printed lists for easy viewing and retrieval.

Spend a few minutes each evening planning your priorities and creating your Daily List for the following day.

Another helpful list to have is a Goal List. I have my various Goal Lists pinned up around my desk for me to frequently remind myself. I have a Goal List for my business goals, financial goals, places to visit this year, a wish list, as well as a to-do list for the year (this encompasses all areas of my life).