Streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businesses

Image of gears to represent the importance of streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businessesMost recently I have been asked to help a number of clients to stream line systems and processes for their small/medium sized businesses.  It is interesting now that we are a few months into the new calendar year I have been approached by several small business owners who feel like they are out of control with the way they are or are not operating their businesses.  Once upon a time they had structure but either due to growth or lack of time or a combination of both, the systems and processes they have in place no longer serve the business well.  Hence their call to do something about it and get in touch with me in order to assist.

For those who do not know my background this type of work is what I have basically done all of my career when working for others in the various project management, marketing or general management positions.  I really enjoy getting in and making a difference to the lives of business owners.

So why is this so important for a small/medium sized businesses?

Systems and processes play a significant role in building and growing a business.  They serve as the business essential building blocks and support.  Hence, it is necessary for business owners to incorporate them into their businesses. It is also important to consider the efficiency and accuracy of the business systems.

One of the biggest reasons is that you can focus on the most important aspect of your business by meeting the demands of your clients and not having to worry as much about the administration and backend if you have put the time and effort into establishing the necessary systems and processes so that it runs both efficiently and productively.

How might you go about setting up systems and processes?

When I work with clients in this area it is important to start with a business audit/review – where by we discuss and work through many issues like the following:

  • How is the business structured?
  • How do you operate – describe what the business does from the front end to the back end?  How does it all come together?
  • How many staff do you have and who is responsible for what roles?
  • What do you believe is working well for you?  Where do you feel you are efficient?
  • Where do you believe the challenges are?  What issues do you experience and are they regular occurances?
  • What areas do you believe you can or would like to streamline?
  • Are you meeting all your financial and tax obligations? What are your process around this?
  • What is your IT structure – what applications do you use?  Do you back up your systems? (Often many businesses do not have adequate systems around this which is just vital to the survival of a business should anything happen – when did you last review this for your business?)
  • Do you have a budget?
  • Do you have a business and marketing plan in place?
  • Do you have a reporting process in place so you know how the business is going and are able to track growth?
  • Who is on your team in terms of advisors?

By working through all of the above, and more, only then is there an opportunity to identify the areas of the business that need attention and ensure systems and processes are put in place.  For instance one of my recent clients wants to triple the growth of their business and understands the importance of ensuring all of the backend systems and processes are established to support this growth.  With so many plans and ideas for growth I explained to my client the necessity of prioritising and putting certain parts of those plans into place first before trying to do it all.  The danger by trying to do it all at once is that nothing actually gets done well and the business does not grow as planned.  In this clients instance we identified the importance of recruiting an admin assistant/bookkeeper and then all the other bits and pieces will be able to flow from there.

image of gears representing automation and process - Streamlining systems and processes for small/medium sized businesses

source: http://www.exciteit.com.au/

For another client they were struggling with the manual paperwork and manual processes for their business that they needed to review how they operated to improve efficiency and productivity.  By working through the current way they operated I was able to work with them to identify the areas that could be streamlined and automated which would save them time that they were craving.  Gaining more time has been beneficial to these clients on both a business and personal level  – it has allowed them more time to be out growing the business whilst giving them more time to enjoy life and not feel they are working all the time.

If you are operating a small to medium sized business when was the last time you took a step back and reviewed the way you are operate and function?  If you haven’t done this ever, or for some time, then make the time and allow yourself time and space to review what is and isn’t working as efficiently as it can.  After identifying this you will then be able to make changes or seek the input or help to do so.  At the end of the day we all want our businesses to do well and it is important to make time for both working IN and ON your business.

If you are not sure of the best place to start or would like some assistance in this area please do get in touch as I am only more than too happy to get you on track.

Here’s some further reading I thought would be useful to share with you on why this is so important to your business:

6 Key Benefits of Building Systems

Why A Lack Of Systems Is Stunting Your Business Growth And Costing You A Fortune

7 benefits you will get if you implement business systems in your company

Should a student listen to music while studying?

I often get asked by parents should a student listen to music while studying?  When answering this question I usually say that there are a variety of factors to consider before giving a simple YES or NO answer as all students are different in the way they learn and study – what works for one may or may not work for another.  For some students studying and listening to music can be a productive combination whilst for others they might think they are being productive when they are in fact likely to get distracted by the music, take longer to complete their work and find it isn’t up to the quality or standard that it should be.

The type of questions I often ask a parent and/or a student include:

  • does your child have any learning challenges ie ADHD?
  • what subjects are they working on when they typically want to listen to music?
  • how are they going in those subjects at school?
  • does it have any affect on the quality of work they are producing – do you know?
  • what type of music are they listening to?
  • are they still completing their best work?
  • do they get distracted by the music at all?
  • does studying with music help with their concentration?
  • what are their reasons for listening to music?
  • do they listen to music so as not to be bored with studying?

By asking these questions I am trying to ascertain if studying with music is actually likely to help or hinder a student.

In most cases listening to music while engaging in homework or study/revision is seeing a student multi-tasking.  We know that multi- tasking in general is not effective and can lead to slower mental processes and be distracting.  If a student isn’t able to focus on his or her homework while listening to music then it is probably not for them.

However for some students, particularly those with ADHD, music can be important as it helps to feed the brain.  Music is rhythm and rhythm is structure which can help a students brain to focus, attend, plan and initiate.  Mind you having said that it isn’t all types of music and research has shown that certain types of music are usually better than others ie classical or non lyrical.  These types of music can be soothing and relaxing and can assist students to beat stress and anxiety whilst studying.

If a student does feel they need to listen to music then it is best they choose music they like and are familiar with as it can be less distracting.  It is said they should image of music and books to convey should a student listen to music while studying?avoid music that is high intensity and loud sound.  Changes in volume can be distracting and take a students attention away from what they are doing.  In general research has found that usually instrumental music (with no lyrics) is the best form of music to listen to when studying and is less likely to be a distraction.  Students who listen to music with lyrics or that is loud, while completing reading or writing tasks, tend to be less efficient and don’t usually find as much information has been absorbed into their long term memory.

Unfortunately I haven’t given you the definitive answer that you may have been seeking.  At the end of the day it is really up to you and your child to make up your own minds in deciding whether it is good to study with music and whether it is productive or not.

For further support or ideas on how I can assist you and your child please get in touch or give me a call 0409 967 166.

5 simple tips for you in your kitchen

Are you struggling in your kitchen with the way you operate to be organised, efficient and effective?  Here are 5 simple tips for you in your kitchen to get you organised!

1. Meal Planning the words plan

This is a great habit to get into and one that can assist you ahead of time by knowing what you are going to eat in the days or week ahead.  Meal planning can save you time, money sanity and improve your nutrition so you are not grabbing the easy food at the last minute.  For 8 tips on how to meal plan click here.  What have you got to lose give it a go and see if you can make it work for you and your family.

2. Shop at home first for items to cook with before going shopping

Whist meal planning (Tip 1 above) it is important to utilise the food items you have already and shop at home by seeing what you have in your fridge, freezer and pantry.  It is a great habit to get into using these items before purchasing others.  This process will also save you both time and money.

3. Rotating food regularly

When you have shopped for new supplies make sure you take the few minutes (yes that is all it really takes) to rotate the old with the new in your pantry, fridge or freezer.  Too often I see clients who just put the new in the front of the pantry and then end up having to throw out food in the back as it never got rotated around.

 

4.  Making your pantry work for you

The food or items that you access on a regular basis should be in the area of your pantry that is often referred to as the ‘high access zone’.  This is usually the shelf or two or the area in your pantry that is eye height or slightly lower – sometimes it can even be referred to as the middle shelf.  This is where you, or those in your family or household, can easily reach the things you use on a daily or regular basis ie cereal, spreads, sauces, snacks.

 

5.  Utilise the magic triangle in your kitchen

the magic triangle in your kitchen

source: Wikipedia

You are probably now thinking what is she on about?  Well the magic triangle refers to the space between the sink, stove/oven and fridge – this is the area that is usually utilised the most in any kitchen.  Ideally this is a space that works for you rather than against you when it comes to the room you have for food preparation, cooking and washing up.  Make sure it is clutter free and has the space you need for all of these functions.   Ideally the magic triangle has been thought about when your kitchen was designed and put together.

Following these five simple tips will help you to be more organised – why not give them a go today!
 
If you want to take your kitchen organising even further than this there here are a couple of other BLOGs I have written that you may be interested in:

Tips on organising recipes in your kitchen
Junk drawer organising in 5 easy steps

Should you find yourself needing some assistance to get your kitchen organised, to function better for you, then please get in touch as I’d be happy to help you with this just like I have helped many others over the years.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher!

I tell all the students that I work with 1:1 and in my workshops, at both primary and secondary schools, to ‘Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for help’!  Unfortunately for many it is not as simple as just telling them this, seeing them take this on board, following through and then actually asking the teacher for assistance when they need it.

image of hands in the air signailing they want to ask a questionIn recent discussions I have had with other Academic Life Coaches around the world they too are finding that seeking help from teachers is a bigger issue for students than it really ought to be.  It is time that this all changed and that students understand the importance of asking!

Why has this become an issue?

I cannot pinpoint when in time this started to become an issue but what I can do is give you some reasons why my fellow Academic Coaches and myself feel students don’t seek out help as often as they should.  These include:

  • that anyone that asks for help is a loser and it can be they feel a loss of face. Only the other day in a questionnaire, that I ask my students to complete before I start working with them, here’s a response from a Year 8 student – “I feel uncomfortable to ask anything because I feel like I will look stupid”.
  • students believe that they should be able to work this out on their own – this is something I regularly hear too.
  • feeling that as students they should be independent and strong and that seeking help can be a sign of weakness.
  • it can be seen as being shameful in many communities to admit you can’t do everything on your own without any assistance.
  • some high-achieving students feel like talking to the teacher is “cheating” because they are getting extra help.  They can sometimes feel that they got themselves into the problem and then need to get themselves out of it.

Rightly or wrongly it is such a shame that in this day and age that we still have this issue and it is time to start doing something about it – hence why I am highlighting this by writing this article.  In order to learn students need to be able to ask questions as they go which can assist to build their knowledge at the time.

What can we do about it?

In the coaching I do with students I regularly discuss this issue and explain why seeking help from a teacher is so important and that they are, in most instances, there to help and assist as students require it.

Only last week did I instruct several of my 1:1 student clients to seek more advice when they don’t understand something rather than leave it too late and they have then moved onto the next topic.  If they don’t seek help as they go this is not useful to their learning and is harder to do this as a test or exam approaches.

I actually had another student who struggles with identifying how long homework or assignment tasks should take him and he just tries to work this out himself.  Unfortunately this often sees him spend way too much time on a task and then he finds he has little time for others.  I explained to him that it would be useful to ask his teachers how long he should spend on particular tasks which will then allow him to use this as a guide for his time and allow him to get better at estimating this himself.  Not only a great learning tool for school but for life!

I also usually encourage students to seek help in a classroom environment by saying that they are most likely not the only ones who have a similar question or need to know something in particular.  However if students lack the confidence to seek help in the classroom environment then there are other options like making a time to see the teacher before or after class or even sending them an email.

Often one of the biggest problems for students in asking for help is that they often do not know what to say, how to approach a teacher or what to actually ask about.  When I work with my students I like to ensure they know how to do this rather than just assume they do which can often be part of the problem itself.  Not all children have these skills and they can take time to develop.  It might well be worth having a discussion with your child to ask them if they know what to do when they are stuck on something.  If you do have a child that might struggle, with the concept of seeking help, then there are some great ideas in this link as to how to ask their teacher for help.

I know many teachers actually regularly offer time for students to ask questions or remind them to seek help if they need it.  I encourage teachers to continue to do this and make themselves accessible to students so we can continue to break down the barriers of the perceptions I noted at the beginning of this article.  It would be great for teachers, time permitting of course, to have Q&A sessions during class to model and normalise this or let students know regularly that they are here to ‘check in with’.

If you are reading this article and agree with what I am talking about then I encourage you to share this where possible so we (parents, teachers, academic coaches and others) can tackle this issue head on and take away any stigmas that appear to be attached with seeking help.  If students need assistance then they should feel comfortable in doing so. 

If you would like to discuss this article or would like to have a chat about how I might be able to assist your child please get in touch – via email or give me a call on 0409 967 166.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is the cost of using an organising expert worth it?

Many potential clients would love to hire me but are often worried about the cost.

So is the cost of using an organising expert worth it?

In my view and that of the many clients who have used my services in the past 6 years YES!

image of a room with clutterIt’s like anything that costs us money we usually have a need and then purchase something to service that need whether it be a product or a service.  It is up to each individual to make their own decisions about what they are willing to spend in order to have their need/s fulfilled.  In this instance we are specifically talking about using an organising expert to help to get something organised whether that areas like a room or space ie a kitchen, multiple rooms or spaces, a whole house, an office, or to even set up systems or processes that improve productivity and time management.

Some time ago, a potential client said to me that she thought my packages were expensive.  After discussion about how long she had led a cluttered life and the stress it was causing her it was agreed that my rates being charged really were insignificant.   This was even more evident when we further discussed her issues and what I could do to assist her to solve them probably in one or two visits.  Following that discussion I can tell you that is what we ended up doing and this client started the new year (a few years ago now) much more organised.  In the end I actually ended up even working with her for more hours than originally I was booked in for!

So now let me ask you a few key questions so you can decide:

  • How much time do you spend looking for paperwork or other items?
  • How much stress, overwhelm and anxiety does your clutter cause you?
  • Do you always look at that room and say “I must get to that”?
  • How much do you spend on purchasing organising or storage solutions that you never really use or use effectively?
  • Are there items taking up space and you no longer want or need?
  • How many times do you think to yourself that you don’t have enough storage?
  • Or one step further do you pay for external storage?
  • What is your clutter preventing you from doing?
  • A saying that I like to use regularly is Clutter = Visual Noise.
  • Are you missing items that you know you have but can’t find?
  • You’d love to get more organised but don’t know where to start?

Would you now agree that a few hours of my services would likely cost you less than if you added up the cost of the points above to you from both a health and monetary value?

On top of this what about the other benefits my clients receive like:

  • discussing with you what your goals and visions are and why they are important to you;
  • having someone supportive to work through any tough decisions you need to make (all your doing and just questions and guidance from me to assist you);
  • keep you focused on the task at hand and the outcomes you are seeking;
  • provide ideas on what to do with items you no longer want or need – like where to donate, what can be potentially sold for a few extra $;
  • create a tailored organising solution that works for you alone; and
  • providing you with tips, tools and suggestions to help you create better habits and make long-term organisational improvements.  My clients all learn that maintenance is the key!

Many people think organising is something everyone should be capable of doing, just like mowing the lawn.  The truth is it’s just not.  Just as there are those professionals who help in other areas of our lives (such as preparing our taxes, selling our homes, providing financial advice, there are those whose profession it is to help others organise themselves to live the life they want and create more time, space and balance.  At the end of the day, an organising expert is just like any other specialist.  They can help you when you need their specific skills.

Don’t just take my word for it – read what some of my clients have had to say:

  • “I like the way you approach both the organising and me – it feels very much like you are helping me to get what I want done but find very hard to do myself. You don’t impose order, you work with me to discover it. That’s very cool.”
  • “She could relate to me and my disorganisation without judgement and this immediately allowed me to feel comfortable and safe.  It was an even better process than I had imagined.  I feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders, refreshed and invigorated to keep the new processes she implemented with me in place.  An uncluttered house, is an uncluttered mind”.
  • “Following a kitchen renovation, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I needed to get back into my kitchen and figuring out where to put it all. Amanda was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and I was so glad I called upon her services. In just a few hours she had my kitchen organised and a logical home for everything. I learnt a few things about myself in the process and some tips that will help to keep me more organised in the future”.
  • “I am totally amazed and so grateful of the transformation you’ve helped us with.  The work isn’t quite finished yet but it’s still like living in a different and spacious home”.
  • “I love your down to earth and kind approach.  You have helped me get my business and personal life more organised and I will seek your assistance a few more times until it all becomes habit”.

I can honestly tell you I have never had a client say to me that it wasn’t worth it (after the fact).   So if this is something you have been thinking about why not get in touch to discuss what you’d like to do and achieve and together we can make this happen – you can call me on 0409 967 166 or email me.  I look forward to making a difference to your life as I have to that of many others!

Why students should use a planner/diary/App

At this time every year many parents ask me what sort of planner, diary or App should their child use at school. It is great that parents are keen to assist their children with organisation and time management at the start of the school year.  I encourage you to keep reading to find out why students should use a planner/diary/App.

Some children will be keen to use something to manage themselves however many more these days actually don’t see the need or point. This unfortunately for many can lead to poor organisation, time management and in turn lower academic results. Time and time again I see students become anxious and overwhelmed as the year progresses and their workload increases and see that they are trying to manage without using any form of planner or online tool to assist.

With the increase in technology many school now provide tasks and deadlines on school portals. This is great for students to know what they have and when it is due. However this does not help them to actually manage their time and that is why planners, diaries or Apps still have a very important role to play. Many of the schools I work with and talk to, are continually grappling with how to solve this issue and go from having compulsory diaries to not having them for a year or so only to often reintroduce them again the following year.

In the workshops I conduct for Year 6 students I speak about the importance of using a diary and teach them the basics of howGoogle Calendar image for Why students should use a planner/diary/App to use it. From this stage on it is important they get used to using something to manage their time so that by the time they enter the senior years this becomes a daily habit. Recently I had one child explain to me how he uses a simple notebook to manage his time and he was asking if this was okay. Naturally I said yes if it is working for him and it doesn’t matter what students actually usually it’s just important they find the right tool or solution that suits their needs. This can be a simple notebook, a diary, a planner, a wall calendar, an electronic diary like google calendar, or one of the many Apps available such as My Homework. 

Usually I recommend that students use a paper dairy initially to get used to using it and often the act of writing also assists to commit tasks to the brain. Once they get the hang of it then I usually say just find the right tool that works for them.

To manage ones time, students actually need to ‘see time’ or in other words make time visual. Usually for a planner or diary it is important to have a week to a page so students can see ahead of time. There is nothing worse than using a day to a page diary and flipping the page only to see something is due the next day that they haven’t even started. As many parents would know students often live in the ‘now’ and not the ‘not now’ so the more they can see ahead of time the better.

Another useful tool can be to print off a monthly calendar on A3 paper and stick this on the wall.  I usually suggest to students who are keen to do this that they print the months for the term or semester at a time.  Here is one link to free printables though there are plenty of others available online.

If you have any further questions about what your child should use or how to get them to use it then please get in touch.

Do you want to live with less clutter?

Do you often find yourself thinking you would like to live with less clutter in your life?  Or maybe at the start of each new year you keep saying that is something you would like to do this year?  Have you often thought about what it would be like to live with less clutter?

If this sounds like you then let me help you to take the first steps in making this a reality.  Unfortunately I can’t just wave a magic wand and make this happen and it will require you to take some action yourself.

image that says start 2018 and live with less clutterA simple way to start this process is to undertake a quick declutter challenge.  Do you think you are ready to do this?  If so lets go!

The first step is to grab a box or a bag and start walking through your house – usually a good place to start is in your main living areas but this is not essential.  If you have a particular space that is particularly bothering you then you might like to start there first ie an office, bedroom or spare room even.

Start by putting things in your box/bag that you no longer need, love or want in your life.

If you are like me, another thing that can assist with the process, is to identify a number of items that you plan to collect ie 10 or 20 and make a start to collect that number of items.  Naturally, you can add more or even have less, and remember that the number of items you end up collecting will be different for everyone.  There is no hard and fast rule – it really is up to you!

Here are some ideas on the sort of items you might like to look for to get you started.

Info graphic on things to consider getting rid of around your home

Now that you have walked around your house and put items in your box/bag, the next step is to work out what you are going to do with the items ie donate, throw out, return to their owner etc.  Once you have worked this out it is time to take action and schedule time to do it!

The final step in the basic declutter challenge is to enjoy living with a bit less.  If you feel so inclined feel free to continue and collect more today or another day as well.  If you are content with what you have done then that too is okay!

For those of you who might like to take this challenge a bit further here is a link to another BLOG Decluttering – how do you know where to start?

As noted in the graphic above if you are keen for a bigger challenge then here is the link to cleaning out your junk drawer – Junk Drawer organisation in 5 easy steps

Good luck and if you have any questions along the way please don’t hesitate to
get in touch.

If you have time I would also love to hear how you go and how it is to live with less clutter in your life!

Preparing for time away – 12 tips to help you get away with your family!

It is now over 3 years ago since my family – husband and 2 boys, who were both in primary school at the time, embarked on an overseas holiday for nearly 2 months.  Naturally we had to be super organised before we left but it meant we were able to have one of those holidays of a life time that we all still talk about today.  We have so many wonderful memories and don’t recall anything we could have done better in terms of our preparation prior to going away.

travel map - planning a holidayPreparation is the key to travel at the best of times let alone when travelling with children whatever their ages.  The more planning and effort you put in before you travel the easier it will be.  Naturally unexpected things happen like my son having his appendix out 3 days before they were due to meet me in the US but we just had to deal with that at the time and have to deal with things as they arise sometimes.  I put a lot of that down to the fact we had put the time and effort into planning before we left.

When the time comes for you to think about your next holiday I hope that this article will help make the process and planning easier for you.

Here are my top 12 tips or things to consider:

  1. Before you travel – it is a good idea to consider your destination and ask yourself the following types of questions:
    • What visa requirements do you need and how far in advance do you need to apply for them?
    • Are all your passports up to date and have enough travel time on them as well?
    • Will you require any vaccinations before you travel?
    • What are the basic costs of living where you are going and will that fit within your travel budget?
    • Do you need foreign currency, extra cash or credit cards?
    • Do you require travel or health insurance?
  2. Bill payment – it’s a good idea to pay off your bills before you leave or set up automatic payment so you don’t have to worry about being charged for any late fees.
  3. Mail work out what suits you best with this – either redirect it to the post office or get a neighbour to collect and hold it for you.  It’s a good idea to ensure junk mail is collected as well as otherwise it is a sure sign you are away!
  4. Pets – we have a dog so it was important for us to plan her care whilst we are away and not forget her regular monthly worming either. Either arrange someone to look after the pets at your home or arrange for alternative caring arrangements.
  5. Documents – if you are travelling overseas it is useful to make sure you have copies of any important documents ie passport, credit cards in case they are stolen or lost.  You can take paper copies (but keep separate from the originals) or better still just email them to yourself which is what we did.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry but it did create peace of mind.  My other tip here is to ensure you leave contact numbers for you with neighbours or family should something happen back at home and they need to get in touch.
  6. Packing – it’s a good idea to put together a list at least a few weeks before you leave to ensure you have time to purchase any items you don’t have but need.    
This list doesn’t have to be right down to the number of undies you’ll need, but in general, think about the climate you’ll be traveling to and the types of activities you’ll be doing. Make sure you include things like prescriptions, chargers, emergency phone numbers.  With all your chargers, cords and cables also keep these, in one spot as it is much easier to always know where they are than searching for them.You also need to think about what bags to take and how to pack.  We were on the move quite a bit and I was so glad we had decided to use packing cells for all our items.  This made it much easier to pack up and move each time without having to refold and put items into our suitcases or bags.  A great time saver and made looking for things much easier too.Another tip when it comes to packing is to put all of it together in one place and then cull some of it.  You need to really ask yourself – do you really need all that?  Often at this stage it is things like that extra pair of jeans, the fifth dress, the 7th t-shirt or that extra pair of shoes.   As we usually do when we go on holidays we end up wearing the same favourite outfits over and over again so you really probably don’t need that extra stuff which you only end up carrying around.
  7. Traveling with younger children – it is a good idea to think about what you might need for the plane or other trips to care for them as well as entertain them. Do you still need to be carrying nappies & wipes, spare changes of clothes or undies, or food/snack items? Think about the age of your children and what you might need to pack to entertain them – games, new toy, colouring books & pencils, activities or download age appropriate movies.
  8. At home – it’s always a good idea to ensure you have emptied the rubbish and arranged for the bins to be put out (neighbours are usually happy to assist with this).  Other tips are to empty your fridge of perishable food items and to give it a quick clean too.  It’s much easier when it is nearly empty.  The other tip I like is to change your sheets as there is nothing nicer than arriving home to a clean bed.
  9. Calendar – make sure you review your diary and schedule any events or appointments you might miss whilst away.
  1. Estate plans/wills – I know this is something we usually don’t want to think about but is an essential part of life.  Naturally we all hope nothing happens but it’s life and you need to be prepared for all possible situations.
  2. Work – we often run ourselves into the ground before we go on holidays to ensure everything gets done or is handed over to others to action whilst we are away. Rather than focus on getting everything done on the last day why not also use some time to get things organised for your return to work.  Consider how you will handle the following:
  • How much time will you need to process email and other communications? Put that time in your diary now.
  • Who do you need to meet with when you return to get a handle on your work or projects you are involved in? Schedule these meetings before you leave.By spending an hour or two preparing for when you get back you can truly go and enjoy your holiday without having to start thinking about all of this in your last few days before you return.
  1. Unpack – I know when you arrive home often the last thing you feel like is unpacking but my advice is to do it straight away then it’s done and not hanging over you. You will thank me as to the sake of a short amount of time you have dealt with rather than having it drag on and the longer you leave it the less likely you want to do it too!

By putting in the planning and organisation either upfront or ahead of time, it will assist you to take care of everything, so you can go and enjoy your holiday and time away!

For further assistance in getting organised please get in touch.

 

Why making time visible for students is so important

Making time visible for students is so important for their success at school and into the future.  For most students having time visible can make them feel less anxious, take away the worry about making sure they remember to complete everything and ensure they hand their work in on time.

Students often think that they don’t have much to do and that they can remember it all in their heads.  Yes this can be true for some but invariably they don’t have all their tasks as clearly in their head as they think they do.

Most students also live in the “now” and homework/assignments are seen as a future thing (“the not now“) that needs to be Image of a brain done.  The areas of the brain that are responsible for time management are not often developed fully in students until their mid 20’s.  Unfortunately this means that many students don’t often utilise their time very well and it is not until the last minute, sometimes a few days before or the day before, when they realise they actually have work to do and hand in.  When this happens it is often rushed and not necessarily their best work either.

I have come across this issue nearly everyday in the past few years when working with students and from discussions with parents.  Believe me it can take some convincing to get students to use planners, diaries, Apps, a notebook or even a simple weekly study chart but for those that do the difference is amazing.

It really doesn’t matter what a student chooses to use in order to make time visible – it is the fact that they make time visible that is important.  When a student actually uses a planner to plan out homework, an assignment or study/revision then they actually make the time visible to them.  This is much better to assist them than their heads and gives a clear indication of how much time is or isn’t available to complete a required task.

A student should map everything out – activities, homework due, finding the time to complete the work, time for study/revision (but more detailed than just using these words), their chores they need to complete.  When a student does this they usually feel much better, less overwhelmed and it reduces the chance of anxiety or stress taking over.  The struggle to remember anymore is also removed and if they see what they need to do the chances are they are more likely to do it as well.

Seeing and tracking time really help students and for many it is an important skill that will assist them to succeed at both school and in life.

Why not speak to them and see if they will give it a go – what have you got to lose!

If you are a student or you have a child that struggles with this please do get in touch to find out more about how I can support you or them.

For more information on the importance of time management and what it is click here.

8 tips to Meal Planning

Meal planning is something I have done for as long as I can remember.  Personally I find it an easy process to undertake but for some I can understand the thought of having to come up with solutions for dinner every night as well as then finding the time to cook it can be a daunting task.

Benefits of meal planningthe words plan

Meal planning requires an investment of a little time but can ultimately help in the following ways:

  • Save time – it can stop many unnecessary trips to the shops and also ends those times where you get home from work and then wonder what you will do for dinner.
  • Save money – with meal planning you tend not to impulse buy or waste as much food.  I am sure we have all had times where we have been to the store and purchased something only to return home and find the same item already in our pantry!  You only buy what you need for the week ahead if you are following a weekly meal plan.  You might also like to plan your meals around weekly supermarket specials and that too will save you dollars.
  • Save ones sanity – knowing that you have already determined what you are going to cook can make it easier after a long day.
  • Improve nutrition – a good meal plan can help to create a structure that encourages healthy eating.  It means cooking when you have time so that even on those busy days, you have a healthy and homemade meal to serve.

8 tips to assist you to meal plan

Please don’t think this needs to be complicated, as it doesn’t!  I personally use a scrap piece of paper for mine every week but there are many templates online these days or you can even use Apps to help!

  1. Commit a time to meal plan every week – You don’t need to set aside hours to do this.  For instance I usually do mine on a Thursday evening and grab about 10-15 minutes when I can.  In my house I plan the meals from Friday to Thursday as I do my grocery shopping early every Friday morning.  You need to work out when it will suit you to not only plan but also when you will do your grocery shopping.Once you have an idea then you need to get into the habit of sticking to that, as it will make it easier in the long run.  If you find it still a bit hard to do this yourself then get your family involved and seek their input for the food they’d like to see on the weekly menu.image of days of the week and sausages
  2. Assess what is on for the week ahead– You need a bit of a plan of attack First consult your diary and ask yourself the following questions:
    • What nights call for a quick and easy dinner?
    • What nights require meals to be served at different times due to activities finishing?
    • What nights is everyone home together for a meal?
    • Which days can you do the kind of cooking that you’d most like to do?You need to work out what works best in line with your families schedule and then you can make a meal plan for the week ahead.
  3. What sort of meals?When starting out it is a good idea not to let yourself get overwhelmed by trying to plan too many meals at once—instead start with 5 or 6 meals giving yourself one or two nights for leftovers or even takeaway.  Work around everyone’s schedules and think of the type of meals that will work with the time you have available.
    Sometimes it helps to make a list of the meals your family likes and which ones are for different nights i.e. our quick and easy meals for nights when we have activities are usually pasta, tacos, chilli con-carne or leftovers from the freezer.  On the weekends when I have more spare time I usually cook meals that require more focus, time and energy.Every now and again when I lack inspiration I pull out the cook books and get a few different ideas for the following week just so that you don’t find all you do are the same meals week after week.Make a list of say 10 favourite meals for your family and rotate them in the first few weeks. When you’re ready, begin adding new recipes or tweak your menu to keep things fresh.
  4. Set nights for designated meals – Pick one night a week to have a particular meal, such as Friday night have homemade pizza (that’s what we do in our house).  You could also have a night of the week that you go out or buy takeaway.  Having this can simplify both your menu and grocery list.
  5. Meal planning/what to buy – Once you settle on the meals you want to serve for the week make a list of them.  I know some families like to put this meal plan on their fridge for all the family to see.  Sometimes this can help if you are running late then other family members might be able to make a start for you.

    Next it is time to go shopping at home.  By this I mean shop in your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what ingredients you already have on hand.  Add the remaining items you need for those meals to your grocery list.

    It is a good idea to keep your grocery list in an easy-to-find location – on the fridge or in your phone.  This way when you run out of something during the week too you can add it to the list so that you are not trying to have to work out everything you need just before you go to the supermarket.

    Some people like to have a list of all the staple items they usually buy every week and then add remaining items to that.  Others like to arrange their items in sections and according to the layout of the super market to make it easier when they shop.  I must admit I usually put all dairy items in one place on my list and then say toiletries in another rather than have items mixed up.

    As I mentioned earlier there are many free shopping list or grocery list templates available on the internet if you need them as well as Apps such as MealBoard, Pepperplate and Plan to Eat to name a few that can assist with your meal planning.  Do a quick search to see if any might help you.

  6. Cook in bulk and make extra meals – sometimes when you are are cooking particular meals i.e. pasta sauce it can be useful to make an extra batch that you can put in the freezer for a ready made meal on another night.  Keep this in mind when you are making these types of meals that are easily freezable as it too can help you out!Some families I know find it easy to even do a bit of extra cooking on the weekend to make it easier during the week by cooking up several meals in preparation for the week ahead.
  7. Don’t be afraid to alter the plan– Remember it is a plan so if you have set out to have certain meals on particular nights it won’t matter if you alter them around because you already have the ingredients for the week so there is no issue.  This also helps when any last minute plans that sometimes pop up.Just because you have a menu planned for the week does not mean that it is set in stone. I recommend that you are flexible enough to make changes as the week goes on.
  8. Keeping the momentum going– Like any changes we make we often we start off raring to go only to soon no longer continue with our efforts.

Make a commitment to meal planning now and it will be worth it!

I am always interested to hear how you go with my tips or any other suggestions you have on this topic – please get in touch – amanda@organisingyou.com.au