You CAN Beat the Odds

mail-manAt the beginning of a new year, statistics say that some 45% of people make new year’s resolutions. The number two most popular resolution is to “get organized” right after “losing weight” which has become the number one resolution. The statistics also say that a mere 8% of Americans will achieve their resolution. I think when it comes to getting organized, we can do better than 8%, don’t you?

Paper and clutter are the two most common challenges to getting organized. Today, let’s just talk about one source of the paper piles – the mail. Six days a week the mail comes whether you want it to or not. Some days you have time to go through it and other days you may not. There may be decisions that need input from someone else, or more information, bills to pay, magazines to read and of course the most plentiful….the junk mail.

First thing to do to get it under control is to designate a home for the mail. Not having a specific place means it may land on the kitchen table, then at dinner it is moved to the island or the counter, or it gets hidden under a homework book. You get the picture, it needs a home. A clear inbox, basket or bin that is not too large but can hold a typical week’s worth of mail (smaller if you don’t want yours to build up that long) makes a good home or rather a temporary holding zone. Of course, if you can throw out the flyers and shred the junk mail before it goes into the inbox, all the better. If not, that’s okay. Just pick a day of the week when you will go through the entire bin.

On “mail day” sort the mail first into bills, decisions/to do, to read, and junk. Shred or recycle the junk. Next pay the bills. If you pay them online, then set a day of the week that you will do that or do it after the rest of the mail is taken care of. It is becoming increasingly time consuming to have to write out an actual check so those things can sometimes slip through the cracks.

Next, move the magazines to a “to read” basket or throw one or two in your car for those times you find yourself waiting. Or put one or two by your favorite chair and read during the commercials.

What’s left is the mail that requires a decision of some sort. The best way to do that is to just go through it and decide on the things you can and then write a “to do” in your planner for the next action step on anything that is left over. Make it a rule to empty the bin each week and of course try to deal with some of it as it comes in so that your “mail day” can become a “mail hour.” Keep at it and you will beat the odds!

This week I’ll be posting more tips on handling paper on the Laine’s Logic Facebook page. “Like” us so you won’t miss them. Thanks for reading!

Goal Setting for Teens II

In my previous post I mentioned that SMART goal setting for teens can provide a direction, focus and a measurable path for achieving the success they want. Whether it is to make the team, ace a test or make the honor roll a teen can benefit from clarifying what it is they really want rather than just making a general (and often empty) statement. We have already mentioned that a goal must be specific (S). The easiest way to do that is to answer the “wh” questions of who, what, where, when and why. The answer to the “why” question should resonate with your teen and not with someone else’s wishes for them.

A SMART goal is also measurable (M). In the case of improving grades it would be easy to track the progress on a simple chart. If a teen was trying to make the varsity team, they might want to track their practice time, workout time or the amount of weights they are lifting. This works for tracking a new habit as well. Darren Hardy, Publisher of Success magazine uses a rhythm register to track his new habits throughout the week. Having your teen track their progress makes the intangible, tangible. Now they can see the effort they are putting in and judge whether or not it is enough.

The next two letters (A & R) go together. A goal must be attainable (A) and realistic (R). Aiming for the honor roll is wonderful but it may not be realistic if grades are low or tests are few. It is wonderful to aim high but when forming goals they should be out of reach enough that you would need to stretch yourself and not so easy that you could attain it with minimal effort. Keep in mind that the further you have to go to reach your goal (especially academic ones) the longer your time frame needs to be. In our example of raising a grade by 12 points to an 83%, if only one more grade was added it would need to be a 91% or better. That may not be realistic. If instead there were three or four more opportunities to be graded, then the goal would be much more realistic and ultimately more attainable.

So you can see how important it is for a goal to be “time specific” (T), which is the last letter of the SMART acronym. Have you ever noticed that when you had a deadline coming up that your adrenaline kicked in and you were able to focus and get it done? Perhaps you have joked about “working better under pressure?” This is what happens when you set a time frame for accomplishing your goal. The impending deadline creates all kinds of action in the brain and kicks you into overdrive. It provides the motivation you need to get it done. Use it to your advantage.

A great time to set goals is at the beginning of the school year, but each new term brings another opportunity to create, review or revise them. February brings the start of term three in most schools and this is a great opportunity to prove to yourself what you can do. Start today to create two or three SMART goals. The more practice you have at setting and reaching for goals that meet the SMART criteria, the more likely you are to experience success. Celebrate the direction you are going and the changes you are seeing and let go of any guilt or negativity. Share your goals in the comment box below.

Next time we will take the goal setting to the next step of goal attaining.

Goal Setting for Teens

Many adults begin the new year with high hopes and new resolutions. When I asked several middle and high school age students what their New Year resolutions or goals were they said, “better grades.” When asked to elaborate though they were at a loss as to how they planned to reach that goal. Students are doing what they feel is the most they can do and then just hoping that it is enough to raise their grades. Sometimes they are surprised when it is not.

How can we help them set and attain a successful goal? The first step is to make sure their goal is a SMART goal. By that I mean it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific. (My apologies to the creator of that acronym). Let’s talk about the first two today. So, how do you make “better grades” more specific and measurable?

First, define which grades they would like to improve and by how much. If your student is bringing home C’s and B’s, then honor roll is not out of reach but some subjects will need more work than others. For instance,” bring my science grade up from a C to a B” is more specific than “improving my grade”. From this point they can find out what their numeric average is and actually calculate how many points they need to raise it up a grade.  

Next, make the goal measurable by using the average they are aiming for. For next term, I will raise my science grade by 12 points to an 83% in order to get a B for the term. Now they can actually figure out the specifics they need to raise that grade. If they studied for an hour for a test and received a 75%, would two hours be enough to bring their grade to a 91%? That’s right they would need a 91 in order to bring a 75% up to an 83%.  A low grade takes extra effort to raise their average by a few points. Homework also has an effect as it often throws students a curve ball because they do not understand the impact  one missing homework can have.

If your student would benefit from help with goal setting, time management and organization skills, then check out our upcoming class, Learning Logistics at the Hingham Community Center. Next class starts January 24th, 2011.

Stop! No New Year's Resolutions in 2010

Happy New Year!

          Yes, I know that January is just about over and that any resolution you may have set for yourself is probably long forgotten. In fact, according to research by the Franklin Covey Company, 33% of people will give up on their resolutions by this time. By the end of March, 75% will have given up.  They must know me!

          This year though, being the start of a new decade (and me loving numbers like I do) I decided to do something different. Hubby and I set off for a few days to have some fun and do some “serious” planning for this year. We talked about the good, the bad and the ugly of 2009 and our hopes and dreams for 2010. We used Jack Canfield’s Success Principles book as a guide and used his seven categories to define the areas of our lives. They are: work/career, finances, recreation/free time, health and fitness, relationships, personal goals and contribution to society. We then came up with a (S.M.A.R.T.) goal for each and then listed some “to do’s” under each. When projects like redo the dining room and clean out the basement started showing up on the personal list we decided to add an eighth category called physical environment. That took my “organizing projects” and hubby’s fix it projects off the personal list and into its own category (whew!).

          The whole thing was a bit overwhelming so we decided we would think ahead only one quarter – just January, February and March. We took a yearlong calendar and added in the Big Rocks (commitments, vacation, holidays, etc.) first so we could see what time was actually left. (Don’t tell anyone but I have a SLIGHT tendency to overbook myself J.) Then we went month by month for the first three even getting down to the nitty gritty tasks we want to do and making sure they were balanced with non “work” type activities.

          This was such a learning experience for us and we are already moving ahead because we are both on the same page. I’ll be sharing more in future blogs. Stay tuned by using the RSS feed button on the right sidebar and be automatically notified of new blog posts.

Thanks for reading!