Memory Stress, Let’s Assess

Are you constantly on the hunt for your car keys? Or walking into the store without your shopping list or phone on hand? And what about names?  Do you struggle to remember your mailman’s name? You’re not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is not something to be taken lightly.

In life, there are no assurances to preventing memory loss or conditions such as Alzheimer’s however, there is a myriad of evidence available online that indicates certain activities can potentially help. 

At iStratus, we’d like to consider the process of organization as one of seven simple ways our app can help sharpen memory. It will also hopefully make it easier to recognize the signs of memory loss and when there’s a need to address it.

Get Organized

Is your home cluttered or are your notes in disarray? You’re more likely to forget things when you are not organized. 

iStratus is the perfect tool for recording tasks, appointments, and other important events, limiting the amount of paper around you.

To help cement tasks in your memory, it also pays to repeat each entry aloud as you type it. We suggest, maintaining “To-Do” lists and checking off items as they’re completed. 

And always have a mainstay place for your wallet, keys, sunglasses/glasses, and other essentials.

Limit distractions as much as possible. If you focus on the information that you want to retain, you’re more likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect names to a favorite song or another familiar phrase or concept.

 

Exercise Your Body, Exercise Your Mind

 

Physical activity increases blood flow in your entire body, including your brain. This might help keep your memory sharp.

 

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic movement or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobics or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.

 

Even a 15-minute walk around the house or Zumba session in your living room is better than nothing! But, it’s easy to let an exercise routine slip if you don’t schedule it.  We suggest including your daily workout in your iStratus Dayplanner. 

 

Increase Your Brain Waves For Fluid Thought 

 

Akin to physical activity keeping your body in shape, mental stimulation keeps your brain in shape — and might keep memory loss at bay. Implement things into your daily schedule on iStratus and do your best to stick to it. There are other options too – like taking an alternate route when driving or learning to play a musical instrument. 

 

Stay Social. 

 

Social interaction helps keep depression and stress at bay, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Get together with loved ones, friends, and others.  This is especially important if you live alone.

 

Prioritize Catching Your Zzzzzzz’s!

 

Your brain needs quality, consistent sleep to perform at its best. It’s no surprise catching Zzzzzz’s plays a fundamental part in the process of memory strengthening.

 

Try to create a consistent sleep-wake cycle where you’re going to bed and waking up around the same time every day – even on the weekends.

 

Cutting screen time before bed can also help you get great sleep. For many, scrolling through your phone or watching television before settling can have negative impacts on sleep patterns.

Sleep experts also endorse limiting your caffeine intake during the late afternoon and evening. It also pays to avoid nicotine at night and limit alcoholic beverages before bed. Too much of anything at night may cause frequent restroom interruptions to catch your Zzzzzzzz’s anyway.

 

Sleep plays an important role in filing things within your long-term memory for recall down the road. Getting enough sleep is a definite priority. Extensive research can be found online which indicates most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day.

You’ll feel like a better “you” when your schedule is on track – sleep included!

 

Eat Some Veggies: A Healthy Diet Helps

 

A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Your stomach is your second brain. So eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fuel. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, beans, and skinless poultry. Drinks count, too. Too much alcohol and not enough water can result in confusion and memory loss. 

 

When To Seek Further Help

 

If memory loss is a concern, talk to your doctor. Particularly, if this forgetfulness is noticeably worse or affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities. Your medical examiner is likely to undertake a physical assessment, as well as check memory and problem-solving skills. Treatment and testing depend on what’s contributing to memory lapses.

 

The important thing is to stay abreast of matters; being efficiently organized helps lessen memory stress.

 

Live life and roll well with iStratus. 

Decluttering the Mind

There’s not an adult on the planet that doesn’t have a mind filled with clutter.

And there’s something about that which is more troublesome than a cluttered home or workspace. A cluttered mind is restless, unfocused, and somewhat akin to a scrambled egg. The cluttered mind moves in multiple directions at once, and the result is little gets done.

Mental clutter can include keeping a mental “To-Do” list, worrying about the future, deliberating about the past, and so on. Does this sound like you?  Are you ready to clear space in your head?

Below are ideas to de-clutter your mind with iStratus, reduce feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately gain beneficial clarity to achieve more.

Your Physical Environment Matters

Clutter bombards the mind with disproportionate stimuli, which makes our brains work overtime. Clutter also signals that there’s plenty else that needs addressing, which is of course, in its own right mentally exhausting.

The bottom line: De-cluttering your physical space also de-clutters your mind in succession.

For The Record…

You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Record and categorize things within the iStratus app —and utilize it as a storage device for all those bits and pieces of information you need to remember. This can include appointments, shopping lists, ideas for future projects, and so on.

Quit Multi-Tasking

We’ve mentioned this many times, but it’s worth repeating. Quit multitasking. It doesn’t work

If your house was a mess and you needed to reorganize it, how would you begin? Perhaps start by choosing one important area—for example, the kitchen pantry —and giving it a good cleaning.

The mental equivalent of tidying the kitchen pantry is to allocate a certain amount of time exclusively devoted to clearing your mind. Throughout this process, transfer your mental clutter to the side and completely focus your attention upon the task at hand.

Imagine your pantry top notch and organized, and ensure that it stays so, without other items being plonked all over it during the timeframe you’ve devoted to it. 

Mentally push the clutter outside of the pantry doors too. Make a note in iStratus of any items that might be needed to make this organization even more efficient, such as labels or storage canisters.

The Past Haunts

Speaking of “pushing something out the door” – mind clutter is also often related to the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their subconscious. 

Go through those mental files and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well in the present (it’s not easy, we know)… Set some “Quiet Time” on your schedule for yourself with iStratus.

Be Decisive

If your email inbox is filled with emails that require addressing, and no decisions are made on them, what will happen? Soon, your inbox will be overflowing with bills, requests from your employer or clients, and spam mail. The way to progress is to address what’s in your inbox or check things off your checklist. 

The solution for clarity of mind is to be decisive and follow through with tasks, to the best of your ability. Everyone has up and down days – that’s a given, life is a rollercoaster of crazy sometimes and really, the truth is, we are only human!

Routine Decisions Require an Auto Pilot Switch

Flick it to the “On” position.

Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. This can include things like:

  • Deciding what to eat for breakfast each morning;
  • Deciding what you’re going to wear each day;
  • Deciding on what to have for lunch; and so forth.

You can reduce the amount of brain space because of routine tasks by putting them into auto-pilot mode and setting them on automatic. This is why meal planning works so well.

Prioritize

Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless To-Do list. Accept that some things need to be dropped and focus on the most important things. 

A checklist of your top priorities will make all the difference to freeing up the bulk of your brain space.

And Learn To Breathe.

Sounds simple, but breathing is key to placing the mind at ease and putting useless thoughts of overload away. It’s not easy to do, but just like organizing your workspace, it can be done. 

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”
~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: English novelist (1797 – 1851)

Think clearly, and focus on what matters most.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Eight Time Management Tips for the Busy Person

Time Management.  How can I manage something that I never seem to have?  Have you ever looked at your weekly calendar on Sunday evening and cringed?  You have work deadlines, a repair person coming, kids to get to practice, a spouse who’s traveling, and, to top it off,  your mother needs a ride to the doctor.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a week and wondered what you’ve really accomplished? Or wondered if what you’ve accomplished really was the most important?  As our lives get busier and more complex, managing how we spend our precious time has become increasingly important.

You Can’t Stretch Time, But You Can Make the Most of Every Minute

Making the most of every minute does NOT mean that you never slow down to engage in your favorite activities…or to simply relax.  In fact, by implementing time management strategies, you can actually “find” time. Not only will you use your time more efficiently and effectively at work and at home, the time you “find” can be used for that extra hour of reading your favorite author or walking to the park.

Get Started With Time Management

SELF-ASSESS

  • HOW IS MY TIME MANAGEMENT NOW?
  • Do I procrastinate?
  • What are my time wasters?  (social media? office chatter?)
  • During what hours do I feel most focused and productive?  
  • How do I keep track of my schedule, and is it working for me?

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to honestly assess your current time management, you’re ready to consider the following:

LIVE BY THE LIST

List, List, List.  Can’t be stressed enough.  The process of making a list forces you to account for all that needs to happen on any given day.  Plus, by writing a list, you’ve effectively downloaded that information from your brain. That frees up your brain power to get things done.  But, be ready to edit. List making can be tricky at first.

  • Make a realistic list.  Making your list too long can set you up for disappointment and frustration.
  • Prioritize.  What is truly MOST important for you to accomplish today?  This might not necessarily be the same as what is “talking” to you the most and getting your attention. Top of your list should be the MOST important item for you to complete, not someone else’s priority.  The iStratus task manager is a great way to start prioritizing your to-do list.
  • Commit to the list.  We all know the unexpected happens, but consistently commit to following your list in order of importance to meet priorities most effectively.  If you’ve committed and life throws you a curveball, at least you’ve worked towards the top priority first even if you can’t complete it.
  • Write it today.  Write your list for tomorrow at the end of your day today so you enjoy your evening with a clear head. Plus, with your list written, you’ll start tomorrow with your plan of action ready and waiting.  

STOP PROCRASTINATING

We’ve all done it.  We’ve worked diligently on our To Do List.  We’ve promised to dig in right away with task #1 first thing in the morning.  Morning comes, and task #1 seems daunting. How do I get started? How am I going to finish this?  Then it starts.  I’ll just clear my inbox first.  Or I’ll just knock off task #4 first—it’s quicker. STOP.   This is where strategy #1—Live by the List—can save you.   You’ve prioritized. You’ve committed. Feel the power of sticking to it!

If task #1 is completely overwhelming, break it into more manageable sub-tasks that you can complete more quickly.  More quickly completing that first sub-task can provide the much-needed buzz of accomplishment to spur you on to the next sub-task.  

GET HELP—DELEGATION IS YOUR FRIEND

You are focused on your task #1, but there is another task distracting you.  Successful time management doesn’t mean you must do everything yourself. Nor should you. If there is someone in your sphere capable of handling the distractor task, ask for help!  This is not a weakness, but working smart. Perhaps your co-worker can lead that meeting. Or your child can get dinner started. To truly be productive, you should consider delegating. Delegating keeps you focused and builds capacity in others.

MULTI-TASKING IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

You’ve got three balls in the air—you’re cranking and feeling productive.  But are you? At first glance, multi-tasking seems like the perfect solution to an over-stuffed schedule.  

However, when your brain’s focus is switching among multiple tasks, you are less able to fully attend to any one task, often sacrificing quality.  The time your brain spends to re-focus on each task as you shift among them, actually wastes time. But even worse, over time, the brains of frequent multi-taskers often become less able to filter out distractions to truly focus on one task.

SCHEDULE—THE MUST DO’S AND THE WANT TO DO’S

You’ve got a long list of Must Do’s on your schedule.  But don’t forget about those routine tasks that can eat up a big chunk of time, but never make it onto your calendar. Catching up on email, returning calls, face-time with co-workers are all sneaky time users that should be scheduled into your day like any other commitment.  If they are scheduled, you’ll be less likely to address them through multi-tasking.

When you schedule tasks is also important. If you are not a morning person, tackling your #1 task first thing, when you aren’t your most alert and productive, might not be the best choice.

With those Must Do’s accounted for, you can now schedule the Want to Do’s.  Whether it’s extra time at the gym, lunch with mom or a movie with your spouse, if you treat it like any other time commitment and add it to your calendar, you are more likely to make it happen.

USE A MASTER CALENDAR—MASTER YOUR UNIVERSE

You’ve got your work calendar, your personal calendar, you kids’ calendars, your spouse’s calendar, maybe a parent’s calendar to consider. If you must keep it all in mind when scheduling your time, then you must keep it all in one place.  Whatever your style–the giant chalkboard in the kitchen, a day planner, or a digital calendar tool—keeping all relevant events in one place keeps you from the annoying time suck of re-scheduling tasks later.

GET REST AND EXERCISE

With all this talk of prioritizing lists and making schedules, and your actual WORK, how can you possibly have time to get enough rest and exercise?  The fact is, you may become the expert at time management. But, if you’re chronically over-tired or rarely exercise, you still won’t be as effective and efficient.  Too little sleep chips away at your ability to focus and maintain attention on tasks to bring them to successful completion.

Regular exercise (even just 10 minutes a day) improves sleep quantity and quality and increases mental alertness. Spending time exercising can help you find time as you rest better and approach each task with more clarity and focus.  Schedule your rest and exercise on your Must Do list!

By practicing these eight time management strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your most productive (and less stressed) you.  Plus, you’ll find more time for fun and relaxation.To learn more about tools to help you in your pursuit of skillful time management, visit istratus.com.

Organize The Festive Season

The holidays can feel like madness for even the most organized folks. Don’t let disorganization detract from the fun of the season. 

The best way to keep you and your family sane is with structure. A map of what needs to be covered is effective even for your at-home holiday time. Use iStratus to post and share some sort of plan or file, so anyone involved can add or change things as tasks change or fluctuate. (It’s Ok if everything doesn’t go according to THE SET plan).

Get around the stress. Create a plan, stick to it as best you can, and avoid rushing around at the last minute.

iStratus recommends:

“Spring Cleaning” Before Hanging Holiday Decorations

Oh boy another chore, it’s hard to resist the temptation to eye roll here we know… finding the time to clean when your days are long and hectic as it is… yes we hear you! The last thing you want to do is to house clean!

The thing is though, when the house is messy or cluttered, adding holiday decorations and preparing for holiday guests is an absolute nightmare for most people. You’re not alone in feeling this way.

Therefore, it helps to stay organized over Christmas, and you can begin by cleaning the house. Your decorations will add easily to festivities when they aren’t competing with clutter, you know you’ll feel annoyed about.

The holidays are busy, and you’ve got a lot to do when getting ready for the holidays, so focus on the parts of the house that see the most traffic. Before you sort through your Christmas decorations storage, make a list in iStratus of things or areas that need de-cluttering before hanging lights.

Organize Your Living Space

If you look around the house and think, “How do I get organized for the holidays?” it may be as simple as tidying your living space. Take the opportunity to rearrange the cluttered areas of the house. 

Swap out your summer clothes for your winter clothes.  Go through holiday decorations and get rid of ones that are broken or no longer matter. You may even consider organizing an area just for extra blankets and pillows for visitors.

Even a little extra organization in your home can relieve some stress from the holiday madness.

Holiday Shop Early

Ugh, Yes. Love it or hate it. 

If gifts are on your iStratus checklists, don’t wait until the week before Christmas. Mark them off early and avoid shopping with the masses. Many stores will begin their Thanksgiving Black Friday sales a week or more before the Black Friday event, so you can deal-hunt without getting up at the crack of dawn. Shopping early is great because you don’t have to do it all at once and overwhelm yourself. Spread it out over a week or two or even throughout the year so that it fits within your schedule. If you have someone in your life who could use some organization, this Gift Guide may help.

Use a List App

Of course, this is our favorite idea! However, no bias is intended here! Paper lists get lost easily, but you’ve always got your phone on you. A planning app like ours can help you keep track of everything, holiday plans, gifts, and grocery lists. As usual, customize your lists and set reminders so you won’t forget to pick up those herbs or spices you need from the grocery store. 

Decorate Home As Home

So what if your holiday decor doesn’t rival “In Style” magazine? Decorating for the holidays should be fun, not stressful. 

Set aside a day on your schedule in iStratus, dedicated to decorating and getting the whole family in on it. 

Decorate to add happiness to your home. If you need some inspiration, there are many simple ideas to be found on Pinterest. Just “Google it.”

Don’t keep anything that doesn’t bring festive cheer to your home. Keep your favorite decorations neat, tidy, and clean with storage bins, for example.

Create A Gift-Wrapping Zone

Pick a corner of the house that receives little traffic and establish a makeshift wrapping station. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A folding table, few plastic containers will help organize supplies. (Even a patch of floor works). Then wrap your gifts as they come in to avoid the mad dash on Christmas Eve.

Reduce some of the stress associated with the holidays by planning well and getting organized with iStratus. Your schedule won’t prevent unexpected guests from dropping by, or those last-minute holiday party invites, or any family drama. It happens. It will, however, keep you sane during day-to-day holiday preparation, which frees up mental energy to be grateful for loved ones and just enjoy celebrating.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Organize. Transform. Standout. 

If you’re not an inherently organized person, iStratus is here to help you apply critical organizational skills daily that will be transformative to your career. We want you to stand out and separate from the pack. Read on to discover five key strategies that will improve your organizational skills within the workplace.

Planning

Plan for accomplishment. Thinking as far ahead and establishing a thoughtful plan of attack allows for the value-added organization each day. Be proactive! The easiest way to be productive for the day is to plan and prepare, for it.

Being an efficient planner entails utilizing lists. 

Use iStratus to make a list of all the tasks you must cover each day. This will ensure:

  • Fewer tasks are forgotten
  • You experience the satisfaction of checking things off from your to-do list throughout the day.
  • You have a concrete way to keep track of the tasks for completion.
  • You will potentially stay motivate to commit and there will be a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment from finalizing tasks.

Regardless of which list or calendar method you use on iStratus, the application of a list will help you focus and structure your day.

Time Management

Begin by viewing your time as valuable. Life will pull you in different directions at times; feeling like you’ll never get atop your job. However, effective time management will allow you to address those moments of havoc with added intention and intelligence. We can view interruptions as a minor annoyance as opposed to something, which controls your day.

Everybody has a certain time of the day when they are most productive – if you function better early in the morning, consider that your prime time use iStratus to highlight and schedule your most demanding and challenging work during this time. Try to coordinate your prime time with others to minimize unnecessary and avoidable interruptions. 

Typically significant time is wasted dealing with interruptions during the workday. From emails to those constant “dings” that occur on our mobile phones and those distractions steal valuable time. Focusing on key tasks noted on your iStratus calendar in time blocks will help you track your day effectively.

Schedule. Schedule. Schedule

The scheduling strategy goes hand in hand with creating checklists. While you are creating “To-Dos” or Checklists of tasks and projects, align it all with a schedule. Give each task a designated timeframe in which to accomplish it. That way, you can ensure deadlines are met and nothing is left undone or by the wayside. 

Be generous and allow some flexibility with your time estimates for each task or project. The schedule must be realistic. Try not to compile a list and schedule that results in feeling low and unaccomplished because you “failed to meet” your own presets for work.

Appreciate your calendar with an eye upon the bigger, wider picture. Sometimes it’s important to focus on what’s happening today, for today, and then deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. Following this to take a few steps ahead at once towards a broader view will help you thrive.

Kick Goals

Nothing feels better than setting a goal and smashing it. Go for fulfillment. It’s a genuine energy boost!

Set daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals for yourself. Prioritize both smaller and larger goals to stay motivated and disciplined to finalize tasks.

Remember flexibility is key. Adding new goals to your agenda in iStratus throughout the year or adjusting an existing goal is perfectly okay. Life is unpredictable, thus it’s important be open and willing to redirect the course as required. This doesn’t equate to failure. Sometimes, there is simply a need to pivot to keep moving forward. Moving forward is what counts.

You are in charge of your organizational domain.  Arrange your digital workspace into folders within iStratus for maximum efficiency. Anyone can diminish the time and effort it takes to accomplish tasks. 

Storing your files digitally with iStratus is designed to organize them in such a way so that everything you require is stored adequately and named appropriately. This will save time looking for those “lost” files. Create a master document of all your files to save time in the long run. 

Ultimately, we recognize that life is not a checklist, to rule your world. We do, believe in allowing the process to flow. We say that organizational skills are crucial for success and increasing your productivity so that you can breathe and focus on those things that matter to you most.

We hope these tips assist in helping you – Organize and transform your daily routine to stand out amongst “the crowd.”

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”

~ J. K. Rowling

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Your Attention is Valued: Eliminate Information Overload

The world’s technology revolution and information overload explosion have placed our daily attention under siege of sorts. On a given day we absorb more than quadruple the information than we ever did four decades ago. Information, thanks to the virtual world, is merely a few finger taps away.

Our brains, as governed by Darwin’s theory of biological evolution — advances gradually. Thus, our “attention intelligence” must effectively join the race to maintain productivity across the board.

Attention Intelligence? Really?

Yes. Really. With so much bombardment of information we all require some strategies to boost attention spans. It is no surprise that rapid change can become overwhelming. If you feel this way, right now – you’re not flying solo there.  First and foremost we need to de-clutter the mind to improve brain functionality or circuitry and ultimately boot productivity more successfully.

Knowing When to Switch Thinking Up or Off

The operating principle behind this idea is to enhance self-awareness to lead to greater productivity.

This is where we must address tasks that benefit from sustained concentration. These are things that typically involve, step-by-step problem solving, gathering and analyzing information (for example, organizing weekly schedules, expenses, To-Do Lists, and so forth). 

When we have been problem-solving for a meaningful period and our tight focused attention begins to feel counterproductive, as evidenced by lethargy, wavering concentration, and feeling stuck in gridlock.

To combat such things we believe that reducing distractions is key.

You can efficiently use iStratus to build a routine that capitalizes on reward circuitry within the brain. In short: By addressing goals, tasks, and checklists, one element at a time, we come to feel some sense of relief and fewer overloads.

Free Up Attention: Unload Info to Reduce Stress

Every day we have countless things to keep track of, that anytime we can dependably unload any of it, we free up our attention. If parts of the mind are preoccupied with our ‘To Do’ lists, we’re unable to fully engage in problem-solving or relax. We often unload by creating a contact list on our phones or recording our passwords. So we already acknowledge there are benefits to such “downloading”. 

Numerous studies associated with productivity, indicate we should be embracing as many opportunities as possible to unload stored information. Over decades, our brain circuitry has transitioned more towards being vigilant and constantly “pinging” reminders of our endless responsibilities and commitments. Ultimately, we are stuck with minds that are compelled to churn over such responsibilities – to what neuroscientists refer to as “rehearsal loops”.

Now more than ever, we recommend that besides unloading a trusted person, we also need to utilize an operational App or system such as ours to “mind sweep” and prioritize responsibilities and open up our capacity for responsiveness (and gain some much-needed sleep)!

You’ve no doubt heard of the “mind-sweeping” technique which is intended to capture all the tasks, responsibilities, commitments and those “should dos” that interject into our minds daily. Essentially it is all “the stuff” we feel obligated to complete.

  • The first step towards progress is to identify and list as many of these items in iStratus so that information is readily available.
  • The second step is to add new items that pop up (your can voice record them on your phone and transfer these across to iStratus).

By doing so, these items are “downloaded” onto a trusted external system, which can be reviewed periodically. In turn, we also “down the volume” on those rehearsal loops, become more relaxed, and have more capacity to focus on tasks at hand and the things we love.

As You Know, Prioritizing Is Meaningful. 

To de-clutter our minds, we also need to cultivate the habit of putting these tasks on a daily calendar. And any business that can be in the electronic trash upon reflection, 

De-clutter our attention and working memory and transfer some of those worries into our worlds. 

And as we noted in some of our previous articles: Sleep! – Don’t forget to catch a good night’s sleep, the most significant booster of productivity!

If you wish to save your mental energy for the important stuff to increase productivity, we recommend adopting the ‘good enough’ principle, with the unimportant stuff. President Obama knew what he was doing by limiting his wardrobe, depending on his schedule. This gives our attention spans space for more essential objectives.

With so many choices at our disposal, we can often feel that is our fault for not applying the best one.

However, with all the research on focus and excellence, consider it another reason to “dump” unnecessary information. It’s not as complicated as it seems. 

Why not use iStratus today, to help kick a new direction, preserve your time and cerebral energy for invaluable productivity? Start the change. Leap. Unload. Redirect your attention – 

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Juggle Everything Well with iStratus

In today’s world, parents are juggling a myriad of activities, responsibilities, work commitments, and family affairs more than ever before.

Life is continually becoming busier, and one thing that will make all the difference between having a relaxed and peaceful household rather than a chaotic and overwhelming one is, our favorite iStratus feature: Organization.

If you’d like to incorporate a bit more order into your family environment, iStratus has ways in which you can become an organized parent whilst simultaneously increasing harmony at home.

Everyday Life 

Let’s face it; most of us spend large chunks of our days in the car—driving back and forth to work and shuttling kids to their activities. 

Often it’s difficult to keep track. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your “To-Do List” accessible and ‘on the go whenever you leave the house. Given its portability on your device, iStratus is simply perfect for that.

You’re unlikely to forget a task or project to tackle while on the move, or waiting in line, which saves you time in the long run – and when home there’s more time for family. 

The Weekly Menu

How often do you shop for your groceries?

Are you constantly roving in the supermarket pretty much daily simply because you’ve overlooked some ingredients in that recipe or have no clue what you’re serving for dinner? 

The biggest sanity saver for any family is meal planning. It does not have to be complicated or fanciful. It can still be convenient and healthy.

Most families enjoy staple meals upon the table such as spaghetti meatballs (which you can incorporate veggies, like grated zucchinis and carrots into) roasted chicken and rice, or more relaxed foods like Tacos Tuesdays.

iStratus recommends:

  • Creating a list of about 10 or 12 meals that your family enjoys regularly and incorporate those into your weekly menu.
  • Shop with your dinnertime plan handy so that you don’t overlook any key ingredients on the list.
  • Leave nights open for leftovers, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or take out.
  • Try not to stress over “What’s for dinner?” every night

This way, there’s less stress and you will have some extra energy to spend focused on your projects, which will be of additional benefit to your family.

Resourcefully Organize a “Cheat Sheet”

As you probably well know by now, we at iStratus believe that having a calendar system is a must to keep your family organized, it’s not new news. 

However, in addition to that idea, you can create some “cheat sheets” which can be shared electronically. Information is right there in a few taps.

By all means, transition these into concrete form to be laminated and kept on the fridge or inside the kitchen cabinets, for quick access.

Include emergency numbers for police/fire and any of the following essential info:

  • Work numbers for Mom and Dad, 
  • The pediatricians, neighbors, extended family, and friends nearby 
  • Contact details for anyone who is back up in an emergency. 
  • Notes regarding over-the-counter medication dosages that are required for family members, particularly the younger ones, who have any allergies.
  • Record and safely store social security numbers on the cheat sheet, which is always required for one form or another.

Create a separate memo in iStratus, which can be shared with sitters, grandparents, older children, and so forth, 

  • Record full names
  • Age, weights, and dates of birth of your kids’.
  • Details which doctors and emergency personnel frequently request, on a need-to-know basis).
  • Document important relevant notes following each consultation/check-up – and update them regularly.

That Morning Rush

Besides meal planning, the second-best organizational habit is to checklist what helps you and your kids prepare for school the night before, like: 

  • School lunches 
  • Reminders of the outfits, and extra things needed, such as gym clothes or after-school practice equipment.
  • Library bags, reading folders, anything else needed to head out the door without feeling like headless chooks aka chickens.

Learning to Say “No”

This idea is something we’re mentioned in our previous article: “When Working and Caregiving Are Pulling You Apart” [hyperlink].

One of the main reasons people become disorganized and stressed out more than necessary is because of the difficulty in saying one word: NO. 

You name it, from over-volunteering time to a myriad of duties, too many people over-commit. 

Use iStratus to prioritize your social obligations and civic duties clearly towards multiple play-dates and birthday parties for the kids.

“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life… the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act and in acting, to live.”
~ General Omar Bradley

Be honest with yourself in what value these things truly hold you and your family. Eliminate the tasks you can and you’ll free up time, be less overwhelmed, and feel more organized.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

When Working and Caregiving are Pulling You Apart

Sometimes, it’s hard to take the weight of everything that occurs simultaneously in our lives. 

Are you a caregiver? Perhaps you have a young child or a family member who has a disability or long-term illness that requires significant support.

If you’re someone’s caregiver, you know how tough it can be to balance the never-ending responsibilities amongst your work demands. 

You want to be at your best with both roles, but inevitably there will be days when they feel mutually exclusive. The upside is, there are systems you can implement to manage the demands upon your time.

In this article, we’ll address some of the challenges faced by caregivers, and reflect on how iStratus can help you balance your responsibilities at both work and home.

An Increasing Trend

In addition to the increasing demands of today’s world, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that a myriad of people have been thrown into directly providing full-time care for a relative for the first time. 

As schools have morphed into a hybrid process of instruction, support services for aged care and vulnerable people are at maximum stretch, and there has been minimal time to adapt.

Knock on Effects: Work and Productivity

Caregiving responsibilities can also have a significant impact on your career. At times, you may feel as though you’re being pulled in two different directions. Perhaps you have to take longer breaks during the day to care for a parent, or leave work early more often because of your other responsibilities? Inevitably, this makes you feel less productive at work.

iStratus is here to help you manage your work and home responsibilities when you’re feeling stretched/“pulled apart.”

  1. Get Organized

As a caregiver, it’s not rocket science: You have a bunch of responsibilities. Not only do you have to keep abreast of your work tasks and priorities, but you also have to invest time and energy in juggling the needs of your loved one. Thus, the ability to effectively organize your day is so significant. 

One simple way to combat this is to use iStratus as a notebook, a sort of “catch-all” for your thoughts, notes, and tasks. That way all, important information is in one place and invaluable mental energy isn’t strained trying to remember everything.

iStratus aims to help you where you feel the most disorganized:

Are you often late for appointments? 

Do you often delay meal preparation because you’re busy trying to finish off work? 

Is your inbox a mess?

Start every day with iStratus using: 

  • A new, dated page
  • A new To-Do List or Action Plan
  • Prioritizing responsibilities, so that you avoid lost time on non-essential tasks.

By taking those small steps daily focused on areas that cause the most stress, we’re sure you’ll feel a change.

  1. How’s That Contingency Plan?

It’s essential to have a contingency plan, including a plan C for your contingency plan, in case of an emergency! As life happens, even the top mapped-out plans can go awry.

In iStratus:

  • Create a list of the most likely emergencies that could throw your schedule off course.
  • Establish a contingency plan for each one. 
  • Generate a contact list of family members, friends or colleagues, willing to help out if an unexpected incident occurs.

Find solutions before an emergency happens, so if something unexpected does arise, you will be armed with a plan of attack.

  1. Seek Support, Delegate

Another mistake we make while trying to juggle work with caregiving is thinking that we have to do everything ourselves. 

It is okay to ask for help. Perhaps a friend or your spouse can cover your caregiving duties one day a week, while you take a break.

Using iStratus, easily share: 

  • Household Duty Lists
  • Shopping Lists
  • Meal Plans 

Seeking support isn’t easy at first, but often people genuinely want to be there and are waiting to be told exactly how they can step up and help.

Delegate.

  1. Don’t Forget About Yourself

Your time is your most precious commodity and habitually, it’s what’s in short supply. Don’t be tempted to skimp on “me” time.

Taking time for yourself will help you to manage stress and ensure that you have the physical and mental energy to function.

Schedule some personal time within iStratus to call a friend or read your favorite book. 

“Unless you fill yourself up first, you have nothing to give to anybody.”

~ Robin Sharma

Caregivers become accustomed to putting the needs of others before their own, that their ambitions are on hold. 

Set long-term, personal goals – both for work and the aspirations in your wider life. This will help you stay motivated and moving forward towards the future.

Be honest with your employer, family, and friends, seek support when needed, and apply organizational tools like iStratus, to lighten your load and make managing everything possible.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Cook Up A Storm: Meal Planning

Food/Meal Prep is kind of a funny thing. People either love or hate being in the kitchen. When culinary adventures are in your blood they just are, however, when they’re not – “cooking up a storm” just isn’t fun. 

Between job commitments and family schedules, the working weeks are crazy! One of the last things most people want to do is plan a dinner table full of fancy, stylish foodie things from scratch.

Anyhow, the point being made here is that while leisurely cooking might not be your thing, you still need to eat and eat well. You don’t have to go all out, to provide meals that your and your family will love. 

Meal Planning Made Easy

Believe it or not, iStratus is here to help you relieve some of that chaos felt in the kitchen when you prefer to avoid it like the plague.

What’s the secret? Meal planning. (Ok, so that probably sounds tedious, but it doesn’t have to be).

Taking 5 (or 15) minutes at the beginning of the week to plan out meals is a MASSIVE, timesaver. It always helps reduce the time and energy involved in “dreading” meal prep.

Smart Meal Planning

This isn’t new news… how many of us (*raises a hand, slaps own forehead*) are guilty of wishing we were more efficient meal planners without actually having to plan any meals?

The truth is it only takes five minutes to sit down and type out a recipe list for the week. Using iStratus you can easily start by adding any recipes you know you and the family love to a checklist.

Next, fill in the remaining slots for the week with quick and easy recipes, that you often have staple ingredients stored in the pantry for.

ORGANIZE Those FAVORITE Recipes

Meal planning happens much quicker when using an organized recipe catalog. You’ve probably already guessed by now that iStratus loves to organize, organize and organize.

Easily create Food File Categories for:

  • Recipes you want to try.
  • Your “Quick and Easy” meals.
  •  Recipes you have tried and loved including a note with links or references (unless those tried and true favorites are memorized). 

When planning, pull up your checklist and choose a few things that stick out.

Shop All At Once

This is the toughest part of meal planning – but it saves time (and money!) in the long term. You might even find it reduces food waste too.

  • Plan your weekly meals, noting your grocery list at the same time. Here’s a secret we use.  
  • Use iStratus to checklist your shopping against your pantry items, and do one shopping trip or better yet use a service like Instacart or Amazon Prime to have your groceries delivered

Multiple visits tend to deviate into unneeded things, so checking and sticking to your list curbs temptation!

Not EVERYTHING has to be Prepared From Scratch 

One of the best things about iStratus is that information is stored. You don’t have to keep doing things on repeat or making food from scratch either. WHAT?! How does food prep help your organizational skills? 

If you have a grocery store like Wegmans or Whole Foods (love them both)! You can save additional time following your meal plan by using iStratus to:

  • Establish a shopping list, linking via copy, ingredients from recipes into notes/a checklist. And –
  • If you know the supermarket layout well, pop down the aisle number for the ingredients on your list, it’s a bonus timesaver.

Side note: There is no shame in pre-chopped fresh ingredients or frozen fruits and veggies folks; you’re allowed to cut some corners. (Especially if it means there’s no microwaved Spaghetti-O’s every week).

Join a Foodie Mailing List and Daily Dropbox Meal Ideas

When the repetition starts to get boring it’s time to incorporate new sources of inspiration. Sign up for email updates from chefs and food bloggers. That way, tasty, interesting food ideas are right there on your phone as you’re drinking your morning coffee!

Any recipes that inspire you – copy them directly into your “Daily Dropbox” or your “Recipes to Try” folder. And boom! Meal plans are a one-stop-shop!

Throughout the Week

Using the Slow Cooker on Sundays can be a busy Mom’s friend. A few favorite Slow Cooker recipes are Chicken Cacciatore and Vegetable Curry. Be it a Monday or Wednesday it doesn’t matter, reheat and serve to save time. Favorites stick, simply switch side dishes to avoid boredom.

List Swap-able Staples

9/10 times a mysterious thing happens when you plan in fine detail: There’s change! 

We can have the best intentions, the checklists, and the best-stocked fridge on the planet, but sometimes, you just want pizza to arrive. IT’S ALL GOOD.

Build a “cheat day” into your weekly meal plan – use it whenever necessary, there are no rules.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
~ Thomas A. Edison

 

Just:  Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Don’t Ghost it, “Post-IT”!

Who knew a little yellow square could be SO resourceful?

Oh what an invaluable joy those little ‘sticky notes’ are for day planner organization and productivity! 

So of course, we couldn’t resist diversifying their use to suit the electronic form, which we hope you’ll enjoy, just as much as the original. 

Post-It (Note) in the “Daily-WS” Tab – And boom, your annotations, observations, and jotted thoughts are always there when you need them most. One of the best features of iStratus Pro is that you also have the option to add your own signature, date, and/or converting Post-Its to PDF. 

Hallelujah! No more forgetting or “Ghosting” out little yellow squares. Those essential reminders or motivators are set and can be effortlessly exported or forwarded at the drop of a hat. Akin to a handy little pocket, you can simply drop biz into them wherever you go. 

Why The “Sticky Note” Idea Works 

We’ve mentioned it before; distractions are a major inhibitor of our ability to organize ourselves in our modern, notification-obsessed working world. The iStratus “Sticky Note” idea is your workspace best friend created to help you work faster and remain attentive towards the task at hand. 

You may have once been bestowed the “World’s Best Multi-Tasker” Award in your home or office, however, in life’s experience, no one is truly flawless at multi-tasking. 

When you think about it, this concept is really not an actual thing. What we’re really doing is constantly switching our minds from one task to the next. Every time you take a coffee break or tidy the kitchen (which you can’t stand looking at any longer because the kids left it like a bombsite) you’re forcing your brain to change gears.

Your brain cognitively resets this new information – and hello there, sluggish, brain drain that requires a reboot of its operating system.

Multiple University studies have concluded that you’re dropping the ball on at least 40 percent of your productivity by rapidly interchanging tasks. 

Following distractions, it requires approximately 23 minutes to recoup the same level of in-depth concentration you had prior to dealing with that chocolate milk explosion in the kitchen. 

In a world where productivity software reigns supreme, we realize, our attempt to digitize the sticky note, is a hard sell against the more popular original paper square. 

Going From “Blah” To “How Did I Ever Survive Without This?!”

It’s not news, that what is deemed ‘normal’ now was initially difficult to adapt to, simply because “we’ve always done it this other way.” This something we say far too often. Electronic sticky notes are a classic example. It’s really not so different from the initial Post-It Note design idea, so “why not just stick with the paper ones?” (No pun intended). 

We’re here to say, with some adjustment the process, will eventually go from “Blah” to “Wow. How did I EVER survive with this tool before now?!” Give it a shot – change is good from 1977.

They Do What? 

Just think: When you’ve plastered a wall or whiteboard with sticky notes for productivity and development, the only way to record detail is with a photograph, which often goes nowhere in the abyss of your phone. iStratus already has your sticky notes covered:

  • In an online environment that automatically recorded and ready for the next phase of any project. No need for a picture or time-consuming transcribing.
  • Upon unlimited walls for jogging your memory. Electronic sticky notes remain exactly where you left them and you are able to access your spatial memory every time you open the App.
  • With a direct, reportable commenting functions available. You can create Sticky Notes to record a discussion, or meeting minutes, saving time and energy. 
  • Saving trees! This is one of the best parts. The impact we have on the environment is very real. It’s important to question how much paper is truly required. A sticky note generally has a lifespan of a couple of hours, maybe four tops. Is all that paper really essential?

So while you may be stuck in the “we’ve always done it this way” mindset, sometimes all it takes is seeing the advantage of evolution with a little less hesitation.

“First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; [followed by] transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.”

~ Napoleon Hill

Are You Ready To Stick To It?  

The beauty of electronic sticky notes is their ease of use, and just like the original – their versatility enables them to cater to any system, which is why they are still a highly favored element for productivity. It’s not about being a fancy software tool, but a highly effective, useable one. 

Hopefully, things will stick if you let them.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.