Have you had the time management talk?

I had a great talk with my oldest son this morning.  His concern?  He’d been back to school for 2 days now & wasn’t getting much video game time in.  I decided to control every part of me that wanted to scoff, give him the “mama eyebrow” or the “so sad for you” face (below).  Instead, I took it as an opportunity to help him learn time managementpoutSo we pulled out some paper & he gave  me a run down of his day from beginning to end, being sure to approximate how much time each task took.  At the end of the discussion, he found that he had 2.5 hours of time he could use to play his game.  Of course I told him I’d prefer he didn’t spend that much time in front of his game so his brain doesn’t turn to mush & he’s not complaining about headaches.  He got the point.  Next, we took a look at how he could better manage the time he was using.  Instead of waiting until after school to do his chores, he could use the morning (he doesn’t leave home for school until after 8am).  He didn’t even consider that.  He was busy looking at the time lost, not the time he had.  He was also looking at the general task, not how much time it actually took to complete it.  He realized that if he did the tasks faster, he’d have more time for other more enjoyable things.  This is a very important thing for our young people to know.  It sets them up to be responsible adults who are problem solvers & can think outside of the box.

So why is this important to you?  Well when is the last time you took a look at your daily schedule?  Not to do it, but to manage it.  Even if you do the same things every day, there may be a different way to approach your tasks that will save you time or effort.  Maybe both!  I had to take a look at my daily schedule (which is far from daily & more like moment to moment) & paint myself a clear picture.  Then I had to look at the best time to do each task.  Once I wrote it down it was easier to create a plan of action & get to work.  So, ask yourself the following questions:

How am I keeping track of my tasks?q

Is it working for me?  (If you’re late, forgetting things or rushing, then no.)

What should I be doing every day?

What tasks are done once a week, month or quarterly?

How long should each task take?

What’s the priority of each individual task?

How can the task be more completed more efficiently?

Can it be delegated?

Am I tracking my progress?

Are there obstacles that are keeping me from getting tasks done? (Are you sidetracked by too many unimportant emails?  Phone calls interrupting you?  People wandering in your office? *See my tips below)

If so, how can they be removed or managed?

Take time to look at how your time is utilized & see if you’re getting a good ROI (return on investment).  Time is the hottest commodity out there.  Not money, not gadgets, time.  You know as well as I do that you can waste more time on minute details than it takes to get the actual task done.

Another thing that will make a huge difference is your personal information & organization style.  Some people can put a red circle around a date & know everything important for that day & when it needs to be done.   For me, it would be an epic fail!  Others may work well with daily to do lists.  These are great generalizations which can keep you on track.  Another type cellis the daily calendar with writing space.  It’s a combo of a basic calendar with a to do list.  My favorite is actually a combo of all of the above.  We have a family calendar (it’s a desk calendar mounted with 3M velcro on our pantry door) that has every family member’s agenda.  It’s large, at a height even my 6 year old can see & it’s in a high traffic area-around food.  In my office, I have a wall calendar.  My cell phone has been a life saver numerous times.  In my phone, I use my phone calendar with reminders as well as my alarm app.  Why do I use both?  Because some of my calendar reminders aren’t important enough to warrant an action, while others are code red.  For example, I don’t need an alarm to remind me to remember to go to rehearsal, but it’s there in case I “have a moment” or time gets away from me.  However, this is the first week of school for my kids & my husband & I switched the days we pick them up.  So for the first few weeks, I’ll use an alarm on my phone to leave on time to pick them up.  Since my phone is synced with my husband’s, it also reminds him.  Sometimes he’ll send me a text to make sure that I didn’t forget to do something (picking up his favorite snacks is usually the topic).

Here are some tips to really get it done:

*Clear the clutter (clean out your junk drawers, buckets & files)

*Evaluate what emails you want to keep, toss or file for later.  Be honest.  Everything doesn’t need to be RSS fed to your inbox.

*Unsubscribe from unwanted emails (Be sure to unsubscribe.  Deleting doesn’t stop them from coming.)

*Create filters & folders for emails to keep your inbox streamlined (visit the folders as needed instead of them flooding in every day)

*Set up email accounts that are very specific.  Have an account just for family & friend email, one for work or your business, another just for research or whatever else you decide.  Don’t want multiple accounts?  Gmail has adopted a special tab format to allow you to decide how your email is delivered to you.  You can add or delete those tabs or even rename them.

When I think about all the information we encounter on a daily basis, I wonder if the research is true.  Do all these reminders, alarms & calendars actually weaken our memory skills?  I can’t say.  My degrees are not in that field.  But I do know I can’t afford forget to pick up my kids, pick up items from the store or when exam week is.  I have responsibilities that are a major deal, so for now I’ll be using those apps & calendars to keep it all straight.

Remember, the time management discussion is not only great for our kids, but for ourselves, our spouses, our staff & in our businesses.  Take time out to think about what works for you, ditch the rest & make good use of the time you have.

What tools do you use currently to stay on track?  Why do they work for you?

hourly planner planner to do list

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!

MP900386355 Today is the first day of school & it’s so exciting!!  I had a feeling yesterday that we were not 100% ready, but let’s be real.  It’s too late now & today’s the day!  I’ve been wide awake since at least 3am, not in anticipation of this day, but thinking & praying.  Even though my mind was saying to go make sure everything was perfect, a deeper feeling said everything was ok & that perfect is not the priority.  What’s needed?  A mom who’s not frazzled, worn out and acting crazy at 6am when it’s time to wake the little angels for school.  So instead of worrying (which leads to me waking them up like we live in a firehouse) I decided to find a quiet place of peace & linger there.

Mother and Daughter HuggingThe result?  A fabulous morning (thus far) with my kids bright eyed & bushy tailed.  No one sulking, dragging, stomping, pouting, whining or worse.  The car ride was full of discussions about excitement, expectation & prayer instead of gloom & doom.  I actually had kids fighting over me to go with them to school or stay while the others went with Daddy.  It was a great feeling.  It was so great that I think it needs to be an every day thing.  Not the 3am rising part, but the not stressing myself & passing it on to others.

So, no matter how imperfect your dayYoung student may seem, take a moment, take a break, take a breath.  It’s not that serious.  They need your level head, kind words & tender heart more than the perfect outfit, perfect breakfast or even perfect timing!

Have fun being a super Mom today!

 

Be CLEAR when speaking with your staff

When you are attempting to explain to your staff what you mean by professional attire, business casual or casual attire, do they get it?  In other words, are you just talking at them?

giving orders

Only getting just a little overlap of thought?

(they kind of get it, but still aren’t quite hitting the mark)

little overlap

Or are you really sharing the same idea so they can carry out your idea?

same ideaIf not, maybe the explanation is missing the mark.  In most businesses & organizations, the most important component is communication.  Being able to clearly convey your thought so that it paints an identical picture in your audience’s head can be tricky.  Not impossible, but tricky.  The key is to remember that most people are visual learners.

I’ve heard many concerns and complaints from employees that the dress code is not clear.  This can easily create office tensions between employees & management as well as between fellow employees.

So how can you be more clear?  Let’s try it this way:

If you do this,

(try to express your expectations verbally)

giving orders

it leaves your staff doing this,

talking at each other

(having side conversations about what was said)

And this…

piecing it togethertrying to put together the puzzle of what they think you meant versus what you actually said

(which may not be what you meant at all!)

There is no clear cut definition (socially anyway) of what business professional, business casual and casual are.  Don’t even get me started with semi-formal (which isn’t actually an official type of attire-you’d be better off saying dressy!)  Due to changing expectations and fashions, the lines have become very blurred.  So it’s up to management to define the tone.

Think about this.  If your company is IT, they may not have the same definition of business casual attire as a beach gift shop.  thinking the same thingBusiness casual can range from a dress shirt (with or without a jacket), with or without a tie, or a polo shirt.  It may mean you can wear chinos or khakis or maybe you can wear jeans at your office & be business casual.  For ladies, business casual may mean that you can wear a dress, but it must have sleeves.  It may mean you can wear capris, but not shorts.  Some say you shouldn’t wear open toe shoes, sandals or boots of any kind.  It all depends on the business model, the nature of the job and the environment established by management or ownership.  So be clear & make sure that everyone is on the same page.  Before we move on, I’m sure there’s someone who still doesn’t get the relevance of the topic.  So, let’s look at some examples.

Some offices deem men in ties & women in button down collared shirts as business attire:

work wear

While others say that men in collared shirts (tie optional) & women in collarless shirts is appropriate:

 work clothes

But traditionally, professional business attire is men and women in suits in black, navy or grey.

business

So what image is your business trying to convey?  Is it being explained?  Do your employees understand?  In my experience with this topic, the best way is to blend the visual & the verbal with the written.  Have a meeting where you have pictures of what is acceptable attire.   Have a meeting.  Pull out some pics of what you want, what you’ll accept & what you won’t tolerate.  Make it crystal clear.  Just be sure it’s not offensive.  If Bubba has been wearing his pants a bit too snug, don’t post up a picture of him!  Find pics of a person who’s wearing their pants too snug (same gender), but in a different age group, pant color, etc.  I have a presentation I compiled that covers all types of attire faux pas that can be addressed in the workplace.  It includes the good & the bad.  But I’m always careful about the images.  In many cases, the heads of the models are removed.  I do all I can to get my point across, but not alienate anyone.  The reception?  Quite positive!  I usually get questions about what’s appropriate.  Sometimes I’ll see an attendee hunch their friend because they’ve been trying to get them to change their attire for years!  When they see it, they get it.meeting

Some other things to consider:

Generation gap

Culture gap

Gender differences

Economic gap

If you need help with conveying the message to your staff, please contact me to set up a free consultation.

I’m glad to help!

Best Shower Cleaning Discoveries EVER!!

I just entered into a new era of cleaning in my house.  We’ve discovered a new item & we will never go back to our old way of cleaning.  OK, I’ll get to it.  I know the suspense is just killing you!

A pot scrubber! Not that amazing, you say?  Keep reading…

One day on a family trip, we happened to go to Dollar Tree.  Now I’ve been on the cleaning aisle a million times, but this time was different.  As my husband & I debated over the best scrubbers (he’s an old school Brillo pad man-which annihilates the special coating of my pots & pans), we happened to stop walking.  That’s when I found this super cool scrubber!  So, with much hope in my heart, I took it to the checkout counter & off to our house.  This little do-hickey scrubberjust made my life so much easier that I had to share it.  Maybe you’re familiar with it already.  If so, give your applause down below!  But I tell you the truth, it’s just awesome!  The angles of the bristles on this thing are what make it so effective.  It can get into that gross little crack down either side where the sides meet, the whole corner between the shower door jamb & the back wall & around the handles.  It gets it all as clean as new!  Not to mention the ridge under the bottom where the wild things are.  After using this thing, I found about 15 disgusting new life forms, but it’s safe for all humans now.

What’s the big deal, you ask?  Well, my husband & I went from having a tub & shower combo (for about 11 years of marriage) to separate tub & shower when we moved into our house about 3 years ago.  Let’s just say it’s taking some getting used to.  For one, the shower is tiny.  No, tiny is not a fair word.  It’s miniscule.  It really looked larger when it was being built.  But we love the rest of the house so it wasn’t a big deal.  However, over the years cleaning a tiny shower has become bothersome.  Getting in there to clean is just crazy!  I’ve tried to convince my husband that a sprayer attachment would be great.  He disagreed & said it would look ugly.  My daughter finally grew out of the tub stage & now wants to use our shower (God only knows why when there’s a full one upstairs).  She’s not tall enough to reach the shower head, so  we have to go in and adjust it for her every…single…evening when it’s her shower time.  So I brought up the sprayer attachment again.  Still no dice.  With 3 people using the shower it gets dirty faster so we’re constantly in there cleaning.  Even though we take turns, it can be a pain.  You know I’m sick of that!  Oh, and yes, he’s still disagreeing about the sprayer.

But I think I found something that’ll get him to change his mind.  Check this bad boy out!  Click the pic to watch the video.  It’s less than a minute long.  So cool!!!

rinse ace

And guess where you find it?  Of course…Wally World!  It’s less than $20.  Well worth it!  Here’s the link:

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Rinse-Ace-Snap-N-Spray-Quick-Connect-Hose-White/17351133

I’m gonna get one & let you know how it works.  If you have (or have had one), please share your reviews!

Finally, I’ll share my shower cleaning method of choice.  I’ve tried some of everything, but I finally found what works for me.  Maybe it’ll work for you, too.  This has cut the time cleaning in half, I’m not choking on fumes & my back is still intact afterward.

Walls:

1.  Spray entire shower with foaming cleanser

2.  Wait 5 minutes

3.  Spray entire shower again

4.  Wait 5 more minutes

5.  Wipe entire shower down with a scrubber sponge.

6.  Rinse

Squeaky clean with minimal scrubbing!!

Base/floor of the shower:

Powdered cleaner with bleach.  You know the stuff.  Tall green can?  Starts with an A and ends with an X?  Or its competitor in the blue can that starts with a C and ends with a T?  Anyway, I have yet to find anything that works better.  Except…my husband goes all out with 100% bleach.  I know, I know.  I’ve told him a million times that’s not the best idea.  But dang that thing gets clean when he does!

The creepy crack where the seams of the shower meet:

Trickle gel liquid cleanser (this one works well for us: http://www.softscrub.com) down the crack & use that pot scrubber after about 3-5 minutes.  It comes off in a flash!

So what cool thing have you found that will forever change your life?  It doesn’t have to be as chic & revolutionary as my shower scrubber, but we still wanna know!

10 Time Snatching Tips for Moms

Moms are overachievers by nature.  The person who is the hub of the home and the manager of the household is surely a living, breathing phenomenon!  So how can I help you get more out of your day?  Here are some moments of time you may be missing out on.

1.  Nap Time

Nap time=”What can I do, accomplish, conquer!?” time.  It’s when moms around the globe put napdown their little ones, pick up their capes, and run businesses, write blogs & sometimes even recharge (take a nap, read a book, pray, rest).  It’s time to think, dream, plan & implement.  It’s the original power hour!  There’s a chance that (just like any board meeting) an interruption will occur, the venture will be pushed back or completely cancelled, but it’s worth the risk.  Nap time is great for reorganizing the chaos you’ve been “overlooking” or pushing to the back burner.  So dump those unneeded files (paper or electronic), clean out the junk drawer, update your vision board & ditch the unwanted apps on your phone.  Unsubscribe to 5 unwanted email senders, throw away completed to-do lists, trash empty ink pens & old magazines that are cluttering your workspace or conquer a dresser drawer or section of your closet.  The possibilities are endless!

2.  Playdates

What a better way to get a few hours to handle business?  Whether you’re hosting Kids on School Busor another family is, playdates are a great way to occupy kids.  My oldest is 12 & I swear the kid goes on autopilot on a play date.  Ok, at his age it’s not a play date.  It’s “have a friend over”, but as long as the noise is at a reasonable level, it keeps them busy & gives me time to do what I need to do.  Little girls & boys keep each other occupied making forts, sharing stickers & “beauty tips” (hide your lipstick), playing war or dress up.  This is also a great time to try out all the cool kiddie stuff you find on Pinterest!  Buy 2 pool noodles, some balloons, a pack of paper plates & break out the markers to make cool games for hours of fun!  Check out my board for more ideas.

3.  Sleep overs

girl timeI know some are thinking, how is a house full of giggling, running, jumping kids going to help me get anything done?  Well, who said it had to be hosted at your house?  Pack your little ones up & cart them over to their friends house!  (*You may have to bite the bullet later & reciprocate, but it’ll be worth it. I include hints below for how to navigate the noise as well.)  This is like a retreat-for YOU!!  Get your child out for one or more days & have a revolution!  Plan it out!  Decide what you’ll focus on for every block of free time.  Put it on a list, board, app, whatever, to see the vision of what you want to get done.  When it’s your turn to host, create a movie “room” by making a fort from sheets, sliding a tv in the back, lay out a spread of popcorn & snacks.  If you really want to hook it up, get the vintage popcorn buckets, mason jars for candy containers & paper cups with a tray (or kid-sized lawn chairs with cup holders if you have them) for each child.  Pop in movies like Cars, The Incredibles or Tangled & turn down the lights & it’s lights, camera, action!  That’s at least an hour of time to make some progress.

4.  Kid organizations or events

Our church is GOLD.  We have retreats & overnights for kids at Young Boy Holding a String of Balloonsleast 4 times a year.  They want our kids to go & our kids love the people who host them, so we chuck them out the door every time!  They’ll stay at local camps or even at friend’s houses.  Some communities have churches that host a weekly “Mother’s Morning Out” where kids can be dropped off from 1-4 hours to play while Mom takes a break, runs errands, works or has a play date of her own!  You  can also send your children to boy/girl scout meetings, AWANA, vacation Bible school, overnight summer camps, etc.

During the school year, we take our kids to AWANA which is a children’s Bible study.  They get to learn all kinds of things, earn prizes prayfor knowing scripture, play games & even get awards!  My kids LOVE it & beat us out the door to go!  Best thing is, when we drop them off, we know they’re safe & we can go to our adult Bible study, run some errands or grab a snack & talk.   It gives us time to reconnect, identify potential or existing problems, kick some ideas around  & come up with solutions.  Having an hour or two to do this on a weekly basis has made a huge difference in the closeness & efficiency of our family.

5.  Sports practice, kids cooking classes, swimming & art classes

MP900316845Classes & practice are great ways for your kids to learn skills & bond with others their age.  Why not take the opportunity to snatch some time while they’re busy learning?  Sign your kids up for cooking classes (imagine they payoff for that!), horseback riding lessons, sports mini-camps or other intercooking classest your child may have.  Here locally, we had a mini camp that was one day a week for 2 hours in the evening & was only four bucks a lesson!  It covered soccer, karate & cheer leading & lasted for weeks!  It was a great opportunity for the kids to meet new people, learn new things & learn that Mommy & Daddy are not their personal wikipedia.  Other people know things, too!

Other ideas include art classes to spark a future phenom, computer basics for kids (now that’s a needed skill for their generation) or even ballet or tap for beginners.  You’ll never know what fun things you’ll find until you look for it.  Do a little networking at work, their school, your neighborhood or church to find more gems you may have overlooked.

6. R & R

Libraries are awesome for reading time, camps, arts & crafts sessions and cultural diversity ????????????????????????lessons.  Consider dropping the kids off at a local shopping mall with a few bucks in their pockets (payoff for your time to work), concerts (some libraries hold concerts or movies on the grass), skate or bikeYoung Girl at School Holding a Computer Mouse parks, skating rinks, movie theaters or any other kid-friendly place that doesn’t require your presence.  One thing to consider is location.  Sometimes it’s not practical to drive all the way back home (it can eat into your creative time), so work in the parking lot, designated parental waiting area, pop into a coffee shop or grab a quiet corner in the library & get to work.

skateThere are some places where your kids can have fun & you can still work if you can tone out noise.  Kids can keep themselves busy at indoor bounce facilities (like Bounce U, Monkey Joe’s or our favorite, Bumper Jumpers), indoor trampoline or even the local park or arboretum.

 

 

7.  Fun & Games

How about dropping them off to s???????????ee a sporting event?  When I was a kid I always wanted to go to the football or baseball games at school.  I rarely got to go, so when I did, it was a big deal!  It’s not expensive & it’s in a monitored environment.  Win-win!   Our city has a ton of events through the week that give your kid an outlet & give you some time to work or just chill out.  Even if your kids are too young to go by themselves, you can take your phone, tablet or laptop if it’s appropriate (I wouldn’t advise taking it to the movies or a concert).   Hit those to-do lists hard & if you encounter a time when everyone is out of the house & time permits, schedule in a nap for yourself!

8.  Volunteering

You work.  You contribute.  Why aren’t your kids?  Ok, everything in moderation.  Young Man and Woman Giving Food and Water to Homeless ManIf you are showing them all work & they’re just doing all play, what are you teaching them?  That you’ll do all the work & they get to play.  Find different organizations who are floundering for volunteers & sign them up!  Consider retirement communities, libraries (help shelve books, learn about community efforts, exposure to poetry, civic endeavors & other events), schools (OMG, what teacher doesn’t need an extra set of hands when setting up her room???), churches, local businesses (run copies, learn to make coffee, help with filing), community gardens, etc. whoLittle Gardener 007 may just need a hand.  You give your kids exposure, they get to learn from someone other than you & who knows?  It may ignite a passion & fire in them that no one knew was there!  I dropped my kids off to VBS a week or so ago & thought only the youngest two could register.  Well, they were so happy to have my 12 year old volunteer, they fought over him every day!  At the beginning, he was reluctant.  To be honest, he hated it until the 3rd day.  Once he found something he liked, he was all in & was upset when it was over!  Now volunteering is not a hard sell for him.

9.  Scavenger hunts & bubbles

I once read an article about a mom who routinely threw scavenger hunts for her kids so she Girl collecting Easter eggs from a fieldcould get work done without the kids banging around the house.  While a scavenger hunt in itself is an awesome idea, she took it one step further.  She made up a hunt called “100 Pennies”.  Her kids would get to go on a trip to their desired destination (ice cream, toy store, etc.) if they found the 100 pennies she’d thrown in the back yard.  The trick she used?  She only threw out 99!!!  Quite deceptive, but hey, in her situation I guess desperate times called for desperate measures!  Seriously though, “pay” your kids for the time they allow you to get work done.  Take them out or give them a treat for it!  They’ll soon learn it “pays” to be quiet when Mommy is working.

I learned a long time ago on kid #1 that a bottle of bubbles will keep just about any kid  under Young Girl (8-10) Blowing Bubbles and Young Boy (10-14) on Inflatable Bouncing Ball10 (yeah, some adults, too) occupied for at least 15 minutes.  No kidding!  There’s something about blowing & chasing those glassy orbs around the yard before they pop on anything that gets us every time.  You can even find games you can play like obstacle courses (setup will be at least 15 minutes), who can blow the biggest, who can blow the smallest, whose lasts the longest, etc.  If that’s not their bag, consider letting them “wash” the car by furnishing the water, bucket & soap.  It may not be the best car wash you’ve ever had, but just wash it again later when they’re not around.  No hard feelings & they feel like they contributed.

10.  Birthday Parties

I have a friend who is a genius.  Her kids must attend 2 birthday parties a month.  At first, I Girls at Partythought she was nuts.  All that scheduling, buying cards & gifts, driving to God knows where just for 2 hours?  Then I thought about it.  That’s a good deal!  Especially if you carpool!  Get a quiet house for 2 hours or more for the cost of a doll or action figure & a card?  Sign me up!!!

Having your child’s birthday party off site is a big help, too.  No Boy with Noisemakercleaning up (or patching up) your house after the kids arrive.  No baking cakes or putting up decor.  We get a Chuck-E-Cheese party or schedule a laser tag or indoor bounce facility & let them go nuts!  The other parents are happy because they can drop off & when they pick up, the kids are fed & worn out.  The kids also get a chance to bond.  You get to meet new people, too!  To set up future play dates, birthday parties & carpools.  Mwah-ha-haaaa! (evil laugh)

I hope I’ve inspired you with something you’ve read.  If not, please toss your ideas & experiences in the ring so you can help others! 😉

TJ