Real Simple – 9 Time Management Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

Fabulous article from Real Simple –

time management

9 Time Management Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Day

Based on the time logs of highly successful (and productive) women.

The “family dinner” is a hotly debated topic—is it ever possible to get home in time? Are kids better off for having home-cooked meals with their parents? But Vanderkam found that you could mimic this needed family time at other, more convenient hours that fit better with a work schedule. She suggests aiming for a familybreakfast instead of a family dinner, since most people’s mornings sync up more easily than their evenings.

2.  Make the most of your mornings.

“No one has work emergencies at 6 a.m., whereas they do happen at 5 p.m.,” says Vanderkam. If you save all of your plans for after work—like, plans to exercise—these will often be derailed by unexpected workplace conflicts. Instead, get up early and do some big-picture thinking before breakfast or head to the gym. This is also a great time to spend with young children before heading to work, since they’re up at the crack of dawn anyway.

3.  Work from home.

When studying weekly time logs, Vanderkam noticed a pattern: women left work at a reasonable hour and resumed work at night after the kids were asleep. “Almost all women have some version of this,” says Vanderkam, calling it a “split shift.” “It enables you to work long hours and yet not give up family time. You trade off work time for what would be TV-watching time.” To maximize productivity, make a to-do list. If you are committing to another hour of work, make sure the projects and tasks are manageable and can be accomplished in that hour.

Be strategic about your inbox.

Everyone wants to get to Inbox Zero—but that’s not likely to happen. “Email expands to fill the available space,” says Vanderkam. If you spend time responding to emails, inevitably, more responses will end up in your mailbox. Vanderkam advises starting your day with a major priority or task, because if you start your day with email, you’ll be sucked into an endless spiral. “You have to consciously choose to give it less time,” she says.

5.  Take breaks.

“If we don’t take real breaks, we take fake ones,” Vanderkam says. Go out to lunch, walk around the block, or exercise at lunchtime—anything that gives your brain time to recharge. If you don’t, your brain will “rebel” around 2 p.m., and you’ll find yourself surfing the Internet instead of working.

6.  Get a good night’s sleep.

This isn’t news—you need to sleep in order to be a productive, functioning member of society. But there’s an idea that busy, working women need to be chronically sleep deprived, says Vanderkam. When she studied the 1,001 days of successful women, she found they were actually averaging just under eight hours of sleep every night. “Whatever you have gained in terms of available time by sleeping less you will lose in not being able to focus and not being your most creative self,” says Vanderkam. She suggests setting a bedtime alarm to get on a regular, healthy sleep schedule.

7.Create a housework schedule that is realistic for you.

Of course, we want to help you lead an organized life—but that looks different for everyone. Like email, “housework expands to fill the available space,” says Vanderkam, which echoes something we already understand—there will always be something else you can clean or plan or organize. Vanderkam also recommends taking “the easy route” when possible—for example, an investment in Amazon Prime will mean fewer errands and free shipping on last-minute birthday gifts.

8. Reframe your to-do list.

“All of your priorities are not going to fit in 24 hours,” says Vanderkam. Instead of focusing on daylong cycles to accomplish everything, focus on a week. When you look at your time in 168-hour increments as opposed to 24-hour increments, you may find that the prospect of balancing work, family, and fun is less overwhelming.

9. Track your days.

If you want to better manage your time, the best way to do so is by figuring out exactly how you’re spending your time, says Vanderkam. So, mimic her project: keep an hourly log of your days to see where your time is going, and where you can rearrange your schedule. If tracking an entire week seems daunting, she suggests starting with two workdays and one weekend—like Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. “When you do keep track of your time, you are more mindful about it,” says Vanderkam.

Great Book on Behavior Modification

“People will do something—including changing their behavior—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”
― Marshall GoldsmithWhat Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Organizing your financial paperwork: Simple strategies to control the clutter

Great article from Consumer Reports – I wanted to share with all of you.

Organizing your financial paperwork: Simple strategies to control the clutter

Published: June 01, 2015 05:30 PM

With tax season receding in the rear view mirror, there are no more excuses for ignoring financial clutter. And there are plenty of good reasons to do a massive re-org. For one thing, this stuff is too important to be tossed in a pile to gather dust.

Knowing where the important papers are filed saves you and your loved ones from panicky digging in case of an emergency. Knowing when you have to attend to specific financial tasks helps you avoid late fees—or worse. Knowing how it all meshes enables you to take control over your spending and saving.

For more information on this subject, read “May to-do list: Organizational tips to conquer paperwork clutter.”

With so many options for organizing personal financial paperwork, it’s easy to get bogged down before you even begin. Should you go paperless? Drink the Quicken Kool-Aid? Dedicate a file cabinet? Buy a bunch of binders? Whatever you choose, “It has to be a system you’re going to follow,” advises Craig Adamson, president of Adamson Financial Planning in Marion, Iowa.

Simplest is best

Whether you’re starting from scratch or are facing a morass of many years, simplest is best. “For most people, the ideal is to have some sort of file cabinet with hanging folders,” says Jeff Baum, a principal with Baum & Baum, certified public accountants in New York City.

Set up one folder for financial information, another for life insurance policies, others for car and health insurance policies, another for a copy of legal instructions such as your will and powers of attorney, one for your financial statements, and one for credit card information, including your PIN number. Unpaid bills go somewhere where you won’t forget about them; paid bills get tossed in another file. While you’re at it, make a file with the contact information for important people who affect your finances: In addition to the obvious suspects (your lawyer, accountant, and personal financial advisor), include the people who take care of your house and car, as well as any financial dependents, such as Aunt Sadie in the nursing home.

In lieu of a filing cabinet, Adamson gives all of his clients a hefty loose-leaf binder with plastic file inserts for each element of their important financial information. But even a large box will do, he notes. “It’s a place to consolidate information.”

The nice thing about a simple system, he adds, is “there’s an expectation that everything goes in the binder” or the filing cabinet or the box in the closet. In addition to being easy to set up and maintain, having everything in one easy-to-access place is especially reassuring for adult children of aging parents. “They know all the papers are in one spot, instead of having some in the safe, some in the lockbox, and some in the second bureau drawer on the right side.”

Paperless plusses

To be sure, paperless systems have some big plusses. The most obvious: “You don’t have paper clutter,” Adamson points out. Documents uploaded to the cloud are available any time you need them. If your wallet is lost or stolen while you’re traveling, you can access your credit card numbers and the emergency number to call, says Baum, who uploads his personal 411s to Google Docs.

The downside, though, is that even the easiest online system still requires the extra steps of scanning, formatting to PDF, and backing up the file – and that’s on top of setting up folders in a way that you can find them. That can just be one task too many.

Despite the move to paperless organizing, Baum concludes, “For most people, paper is better.”

— Catherine Fredman

Editor’s Note:A version of this article previously appeared in the May 2015 Consumer Reports Money Adviser.

Organized Kids / End of School Year

Disorganized Student

Wow – June already.  Kids are getting out of school very soon … and with them they bring home a year of papers, school work, artwork, and all of that “stuff” from the desk or locker that has built up over the past year.

How will you organize and make decisions on all of that stuff?  Avoiding decisions causes clutter; or unneeded, excess stuff stored away because we tossed it all into a box.

Here’s how you can close out the school year in an organized way:

1.  Decide a place (out of the way – not on the kitchen table) where you will put all that stuff to go through.  This way it doesn’t end up in the middle of everything – and you don’t feel stressed about the pile, or shift it to different parts of the house while you avoid it.

2.  Decide a time to work on it.

3.  Engage your child in the process – have them sit with you to make decisions.

4.  If they are too young or don’t have the focus to sit for the entire process, pre-sort the piles and then invite them to join you.

5.  Sort into categories.

6.  Decide.  Keep as Memory (store in memory box, store away for next year.)  Discard (recycle/toss).  Hold for next year (store in a container, or bag, in a less frequently used spot – make yourself a note on your calendar for early August to remind yourself that you have all this stuff – so you don’t buy double!)

7.  Enjoy summer!

Have an organized day!

#getorganized #organized #organizedkid #organizedstudent #organizedschoolpaper #organizedlocker #endofyearschoolorganization #organizedlife #anorganizedlife

Organizing Kids for the end of the School Year

School Papers

It’s almost the end of the year – and it’s time to organize your kids papers, locker items and all of that other stuff that comes home at the end of the year.  Here are some tips on how to get this done:

Tip #1: Single Spot

Ask your children to place all of their papers in a single spot, as soon as they walk in the door from school.  (We do this on a daily basis, and our “spot” is the left-hand corner of the kitchen counter. But at the end of the school year, we typically need the whole dining room table as a “spot” where everything can go to be sorted.)

Tip #2: Recycle

Initially do a quick sort of everything in your “spot”–recycling as many papers as possible.  Most of them don’t need to be kept at all.

Tip #3: Use the Sneaky Sorter

Throughout the school year, you can keep two baskets in your kitchen, laundry room, or a nearby area, and use them to sort the papers you can’t immediately throw away.  One basket is for the items you will most likely KEEP.  The other is for items you will most likely THROW AWAY/RECYCLE.  You don’t have to make these decisions right away, but these baskets help “incubate” your items in one of two general categories until you’re ready to deal with them. At the end of the school year, you may want to have children help you go through the items in your “KEEP” pile and those that have lingered in your “RECYCLE” basket and help you determine which are most special.

Tip #4: Use Banker Boxes for Permanent Storage

We give each child one banker box for every five years, so by the time they leave our home, they’ll have four boxes of school papers to take with them.  If their papers don’t fit in the box, they have to figure out which ones can go. . . . (This has worked beautifully so far.) Some families find that it works well to help children create a binder for every 2-3 school years containing their most special items. At the end of each school year, children can sort through everything they’ve saved during the year or brought home at the end of the year and put their favorite school projects and keepsakes into page protectors, nicely organized in the binder.

Tip #5: Take Photographs!

At the end of the year, we always do a “photo shoot” of the art projects, dioramas, and sculptures that won’t fit into our boxes.  Our children have fun modeling each item, and they typically take pictures of each other, so it’s a fun activity to keep them busy.  (Digital photos are stored chronologically on our external hard drive.)

CHALLENGE: Resist the urge to let papers pile up, and work alongside your children to come up with a paper selection/storage solution that works for you family.

Hope you have an organized day!
#getorganized #organized #banclutter #organizepaper #organizedstudent #organizedkids #organizedlife #anorganizedlife

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