Category: Home Organizing

As we all know, spring has come to an end.  In the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice begins on Jun 21 2011 at 1:16 P.M. EDT.  Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year.  This gives us the start of longer days and summer fun.  If you did any spring cleaning, I hope that along with that you included decluttering and organizing your space.

If you haven’t already decluttered your environment, it’s time to hop to it and do it.  Declutter your environment one room at a time, pull out the summer clothes, pull out the grill, patio furniture, get rid of the things you no longer want or need and get ready for the season.  Doing these things now will have you be prepared for those summer events and activities.

The days may be getting longer, but it doesn’t mean that you have more time to get things done.  You have the same number of hours in every given day as usual.  Spring officially ends tomorrow, take the time now to get ready for summer so that you’ll be one step closer to getting things done and having fun.

When Spring rolls around, most people think and talk about “Spring cleaning” which for a lot of people means cleaning from top to bottom.  You know how it is, you clean all of those things that you wouldn’t clean during your regular weekly cleaning routine.

Spring cleaning is a beautiful thing and paves the way into the season, but when you really think about it , it s down to more than just cleaning.  If you really want to pave the way into the season, you have to purge and establish or refine systems that you already have in place.   Over the course of a year our homes and office spaces can accumulate quite a bit of things and it’s important that we weed those things out on a regular basis so that we only end up with things that we like and things that serve a purpose, which is important when you consider that clutter changes the energy in a space, not to mention physically blocks space.  When the space is free and clear of clutter the energy shifts.

As you declutter your space, sort things into separate boxes: give away, sell, throw away and be sure to get rid of old things associated with negative experiences or emotions.  The energy from them slows down progress and makes the energy in the space heavy, which really doesn’t work especially if you leave it in a work space.  Once you’ve decluttered, be sure that everything has a designated space.  Additionally, be sure that you have a system in place that will keep your environment clutter free and create new habits that will support you.  Additionally, look at your calendar and to-do list.  Clutter can accumulate there as well, it just happens to be in the form of unnecessary appointments and tasks.  When you finish decluttering your space, get rid of the unnecessary things on your calendar and to-do list as well.  Doing so will help you spring forward into the season.

Today is the deadline for filing tax returns, and yes, there are many people who spent the weekend pulling it together and those who will work right up to the last minute to complete them.  Additionally, there are those who will file an extension because they haven’t started, or because they’re in the habit of doing so every year.

More and more is seems to me that waiting until the last minute to prepare and file tax returns is becoming the rule rather than the exception.  Why is that? Usually, people wait until the last minute because they can’t find receipts and other necessary documents since they have no system for maintaining records or a place to keep items for the current years’ tax preparation.

Most of those who prepare tax returns as a service to others help to perpetuate the destructive behavior by extending hours during the week before the filing deadline and even on the deadline day.  One thing that I absolutely love about my accountant is that she doesn’t work on tax day and she’s quite clear about letting her clients know.  She honors and respects her time and chooses to not deal with the last minute stress and hustle, since, of course, she makes herself available from the very beginning of the year.  The post office extends hours to as late as midnight to accommodate last minute filers and will even stand outside to collect them as people drive by.  Recently here in Michigan, the post office scaled back on the extended hours on the deadline day.

Looking at the situation from the outside, it seems to me that this is a pretty vicious circle.  One that continues to take place year after year since very few get out of the habit.  Are you stuck in the vicious cycle?  Are you ready to get out of it?  If so, make the commitment to do so right now, then set up the necessary support to get you through the process in a timely manner.  Create a system for filing the documents that you need to complete your return and add to it during the course of the year.  At the end of the year, everything that you need is already in one place, organized and ready for you.  If you’re preparing your return yourself, set time in your calendar to get it done.  If not, set a time to take the documents to your tax preparer to get the ball rolling.  By all means, don’t make it the end of March or first part of April.  Get the ball rolling right after the dust from the holiday season settles.

January is Get Organized month, or GO month.  If you plan on getting it together this year, now is the time to do it.  Along with creating your goals and the plan to accomplish them, include your plans for getting organized.  For some, the hardest thing about getting organized is getting started.  So where do you begin?  What area is troubling or hindering you the most? Is it you home?  Is it your office?  Maybe it’s just part of a room, or perhaps the entire house.  Maybe it’s your office.  What ever it is, put that space at the top of your list then add any other areas that you want to organize to your list then create your plan.  After the area at the top of your list, what’s next?  Then set a date to get started and keep it moving by setting dates for the other areas on your list.  When I say “set a date” I mean schedule the time in your calendar.  Don’t just say, “I’m starting on Saturday.”  Commit to the time.

Once you have your plan mapped out, start working it.  Go into the project prepared to get rid of things.  Be willing to part with things that you don’t use any longer as well as things that no longer serve you.  If you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it-give, sell or throw it away.    If you have a difficult time getting rid of things, get a third party to help you.  Be sure it’s someone who’s going to remain objective and be honest with you instead of encouraging you to keep things you need to let go of.

When you start with your first area or room, begin with a small area of the room-it can be the closet, a drawer, a particular corner or maybe it’s the desk or bookshelf.  Start with something manageable and continue working with that area until it’s complete.  Then move on to the next spot in the room and work in the room until it’s done.  Then move to the next room or area on your list.

Continue with your plan one step at a time.  Depending upon the area, you may have to schedule a few different times for that particular area.  If you find that you’re going to need more time for a room, adjust your plan accordingly.  The important thing is that you keep working your plan.  If you find that you are losing momentum or can’t stay motivated, partner with a friend or family member or hire a professional organizer to help you.  If you loose steam and stop moving, your project becomes stagnant and much harder to get the ball rolling again; more difficult to get organized.  Are you ready?  Let’s GO!

©2011 Sheila Hawkins

Now that we have the practical things covered, let’s look at time management, habits and routines to continue the process of avoiding the back to school madness.

Look at how your young person is spending their time– What else is going on while they are studying or doing homework?  Are they sending instant messages via the computer or mobile phone?  Is there music playing?  These things as well as others contribute to them wasting time and, of course, taking longer to get their work done.  Sit with your child and create rules around homework.  For example, no instant messaging or phone calls while engaged in completing homework, unless it is directly related to the homework.  Set specific daily times for studying and completing homework assignments.  Make a trip to your nearest office supply or Franklin Covey store and have your child choose a planner and implement its use.  They should get into the habit of using their planner daily and remember to set a time each week to plan for the upcoming week.  Plan with them initially; after that, let them do it themselves with your observation.

Create additional supportive habits– To continue the process, look to see what other habits you see that may contribute to incomplete homework assignments, lost items and the like.  Maybe things are lost because they don’t have a designated place to be. Assign a place for everything and help your child develop the habit of putting things back where they belong.

Create additional routines– You’ll want to consider a few more routines.  In addition to the daily routine with a planner, consider what needs to happen while your child is still at school.  During the course of the day as they are given assignments, they can be recorded in their planner and reviewed at the end of the day before leaving school.  This way, they come home with the right books and notes to complete the assignments.  This creates another healthy habit that enables them to have the right materials to complete the task at hand and it will carry over to tasks that aren’t related to school.

Once you’ve got it all in place, this is what it looks like:  When your student makes it home, they have a space for their backpack to land and to complete the assignments they have because you’ve already designated and set up the space as I shared in my last article.  Before they begin, they can refer to the list of assignments that they made during the day and prioritize and check items off as they are completed and place them in the spot that you’ve designated for your review.  Once everything is done, they can prepare for the next day by taking what you reviewed from the assigned tray, folder or slot and putting it in their backpack to take it back to school and leaving the backpack in a chosen spot so that it’s not forgotten in the morning.  The next day, the process starts all over again.

These tools, systems and routines all come together to help support your young person and contribute to fewer lost, forgotten and incomplete homework assignments and overall academic success.  The habits created as a result of the systems and routines that you create will become instilled in them and become part of who they are, setting them up for success throughout and beyond their school years.

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