How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 6

In this society, you’ve likely been brainwashed to believe that you aren’t a good parent unless your child plays competitive soccer by the time she’s ten, she’s active in the Girl Scouts, can play the piano masterfully, and swims beautifully…and, by the way, leases a horse. Hear a little sarcasm in my voice? For years, I bought into this notion as well and dutifully enrolled my little girl in ballet, piano, church programs, choirs, Girl Scouts, basketball, and more. I used the rationale that “she has to try everything so she can find out what she likes.”  Many children are so overscheduled, their stress levels race sky-high and the entire family comes apart at the seams. Many parents feel guilty because of the number of hours they spend at work. As a result, they overcompensate by … [Read more...]

How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 5

It’s important to instill the values of hard work and fairness in your children. As they gain responsibility and perform chores at home, they learn it’s important for everyone to pitch in and do his or her fair share to take the burden off one person.  If you live here, you clean. Even my four- and five-year-old boys have chores. I went to the grocery store and bought a big poster board. In the left hand column, I listed a due date for chores. (Each chore may actually be completed any day during the week, but it must be done by Saturday.) Across the top row, I listed the chores. Each child has his or her own chores posted. When one gets completed, the boys put a sticker on the corresponding column (Meagan uses checkmarks; she’s much too cool for stickers). The last column is for … [Read more...]

How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 4

Organizing Children's Keepsakes One of the common complaints I hear from parents is about all the stuff that comes home from school.  Where do you put all those great art projects, mementos, and clay handprints you just have to keep? Create a treasure box for each child. When each of my children was born, I wanted to save all the little things from the hospital: the nametags on their cribs, the bracelets from their wrists, their “going home” outfits, and all those things. Add to that their first pair of shoes, their favorite (now cast-away) blanket or stuffed animal, their first lost tooth—what a bunch of stuff! So I got three of those sturdy plastic bins with a lid and designated one for each child. I keep each treasure box on the shelves in their closets and add to them as … [Read more...]

How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 3

My older child, Meagan, just entered 6th grade (middle school in our district), which involves moving from class to class.  We bought the requisite list of supplies, including the exact type of binder the teachers wanted to organize school papers.  I was unable to find the brand listed in the stores, so I ordered it from the Internet.  I thought, “Wow! This is going to be a fabulous binder.  I can’t wait to see what the fuss is all about.”  When I received the binder, I was confused.  It had no sections, no pockets, no tabs, no dividers, nothing.  I wondered “How in the world is she going to keep the papers separate for the six different classes she’s taking?”  I tried to explain to her the binder wasn’t going to work, but she was insistent on using … [Read more...]

How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 2

Children have a difficult time conceptualizing proper systems and are bewildered by what tools to use to make their lives easier.  However, if given the proper tools, children are great at using the systems you establish for them.  Here are some tools and ideas you could put into place to help your children organize their environments and feel in control of their surroundings: Make the playroom easy to play in. Now that you’ve pared down the toys you keep, design a plan for these toys to actually get played with. If your kids can’t see a toy, they don’t think to look for it, and will soon forget it exists (and you’ll probably discover forgotten treasures in the sorting process). Take advantage of any available vertical wall space in a dedicated playroom or on one wall of a … [Read more...]

How Parents Can Help Their Children Get Organized and Learn to Be Productive Part 1

Handling transitions My three children started school and have experienced many "firsts" over the last few weeks: new schools, supplies, teachers, classes, friends, clothes, and schedules. This is a universal time of change for all parents of school-age children. And though much has suddenly changed in our children’s lives, much has stayed the same in some: disorganized bedrooms, poor time management, lack of discipline, and stress. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of settling our children into the new school year and making sure they’re comfortable that we forget about the ongoing struggles our children endure the rest of the year. According to John Stamm, Ph.D., and Bill Stockton (Psych Savvy: Children and Organizational Skills), "School … [Read more...]

Organize Your Kids and Help Them Manage Their Time

I asked my newsletter subscribers the question:  “What is the best strategy you use to organize your kids, help them manage their time, or teach them to be productive?”  Here are some of the better responses: One thing that I taught my children to do while they were still young "and trainable" was to choose the clothes that they were going to wear to school the next day, the night before.  In this way, everything was clean & pressed, there was no running around asking for their favorite shirt, etc.  Needless to say, I follow this routine myself to this day which I notice is also #54 in your book. ( I don't know if my children follow this anymore) Of course everyone has had a "job chart" on their kitchen wall for the chores their … [Read more...]

Who said productivity is easy?

I was teaching a full-day seminar in time management. One of the participants complained several times that "This is so hard!" or "There’s no way I could do that." After a while, it was quite apparent to me and his colleagues that while he wanted to change his behaviors, he had absolutely no faith in his ability to do so. I’ve never been one to tell people that being productive is easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard! However, I do believe that once you have systems in place and have enabled yourself to be productive, it’s much easier in the long run. But any type of change is hard. When learning new techniques, don’t throw your hands up in despair and think, "There’s no way I can do all this!" You can! You might just be stuck in a rut. You get into a certain … [Read more...]

Email OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

According to a report from Basex, the average "knowledge worker" — someone who is part of the growing information economy — loses 2.1 hours a day to interruptions. If those workers make an average of $21 an hour, that adds up to $588 billion a year — more than the gross domestic product of Argentina. See http://blogs.abcnews.com/scienceandsociety/2006/01/frazzing.html Then another article http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Technology/story?id=1549972 goes on to say, “Other companies, such as Ambient Devices, say keep it simple. You shouldn't have to open your e-mail whenever an icon pops up on your screen. A glance should tell if the new message is important to you, much the way you glance at a clock.” Actually, that’s a *really* bad idea.  Even glancing at an email starts … [Read more...]

How to Process Email and Deal With Information Overload

I was reading an article in Information Week appropriately titled, “Eaten by the Email Monster.”  http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2006/08/eaten_by_the_em.html It links to several useful articles on how to handle information overload.  I thought I’d add my thoughts on how to efficiently process email: the 6-D Information Management System™: 1. DISCARD = Delete it 2. DELEGATE = Forward it 3. DO = Reply immediately if it will take you three minutes or less 4. DATE = Needs work but not now.  The key is to somehow get it out of your in-box.  Pick one favorite method and try to be consistent, so you don’t confuse your brain about what you did with that email.  Options: * Move to a process folder called “Action” or … [Read more...]