Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School – Are you ready?

In less than a week, my kids will be back in school. Some folks out there have kids who have been back for weeks already!

When we think of “back to school”, we usually think of shopping for school supplies and new clothes. Surely, that is part of the process. As I ponder the question, however, “back to school” really starts after the end of the prior school year!

Think about it. Before your child (I’ll say “he”) starts the next grade, you need to:
- make sure he passed all his classes. If not, summer school may be the next step.
- throughout the summer, ensure he does his summer reading and any other summer work the school may have assigned.
- get back into a regular bedtime schedule if you don’t have one already. I’m finding this is critical yet hard to enforce for my teenagers!
- budget for school lunch money, if needed.
- find out if there are any changes in the bus schedules (I find that the school system is pretty good at communicating this).
- assess the clothing situation. Do they really need a whole new wardrobe? Between my two kids, it turned out that all that was needed was long-sleeved shirts for my daughter. Don’t forget sneakers for gym, as well! (Yes, she needed those.)
- in some cases (I find especially in elementary school), wait until after school starts to buy the school supplies. It seems that every teacher has a different list. The timing is unfortunate, since the sales seem to be well before school starts.
- make sure your child knows where to go and what to bring the first day. In the upper grades, you really can’t walk them to homeroom anymore! So let them know what room they’ll be in and be sure they’re armed with their summer reading reports, emergency forms (if given to you beforehand), etc.

Are there any other ways folks get ready for the Big Day? Let me know—I may need it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Economy of Motion

As a business major in college, one of the things we studied was economy of motion. Our focus was mainly on a manufacturing setting; the premise being that the less movements a person has to make, the more efficient they are and therefore the more productive and profitable they are. Theoretically, this would involve time studies of different processes to determine which process was the most efficient.

Economy of motion figures into work process as well as work area design. Ergonomics naturally springs forth from this principal, with an emphasis on less strain and smooth movement.

As my life evolved into that of a working mother, I knew I needed economy of motion! Time was limited and I needed to make the most of it. I also needed some time just to “chill”, so time needed to be carved out for that as well. But I wasn’t about to do any time studies (after all, that required time!).

As I went about household chores, errand running, etc., I would ask myself, “What’s the best method of doing this thing?” and “How can I kill two birds with one stone?” For example, you can schedule your errand-running for one day (Saturday is usually mine) and decide, based on where each errand is located and if there are any time or perishability constraints, what order you’ll hit each place.

I could be following a certain process for years because “I’ve always done it that way.” Then one day, a new way of attacking the chore will hit me and turn out to be more efficient.

Has anyone out there changed their ways of doing things?