Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Boxes-Mask-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to Succeed-WEBThere’s no doubt about it: moving is one of life’s most stressful undertakings. Whether you’re heading three miles down the street or three thousand miles across the country, a move of any size can cause more than its share of sleepless nights. And while a move has always been an anxiety-producing event, it has never been more so than in the era of COVID-19.

As moving concierge and organizing experts, all of us at In Order to Succeed have had to remain flexible over the past few months as we research and engage in best practices to ensure the safety of our team members, the professionals we work with, and our clients and their families. However, we understand that not everyone has the resources to work with professional organizers and productivity consultants like us. With that in mind, we wanted to offer some general tips that can help anyone moving during COVID-19 do so in as safe and efficient a way as possible.

The importance of the “virtual tour”:

Virtual Tour-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to SucceedThe National Association of Realtors strongly encourages realtors to offer their clients the ability to take “virtual tours” of homes and apartments in the era of COVID-19. These tours, which often offer three-dimensional and panoramic views of interiors and exteriors, can provide you with a very good sense of your new home—even if it’s just on a computer screen. While we understand that it can be unsettling to consider such a major purchase based on limited or non-existent physical contact with a home, remember that licensed realtors are there to answer your questions, to help you narrow down your choices, and to find the “perfect fit.”

Should you hire professional movers?

As a concierge moving service, we work exclusively with professional moving companies that are licensed and insured. Although they may cost more, professional movers, organizers, and relocation specialists are trained and experienced. They know how to coordinate a move properly so that your goods will remain safe and will arrive undamaged. They’ve dealt with hundreds of moves and have often handled them with clients not present. Moving coordinators and professional organizers understand how to efficiently unpack the contents of your home and settle you in with as little stress as possible. 

Like all of our peer organizations, In Order to Succeed follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure health and safety during COVID-19. Professional movers are, too. The California Moving and Storage Association (CMSA) provides a thoughtful, well-considered series of steps, directed toward moving companies, that allow them to provide the best possible services for their customers. These include “maintain great hygiene,” “provide contactless customer service,” “comfort your clients,” and “remain flexible.” We feel that it’s important to share these steps with you so that you can understand exactly what precautions are being taken for your safety and the safety of those around you.

What questions should you ask before you hire a moving company, organizer, or relocation specialist?

Boxes-Blue gloves-Top Tips For Moving Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic-In Order to SucceedIn addition to the basics—questions like “What sort of insurance coverage do you have?” and “How can you ensure that my family’s possessions will get to our new home in one piece?”—you might consider asking some questions that center around these organizations’ responses to COVID-19:

  • What type of virtual and contact-free services do you offer? 
  • Do my family and I need to be present on moving day? If we do, how will you ensure our safety and the safety of your employees?
  • How is your company monitoring the health of your employees? Do you offer them paid sick leave? (Employees with paid sick leave are more likely to stay home if they are feeling ill.) 
  • What kind of moving and sanitizing supplies do you provide?

In addition, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) adds several guidelines for consumers to consider as you plan and undertake a move:

  • Give movers the chance to serve you in the safest way possible. Notify them ahead of time if anyone in your household may have contracted coronavirus, or may have been exposed to someone who has.
  • Some professional movers can provide virtual estimates, rather than in-home. If this is your preference, please check with your mover to see if they offer this option.
  • Try to provide your moving crew access to a sink, soap, and paper towels throughout your move. If this isn’t practical, and it is readily available, provide hand sanitizer.
  • If you plan to prepack any items, purchase new moving boxes and tape from your mover; this isn’t the time to use recycled boxes from online sources or from stores.
  • Your mover may also have plastic bins available for rental. Wipe down the interior and exterior with a disinfecting wipe before packing items in them.
  • If you have shelf-stable food you plan to throw out to lighten your load, consider donating it to Move For Hunger to help feed people within your community.
  • Consider deep cleaning your new home before unpacking to mitigate further the risk of contracting the virus.

Finally, the staff at In Order to Succeed recommends that you create a moving plan in advance; that you and your family wear masks if you must be present during the move; that you pack a “last out, first in” box of essentials and keep it with you; and that, if practical, you wait 24 hours before unpacking your possessions (other than that “last out, first in” box).

Moving-Boxes-Top-Tips-For-Moving-Safely-During-the-COVID-19-Pandemic-In-Order-to-SucceedHere at In Order to Succeed, we understand that these additional steps can make an already-stressful experience that much more challenging. However, we hope that this curated resource—which we encourage you to share with others—will give you and your family some concrete, actionable information as you research and plan your move. 

If you live in New York, Connecticut, Florida, or Minnesota and would like to talk about working with us, please contact us directly. If you live elsewhere, you can find a professional organizer or productivity consultant through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals’ (NAPO) searchable database. All of us at In Order to Succeed wish you the very best and hope that your move is as safe and stress-free as possible!

Summer of 2020—the “Summer of the Unknown”- How to engage with family routines and rituals during COVID-19

Back in April, Denise Caron-Quinn, Founder and Director of In Order to Succeed, reached out to me to ask if I wanted to collaborate on writing a piece about how students could organize their workspaces during distance learning. I eagerly agreed…but then, as so often has happened these past few months, I just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to follow through. I’m a forty-year-old adult with a Master’s degree and a twenty-year career in Education, I consider myself to be a hard-working professional…and I was absolutely flattened.

A year—or even six months—ago, it would have been impossible for most of us to imagine living in our current moment. The realities of COVID-19, and the incredible, indelible impact it’s had on our daily routines, have completely changed the way we live. Although there is a profound sense of hopefulness that we’ll be able to return to “normal” when a vaccine can be mass-produced, not knowing when that will happen creates a sense of powerlessness and fear that is unsettling and anxiety producing. In an interview with Slate’s Charles Duhigg, Bruce Felier, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, notes that, during his year-long recovery from cancer, he and his family “found ourselves in a situation that everybody finds themselves in, in which the old rules no longer apply and the new rules have not been written.” The same could be said for Americans living through the spring of COVID. For parents, the past few months have undoubtedly presented moments of joy and of frustration. Many families have found that their quarantine time together, while certainly bringing them closer, has also led to an increase in arguments, disagreements, and a non-infrequent need to retreat to everyone’s own corner.

For children (particularly for members of the Class of 2020), the cancellation of school activities and the loss of the soothing balm of their daily routine has upended their lives. As a middle school teacher, I have seen their sadness first-hand, as yawning faces fill up my Zoom calls each day and as students, who have ostensibly reached out for video extra-help sessions, talk to me instead about how much they miss their friends and teachers.

Now, here we are. It’s June. Summer vacation is on the horizon for many students and has already begun for others. We are all looking forward to a few months’ worth of rest and relaxation; to some time to recharge before returning to whatever the 2020-2021 school year will bring. (Distance? In person? Hybrid? Who knows?!) But despite their excitement, many of our children find that layers of disappointment keep being added to their COVID cake. Beloved sleepaway camps are cancelled. Summertime soccer fields will sit vacant. That trip to visit relatives must be postponed. So many of the activities that make summer “summer” won’t happen this year. Yet again, tears and frustration seem to be the order of the moment.

When most people think of an “organization consultant,” they think of the work of organizing: clearing out detritus, finding solutions for walk-in closets, and helping to plan moves and other major life changes. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: while our professional work can often focus on the physical cataloging of “stuff,” our true obsession is with helping families build and develop new, healthy, and sustainable routines. While these routines are important for adults, they are also very necessary for children. In their discussion of a 50-year research review, the American Psychological Association notes that “family routines and rituals are powerful organizers of family life that offer stability during times of stress and transition.” So: as we head into the Summer of 2020—the “Summer of the Unknown”—how can we engage with family routines and rituals to make our children’s lives easier and our family life more stress-free?

5-Summer of 2020-How to engage with family routines and rituals during COVID-19-1Create your own summer routines and rituals: My brother, Joe, and his partner, Ashley, are raising four unbelievable kids up in Maine. They have engaged in some incredible routine-building over the course of the last few weeks. One of my favorites involves good ol’ backyard camping: they pitched a tent in a newly-cleared space, and the kids have been sleeping outside under the stars. The kids love it, the parents love it…and it’s such a simple way to switch things up.

While nobody is suggesting that you recreate a six-week sleepaway camp at home (especially after being burdened with recreating school at home!), it’s easy (and inexpensive) enough to transition your child’s distance-learning setup to a craft space. All you need are a few small plastic bins, some supplies (Amazon offers tons of ready-made craft sets for purchase and home delivery), and a consistent day each week (or time each day) to let your child build and create. Blocks and Legos work too…and so does software like SketchUp. YouTube is full of cool tutorials (origami, anyone?); I know that several of my students have been playing around with stop-motion animation. And we can’t forget fitness; from riding bikes around the neighborhood to the New York Times’ “How to Build Muscle in Nine Minutes” workout (kids and teens can do it, too!), there are so many resources for keeping in shape…and so much of a benefit to schedule a time each day to do so.

Whatever the activity, make sure that there’s a dedicated space and time for it to take place and remember: the mess is part of the learning (and the cleaning up presents so many wonderful opportunities to learn responsibility!).

Choice is key: We do better, and are more dialed in, when we can choose our own activities. The same is true for young people. Instead of generating your own family schedule this summer, sit down with your child and collaborate. (If you want a laugh, check out the manifesto that thirteen-year-old Leo Rainey wrote to his parents’ quarantine overscheduling, which his mom, Claire Campbell, recently published on
Slate.) Remember that not every second of every day must be packed with activities; although kids will complain about “being bored,” it is in those moments of boredom when our creative minds run wild.

Rearrange and reconfigure: A few weeks into quarantine, one of my advisees excitedly announced to our Zoom that she and her dad were redecorating the “room under the stairs.” It wasn’t a huge room, but they were going to make it into a small nook for playing and reading. They painted, collected some furniture from around the house, and voilà: a brand-new (actually, a newly-repurposed) space!

Believe me: I’m not talking feng shui or Kondo-ification here. Neither you nor I have the mental or emotional strength right now to do anything like that! But even something as simple as moving a bureau catty-corner to a wall can make a huge difference. And, again: let your child lead the way. Working out ideas to restructure and repurpose can be fun!

Let it go!: My next-door neighbors have had two of their adult children living in quarantine with them, so, like all thoughtful parents, they recently rented a dumpster and directed Casey and Kevin to “get rid of all this junk we don’t need.” Believe me: organizational consultants dream of this, and you can check out some of the posts on our IOTS blog for tips and tricks. For some reason, I’ve got a collection of boxes in my basement (what did I think I’d need this many boxes for?), so one of my activities next week is going to be to flatten those boxes and take them out to recycling. A little goes a long way…especially when you have help!

Finally: Leave school out of the equation and let your children be: I recently interviewed Judith Warner, author of And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School, for the Pequot Library here in Southport, Connecticut. During our conversation, Ms. Warner spoke about the challenges of the Summer of the Unknown. “The most important thing parents have to keep in mind,” she said, “is that their relationship with their children is more important than whatever activity they should be doing or achievement they should be acquiring…A lot of parents right now…are worried that their kids are going to be falling behind academically because of the way the school year ended, and want to pile on during the summer…That’s the biggest mistake they can make.” Ms. Warner suggests that encouraging children to read is, of course, important—but that trying to cram in academic work will be a losing proposition. As a teacher, I echo this advice: this summer, let your kids be kids—for their sake, and for your sake!

There’s no way around it: this summer will be tough for all of us. But sticking to a schedule, engaging in some fun new routines, letting your child choose, and forgetting about school for a bit are some great ways to make it as smooth as possible. (And please feel free to connect with me if you have any additional tips and tricks to add to this piece—we’d love to make as many resources as possible available!) Enjoy the long days of summer…and do everything you can to make them last!

Contact us today to learn more about our virtual or in-person assessments to promote a pathogen reduced environment for your home or office. Also, to learn more about how we can help you organize your life or manage your move please contact us here.

Ben Gott is an Education Specialist and Organizing Consultant at In Order To Succeed

Five Productivity Tips for Working From Home

For many our new normal means we’ll be working remotely for the foreseeable future. Working from home can be a wonderful experience for both employer and employee, but it’s important to be fully prepared for the challenges you might face, such as having your documents e-filed or having all parts of your home, organized for peace of mind.

A major problem is how to remain productive when there are so many distractions at home that can get in the way of your work. Stay on target with these five productivity tips and give yourself grace if you can’t manage them all. They’ll help you stay focused and get the job done.

1. Have a Dedicated Office Space

Whether you have a room set aside to be your office or a section of a room dedicated to work, it’s important to have a place to “go to work.” Be sure to have all the office necessities there: a desk, a comfortable chair, computer and telephone, filing or storage solutions, office supplies, and adequate lighting. This room or space should put you in a work mindset, so when you go there you’re prepared mentally to do your job.

Related: Get Inspired. Here’s How to Create a Home Office Out of a Spare Room

Your custom office space should appeal to your work ethic and mindset. While a TV is generally distracting, some people work better with background noise. You know yourself better than anyone – just be reasonable and practical about the setup.

In other words, don’t just pull out your laptop and work from your bed in your pajamas. That might put you in a state of mind to update Facebook or even drift off to sleep!

2. Set and Enforce Boundaries

When you’re working from home a major productivity-buster can be the people you live with. The child who wants your attention. The pet who wants to hop in your lap or go out for a walk. The friends or family members who call just to talk because you’re home. To combat these distractions, it’s important to set and enforce rules for when you are working from the comfort of home.

If you have a door, close it. If you don’t, try hanging a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the back of your chair or set up some other notice that you are not available. Distractions are the downfall of productivity, and working without some healthy boundaries will cause more harm than good.

Post a schedule so others can see when you’ll be taking a break or are finished. Tell family not to call unless it’s an emergency. Enforce these rules from the get-go so they become a habit for everyone.

3. Set Regular Working Hours

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you should roll out of bed at 10 a.m. or take a two-hour lunch break. Schedule hours to work, just as you would in an office setting. Set your alarm, take a shower and get dressed, and eat breakfast before you begin work. This will help put you in a mindset for working, not lounging.

No matter your profession, there will still be deadlines to meet. Set reminders that you have responsibilities and stick to a schedule. Do take a lunch break, but keep it to a reasonable time, no longer than an hour. Take this opportunity to eat, spend time with family or make those personal calls. If family is adhering to the second tip, they will know that this is a time you are available.

4. Keep it Clean

It’s tough to be productive when your desk and office area is a cluttered mess. Be sure to keep your desk clean and clear of any clutter. Keep a trash can nearby to toss unwanted items and a filing system to keep your important papers organized. Have an in-bin for items that need your attention. Make sure only work-related items are in your office; no kids’ toys (which could attract the kids) or piles of junk from elsewhere in the house. Your office space should be for your work only!

Related: Filing 101: Organizing Paperwork

At the end of each workday, take a few minutes to put things in their proper places so you have a clean slate the next morning, not a mess from yesterday to deal with.

5. Eliminate Background Noise

Noises and other distractions will kill your productivity. Crying children, noisy lawnmowers and email alerts can all jolt you out of what you need to be doing. Turn off all alerts and vow to check email only at certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, before and after lunch, and at the end of your workday. Have your personal cell phone send all messages to voicemail during working hours.

If you live in a noisy household or neighborhood, consider a set of sound-cancelling headphones so you can truly work in peace. You can also invest in a good white-noise machine to replace distracting sounds with soothing ones, or run a small fan for the same effect.

For more tips on  how to make working from home a productive and convenient experience or for help organizing your home-office environment visit In Order to Succeed’s website.

 

A “Not-To-Do” List for Boosting Productivity

Busy professionals and homeowners often find solace and guidance in creating task lists. However, it is equally important to consider having a “not-to-do” list. I enjoy reading the blog of Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week. His book is somewhat controversial and he is as well. Regardless of how one views Ferris, I think that we can obtain relevant insights from what he has to say. For instance, the 80/20 Pareto principle that he advocates can be employed in analyzing the utility of many endeavors, both professionally and personally. “Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. Ferris feels the reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do.

Here are nine habits that Tim suggests we stop doing now. To understand his rationale for each you’ll have to read his post.  Whether or not you agree with these views they should provide some good food for thought.

  1. Don’t answer calls from unrecognized phone numbers. Let it go to voicemail.
  2. Don’t e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
  3. Don’t agree to meetings or calls with no clear agenda or end time.
  4. Don’t permit people ramble. Redirect the conversation to stay on point.
  5. Don’t check e-mail continuously – “batch them” and check at defined times during the day.
  6. Don’t over-communicate with low-profit, high-maintenance customers (the 80/20 principle applies here).
  7. Don’t work more to fix overwhelm – prioritize. If you don’t prioritize, everything seems urgent and important.
  8. Don’t carry your mobile device 24/7.
  9. Don’t expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should. Work is not all of life.

It’s important to focus on getting things done, but it’s only possible once we remove the constant static and distraction. Ferris suggests, and I agree, that if you have trouble deciding what to do, just focus on not doing. Different approach, same end result.

STARTING THE SCHOOL YEAR IN HIGH GEAR

How Patience and Practice Lead Students to Success

When I was in high school, I learned how to drive a car with a manual transmission. We drove our ’85 Land Cruiser halfway up the biggest hill in town, put the truck in neutral, and set the emergency brake. Then it was my turn to drive.

I have a vivid memory of being completely overwhelmed by everything around me: How would I get both feet to work? How could I keep the car from rolling backward? What about the people in front of me? Behind me? I stalled out more times than I can count but, with practice, shifting that Land Cruiser became, well, automatic.

As adults, we all have automatic processes that we’ve created to keep ourselves organized. Whether it’s the bowl by the door for our keys, the charging station on the kitchen counter for our phones, or the special place on a dresser for a purse or wallet, we complete these automatic actions without thinking. We’ve dropped our keys in the bowl and charged our phones on the counter hundreds of times before—so how hard can it be for our children to learn to do it, too?

As it turns out, it’s very hard—just ask your seventh-grade son, whose dirty socks never land in the hamper, or your tenth-grade daughter, who can never seem to find her homework on the morning it’s due. In this high pressure, high intensity world, we expect children—particularly middle and high school students—to “get it” the same way we do. But learning these methods takes time and practice—though not as much as you may think.

The good news is that the beginning of the school year is a great time to start. A return to a consistent daily schedule provides incredible opportunities for you to work with your children to get them situated and to help them learn to develop automaticity. Here’s one method that really works.


NOT-SO-DESIGNER LABELS

I spent the first six years of my teaching career working at a boarding school. One winter evening, I got a call from the mother of a boy named Anthony, one of the eighth-graders on my dormitory. Anthony’s mom told me that he had called her again that evening to ask her to send him some more clothes—even though she was sure he had more than enough to get him through until at least April!

When I went to Anthony’s room to check for myself, I was stunned by what I found: all of his clothes—his clean clothes!—had been shoved under the bed. When he got back to the dormitory, I confronted him. As you can imagine, he was embarrassed and ashamed, meekly explaining that he wanted to put his clean clothes away, but he was so overwhelmed by trying to figure out where in the dresser they went that he just gave up!

So, I walked back down the hallway to my apartment, grabbed some yellow Post-Its, a Sharpie, and a roll of packing tape, and sat with Anthony for the next few minutes as we made signs for all his dresser drawers: “SOCKS.” “T-SHIRTS.” “SHORTS.” He chose which drawer corresponded with which article of clothing—remember, it had to make sense to him, not to me!—and by lights out, we had a system in place.

The labels meant that Anthony didn’t have to think about what went where—he just had to acknowledge the t-shirt or sweater, glance at the drawer, and file it away. And the magic of automaticity meant that, a few weeks later, he was so practiced at putting his clothes away in their respective drawers that he was able to remove the labels completely…and his clothes never ended up under the bed again.

The hardest part of helping our children get organized is realizing that what works for us may not work for them. But don’t despair: as psychologist Howard Gardner reminds us often, there are so many different ways to achieve the same goal. If signs with words don’t work, maybe pictures will. Or perhaps a traditional dresser, with those mysterious drawers and their mysterious contents, isn’t the answer. Whatever the system, trust, buy-in, and a little bit of practice can lead to a whole lot of success. But ultimately, what made Anthony’s system so successful is that, even though I suggested it, he was the one who built it. I put Anthony in the driver’s seat, gave him some tools and some encouragement, and let him take the wheel. Providing children the opportunities to chart their own courses is the best gift that caring adults can give—so welcome to a new school year, and let’s get to work!

Ben Gott is an Education Specialist and Organizing Consultant at In Order To Succeed

7 Tips For Improving Productivity In The Office

Denise Caron-Quinn, the President at In Order to Succeed, wrote this article that was recently published on Forbes.com.   

Office moves and renovations present many opportunities for a fresh start. Changing your office’s location or interior design are catalysts for giving your entire company a makeover — and not just an aesthetic one. For starters, change is invigorating! With a fresh new look and a sharp, modern design, it’s hard for anyone working or visiting a beautiful and uncluttered space not to feel inspired and energized. Running a firm that specializes in managing relocations for individuals and companies, I know firsthand the potential advantages for businesses that operate “as if” they are moving (even if they don’t plan on vacating their current office). If you are an owner or manager of a company, you should consider targeting each of these seven areas — whether you are relocating or not.  

Introduce New Innovations

Moving to a new location encourages companies to try out different methodologies and techniques to run their business. Relocations prompt evaluation of the way a workforce collaborates and communicates. I believe rethinking staff workspaces, conference and recreational areas and examining new ideas for working simpler and smarter should be a component of any companies’ ongoing practice. This requires that both management and staff evaluate ideas that break away from the status quo in order to try new solutions aimed at improving productivity, efficiency and use of space. For example, open floorplans, non-assigned seating and multipurpose workspaces are a departure from the traditional walled-in workspaces. One can also utilize adaptable furniture designs to improve workspace flexibility.

Declutter, Organize And Beautify

Offices eventually accumulate furniture, equipment and accessories that are damaged or no longer serving a purpose. And regardless of how well your cleaning crew cares for your space, furniture gets worn and stained. We often discard or recycle anything that’s damaged, mismatched or outdated when we move a client. I strongly believe that clearing office clutter and removing antiquated furnishings is a good investment that will give a fresh face to your company’s image. Supply closets, kitchens and break rooms are areas that typically become untidy. These spaces are used by your entire staff, so a team approach is needed in addition to assigning someone responsible for daily maintenance. For assistance, consider allocating funds toward a professional who has office organizing and redesign experience. The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (Full disclosure: I’m a member), as well as resources such as the American Society of Interior Designers and the American Institute of Architects, can be utilized to find consultants experienced in reorganizing an existing space or designing your new one.

Evaluate Expenses And Build Energy Efficiency

Most of our clients take time to evaluate their financial outgoings as they prepare for a move. From utilities to office goods, they often will conduct a review of their suppliers to explore ways to save money. Energy costs represent a significant percentage of an enterprise’s monthly expenditures. With the green market constantly expanding and offering a range of more energy-efficient products, it’s smart to investigate and implement “green” upgrades to your office. Simple improvements such as a programmable thermostat, double-pane windows and automatic bathroom faucets may reduce your annual energy costs. Energy assessments should be routine practice for all companies and not just those on the move.

Enhance Employee Satisfaction

When evaluating your office, please take into account your staff who work there every day. Unpleasant surroundings and uncomfortable furnishings can be a real downer and deterrent. Enhancing your employees’ environment and comfort will likely result in a morale boost that can lead to more positive feelings toward their work and the company. Remember that their happiness directly affects the quality of their work as well as your profits.

Here are a few ways to enhance your employees’ environment:

Improve Lighting

Research shows that exposure to natural daylight can have positive effects on one’s mood, alertness and quality of sleep. Unfortunately, not every office space offers an unobstructed window view for each staff member. Installing skylights aren’t always an option, so keep windows regularly cleaned to maximize sunshine in and situate desks and workspaces within view of a window wherever possible. If an office has no windows, then the next best thing is indirect lighting. LED lighting and fluorescent lamps along ceilings, walls or floors can provide a hidden illumination source that can transmit light throughout the space. It’s less harsh than having the light shine directly on you, and it doesn’t reflect off of computer screens.

Update Technologies

State-of-the-art office technologies are frequently a component of office renovations and relocations. With wireless devices and cloud-based programs, offices can drastically change their layouts and reduce space in areas that once contained hardware and wiring. Depending on your situation, you may find such areas can be converted for new purposes and you’ll be able to streamline traffic patterns to avoid time wasted traveling to places such as the printer.

Get Ergonomic

A comfortable work area with quality furnishings lets staff know that your company cares about their well-being. Sitting on chairs that facilitate good posture and installing under-desk keyboard trays are measures that encourage proper body alignment and comfort. Some offices have taken their workspaces to the next level by introducing standing or movable desks. Standing desks are believed to provide impressive health benefits that include improved mood and energy. Most versions are adjustable, allowing the user to change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing. If buying new desks isn’t feasible for your company, then consider a desktop adapter that will convert a traditional desk to a standing desk in minutes.

All in all, a newly improved work environment can promote increased productivity and enhanced efficiencies, along with a variety of other personal and professional benefits. So why not start managing your company with the same mindset that you would if you were relocating or remodeling your office?

To learn more about how to creating an organized office environment that enhances productivity and efficiency, please email or call us today!

Summer Planner Checklist for Students and Families

Now that summer is upon us and our children are off from school we have the pleasure and the pain associated with lots of free time. Although my 13-year-old has times throughout the summer where her schedule is booked with camps, classes, and structured events, there are those wide gaps where she has the freedom to choose what her day will look like. Her schedule is solidly booked during the school year, so summer is an opportunity for her to choose what to do during her downtime or to choose to do nothing at all and just relax.


Handle it Gently

Without being overbearing but at the same time wanting to create a sense of objectives, I sat down with my daughter to discuss the importance of her mapping out the next few months so that she makes the most of her summer break.

At the end of our efforts, we had developed a Google doc for her to complete that asked for the following considerations:

We asked her to set limits on the amount of time she felt appropriate for her to be connecting on social media or browsing the Internet, watching videos, or playing games.

We then asked her to determine what reading assignments or other school-related assignments she needs to complete over the summer and also pick out some books that she plans to read that are not part of her required reading. Similarly, we asked her to list other academic-related tasks that she will complete.

Another area that we felt would be helpful, was for her to identify the friends who she wants to connect with over the summer and perhaps write down times that she knows they will be in town or away. This would make it easier when we want to schedule and plan things or have spur of the moment play dates.


Take advantage of the time off

Summertime is a great opportunity when extra time enables us to try new things or work on improving things that we already do. With this in mind we asked for her to think about ways in which she may spend time learning new skills, trying out a new sport, or doing something that’s a little out of the ordinary and that she wouldn’t generally have the chance to do during the school year.

We then asked her to think of volunteer opportunities that she would be interested in participating in such as caring for animals at the Humane Society or being volunteer tutor or camp counselor to younger children.

There are also chores and family responsibilities we expect of her. Having those listed with frequency and times and when they need to be done is extremely helpful. This way she knows how much time there is for work and for play.


Continue after Summer is Over

Once our summer game plan is completed we add target dates and reminders on the calendar so that in addition to scheduled camps, theater productions, and taekwondo classes, our child has some reminders and a framework that she can use to navigate the goals that she has set for herself. Hopefully, our summer checklist and a calendar schedule will ensure that these activities and plans actually happen.

With all this said, my goal is not to overbook or over-stimulate her during the summer vacation but rather to keep her from falling into an area of too much time with not much happening.  Left to their own devices, it’s easy for our children, (just like it is for us) to lose track of time and spend endless hours on social media and idly staring at computers and televisions.

To optimally plan for the summer, I developed a tool to guide us which you can access via the below link. I hope you and your family find that it facilitates your children’s time, activities and priorities!

Denise Caron-Quinn

(Click here to download our helpful guide for your own plan

3 Tips on How to Help Your kids Succeed in School by Getting Organized

Tips-to-Help-Students-Succeed-Study-Blog-3As the end of the school year approaches we know to anticipate end of term projects and final exams.  As parents and former students ourselves we understand that along with these increased demands comes stress and the disruption to normal routines.  These changes can be particularly unsettling for your student and your family. While it is ultimately up to your child to figure out which practices work best for them to keep up with the current situation of things, you too can contribute your quota to their drive for success.

Students need a balanced environment to thrive, more so at this time when their senses are stoked, and nerves rattled.  As a mom or dad, who’s aiming to be supportive, fostering a conducive environment that functions as a place of refuge – so to speak, is one of the most essential steps you can take to complement your son or daughter’s efforts towards success.


The First Part of Creating an Organized Environment is as You Might Have Guessed – Getting Organized!

The notion of final exams and its attendant complexities can mount pressure on your student and cause them to be disorganized. It’s not unusual to see your child’s room muddled in a heap of clutter, and while this can be justified as stemming from a lack of time, it is actually unhealthy and known to cause a significant drop in productivity because it in very literal terms, muddle the brain’s ability to perform optimally. As a parent, this is where you step in. Help your child create schedules and timetables that reinforce a balance between work, play and positive social and environmental interaction. Sure, they may be trying to rack up extra study time to cover all aspects of their syllabuses, but that doesn’t mean everything else should be relegated to the back burner.


Eating Healthy is Preparing Healthily

Tips-to-Help-Students-Succeed-Study-Blog-1A nutritious and balanced diet is the body’s own octane booster to heightened performance. More importantly, however, unhealthy diets especially those saturated with fats, the type you get from over consumption of things like fast foods, snacks, cakes and processed pork or chicken products are linked to a higher incidence of aggression, depression and heart disease. To prevent the onset of these (which are already a risk given the heightened levels of stress), it is essential that you;

•  Provide your family with nutritional foods and supplements

•  Enlighten them on the dangers of maintaining an unhealthy diet


Moderate the Tech Exposure

Technology can be potentially detrimental to your kids and adult children, most especially when there’s a need to focus and burn the midnight candles, and several researches exist to corroborate this fact. Back in the days, study time was ‘study time’ there were no mobile phones, no notifications or calls to put students off. Today mobile phones and computers are required for most assignments.  They are integral part of the study environment but along with them comes unwanted distractions and noise. That’s not to say this is entirely nocuous but the key to technology (as is with most other parts of life) is moderation. Limit just how long your kids can be tethered to their technology or television and place an enforceable embargo on how much time they spend on their devices. Your kids should know that time spent online is valuable time – their efforts should be directed at making the most use of it.

In addition to these, don’t forget the importance of positive reinforcements. Your child needs all the encouragement he/she can get. So while you go about tuning the environment, don’t forget to rub it in with bits of the ‘you can do it’ and the ‘keep focused.’

To learn more about how to creating an organized home environment that enhances student Performance on final projects and exams, please email or call us today! 

Balancing Work and Life

A New Job

First off, congratulations! You’ve landed a new job and are now faced with so many new opportunities to grow professionally. Of course it is important to prove your abilities from the start, so it is easy to let your drive to succeed at work take over your life. To succeed in your career though, it is also essential to maintain a healthy distance from work when tending to your personal life. No one can focus solely on work without eventually crashing. Consider these tips to best balance your personal and professional life.

Coming out of the Gate

Starting a new job can be exciting and also a bit scary. The key to not getting overwhelmed is remembering why you were hired in the first place. Trust your knowledge and ability, and then work hard.

  1. Do your research. Learn as much about the company and clients as you can before starting. Having a knowledge base will allow you to become integrated more quickly.
  2. Come with ideas. Use the expertise that got you hired to contribute meaningful suggestions from the start.
  3. Be ambitious, but also respectful. This goes hand-in-hand with new ideas. Consider yourself as an asset (you are!) who has the potential to change the company for the better. Keep in mind though that other employees who have been around longer may feel uncomfortable with straying from the status-quo.

Productivity at Its Best

Keeping the mentality that while you are at work, you’ll only do work will help you excel each day. While of course life gets in the way, it’s all about setting priorities. Sometimes you may be forced from work in the case of a family emergency, illness, or accident. Everyone has been there and should be understanding. Aside from these rare and unfortunate situations though, your focus at work should be on your job. Don’t spend valuable work time on things like checking personal emails or checking off to-dos outside of work. Spending your workday focused and active will allow you to be as productive as possible.

After Work

What should you do at the end of the workday? Leave it there! Just as you should try your best to keep your personal life out of work, try to leave your career at the office and focus on family, friends and yourself in your free time. This is a difficult task as it is becoming increasingly common to work from home or have a more flexible schedule than a 9-5 workday. Even if you are in a non-traditional work situation, you can still designate work-time and personal-time. During your personal time, unplug. Don’t allow emails and alerts get in the way of your family or me-time.

While it is impossible to completely separate work and leisure time, working to accomplish this to the best of your ability will help you feel more well-rounded and balanced.

Autumn Organizing with the KonMari Method

The Method

Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” has redefined organization. She works on “the metric of joy.” Ask yourself, “has this item sparked joy for me recently?” If the answer is no, remove it from your life. You’ll soon find yourself with a decluttered home surrounded by only meaningful possessions.

Autumn Organizing

The transition into fall is the perfect time to try out the KonMari method in your home. Soon it will be cold and the holidays are approaching; take time to pack away everything summer and take on the fall and winter at peace and in control of your life.

Here are the top10 areas in you life that would benefit from the KonMari method in this time of transition:

  1. Clothing: To prepare for autumn, try KonMari’s method while switching over you closet. Put all of your clothes- winter and summer- in the center of the room, then go through each article. Does it spark joy? Then pack away your favorite warm-weather clothes to make room for your favorite cozy sweaters. Begin this fall season with a more manageable, meaningful wardrobe.
  2. Garage: Make room for the snow blower! Take the time to pack away summer gardening tools and children’s beach toys and bring to access winter essentials like snow-removal tools, wood-chopping tools, etc. Be sure to get rid of items that cause unnecessary clutter to create an accessible space.
  3. Office: Create a peaceful place where you can think and work clearly, free of clutter. Clear out inboxes, and create organized files on your computer. Try digitalizing your physical files and then shredding documents that are taking up space in your office. Be sure to back up all files!
  4. Kitchen pantries: Get rid of that blue icing your bought for your child’s birthday cake three years ago. Go through your non-perishables and get rid of anything you know you’ll never use. Make room to stock up on soups and other foods you will be eating more of come the colder weather.
  5. Coats/Shoes: Winter coats and boots are bulky, so it is easy to have a stuffed and messy closet when it is not kept organized. Go through your coat closet and trash or donate anything that you didn’t use last winter, or anything that your children have grown out of. If your closet if full of old, outdated coats, treat yourself to a new one if you can afford it and get rid of that puffy jacket you still have from college.
  6. Children’s Toys: Christmas is around the corner… which means a new wave of clutter for those with children. Take the time now to go through your child’s toys and donate those that haven’t been played with in some time. You will be much more at peace later when new toys are added to the playroom.
  7. Home decorations: It’s almost time to put out your favorite leaf-patterned table cloth! Everyone loves to make their house festive for the season, but these decorations collect over time and we often find ourselves with more than we can use. If decorations are left in the storage bin during a season, get rid of them. Only keep those that spark joy in your life and contribute to your home décor.
  8. Christmas tree ornaments:Tree ornaments are their own separate category because so many families have more than they can count. If you leave half of your decoration in the bin or your tree is falling over due to the weight of so many ornaments, take some time to minimize your collection. This is a difficult task as tree ornaments tend to be particularly sentimental, but having a decluttered home will help you better enjoy the holiday season. Do this now before Christmas so that when it comes time to decorate the tree, you are not tempted to keep every one.
  9. Car: Go through your backseat and remove the bags, jackets, and trash left behind from passengers, particularly children. Autumn is a busy time, so give yourself some peace in the car while you’re driving from work to children’s activities.
  10. Papers and files: Take the time to go through all of the papers that have gathered on your desk or counters. Create an organized and protected space to keep anything important like medical and financial files. It is a good idea to also digitalize these files. Then get rid of anything that will not be referred to later like flyers, receipts (unless they document a large and important purchase, in which case keep), and old schoolwork.

Why Declutter Your Life?

We are surrounded by things, clothing, books, papers, mementos, but much of our time is not spent enjoying those things. Rather we feel cluttered and overwhelmed by the space they take up and how we can’t find anything.

The concept of decluttering your life boils down to one question: what are the things that spark joy in you? Once you can minimize the possessions that do not, calmness begins to take their place. Instead of constantly feeling frustrated by cleaning and organizing, a huge amount of time is freed for other pursuits. Imagine whatever it is that gives you peace or brings you joy. If you want to have more time for it, remove the unimportant things that are taking up valuable time, energy and thought.

What Does The KonMari Method Require?

Get a copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and begin this life-changing process. Following the steps in this book will quickly lead to a home that is more organized and more reflective of your authentic self.

The first step to the KonMari Method is to picture the end result. Envision exactly what will bring you peace. The book then takes you through categories of possessions rather than rooms. Each category is pared down to what you will keep through a series of steps. After you have discarded items there are specific ways in which to organize and place the possessions that are left.

The KonMari Method is a studied approach that will declutter your life and bring you peace and calm. It is worth reading the book and trying it out in your home. Whether you wish to work through one category to start or take a comprehensive approach, In Order To Succeed is a full service firm with professionals who can assist you in getting your home and your life organized, the KonMari way!