Clear the Clutter

How To Create a Homework Station

For many, today is the first day back to school.  I see the moms doing the happy dance as the kids drag themselves to the school bus.  I don’t know about you but finding a good spot to do homework was always an issue at our house.  I wanted the “perfect setting” – desk with no noise while Belinda liked to do it sitting on the bed or couch with the TV or music on.  Homework can be a stressful affair for both kids AND parents.  But while homework is a fact of life, the daily chaos which  results doesn’t have to be.

Want to make your family’s after-school routine a little less stressful? A dedicated homework station is a must!

Homework stations keep supplies on hand and distractions to a minimum, providing kids with a quiet, supervised, place to study. When your kids are older and the workload becomes heavier, a centrally located workspace can help reduce feelings of isolation, allowing them to spend time with the family as they work. A shared workspace can also go a long way toward keeping your teen safe as they begin to spend more and more time on the computer.

I know you may think you don’t have the space for this, right?  The truth is you can create an attractive and well-organized study zone for your family. Have a large living room? Consider dedicating a wall to a row of mini workstations. Tight on space? Why not convert an upstairs landing or hallway into a homework zone? You’ll be surprised what you can pull together when you think outside of the box!  Here are some great ideas

The first thing is to find a room or space in your home which works for your child.  Depending how much assistance they will need, this could be in the kitchen or family room or at a desk in their own room.  The ultimate goal is to get them working in a proper set‐up with a table and chair instead of working from their lap – this way they establish good habits, can properly work on their handwriting and have room to spread out all their materials.

1) CLIPBOARDS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND

Clipboards are a good way to display important papers your kids may bring home from school, and can help stay on top of due dates and deadlines. A quick glance at the clipboard and you immediately know there is SOMETHING they need to work on – even if it’s a spelling list or a book report which isn’t due for a few weeks. These can be picked up at the Dollar Store or Target or Walmart.  Wherever you get them, definitely jump on-board the clipboard bandwagon!

2) INCLUDE A CALENDAR

Calendars are ULTRA important. It’s a great idea to hang one in your homework station to keep track of homework projects, upcoming tests, homework assignments, and all other important dates.  There are a lot of different types of calendars you could use.  But a simple paper one you can easily hang is tops on my list.  Like the clipboards, you can get these practically anywhere (even for free).  As much as I love a great dry-erase board, you don’t have to worry about anything you write down accidentally being erased.  Which is always a huge plus!

3) MAKE SPACE FOR BACKPACKS

Do your kids walk through the door after school, take their backpacks off and throw them on the ground. So fun, right? *Rolls eyes*. To avoid breaking an ankle and unnecessary messes, designate a space for backpacks! Cubbies  are ideal but if you are limited on space have them hang their backpacks on the back of their designated chair at the homework station.  This way things can be added to the backpack as they are done and nothing is forgotten at home.

4) STORE IMPORTANT PAPERS

Loosing important school papers is the absolute worst! Some basic hanging wall baskets or hanging wall file organizers are really helpful. Just designate one basket per child (or person in your family) and keep anything important pertaining to that person in it.  Or, you could divide your wall file organizer by designating the bottom space for homework that needs to be done, the middle for homework to be checked/signed off by you, and the top for school forms/fliers.

5) ORGANIZE YOUR SUPPLIES

Ever have one of those homework moments when you couldn’t find a pencil or calculator for the life of you? Yeah. Not so fun. I recommend keeping common homework and art supplies within arm’s reach of your homework station so there is NO excuse for them to not do their math!

Here are some simple DIY homework organization ideas:

  • Cutlery Caddy –You can get these inexpensively at pretty much any big-box store, or even your local dollar store. Then assign each compartment in the caddy for a specific homework supply like crayons, scissors, glue, pencils, etc. Note: Usually the caddies from the dollar store only have two compartments.  So one thing you could do is also purchase six plastic drinking cups from the dollar store, put three on eachside of the caddy and then place your various homework supplies in the cups. This plate rack caddy is also a great way to organize school supplies.  Simply buy some buckets, cans, mason jars, or whatever to store each of your supplies in and you’re good to go!

 

  • Door Organizer –This could be something like an over the door shoe holding organizer you can get at Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, or anywhere else selling home organizing products.  Just make sure to get a clear one so the kids can easily see what supplies are in what storage pocket.

 

  • Art Cart – Find rolling utility carts at most big craft stores and home stores (even Amazon has some!).  From there you can begin to fill your art cart with not only supplies like crayons and pencils but also notebooks, counting aids, flash cards, books, and so much more!

What is YOUR best tip for setting up a homework station?  Share your back to school pictures with us…..

Have a blessed day!

 

Unclutter Your Life

Busy Mom Tips

Hopefully by now you have settled into a routine after the back to school craziness.  Are you wishing you could put an “out of order” sign on your head and run away?  Thank you to The Peaceful Mom for the inspiration for today’s blog…

Are you searching for a way to get it all done and stay sane?  Do you wonder if it is even possible to do that?  Is your to-do list growing while your time seems to be slipping away?

I know my daughter is grown but I do still run into days like this.  I think I still suffer from the same overwhelm I did so many years ago juggling work, business and family.  Here are some tips from the Peaceful Mom and me.

#1 – KICK MOM GUILT TO THE CURB

It is okay if you don’t get everything done.  Let me repeat “it is okay NOT to get everything done”!  Some things can wait.  Yup, I still suffer with mom guilt.  🙂  The best way for me to get things done is to set THREE tasks a day as my top priority.  I used to do this when Belinda was growing up.  Picking just one or two things to get done during the week while I was working full-time and being mom taxi.  I seemed to forget how well it worked until a business coach, Desiree Wolfe suggested the same thing for my business.

Some tasks can wait, it all depends on what needs attention at the moment. I have started using my Passion Planner for more then just keeping track of office hours, weekly to dos, business stuff and medical appointments.  I am using it to list my 3 things for the day.  I love the fact it has space to make lots of notes  as well as a spot to celebrate “good things which happened”.  Now, I am sure you could accomplish more than 3 things in a day BUT for those days when getting 3 things done is a struggle, you will want to have this system in place.  Sometimes the list looks like this:

Yup, when brain fog sets in, this could be my list of things to do.  The biggest accomplishment is no losing my temper and on some days it is a true miracle.

#2 THINK TINY

Do you have “time pockets”?  You know the 5 or 10 minutes while you are waiting for the kids in the school line or washing some dishes as you cook dinner.  I like the term “time pockets” instead of multi-tasking.  Pick a task to do while you are waiting (one which will only take a few minutes)… waiting for the kids, waiting in line to check out, waiting for your gas task to be filled.  How many time pockets do you have and how can you fill them to get more things done?

#3 – CHOOSE YOUR TOOLS

Busy moms need practical, functional tools to stay on top of all the details. Let’s face it we are not only juggling our own stuff but things for the entire family.  I use a paper planner, the calendar app on my phone and Notes on my phone.  I talked about my Passion Planner.  It is where I dream big, set my goals and priorities then create a weekly plan to pull it all together.  I use my smart phone calendar to set notifications and keep track of appointments because it is linked to my iPad and my MAC.  The benefit of Google Calendar is you can keep everyone’s stuff organized then share it with everyone across all devices.  You need to find a system which works for YOU.

#4 – MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOURSELF

I take time each week to plan for the upcoming week. My planning time is Sunday evening and I plan out:

  • My Calendar: Set the goals, projects and top priority tasks for the week and time block on my calendar.  I also prep for the week for posting on all of my business pages with CinchShare.
  • Meals:  Planning for meals is a BIG help for busy moms.  Since I only cook twice a week, it is not tops on my list.  
  • Money:  This is now part of my Sunday night routine.  Review the bills which need to be paid and figure out what the budget will be for the week.  

When you take the time to plan, you will find the week goes some much smoother.  Include scheduling the planning time on your calendar so you don’t make excuses.

#5 – BUDDY UP

Carpooling can be a life saver for the busy mom.  Team up with someone to share the mom taxi role.  You take the kids to practice, she picks them up.  You watch her kids so she can run errands and then swap so she watches yours.  Remember we don’t have to do it ALL!  Teaming up with other moms gives everyone a break.  No help?  Why not limit your kids extra activities and your extra commitments.  No, it won’t make you a bad parent!  

The BIGGEST tip is to remember what is really important and stop obsessing over little things.  For many years, I felt guilty for leaving Belinda a daycare from the time she was 6 weeks old BUT when things came together and I was able to quit my job to work at home, I realized what was important.  She didn’t remember spending days at daycare when she remembers (I hope) is the time we spent together while she was in HS and my schedule was flexible.

Remember you are doing the best you can do with everything on your plate.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Business Tips and Tricks

Success in Direct Selling

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Half the summer is gone and you maybe you are starting to think about “back to school” shopping.  Maybe you are wondering what you will do when ALL of the kids are in school. Maybe you are wondering HOW you will pay for all of those activity fees when school starts. Or maybe you will be dealing with “empty nest” syndrome as the kids head back to college.

I am sure that your Facebook news feed is FULL of offerings for direct sales opportunities.  It is National Conference time and everyone is on their “pink (or whatever color) cloud.  Have you thought “I could never do that”?  Or maybe you have been intrigued and thought “if she can do it, so can I”?  Maybe you wondered if you could really make money.  The truth is that you can!

Maybe you have you have decided to take the  BIG step and join a direct sales company. You think you know WHY you want to join?  The truth is, if you don’t – that is okay because it will probably change many times during the course of your direct selling career.

Have you joined a company that you “love the product” or “just want the discounts” or think “I could have a new career”?  You have hit “submit” and then it hits you – NOW WHAT? Most direct selling companies offer online training that will guide you through the company and its products. Most say the same thing – BOOK, SELL, RECRUIT! I mean that is the key, right? Well it may not always be that simple. 

Here are some of the main keys to having a successful direct selling business:

  1. Keep your calendar full. Whether it is one party a month or one party a week – how busy you want to be is based on your income goal for the month. Whatever your goal is – add ONE.  Just in case there is a last minute cancellation.  Always have a backup plan for cancellations.  Encourage your hostess to have a catalog party so they still reap the rewards if a home party didn’t work out. Have a list of potential last minute hostess/ friends that help out in a pinch. Switching potential cancellations to catalog parties is relatively easy.  But a back up list of last minute hostesses is a BIG help – you know the ones who can throw a party together at the drop of a hat and who LOVE your product. By keeping your calendar full, you are able to meet your goals each month.
  2. Make it look easy. I know you are thinking, how can I do that when I don’t have a clue what I am doing, right?  JulieAnne Jones suggests doing things the exact same way all of the time. Do you think that is boring? Well, she was tops in her direct sales company without really understanding why. The trick is that you are easy to duplicate so it is not so intimidating for new recruits.
  3. Be an expert on your product. I LOVE telling my hostess that our products sell themselves. While that is true, it is great to have lots of ideas on the benefits of your product as well as how it can solve various problems. Solving problems for your customers is key whether you are selling cookware, food, makeup or bags. Gather information from your customers on how they use a particular product and add that to your arsenal of product benefits.
  4. Recruit often. I know you don’t want to be a leader, right? OR You don’t want to be a pushy sales person. WRONG! If you believe in your company (as I do) and the opportunities that it offers (free trips, commission, incentives, bonuses, etc) share that information with others. They will want to join you in your journey because they are just as excited as you are.

Here is to your success…There are a lot of resources out there besides the specific company that you are selling for – check them out. The Direct Selling Education Foundation has some amazing resources.

Feel free to share your direct selling success stories. Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Unclutter Your Life

Reflecting On January

 

aha

The first week of a new month and I am excited… I have a new planner this year “A Passion Planner” and it is AMAZING.  I haven’t quite got the hang of all of the benefits BUT I love that before I can move onto a new month, there are pages of reflection.  The best part is that I have committed to completing these pages BEFORE flipping to a new month.

This year’s word is CONFIDENCE” so I am focusing on all of the positives in my life.  I am celebrating the good things that happen each week which keeps me moving forward.

self-confidence

The questions that really got me reflecting were:

  • What was the most memorable part of the past month?  Then describe how it felt.

For me, earning our incentive, Ready Set Sell – Level 2, was the best for me.  WHY? Because when I started the month I had nothing on the calendar.  It showed me that when I focus on my goal, I can accomplish anything.  It felt AMAZING.

  • What were the 3 biggest lessons you learned during the past month?  I’m going to share just one.

The biggest thing for me is that I don’t want to work full-time or even part-time outside of the house.  I worked ALOT of OT for my part-time job so not as much time was spent on my business.  WRONG!  I want my focus to be my business.

  • Review your planner (or calendar) for the past month and assess your priorities.  Are you happy with how you spent your time?  If you aren’t happy, what steps can you take to change it this month?

If we want our life to be different, we need to do things differently.  Somethings we can’t change – work, kids activities, etc BUT there are things that we can schedule in that will help us to reach our goals.  One small step can make a difference and make that insurmountable goal become attainable. 

small steps

  • What or who are your grateful for this month?  GRATITUDE!

I actually write down my gratitude every week and in some cases daily.  It helps to keep Negative Nelly from knocking on my door

  • Name 3 things you can improve on in the upcoming month?  What are the concrete steps you will take to work towards those improvements.

For me: #1 is scheduling time for my business and sticking to it.  #2 is follow-up with potentials to fill my calendar and #3 have faith that as I long as I am turning my business over to God, he will take care of things. 

I challenge each of you to answer these questions as you reflect on the past month.  Whether you are a mom juggling kids and a household OR have your own business OR going to school OR trying to lose weight OR maybe jugging all of these – we have all said “there is not enough time to do XYZ”.

Creating harmony in your life may be as simple as looking at your planner/calendar just a little different.  Let’s plan out this month and stick to the plan.

Looking forward to hearing your responses and how things went.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Business Tips and Tricks

How Do You Manage Time?

clock

If you are anything like me, the words “time management” makes you cringe.  You are busy.  There is not enough hours in the day or week or month or maybe even the year.  I read a blog post on Girlfriends in God that really made me stop and think about the way I prioritize my time.

Time is wasted unless it is invested in goals and priorities that are rooted in God’s plan.

SMACK! I will admit that I waste time – I think we all do.  Now, don’t get me wrong, you could be very busy,busy doing good things but you feel exhausted and burned out.

Lately, I have begun to look at time differently as a result of some health issues.  I used to plan every moment, prioritized what I thought was important and was always busy.  It was painfully obvious that I needed an adjustment.   I needed to understand that time is a precious resource given to us by God who trusts that we will use our time wisely following his plan for our lives.

Here are some great ideas on time investment NO time management from Mary Southerland.

  • Tithe your time. Just as we tithe our money, we should tithe our time. God blesses and multiplies the time we spend in Bible study, prayer and service.
  • Get organized.  Being organized is a spiritual discipline, freeing us from the tyranny of the urgent while making room for things that matter.
  • Keep a calendar. A calendar keeps you from wasting time and “bunching up” activities. It forces us to prioritize, doing the important things first.
  • Establish a planning day. Pick a time to plan the week ahead. Review the tasks you need to complete and appointments. Pray over your week, asking from your Higher Power for guidance.
  • Eat the FROG. Tackle the job you dread the most and then you will be energized  for the remaining tasks. Use the time of the day when your energy is highest, for the most important and the most difficult tasks.
  • Delegate. When we delegate work to our children, we teach them discipline as well as basic life skills.  Look for people waiting help and then delegate.
  • Leave margins in your schedule. Sometimes this is easier said then done, right? We tend to fill every minute of the day, then the “unexpected” happens and we become overwhelmed.

If we don’t set priorities – others will. Time thieves will steal our time as we allow them to impose their plans and standards on us.

So, how will you prioritize your time this weekend and in the week to come?  What is your best tip for time management?

Hope you have a ThirtyOne-derful day!