The countdown begins - get organized for back to school!

The start of school comes around the same time every year, but it is always a rush to get organized for the start of classes come September. Especially for students heading into a new grade or starting university on their own, preparing for the start of classes can be a stressful and chaotic time. However, by starting early and developing a routine that fits your schedule and study habits, the countdown for September doesn’t have to be so daunting!


Shop smart

Before a shopping trip is even planned, it’s important to take stock of the school supplies, clothes, shoes, and other items you already own. Moving up to a new grade or going to university doesn’t mean that a whole new wardrobe or brand-new supplies are required. The same pencils, pens, jeans, and tops used the year before will work perfectly for the new school year. Replacements may be needed for clothing that doesn’t fit or needs repairs, or any supplies that are depleted or need replacing. Make sure to do a thorough inventory and keep a list of items that need to be purchased. While it may seem tempting to buy a stash of supplies or extras, try to avoid doing this. Extra supplies will end up taking up unnecessary space and create clutter, especially because a lot of these extra supplies may not even be needed throughout the year. It’s better to keep track throughout the year of what you use and replace it only when needed.


Create a filing system

Homework, tests, assignments, report cards, permission slips, course outlines – a lot of paper is involved in going to school, and these loose pages often end up lost before the first week is even over. To prevent this from happening, implement a system or routine of dealing with paper as it comes in. Folders or trays can be allotted for paper that needs to be kept, paper that needs to be dealt with right away, and any other category that pertains to your school work. Train yourself to deal with paper as soon as you bring it home. First, determine if you really need to keep it. If it’s a course outline that you have access to online or won’t need to use, place it in the recycling bin. However, if it’s an assignment sheet or permission slip, make sure it’s place in a tray that you know means it must be dealt with or saved for a later date. This will help you keep track of any important documents you bring home, and prevent large piles of clutter from accumulating around your home! Consider implementing a similar system for your email to deal with any messages from teachers or professors.


Designate a study space

To keep organized year-round, establish one space for studying, completing homework, and storing your school items. Whether it’s an entire office or just a desk in the corner of a room in your home, having a designated space for school can help you stay focused. This space should be kept clean and organized – on a weekly basis, go through any papers, books or supplies that have started to clutter and make sure that it is kept clean and clear for you to study. Having a designated space to do work can help you stay on track of homework and assignments because you will always have a place to complete them. No more cleaning off tables last minute, shoving off piles of paper and assorted books, or getting distracted from a cluttered space! A dedicated space means that no unnecessary items or clutter can distract you from the task ahead, and will help keep your mind clear and focused on the task ahead.


Don’t start everything all at once

The start of the school year is often the start of extra-curricular activities like sports, music lessons, volunteering, and part-time jobs. However, starting a busy schedule right from the start can be very stressful, especially for students that are transitioning to higher grade levels, or a new school. The first month of school should be a time dedicated to becoming familiar with a new schedule and routine outside of any extra activities. This way, students can better understand what their homework load is, what their sleep schedule will be like, and how much time they can dedicate to outside activities in the evenings and on the weekends. Remember, it’s important to leave time in your week to relax! For students, September should be about establishing a routine and growing comfortable in a new environment. Try and wait a few weeks before introducing more activities into the daily schedule.

Planning a summer getaway? We're here to help!

During the summer, taking a long vacation may not be possible, but a weekend getaway is easy to do, especially in a central location like Calgary. Whether you’re thinking of heading out to the mountains or taking a trip through the prairies, take the time to plan a weekend trip that you’ll be able to enjoy!

1.     Plan your route

It’s easy to jump in your car and head out for the weekend, but unexpected road construction or traffic can delay an already short trip. Before you head out, plan what route you will drive to get to your destination. Be sure to check traffic and weather reports to make sure that your route is clear, and make yourself familiar with alternate routes in case you encounter any further problems on the road. If you’re flying, try to book a direct flight, or try to minimize the number of connections you must make. Layovers and baggage transfers are only some of the flying steps that can put a major delay in your trip, so try to streamline your air travel as much as you can. If you plan early enough, seat sales with better flight times may be available!

2.     Focus on one area

When you’re in one place for only a couple of days, many people instinctually think they need to do everything in one weekend – even visiting more than one city! If you’re going away for only a weekend, focus your trip to one destination. If it’s a larger city, consider focusing on only one area of the city. Search for places that will have activities or events that are of interest to you. Even if you’ve heard from others that a certain destination or area is great, make sure that it is also the right fit for you and your timeframe. It may seem like you have to do it all, but narrowing your trip to one or two travel destinations will allow you to spend more time participating in activities you want to do. If you aren’t able to see something during this trip, plan to go back in the future!

3.     Pay attention to location

With only two or three days to spend in your chosen destination, you don’t want to waste time travelling between your hotel and the activities you want to do. When you’re booking accommodations, pick a place that is central to your must-see list, or close to transportation options. If you do decide to stay at a location further away, some hotels may offer shuttle services or complimentary transit passes that will make the commute easier. With a busy schedule packed into a couple of days, it’s also worth checking into dining options. Check for continental breakfasts so you can get out the door in the morning faster, and consider purchasing sandwiches, granola bars and other snack options to keep with you during the day so you don’t have to stop for snacks or lunch. For dinner, look up restaurants around your hotel and consider booking reservations in advance so you don’t have to wait long after a busy day.

4.     Pack light

If you’re only gone for the weekend, don’t pack for a week-long trip! Large suitcases and multiple bags are unnecessary, and will only make packing, transporting, and carrying them a hassle. When you’re away for a weekend and have a busy schedule, it’s more efficient to carry with you only the items that you need. Consider bringing multi-purpose clothing that layers well, and works for touring during the day as well as going out in the evening. Shoes should be practical and comfortable, and suited towards the activities you have planned. Although you might think you need to bring an extra change of clothes “just in case,” think hard about what your schedule is like and if you’ll really use it. Use the same questions you would ask yourself if you were decluttering your home: do you really need it? Will you use it during the next two days? Can you get by without it?

5.     Schedule activities

Make sure you have something to do when you get to your destination – don’t just wing it! You may get there only to find that activities you thought you could do are actually closed, or you might find something you want to do but needed to book in advance for. A quick search online can provide you with information on local events, what time restaurants, stores, and museums are open at, and if there are any weather advisories that could affect outdoor activities. If you have the option of making reservations or booking tickets online beforehand, it is always a good idea to plan ahead so you don’t have to wait in line or get turned away when you get there. When you’re scheduling your days, make sure that your schedule isn’t jam packed – allow for extra time in case some activities take longer than others, or if you decide to spend some time doing another activity – even if it’s just relaxing! You want to have a plan for your trip, but you don’t want to exhaust yourself either. A weekend getaway should be as relaxing as it is entertaining – so take the time to plan before you leave!

For a great list of weekend getaways from Calgary, go here!

Camping done right!

Camping: this one small word encompasses a lot of tasks, including shopping, packing, cleaning, setting up, and cleaning up. Camping is a summer vacation that requires a lot of management and organization. Below, we've got suggestions on how you can pull off your camping trip in the most efficient and organized way. A summer vacation spent camping can be busy, but it can also be fun and relaxing!


1.     Make a list – and check it twice!

The key to every major organization process is to make a list. When you’re preparing for a camping trip, it’s important to take the time to think about everything you’re going to need, from food to clothing to entertainment. Camping is also about more than just packing for the trip – it also includes making sure your home is clean and secure before you leave, and that you have any maps, snacks, music, or other items for the drive. One long list can be overwhelming, so try breaking your list down into different sections, like breakfast food, or campfire snacks, or what to do before you leave. Once your list is completed and you have finished packing, make sure to give it one more look over to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything important. You can find an online checklist for camping here.


2.     Pack like items with like

Once you’ve determined what items you need to bring, you’ll need to start packing them in your trailer or RV, or into travel bags/bins. Pack together items that are similar. When you’re camping, this might not be as simple as putting all clothes in one bin. For example, consider packing all warmer clothes for during cool nights and mornings together, and lighter clothes for warmer temperatures together. This way, you can quickly find the clothes you need, whatever the weather may be. When you’re packing food, put all the items that need to be kept in a fridge or cooler together, and all items that can be stored at room temperature in one container. You can also pack food by meal type. Keep all breakfast, lunch, supper, and snack items together so they’re easy to all pull out when you need them. When you go to unpack at your campsite, this process will be a lot easier because all the items you need for specific activities or tasks will be sorted together. When you are figuring out what items to put together, think about what makes sense to you and your camping mates and the type of camping you are doing. Different systems will work better or make more sense for you than it will for others!


3.     Label, label, label!

Tenting, RVing, and trailer camping all use a lot of equipment and items that can be hard to keep track of when you’re packing and unpacking them. Store items in clearly marked containers, in a system that makes sense to you and your family or friends. For example, use clear boxes with easy to read labels that identify clothes, food, or toys. You can also use colour coordinated boxes, and store all cutlery and plates in a green bin, and all swimming gear in a blue bin, or whatever you may have. If you’re tenting, consider using glow-in-the-dark tape or brightly coloured bins to label and store your items so they’re easy to see even when it is dark out. Labelling all your items and storage areas will help you find items easier, and make the packing and unpacking process more efficient!


4.     Be practical

It’s important to make sure that you have all the items you need, but it’s also important to make sure that you don’t over pack. The cramped spaces of RV’s and trailers, not to mention tents, don't allow for a lot of storage space. Try not to take up valuable room with non-essential items, so before you begin the packing process,  go through and “declutter” the items you are ready to pack first! Most campgrounds have laundry facilities and potable water, so it isn’t always necessary to bring so many items like clothes, disposable cutlery, and disposable plates when you can easily reuse a select few items for the duration of your trip. Make up a meal plan ahead of time for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and purchase the food that you need for those meals (as well as a few snacks!) but don’t go overboard when you’re shopping. While you want to make sure you have enough food, it’s unnecessary to buy food that you “think” you’ll need. It isn’t worth packing out a lot of food when you will end up packing it all home, so shop wisely. If you are camping with others, consider splitting up the grocery list, and allocating a portion of the items for each person to buy and bring out.

Camping requires a lot of planning, packing, and unpacking, but the more organized you are before you leave, the more time you’ll have to relax in the great outdoors!