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Getting Ready for the Holidays

By Amy Knapp

Do ahead what can be done ahead! A lot of staging and assembly can be done well ahead of the official decorating.

Amy KnappAfter Halloween:

Try to take one or two projects per week to prepare. Start early with lists: gift to purchase, house projects, decorating, baking, and entertaining.

Keep the holiday list separate by merging them with your master weekly to do list.
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Managing the Paper Tiger of Elementary School

Amy Knapp 2015 Family Organizer

Buy this and more at Calendars.com.

By Amy Knapp

The elementary school years produce more paper clutter, disguised as priceless pieces of art, than any other level. As we begin a new year, purchase a low profile, under the bed plastic storage box. As papers come in, sort into three categories; art, action, and information.

Art:
Whether it be your refrigerator, chalk board, or picture frame, designate an area for display. Sometimes you will be gifted with multiple pieces of art a week! Have your student help pick the most special and then store away the other in the box under the bed. As new art goes on display, the old art goes into the box.

Action:
Keep a folder or file for items that are going to require action. Keep it somewhere that it will be seen, both as a reminder and for quick reference. If you can put everything immediately into your calendar, including reminders and to-do’s that will be required. Once the event or action is complete you can either discard or move to information – you may need it for reference.

Information:
Nowadays you can look almost anything up online regarding your school and its schedule. For those papers you want to keep but won’t need immediate access to, create a file or folder that can be kept away. Each time you get a report card go through and purge old papers!
At the end of the school year have a big clean out. Go through the artwork, let your student keep five of their favorites; mail or send pictures of the rest to grandparents, aunts, and friends.

Creative ways to use old school art:
• Use pictures folded up as Christmas cards.
• Create a photo collage of drawings and paintings.
• Laminate and use as placemats on your table.
• Create an artwork wall in your student’s room.
• Use as wrapping paper for Birthday’s and Holidays.

About the Author:
Amy Knapp KitchenBorn in Washington, Michigan, Amy relocated to Chelsea, Michigan when she was young. She attended Western Michigan  University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She graduated from Western (’87) with a B. S. in Social Work.

In 1991, Amy joined forces with two other very talented women; together they formed Concept to Promotion, a specialty  advertising company. Within 5 years, sales had exceeded a million dollars a year and Knapp was doing national and international  promotions for large corporations headquartered in Michigan.

Six months after starting this business, Amy married her husband Dave. Now, they have two wonderful children. Complications with her daughter’s health led to her selling out of the business and staying home with the children.

Being a self-starter, Amy was disappointed with her lack of productivity and she couldn’t seem to get it going at home. Amy created what was soon to become Amy Knapp’s Family Organizer to keep track of appointments, errands, and schedules.

Amy is still a stay-at-home mom; also a soccer mom as her son begins his sports activities. For more information on Amy Knapp, make sure to check out her website at www.familyorganizer.com.

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The Perfect Command Center

With summer winding down and the school year ramping up, this perfect time to reorganize anything that didn’t work for you last year. One of the easiest ways to keep your house organized is to have a functional command center that meets the needs of your family.

The first step is to figure out where your problem areas are. For my house, it happened to be the kitchen island. My husband and I would walk in through the garage and just drop everything there until it became useless as actual counter space in the kitchen. Find where you family currently dumps everything because that will make it easier to retrain and replace the bad habit. Luckily, we had some nice wall space just past the island that was begging to be used!

Once you know where you want your command center, the next step is to identify the needs of your family. Since we don’t have any children yet, our needs were pretty basic. We needed a place to put the mail, Groupons, coupons, a whiteboard for notes and honey-do lists, a place for pens and markers, and of course, a calendar. We also needed a place to keep our keys and sunglasses, but I put that closer to the door instead of with the command center itself. Some other things you might consider for your command center would be a place for kids to hang their backpacks, an in/out wall file for homework and paperwork from the school, chore charts, a shopping list (we have an awesome magnetic shopping list hanging on our fridge), or a cork board.

Now that you have your needs addressed and your space assigned, it is time to find products to create your perfect command center. You can go with an all-in-one system that allows you to simply snap what you need onto a preformed back, or you can do a hodge-podge approach. Martha Stewart has a great system if you want everything to be identical, but I wanted something that matched the look of my kitchen and dining area a little more.

I measured off my space, and because I am a bit OCD, created a template in Photoshop to show the available space. Another way to do this would be to map it out on graph paper, This will allow you to play with what elements will fit where before you start hanging anything. My first priority was finding a calendar that I loved. We don’t necessarily want our calendar to feature any particular artwork, so I opted for a monthly desk pad style instead. Before I created the command center, we had a monthly magnetic calendar on our fridge, so I knew we already liked the format. I found the Kathy Davis Desk Pad that matched my color scheme and planned the other elements around the size of my calendar. A close second was the Bold Blossoms Monthly/Weekly Wall Calendar, but we didn’t need that much space for just the two of us. Knowing how much space I had left to work with. I found some galvanized steel containers that I then spray-painted a metallic bronze to match my fixtures. I also found a cheap 12×12 whiteboard and bought a simple unfinished wooden frame. I used the same metallic bronze spray-paint and it worked wonderfully.

The last step is something to claim it as your own. I opted for a wooden sign that had our name and the year we were married, but I have also seen some cute command centers with a simple initial that matched. Whatever your style is, this identifier will round out the command center and make you smile every time you look at it.

Command Center 1

Command Center 2

Do you have some great command center ideas that I missed? Please share below!

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Dry Erase Calendars

Are you looking for that perfect calendar with just a touch of cute and color but with plenty of room to write? If you really can’t find something you like in our amazing selection of wall calendars, maybe you’ll love our new dry erase calendars! We have a great new selection sure to appeal to anyone looking to keep track of to-dos and stay organized.

WallPops offers several cute options of thin dry erase monthly or daily calendars that peel and stick wherever you need them. These boards look great, erase easily, and can be moved anywhere in the house or office that you may need them. Calendars.com has four-month sets, monthly boards, daily dots, and even blank dry erase boards for notes and lists.

 

Havoc Gifts specializes in canvas-like hanging dry erase boards. These high-quality, reusable calendars come in 12 x 12 or 16 x 24 monthly grids in various color schemes. Each calendar includes three matching magnets that can stick on the calendar, or anywhere else you might need them, and a black dry-erase marker. These are perfect for adding a bit of class to any area that requires organization and possible schedule changes!

 

 

If you are looking for something a little more plain but just as functional, then Mead has exactly what you need. This dry erase calendar line features simple white backgrounds with easy to see black lettering and lines. Take your pick from three different sized monthly grids, a weekly grid, or two sizes of blank writing surfaces. These are great for any office or in any area of the home that simply needs function, not fashion.

 

 

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We’re On Pinterest!

Is your household using Pinterest yet? If so, are you among the nearly 10,000 people who follow Calendars.com on Pinterest? You ought to! We’ve tried to compile items you would like to see through 24 boards and more than 7,700 pins.

To make it easier for our customers to stay organized, we’ve also added a ‘Your Organized Life’ board. This board is full of pins that showcase how our customers organize their lives and the fun gadgets and ideas that help them stay that way.

Use this board to find out how to turn plastic rain gutters into a fun reading corner, learn fun ways to keep your pantry organized, and even find your favorite calendar!

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5 Awesome Personalized Calendar Ideas

You’ve heard about our Custom Photo Wall Calendars, and you’ve seen how easy it is to create one. If you’re struggling to come up with a theme or choose worthy photos from the hundreds you’ve taken over the years, have no fear – we’ve put our heads together and we’re ready to share our ideas with you. Go ahead…pick one (or two, or three) and get customizing!

1. Baby’s First Year – Your best friend welcomed a little bundle of joy to the world just about a year ago, and you want your gift to outshine all others at the upcoming 1st birthday bash. So, gather a picture of the little guy/girl from each month of the first year of his/her life and help your bestie relive that precious year all over again. Don’t forget the bathtub and spaghetti face moments. The other party guests have no hope (mwahaha).

2. My Best Instagram Photos – You’ve spent way too much time choosing the right filter and the most promising hashtags for those oh-so-artistic cell shots just to let them fall off the feed and never be seen again. You have like 200 followers and National Geographic ‘liked’ your #bestnatureshot for crying out loud! Put them together into a calendar and enjoy them on your wall all year long. Or better yet, try our new Personalized Social Photo Booksand let our app pull your Facebook or Instagram photos into a photo book instantly!

3. Best. Vacation. Ever.– You love vacation- everyone does. Whether it was that long and torturous road trip from New York to Florida, or that Mediterranean cruise that left you on cloud nine, there are memories from vacations you don’t want to lose. A calendar with your best vacation photos would make the perfect gift for your travel buddies.

4. My Favorite Dishes– You’re a regular ol’ Bobby Flay. The only reason you watch the clock all day at work is because you can’t wait to get home and heat up the kitchen. Because you’re such a culinary genius, you obviously snap a shot of every single one of your mouth-watering creations. Now those would make a perfect kitchen calendar!

5. I Am the 12th Man – You’ve held season tickets for the past 8 years, your tailgating parties attract everyone parked in lots A and B, and your closet looks like a team store. Everyone says it, but you really are the biggest fan. We know you’ve been to way more than 12 or 18 games, but put yourself at the stadium every day with a calendar featuring photos from the most memorable ones. Sure, you and the mascot can go on two months.

If you have another awesome personalized calendar idea, please share it by commenting below! Remember: You can start a Custom Photo Wall Calendar on any month of the year, and they are printed on quality paper stock. So, you don’t have to throw those calendars away when the 12 or 18 months are up. Consider framing each image to create a wall collage, for example. Hmm…perhaps another blog post for the future?

A big thanks to our guest blogger for the day, Christine D., for her awesome ideas!

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Organizing your Gmail Inbox – With New Priority Inbox

When it comes to sheer numbers, Hotmail still has the ranks. However, Gmail has always been superior in terms of features and pushing the digital envelope. Yesterday, they released “Priority Inbox” to help with email overload.

Let us know what you think of the new feature as it rolls out throughout the coming weeks. It hasn’t hit my inbox yet, but I’ll be sure to keep hitting refresh until that time comes.

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5 Steps to Organize Your Mind Without Computers

bonsai

This post is in lieu of the recent and popular article in the New York Times entitled Your Brain on Computers: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price about a family who is digitally connected beyond the average American. Their lives are absorbed within technology, and every possible moment is filled with some form of screen stimulation. This is characteristic of many of the Gen Y and Millennium kids. From the article:

Mr. Campbell loves the rush of modern life and keeping up with the latest information. “I want to be the first to hear when the aliens land,” he said, laughing.

In his defense, he probably will be one of the first. As connected as he is, it will take only moments for the message to get to him. Is that really the goal of life though? To be the first to know? The article continues to discuss the effect of multi-tasking, both positive and negative. It’s a fascinating read for those who know someone like Mr. Campbell.

The connectedness of the Campbells is my segue into purposely disconnecting your harmful habits and putting order into the way your mind works.

How do we stay organized without computers?

I’m writing about organization in a broad term. The following steps will help you get to the organization of your honest thoughts and true feelings. It may (but most likely may not) give you tips on how to organize your closet.

Step 1: Unplug

Entire sites exist to help your kids unplug, and there are efforts to go as far as setting up an intervention for those addicted to staring at a screen (Unlplugyourfriends.com).


Step 1 removes anything that provides entertainment or social connections. Phones, computers, and televisions should be turned off and unplugged. Simply turning off your device will not work. You may already do that a couple times a day. The step of unplugging, removing the battery, or donating means you are taking this extra serious.

It must be a decision from the inside, or you will quickly resort back to the clicks and the stares.

Step 2: Decompress

Here is where the withdrawals start. The goal is to un-froth your mouth of digital rabies and revert back to a simpler way of thinking.

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A Simple Trick for Effective To-Do Lists

The Problem?

You come across a task on your calendar, and since you are not in the same mindset as when you scheduled it, you may forget the importance of the task and postpone it or ignore it altogether. This is an extremely easy problem to identify, but a much harder problem to correct.

Update: Ruben from the comments brought up a great point. This is most crucial for dates that are far enough into the future that you could forget the importance.

solution

A Possible Solution

Define the importance of every item on your to-do list.

Whenever you mark your calendar with a to-do item, put a small blurb about why it is important. These can include phrases that inspired you to take on the task, reasons why it is important, or anything else to jolt yourself back into the mindset surrounding that to-do item.

Remember, your past and present selves may not always have the same point of view.

problem

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What is a Tickler File?

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah, and any other successful entrepreneur has the same 24 hours in a day that we all do. One thing that most of these people have mastered is time management. We don’t all have personal assistants to keep us on our toes. Despite Tim Ferriss’ attempt to have us outsource our life, it isn’t realistic for most.

It Starts with You

No one can convince you more than yourself. Any self driven person doesn’t rely on everyone else to keep things organized and ready to go. Being both organized and passionate is a dangerous combination. Only when you have mastered both, with a hint of money management, can you put your head down and charge at the world.

What is a Tickler File?

A Tickler File is a way of remembering time-sensitive material. A physical setup revolves around a set of folders that ‘tickle’ the memory.

Tickler files were used in early twentieth century to allow lawyers to remember when they needed to renew their trademarks and copyright information.

43foldersexample

What Does 43 Folders Mean?

The popular productivity and time management blog, 43folders.com is a direct reference to the 43 folders used in the Tickler File system. The 43 folders refer to the 31 days (maximum) in a Gregorian or Julian month, and the 12 months of the year.

43folders

Receipts, birthday cards, or whatever needs to be done in a following month, is placed into the months ahead. At the beginning of each month, the user of the system would distribute the articles into the numbered days.

Say it was January…

“I know this birthday is somewhere in March.”

The user would then place the birthday card in the March folder.

On March 1st, the user would move the 31 numbered folders into the March folder, and distribute whatever needs to be done into the different days. And so on…

What are your thoughts on the Tickler System?

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