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Organized & Productive 
September, 2015    
falling leaves
The 4 P's to Prepare for a Perfect Fall!

The quickening pace of school, work and home life always takes a while to get used to once the reality of September sinks in. For most parents of school-aged children, the grind of getting back into the routine of early mornings, homework, car pools and after-school activities can be challenging. Having some systems and routines in place helps ease the transition and relieves the stress of busy days. But it's not just kids who need systems and routines to make the day run more smoothly. Adults of all types need them, too. We are all heavily scheduled, with work, community activities, and family commitments. Putting the "4 P's" into place, and establishing some simple structure, will make it all easier and less stressful.
Prepare Your "Pad"
Every home needs a place for people to "launch from" when they leave and "land on" when they walk in the door. Near the door through which you come and go most often, set up a "launching & landing pad" - a place for backpacks, handbags, briefcases, keys, coats, etc. You can even include a charging station here for cell phones and other electronics. Before bed, gather everything you will need for the next day in this one spot - paperwork, letters to mail, any equipment for the next day's activities - like sports practices, items you need to run errands at lunch hour or after work. This not only eliminates the last-minute morning scramble and forgotten items, but keeps clutter in your home to a minimum, as everyone has a place for their stuff - they know where to put it when they come in and where to grab it when they leave. Consider using individual cubbies labeled for each person, or a set of labeled shelves with labeled baskets or bins, a double row of hooks with a row low enough so that little ones can hang up their own coats with adult coats above, hooks or a bowl designated for keys, and an "in-out" basket or tray for incoming/outgoing papers (some great visual aids and ideas here.)
Provide a Place for Productivity
Kids aren't the only ones who need to have their work supplies organized and close at hand. Everyone has "homework" these days, and having a place where everything is assembled together and easily accessed is crucial to getting it done efficiently and with minimum stress. Having a place that encourages productivity around work is crucial. If there is no dedicated work space like a home office, or if your child either doesn't have a work space in their room or prefers to work in family spaces, portable options are great. For kids, a divided crafts box or small tool box will hold pens, pencils, markers, paper, ruler, tape, glue, etc., and is easy to grab and go to any spot they like to do their homework - kitchen table, family room floor, wherever. For adults, a rolling cart with a place for hanging files and drawers for supplies can be pulled out at work time and stashed away when done. A desktop file box that holds hanging folders works for both kids and adults, to keep important papers at your fingertips, whether it's school papers, work papers, or household paperwork.
Prevent Paper Piles
Having a mail-sorting station near the door where the mail comes into the home every day is crucial to preventing paper from piling up. Key components are a trash can/recycling basket, shredder, "in" basket or paper tray for papers that need action, and a "file" basket or tray for papers that don't need action, but need to be saved for the future. Taking just a few minutes each day to sort paperwork and mail that comes into your home, culling out the junk from the important stuff, keeps those piles from becoming a problem. Having a household command center, like the desktop file box mentioned above, also gives you a place to keep necessary paperwork at your fingertips.
Plan Your Week
Taking some time before the week begins to plan out your own and/or your family's schedule helps keep everyone on the same page as to who needs to be where and when, and what stuff they need to have when they get there! Sitting down on Sunday evening as a family, or with your own calendar, and planning out appointments and activities, required projects and tasks, will help you manage your time efficiently and get more done. If you have recently retired, not having an externally imposed schedule of work and home routines can make your time slip away unproductively. Before you realize it, you may be looking at the clock at the end of the day thinking, "how did it get to be 7 pm already, and what the heck have I accomplished today?" Sitting down at the same time every week with a list of your appointments and tasks for the week and actually marking your calendar with times to deal with specific tasks will help you be more productive and feel more in control of your time. Knowing what to expect and planning ahead for it won't eliminate all last-minute crises, but will go a long way towards reducing your stress and getting everything and everyone where they have to be on time and with a minimum of hassle.
Putting the "4 P's" into place can help you and your family better manage the faster pace of the changing season, keeping everyone and everything from "falling" apart!

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Lisa S. Griffith, CPOŽ 
The Organized Way
Organizing & Productivity Specialist/Speaker 
Phone:  (401) 289-0042
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