BTS: Organizing Kids Rooms

As the kids, teens and adults are heading back to school in September, it seems appropriate to talk about organizing kid’s rooms. But before we can do organizing, we should talk about the room’s atmosphere and environment.  For kids (or anyone) to be able to get work done in their bedroom, there should be an inviting atmosphere, a way to remove distractions and the ability to focus.  Even if the kids don’t end up doing their homework and projects in their room, the work environment is essential wherever they are working.  If the bedroom, complete with toys and comfy bed, is the location where your kids will be doing their homework, there are 3 essential areas to organize.

Shelving: Every bedroom should have some form of shelving to store books, toys and art projects on.  Getting a really tall bookshelf, or putting up tall shelves is ok, even with younger kids, because the art projects etc can go up higher and toys and books be lower where they can reach them.  Having extra, unused shelving is always a good idea for future use!

Under bed storage: A great place to hide away clothes or toys is under the bed.  Purchase bed risers that many college students use for your home and raise your kid’s beds so you can store boxes underneath and easily access them.  If the toys are put away so that they aren’t visible to kids, the kids will be more likely to focus on their homework and be less distracted by the toys strewn about.

Desk: A desk is a priority for doing homework.  Not only do they need a desk, it should have the necessary tools in it.  Pens, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, crayons, markers, ruler, glue, glue stick, lined paper, coloring/drawing paper, calculator (as appropriate), protractor, compass, dictionary, and anything else your children (or you!) need to do homework and projects.   The top of the desk should be clean for ease of doing work, and the tools listed above should each have a home in the desk drawers, cubbys or boxes by the desk (depending on the type of desk).

A clean, organized room will go a long way to encourage creativity and attentiveness while doing homework.

Don’t know where to start? Working with an organizer is easy and fun!

Wants and Needs

Life is so amazing.  I’m continually awed by how lucky we really are to live and to have friends and relationships and families.  One of the most interesting and unique are relationships, partnerships and marriages.  This person that you choose to give a bit of yourself to, share time with, and love should feel like the luckiest person in the world because they have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the real, deep you.  Yet there’s one aspect that I want to talk about on family Friday that can make a great impact on your relationship.  This aspect can either separate you or bring you closer together.  In every relationship there are wants. You have wants, they have wants, you have needs and they have needs.  Yet the most important thing to realize is that what you want and need may not be what they want and need.  You may respond to them giving you a hug when they get home.  They may prefer that you keep in touch with them throughout the day.  You may want to discuss each of your days when you get together at the end of the day, and they may want to cuddle, exercise with you or relax with you on the couch.

Taking some time to discuss what you want and need vs what they want and need may turn out to be a very revealing conversation for you.  You may discover that they want something you’ve never given in the relationship, or even discussed.  They may find out that your needs aren’t really being met.  The biggest secret and revelation here is that chances are good you never actually sat down and talked about how you can best meet each others needs!

Now, I want to stress that this secret and discussion doesn’t mean you have to freak out over what you or they didn’t know.  This is an opportunity for both of you to get closer to each other, and understand each other better.  Don’t focus on the missed times and opportunities, focus on how this conversation will positively impact your future together.

I encourage you to spend time this weekend or over the next week asking questions, seeking understanding and sharing what your mind, heart and body need with each other.  If you’re having trouble communicating, get in touch with a coach, helping professional, or someone else who can help you to reconnect and communicate clearly, honestly and authentically.

All Important Attitude

This week on Twitter I shared two thoughts about attitude and thought it was appropriate to write a blog post about attitude as well.  As I’ve shared before, attitude can make or break you, your life, and your business.  Through the two ideas I shared on Twitter we’ll take a look at attitude.

Today’s tweet about attitude was my daily power question which asked: what do you think about your attitude?  Think about that for a minute.  Think about how you react to changes, situations and people in your life.  Think about how you view the world.  Are you frowning and feeling unhappy with your thoughts?  Or are you feeling good about how well you work with your attitude?  If you’re constantly putting others down, discouraged, or unhappy, making some changes to your attitude and how you view life is important.  With a better attitude you will be more confident, feel happier and get along better with people.

Yesterday I shared: having a positive can-do attitude will help you get through any and all tough situations.  There are a lot of tough situations in the world right now. Floods in Pakistan, recovery in the Gulf of Mexico, changes in the economy, and many families and businesses are struggling through this time of transition.  Yet many people are succeeding, they are making good money, they are buying houses, going on vacations, and happy with life.  Their secret weapon is their attitude!  They have developed an attitude that helps them overcome the challenges and meet transitions not with discouragement but with excitement for what the future holds.

Where do we start changing our attitude?  First look at what you do with your free time.  Look at what you watch on TV; do you watch news, dark or really sad things?  These things will create in you a negative attitude.  Watch sports, cooking or travel shows, and in general watch less TV.  Read books by inspiring authors.  Spend time in nature.  Exercise.  Second, who do you spend time with?  Spend time with people who build you up and encourage you, not those who are always negative or seem to develop problems wherever they go.  Chances are when your friends, coworkers and family members see the change in your attitude and the transformation in your life, they will be interested in transforming their attitude too.

What is one thing you will do today to improve your attitude? (share below)

Frequent Follow-up Failures

I’ve been involved in many aspects of businesses for years, and I still see the same problem pop up.  Can you guess what that problem is?  Yep, follow-up!  So many individuals and businesses don’t follow-up with customers, prospective employees, friends or fellow business owners.  I’ve read books from the 90’s in which the writers pressed the importance of following up with people.  I’ve heard seminars in the past week on which individuals emphasized how important it was to follow-up or reply to people.  Mind you, I’m not perfect, and I’m not suggesting you must be perfect either.  Let’s be clear on why we should follow-up in the first place.

-potential customers: if you’re a business you want to keep in touch with those who have expressed interest in your business.

-current customers: if you’ve got them, you probably want to keep them.  Don’t lose them by not getting back in touch with them about a request.

-references: even if they don’t seem to need your business or service presently, everyone has at least 10 other people in their life who they could tell about your service.

-word of mouth: you won’t get the good reference, or you’ll get a bad one if it’s know that your customer service stinks.  You won’t be able to find new customers if it’s spread that you’re not interested in your [potential] customers.

-feedback: by following up with your customers you can get suggestions about what to change, keep, add or get rid of in your business.

-credibility: if you’re known as a responsible, trustworthy, consistent business owner (or friend) people are more inclined to ask you for advice and suggestions of other individuals to work with, and you can become an affiliate or have an in-kind agreement with other business owners.

To sum up: following up well with customers, employees and people in general will get you great references, more business, and a great reputation.  Not following up well can ruin you.  I think it’s pretty clear that following up is important.

What one thing will you do today to have a better follow-up system in place?

Unwrapping Family Stress

Families are more stressed, more stretched and more inundated by life than ever before.  Yet, solid, connected, loving families are more important than ever.  Recently I connected with fellow family enthusiast Wes Fessler.  He and Carrie Fessler run the Family Fun Shop, a great online resource that supports busy families.  Today I want to share with you two thoughts from one of Wes’ recent articles, “Reducing Family Stress.”  The article talks about how families can reduce their stress; awareness and communication being two primary tools.  Wes shares:

Awareness: Life happens so quickly that sometimes it can be difficult to identify with precision the stresses that are occurring in family life. Dealing with family stress requires more than an awareness of personal concerns: it also requires alertness to the stressors affecting each member of the family. It is easy to become so wrapped up in personal issues that problems of others are overlooked.

More than Speaking: Effective family communication requires more than simply speaking to one another: it demands a genuine concern and interest for the collective family unit. It is important to prevent family communication from becoming impersonal in nature. Simple status updates, or yes and no answers may be better than no communication at all, but they generally fail to deliver the closeness that is needed as a family dealing with stress. Communication as a family should be deep enough to reach the heart and leave no doubt that messages of love are traveling through every channel and reaching everyone involved.

Wes has really hit the nail on the head!  What can we learn from and apply to our lives from these great insights?  First, family, by its very definition, is more than one person.  Second, it is important to acknowledge that each and every member of the family lives complicated, often stressful, lives.  Third, talking with family members can not only help you identify the stresses that are occurring, but it can also strengthen the connections between family members.

Don’t get me wrong, it sounds easy, but it is anything but!  I talk to, and I’m sure Wes talks to, families who are struggling with each other, don’t communicate, and love is nowhere to be found.  I believe that this can be changed.  First, be aware that there is a problem.  Second, take one step each day that will bring you closer to resolving some aspect of your family challenges.  Maybe that means talking with a counselor, coach or some other individual who can help you get to the bottom of your struggles and help you all work out safe, smart, healthy, loving decisions about your futures.  Perhaps, this may simply be being proactive about communication or setting up plans for all of you to participate in. Third, and finally, solid, connected, loving families take time and effort!  Don’t be discouraged because you think it will take forever.  Take it one step, one day, one communication, one hug at a time.  You’ll be amazed how quickly things transform!

I encourage you to share your ‘one step’ below.   Also, I would love to help you and your family with your transformations, visit my website to easily contact me and share your story!

Brave New World

On this anniversary of the 19th Amendment being ratified, I think it is appropriate to remember what the past 90 years have helped us all accomplish.

This greatly increased the ability of women to do more things and be more things.  This, among other pro-women movements have helped women to pass many men in salaries, to give them the opportunity to hold powerful positions, and to have a strong, loud voice about their lives.  There are countless women who have made great improvements and have helped the US, and the world, make great strides in becoming stronger and more balanced.  Women have become limited only by their creative dreams.

But this also benefited men. Now there are men and women in the military, women are helping men become smarter, greater, more powerful, and women working right along side men to transform the world from where we are into who we will become.

In this area, as well as in our whole lives, it is essential to be thankful to the women, and men, who have gone before and been courageous, brave, risk takers and have been willing to go against popular opinion for the good of all.  I dare say, that the best is yet to come as men and women continue to work together.

In their honor, I encourage you to do something brave today.  What brave words will you say, actions will you take, dreams will you put into action, and lives will you change? Share your bravery below!

F.R.E.S.H. Organization

One reason I love organizing is because it keeps things fresh. Whether you’re organizing in the kitchen, cleaning up a bedroom or finally doing something about that closet, it all comes down to being fresh.

Frequent:  Organizing and cleaning should be done frequently.  If you’re waiting until that layer of dust appears, you’ve waited too long!

Recent: A great and easy guide for closets is to check the date on food and other goods in your pantry.  More often than not, things aren’t good past their expiration day.  Spices lose their effect and food can go bad.  This is also effective for clothes closets.  If it’s very dated and you don’t think you will be attending a costume party any time soon, donate it!

Efficient: You don’t have to spend hours on end organizing and keeping your house fresh. If you make it a daily practice to pick up after yourself, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration in the long run. Doing a daily pick up means you’ll only have to spend a little time each weekend/month on actually organizing and cleaning.

Smell: Fridges beware! Smell is a no-nonsense way to check the usability of items in your fridge.  If it doesn’t smell good, don’t keep it.  If your house smells, you probably need to move all the furniture, do some serious cleaning and open the windows for some fresh air.  Lighting some candles may help too.

Happy: If you’re not happy with how your home looks or feels, it’s definitely time for a clean out!  You won’t enjoy life as much if you dread going back to your house.  You will definitely feel a sense of relief, excitement and satisfaction after you organize those rooms and closets.

How fresh is your home? If keeping your home fresh is difficult, hiring an organizer or professional cleaner to come in at least once a month is a great idea.   For more tips, techniques and resources, as well as to sign up for organizing services, visit my website.

Tour Europe

Last Friday 10 suggestions for family vacations in the USA were shared.  In our second part this Friday, we look at some places to visit in Europe.

1) Prague: Gorgeous city, combining the old architecture and style with hopping night life and don’t forget to check out the famous Clock Tower.

2) Rome: Rome is a location of amazing scenery and great history.  I encourage you to check out the discovered ruins from ancient Rome while you are there, especially the baths and Via Appia Antica and Catacombs.

3) Athens: With the old mingled with the new, you can explore the gorgeous history, or sunbathe on a beach and enjoy authentic Greek delicacies.

4) Plitvice Natural Park, Croatia: This gorgeous national park caught my attention as I was perusing travel sites.  With great picture opportunities, lots of fresh air and 2 in-park restaurants, it is not to be missed.

5) Edinburg Castle: This gorgeous ancient castle is worth a stop in Scotland.  Gorgeous architecture, decorations and lots to see! (The rest of Scotland is gorgeous too!)

6) Ireland: More than just the Irish, and Irish shops, there is gorgeous scenery and lots to do!  Visit here for a 6 day tour suggestion.  Or here for top 10 places to see.

7) Iceland: Visit the Blue Lagoon, see the Northern Lights, or spend time in the capital, Reykjavik. They have geysers too!

8 ) Tuscany: 4 words: architecture, culture, wine, food!  What more could you want? Check out beautiful scenery while you’re eating too.

9) Vienna, Austria: Palace, museum, zoo, churches and cathedrals, opera houses, and the Naschmarkt, a beautiful outdoor market.

10) Spain: Including Madrid for the night owls, Barcelona with Antonio Gaudi architecture and an aquarium , Seville for those interested in culture, and national parks, as well as gorgeous beaches and great food.

Share below your favorite European destinations or thoughts on those I’ve mentioned!

The Beach and I

One of my absolute favorite things to do is take a walk on the beach.  I love looking at shells, feeling the water nibble my toes and take over my feet.  It’s so relaxing to just be there, the ocean and I.  Time spent at the ocean is time for just me!  It’s so easy in the world that we live in to be over taken by the ‘we’ and the ‘others’ we could be attending to.  But taking time to be all alone, catch up with myself and remember what is important to me is so amazing and important.  Take it from a born giver, if you’re always focused on the others, and never on yourself, you’re going to run out of self to give!  If you are laughing right now thinking you’ll never get away to be alone at the beach, take your kids and partner with you!  But tell your partner that you WILL be taking a long walk on the beach all alone (bring cell phone for safety).  With all the pressure in the world today, it’s not a question of if you should get away, but when you will get away and take time for yourself.  Getting to the beach isn’t always easy for me, so I make sure dedicate time in my day to day activities to sit outside, alone, and just be immersed in nature.  Which makes visiting the beach even more special when I can!

I invite you to share below what your favorite you-time activities are.

Decisions, Decisions!

All of life is based on making decisions.  When you’re in business, your success or failure can depend on the decisions you make.  Let’s start with the good decisions.

Making good decisions: If you can make good decisions from the get-go, you’re ahead of the game.  Many businesses rely on time-tested methods in their businesses, while others prefer to re-write the book.  There is no right or wrong.  So, to improve the likelihood of your business making good, or at least better decisions, there are several strategies to include in your decision-making process.

Some strategies for making good decisions include:

-Generating and exploring good alternatives (more than just 2) to the more obvious solution(s) you have reached.  This means you have to get creative!  Don’t just think of run-of-the-mill alternatives, think of some crazy ones too.

-Involve the right people.  This aspect involves major communication.  Communication is one of, if not the, most important aspects of good decision-making.  Others can help you generate those good alternatives, as well as work through the next steps.

-Consider risks, costs, and benefits of all alternatives.  Make a chart of it, use a white board or just list the risks, costs, and benefits of each alternative so you can physically see them.

-Consider what your, and any business partner’s, guts are saying.  It may sound a little strange to traditional business people, but if you don’t have a good feeling about something, there very well may be something that doesn’t fit right with your company about the solutions/options you have come up with.

Even if you’re making good decisions typically, have tried to go through a decision-making process, or arrived at what seemed like a good decision, a business is bound to make a few not so great decisions.

Making bad decisions: Some businesses (and people) just know how to make bad decisions!  While it’s not the worst thing in the world, typically you figure out by process of elimination what actually does work.  Until then, know that until you get help with your decision-making, you are most likely destined to fail!

Working with bad decisions: Even the best decision makers have an off day or two.  If you’re having an off day, and even if you’re not, the best thing you can do is be prepared for when a decision doesn’t work out like you want it to!  Always have a backup plan or option ‘b’, or know where you can get immediate support if your plans (or you) need some assistance.  A big secret is to learn as much as you can from people who have failed!  Take time to look at their mistakes and see how you would/could fix them!

Decision-making is very important in life and business, but knowing how to work with your slip ups and challenges is equally important.  What have you learned from your decisions (share below)?