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...]

How to Process Email and Deal With Information Overload

I was reading an article in Information Week appropriately titled, “Eaten by the Email Monster.” 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...]

My Favorite Way to Use Outlook Notes as Category Lists

I wanted to share my favorite Palm trick (I use MS Outlook and a Treo 700p).  I was frustrated by being in the grocery store and not having my list with me.  Then a friend would tell me her experience at a great restaurant, and darn if I couldn't remember the name when my husband asked where we should eat.  We'd be at the video store and couldn't remember the name of the funny DVD my dad suggested.  So, I created a Note in Outlook for each of these categories: 1.      Books to read 2.      Groceries to buy (even though “go to grocery store” may be a task, this list contains the individual items I need to remember to buy) 3.      Shopping to do (a list of things I need to remember to get when I’m … [Read more...]

What is the best time management system?

What Is The Best Time Management System?

Everyone has a different time management system, a way of tracking appointments and to-dos. Some use paper systems; some use electronic; and some use a combination of the two (what I call “hybrid” methods).I’m frequently asked what time management system is best. The simple answer is there is no “correct” time management system. You must always ask yourself how your system is working for you.  I can say, however, that whatever time management system you end up using, you need to make sure it meets the HUG criteria: H—Handy: I call people who don’t keep their time management systems handy “scrappers.” They are easily identifiable by all the little scraps of paper everywhere: envelopes, sticky notes, even matchbook covers. That’s because they don’t carry their system with them to … [Read more...]

Create a list of important papers

In helping my grandparents get their papers in order recently, we had to search for some important items, and they couldn't put their hands on some things right away.  In the event of a death or a disaster in your life, would your loved ones be able to help you or make the proper arrangements?  I recommend you sit down and spend some time typing out a list of all your important information, numbers, contact information, locations, passwords, etc., and keep it in a lockbox or fireproof safe, or give a copy to a trusted family member...just in case.  I got you started with a template at  Don't put it off! … [Read more...]

Test drive Microsoft Office 2007 Just for my readers...a FREE test drive of the new Microsoft Office 2007!  This is BETA, but you are live in the applications.  Test the new versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Outlook, and many more! The tutorials provide lots of new ways to work in Office 2007.  You can explore the new versions of Office in this fully functional Test Drive environment.  Try this before downloading the new beta versions to your computer.  Most other support applications like ACT or Quickbooks aren't ready for 2007, and you don't want to hose your mission-critical business systems.  So try it---no risk---in your browser instead. … [Read more...]

Setting up a reference filing system for your home

I'm often asked about my personal organization at home, usually around where I keep paperwork, how to organize it, what to call the files, how long to keep it, etc.  So I've typed up an outline of my personal filing cabinet at my house, so you can get a sense of how it's laid out.  I file by groups of files, not by A-Z.  So each title in CAPITAL letters on the left is the name of the category, and the indented names are filed behind that.  It's  Enjoy! … [Read more...]