As summer draws to a close and fall begins, it’s time for many of us to settle down, hone our focus, and return to our daily routines. Whether you have kids going back to school or you’re coming back from a long summer vacation… it’s the perfect time to get organized so you can be productive and more focused at home, work or school.
Some people fear that following a routine or scheduling tasks and activities will stifle creativity and the ability to act spontaneously. We have found the opposite to be true. Routines help you get organized and stay organized! Focus and organization can unlock creativity. Prioritizing and working more efficiently can free up more time, allowing for spontaneity and fun.
Back to routine hints and tips:
1) Check your email at the same time every day and never first thing in the morning. Do one important task before you open your email program, and then consider checking email at 10:00, 1:00, and 4:00, for example. This way you won’t be distracted by other tasks during the day that need to be completed and others will know your routine and look forward to your reply emails whether it’s in the morning, midday or late afternoon.
two) If you have kids, have “homework time” (and a clear, organized, and quiet study space). Honor that time each day to complete school assignments and projects. If there is no homework, encourage your children to review textbooks, previous assignments, study for upcoming tests, do an activity in an extra workbook you have on hand, write a letter to a friend or relative, or read a book. By establishing this routine, your children will know what to expect and establish good work habits.
3) Do what you can the night before. Take a few minutes to review your calendar and to-do list for the next day so you know what to prepare for, both mentally and physically.
o Put clothes away the night before: For the kids, you can even buy a 5-shelf sweater organizer and put clothes for the week (Monday on the top shelf, etc.)
o Prepare and pack lunches the night before. Pack backpacks and briefcases with the books, papers, and supplies needed for the day.
o Pack “activities” bags or lay out extra supplies you’ll need to go out the night before. Place these items by the door you’ll be leaving the next morning so nothing gets left behind. These steps will help reduce the chaos that the morning usually brings.
4) Create a family calendar/event hub. The kitchen or home office is usually the best place for this. Have a central location where everyone can see the current month’s schedule. This way, you won’t miss a birthday party, a doctor’s appointment, a soccer game, or a double booking. Get each family member into the routine of regularly adding social events, gatherings, sporting events, etc. to this calendar. Review the calendar together during a weekly family meeting where you see what’s scheduled for the week, know who’s going where, make sure transportation is arranged, and talk about who’s home for dinner each night. This is also a great time to quickly brainstorm dinner ideas and come up with a quick grocery and shopping list.
5) Plan a 10-minute family “order time” each night. Have everyone start in one room and blow a whistle or set a timer to start. Put “misplaced” items back in your home. Throw out the trash, put things that belong in another room in a box to take on the road and return when you get there. Once the room you started in looks nice and everything is back in place, move on to the next room. Do this until each room is collected. Be sure to praise everyone for a job well done at the end. This makes pick-up work quick, ensures no big build-ups, involves everyone in the family, and teaches great lessons to the little ones.