command center smallJanuary is the National Association of Professional Organizer (NAPO)’s official “Get Organized” Month.  “Across the country, our members are holding community events to help you start your year with the systems and solutions that will bring you long-term success (NAPO website).”  I am proud to be presenting about organizing at two Weight Watcher Store locations, offering specials for new clients, and sharing tips galore on social media!

In my previous post, Lasting Resolutions, I mentioned that “Being Organized” is a fairly common resolution and suggested you modify it to reflect achievable changes that can be continuously improved.

To me, “Being Organized,” is also about “Being Efficient.”  As a suburban working mom, I have a fairly busy lifestyle and being efficient is part of what keeps me organized.  I like to look for ways to streamline daily routines.  Here are three things I do to keep my life running smoothly in a world that runs 24/7.

TIP #1 – Beauty Bin

I spend most of my time at home in the “Kitchen Command Center.”  From my spot in the kitchen triangle (between the stove, sink, and refrigerator) I have a view of my desk, the kitchen table, and great room space.  If I am not washing something, I am preparing food, monitoring homework, supervising video game activities, working on the laptop, folding clean cloth napkins, etc.  A couple of years ago, I began keeping a bin of my basic make-up and hair supplies in the powder room around the corner from the kitchen.  I can duck into the bathroom to freshen up and still be aware of what is happening.   Best thing?  It keeps me from running out of time and applying make-up in the mini-van! 🙂

TIP #2 – Paper Places

Paper is constant.  It comes in from the mailbox, backpacks, purses, appointment folders – you name it!  At our house, it comes in and lands on the kitchen table to be viewed, read, and/or sorted.  From there, it transfers to the vertical file on my desk in the kitchen corner.  When I have time, I process the paper from the vertical file.  If it goes back to school, it goes back onto the kitchen table to be transitioned to a backpack.  If it needs to leave the house, it goes right into my bag.  There is also a small file cabinet beneath the desk to file the paper that needs to stay in the house.

My Declare Order paperwork does not live in the kitchen, however, current paperwork is housed in two places, a portable project case for daily needs, and  a portable file box for monthly ones.  Both containers can be in the kitchen and transferred to the buffet cabinet in the dining room when the work day is through.  Bottom line?  At any stage of being processed, paper has a place and surfaces are clear of stacks! 🙂

TIP #3 –  Set Boundaries

The implementation of boundaries will be different based upon your family values.  It is not for me to say what sort of boundaries you should establish, just that you probably need some!  Your kids will thank you later…

Here are some examples of boundaries we have in our daily routine:

TV – For the kids, we limit TV use to specific times of day.  They know they can watch TiVo’ed shows or play video games during those times without interruption.   My son recently told a new friend, “I can’t get on-line right now.  I have rules.”  (There are not, however, set times for computer and iPod use.)

INTERNET – We have chosen not to have internet on our actual phones.   We have a wireless router for our laptop, iPad, old PC, and two iPod Touches.  That is enough.

ACTIVITIES – We choose extra-curricular activities that fit our budget and lifestyle.  There are numerous offerings demanding time and money and it can be tempting to do too much at once!  Lately, it has been religious education and one sport or school-related drama thing per kid.   (We are also of the opinion that both parents do not need to attend every activity.  This is especially true of activities we pay for them to participate in.  School-based teams and performances are the priority.)

FOOD – We eat out on Friday and Saturday.  Meals aren’t always spectacular during the week, but it works for us.  Dinners together during the week are part of our routine.   We pay attention to what we have on hand when we cook and grocery shop one day a week.  If we run out of orange juice, we do without.  It beats running out all the time!

WORK – I control my own work schedule and the goal is to be home for the kids after school.  There is always something going on and I can give them my full attention.  I know I can check e-mail and work again as needed during strategically placed TV time (see above).

Bottom line?  Helping your kids find boundaries in a 24/7 world is an important life skill! 🙂

What do you do to increase your efficiency and stay on top of your busy life?  Or are you always a rushing around feeling behind?  Do you have any effective boundaries you would like to share?

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