A Fresh Start on Organizing Your Home: Your Calendar

22422960_SSo, as we move into 2014 and the holiday decorations are down, it’s time to dive into all those plans to organize your life. How about starting with your calendar?

With just a little effort up front, your calendar, whether tangible or online, can be the central planning tool for just you or for your entire family. Here’s how to start.

Select your calendar. If you choose a paper calendar, it should be one that breaks everything down at least by the week, so you have plenty of room for appointment locations and directions if needed. This is where an online calendar comes in handy. Many of them have plenty of space for whatever notes you need to make, as well as the option for reminder emails.

Fill in all family birthdays and special holidays such as anniversaries. Then run through and add all of the standard appointments such as kid sports practices or Monday morning meetings at the office. If there are a number of family members, you might want to assign each one a color so everyone can see their events at a glance.

Place a paper calendar in a good central location, possibly connecting it to a desk drawer with string so it can’t walk away. The kitchen is the best place because everyone walks through there at least once a day. If you keep your calendar on the computer, choose a program such as Google calendar that everyone can log into, so that access is easy.

Finally, make it clear that any appointments or events that are not on the calendar are not part of your responsibility. If a child needs a ride or a spouse wants you to attend a company party, there had better be a note about it on the calendar, after they’ve cleared your part of the task with you, of course. You can also set ground rules, such as that in case of conflicts; the first event posted on the calendar takes precedence, with exceptions to be negotiated individually.

While this is only the beginning of what you have to do to get organized, this small step is an important one in the right direction.

Set Resolutions You Can Keep

5501054_SSome people make the same resolutions year after year, never sticking to them after the first week or so. If you visit a gym in January, for example, it is crowded with people vowing to get into shape. By March, at least half of them are gone.

If you want to make resolutions this year that you can keep, here are some suggestions to help you on your way.

Prioritize: Every one of the resolutions on the list above involves a big lifestyle change. No one can make that many changes all at once. So choose just one or two areas of your life that you want to improve.

Be specific: Instead of just saying, “Eat Healthy,” resolve to eat a salad for at least three lunches a week. In place of “Get a better job,” decide to update your resume. These are manageable and measurable goals.

Make a plan: If you want to start exercising, take a look at your schedule to determine where you can make the time. Consider working with a personal trainer to kick-start your efforts. Find a friend or two who want to add walking to their days and set up a walking group. The more steps you lay out the easier it is to get started.

Include rewards: Everyone can be more committed to making a change if a good bribe is involved. If you want that Kate Spade handbag, a day at a spa, or a haircut from the new expensive salon, or maybe just a Saturday afternoon with a good book, build in treats when you meet your goals.

Don’t limit resolutions to January 1st. Any time is a good time to make changes to improve your life. Start with one or two now and add others later. You can accomplish a lot one step at a time.

Help Your Child Get Ready for School

15192775_MAfter an entire summer off, heading back to school can be a tough transition. Changes that you start making now can make the process easier for you and your children. Try some of these ideas:

Adjust their sleep schedules: Take the next few weeks to slowly get everyone used to going to bed and getting up earlier, until your family is on the school schedule.

Start a breakfast habit: Studies show that children who start school with a good breakfast, including a combination of protein and good carbohydrates such as fruit, stay focused and do better in school. Experiment with different breakfasts until you have a menu of choices that everyone enjoys.

Make space for homework: If you haven’t done this already, set aside a place for every child to organize their books and assignments. If you have one of the Fulton drop centers, it provides a perfect place to set up everything needed for the next day so nothing is forgotten in the morning. As children get older, desks and file cabinets in their rooms provide a central place to track schoolwork. A calendar – either paper or on a computer or tablet – can help them track when assignments are due.

Build a reference library: Although you can find many resources online, having a dictionary, thesaurus and grammar handbook handy encourages your children to look things up as needed. If you know what books they’ll be reading in school, you might want to pick up some of them so they are ready when needed.

Plan an end of summer event: A party or family gathering to wrap up the summer can help prepare everyone for the upcoming change. You could have some fun school supplies as favors and backpacks ready to fill. This will encourage everyone to look forward to the start of school, not just the parents.