Time to Get School Supplies

Do you have school-age children? If so, it’s that time again–time to pick up new school supplies. My daughter starts school right after Labor Day, and our August is pretty booked up with summer activities. So, we’re already done with this task.

A few weeks ago, we started by going through school supplies from last year that were still good enough to use for this coming school year…pencils not even sharpened yet, scissors that were still in perfectly good condition, and book covers good enough to use over again.

With our school supply list in hand, we then went to Target and picked up everything else we needed. Since many stores these days keep all school supplies in one centralized area, we had the entire list in our shopping cart within 20 minutes.

When we returned home, we immediately labeled all of her school supplies, and they’re being stored in the closet in the spare bedroom (in 2 large shopping bags) until it’s time for her to bring them into school.

It feels great to be done…one less thing to think about when the hectic school year begins!

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment July 31, 2013

Household Hints

I just love it when Get Organized Now! readers submit their own awesome organizing ideas. This week, I received an organizing poem. Love it! Here goes.

Household Hints

(A Poem Written by GON Reader Robbie J Huffman)

I’m not an organized person

but I’m trying hard to improve.

I had collected two books of hints

trying to get me in the groove.

There was something I wanted to check

recently but my books I could not find.

This was a big problem so it

really put me in a bind.

After a few days, I found my books

and combined and relabeled them.

I should get an A for my attempts

but my final grade is still GRIM!

This was quite a setback for me

but, still, I will not relent.

I seem to have bottomed out

when I can’t even find my hints.

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment July 16, 2013

Using Building Blocks to Get Projects Done

I run a fundraiser at my daughter’s school called Scrip, which is a gift card program. Last year, I invested quite a bit of time getting this fundraiser more organized, more automated, and more profitable. It has been a long process, but it’s done…and now I’m ready to pass the system I came up with and the responsibility of the fundraiser on to two school parents who will be handling it this coming school year.

First, I know that this isn’t something that I can just pass on to these ladies in a day and expect them to be able to just take over, so I’m training them over a period of weeks, and will be working with them for the month of September until they feel comfortable with doing it themselves.

Second, I also know this isn’t something that I can pass on without giving them detailed notes and checklists.

Third, I know I can’t teach everything to them at once. It would be too overwhelming for me, AND for them…AND the final result would not be good.

What I plan to do this week is set up some building blocks. Building blocks are small pieces of a project or small bits of information–that when put together, form a whole.

No matter what type of project you’re trying to get done, or trying to teach, breaking it down into building blocks will help ensure that goal will be achieved in the most efficient manner.

With this specific fundraiser project, I’ve broken it down into many LARGE BLOCKS. Just a few are:

Ordering National Gift Cards

Ordering Local Gift Cards

Obtaining Local Gift Cards

Filling Automatic Orders

Filling Individual Orders

Filling Weekend Church Orders

Entering Data into the Computer

Handling Rebates

Checking on Inventory

(There’s a lot more, but this just gives you a taste.)

Then, I’ve taken each LARGE BLOCK and broke that down into SMALL BUILDING BLOCKS. For example, there are lots of steps that are JUST under the Ordering National Gift Cards category above, such as:

Logging in

Searching for Vendors

Choosing Denominations

Deciding on Quantity

Choosing Shipping Options

Entering Money Spent into Spreadsheet

Finalizing Order

Sorting Gift Cards into Box When They Arrive

You don’t really have to know what any of this means, BUT it is very valuable for you to see how big projects, even big blocks, can be broken down into smaller building blocks.

By doing this, you only have to learn one part, or teach one part, at a time. It makes it easier for you to teach, and easier for someone else to learn.

Once your building blocks are defined, you can then make up simple checklists for either you, or someone else to follow.

By using the building blocks concept, you’ll get all of your projects done…even those that seem impossible at first.

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment July 8, 2013

Red, White and Blue Parfaits–Festive Treats for the 4th

Red, White and Blue ParfaitsTime is precious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make delicious, fun treats for your family! Parfaits are so pretty, and they take virtually no time at all. You simply layer the red, white and blue ingredients, and you’re done! No cooking required!

For a Patriotic Breakfast Parfait: Layer vanilla or plain yogurt with granola (or grape nuts cereal), blueberries, and strawberries. You can even add some honey to each layer if you wish.

For a sweet, refreshing After-Lunch Parfait: Layer vanilla or rice pudding, watermelon, and blueberries.

For a Patriotic Dessert Parfait: Layer vanilla ice cream or cool whip with blueberries and strawberries. Add blue sprinkles and a red cherry on top!

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment July 2, 2013

Keeping Friendships Strong

Tomorrow night is Girl’s Night Out…and I’m investing a few hours of my time very wisely–catching up with six of my closest friends. We’re all going to a new Japanese restaurant…just the girls, no husbands and no kids.

It’s so easy, with everything we have going on each day, to postpone time with friends, and rather keep working hard to cross off our many TO DOs. But when relationships aren’t nurtured, they fade away.

Yes, getting TO DOs done is a priority, but it’s also important to make time for the important people.

If it has been awhile since you’ve shared some quality time with your good friends, contact them and schedule some time to go for a run together or to share a meal. It may be just the break you need from your busy life…and you’ll be keeping your friendships strong at the same time!

Maria Gracia

1 Comment June 20, 2013

One Thing Often Leads to Another

Have you noticed how completing one household job often leads into another? For instance, let’s say you decide to reorganize your kitchen. Once you’ve finished you think, hmmm…the kitchen would look even better if I put on a new coat of paint. So you do it.

I like to call this ‘going the extra mile.’ That is, putting in more effort to make something even greater.

While this is wonderful habit, it can also become overwhelming. Just remember, not everything needs to happen at once.

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment June 10, 2013

Give it a Makeover

My friend and office manager, Jenny, purchased metal patio furniture for her deck about 6 years ago. Since then, the furniture has been affected by the elements and now has several rust spots.

Instead of throwing the items away, she sanded the furniture down (getting rid of the rust) and repainted it. She used a primer first before putting on the final coat…and it all looks brand new.

So, before throwing something expensive away, consider giving it a make-over first. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Maria Gracia

3 Comments May 29, 2013

What Motivates You?

I attend an exercise class with an amazing instructor, Katie. She is funny, enthusiastic, and uplifting. After attending one of her classes I feel like I could take on the world. I find her to be a very motivating influence.

So, what motivates you? Is it a person, like your spouse, a teacher, or close friend? Or do you get motivated by volunteering, changing your scenery or personal goals?

What is the influence that makes you get your tasks completed? Find your motivation today.

Maria Gracia

Leave a Comment May 23, 2013

What Was the Last Book You Read?

My book club is reading The Great Gatsby for our May meeting. Afterwards, we plan on seeing the movie together.

I read The Great Gatsby when I was in high school, so it has been fun to pick it up again and reread the novel. It was always one of my favorites!

What was the last book you read, and when? With this great weather, consider picking up a classic, or any book you think you’d enjoy, and schedule some fun reading time into your week.

Maria Gracia

3 Comments May 16, 2013

Making Tonight’s Dinner Choice Easier

It’s not fun standing in front of your refrigerator at dinner time, trying to figure out what you’re going to eat based on what ingredients you have available.

If the kids are whining during this time, and your spouse just asked why dinner isn’t yet ready, and you’re tired and hungry yourself, it’s going to be very easy to get stressed out.

You may even throw your hands up in the air and order in a pizza or send your spouse out for McDonald’s. While this is OK once in awhile, if it becomes the norm, it’s going to get pretty unhealthy and fairly expensive in no time at all.

I find the easiest way to make dinner choices is to have a plan of what we’re going to eat BEFORE dinner time rolls around.

And I don’t mean a minute before.

I mean, at minimum, a few hours before so you can pick up what you need at the grocery store if necessary and get started early enough.

That being said, planning at least a day or a week in advance is even better…and I try to do that with my family most of the time.

I know…it takes time to plan out meals. But it doesn’t have to take hours. In fact, I get most of my weekly meal planning done in about 20 minutes, and I try to do it during ‘waiting time’, like while I’m waiting for my daughter’s dance practice to end or while I’m waiting for a load of laundry to be completed.

In general, I choose at least five ‘I already know how to make it’ recipes, and one ‘give it a try’ recipe per week. That results in six meals. Then, I have anywhere from one to three days with no cooking after that as we enjoy our leftovers.

Maria Gracia

2 Comments May 6, 2013

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