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I Can’t Work Like This!

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I am about to begin the 20/21 school year from home, with two children and a significant other who just started a new job. This is my desk (see photo)…the dining room table. I have to make a change if I am going to stay organized.

I’m going to take a piece of Dr. Damon Korb’s advice and “give everything a place.” First, knowing that I’m a “sticky-note” lover, I’m going to get myself some stickies and use them as I would in my office. I’ve been keeping my notes all over these white pieces of paper, and I’m having a very hard time keeping things straight. I’m also going to get myself a notebook so that if I do need to write longer notes, I can do it all in one place and not have these papers cluttering up my desk…I mean, dining room table. I’ve been trying to make the shift to keeping digital notes, but for me, written notes that I can cross off and crumple up and throw away works best. Lastly, I’m going to get some storage containers and shelving so that I can store my laptop, keyboard, notes and files somewhere so that I can get the clutter off of our table each evening.

I’m not perfect in my own life, but I try to take the research I’m familiar with and apply it, one change at a time. In his book, Raising an Organized Child, Dr. Damon Korb provides 5 steps for parents raising children at different developmental stages, but these concepts can also be applied to your own life. For extrapolation on these concepts, watch my full length video and read or listen to Dr. Korb’s book.

  1. Be Consistent
  2. Introduce Order
  3. Give Everything a Place
  4. Practice Forward Thinking
  5. Promote Problem Solving

Here are some recommendations I have for you, as a parent, to support both you and your student in getting prepared for distance learning and continuing work from home. First, set up the workspace:

  1. Have your child be involved in the process of setting up his/her work space and choose a good spot for it (preferably not the bed).
  2. Have daily materials replenished and set out at the workspace every evening.
  3. Have a quiet space with headphones. Use non-distracting music like classical, “chill out,” or video game soundtracks (yes, I said “video game soundtracks”).
  4. Have good lighting and possibly blue light filtering glasses.
  5. Have a comfortable seating or standing option.
  6. Get a monitor so the screen is eye-level.

Next, here are some strategies for getting ahead of distance learning:

  1. Read EVERYTHING your teacher sends home, and make sure each person supporting your student reads as well.
  2. Learn how to use the digital platforms.
  3. Learn the schedule for synchronous and asynchronous learning time.
  4. Help your student schedule breaks (you too!) and make sure these include getting outside, walking around, eating, drinking, and maybe even mindfulness.
  5. Reserve recreational screen time for AFTER SCHOOL ONLY unless it is being used as a reinforcer for positive behavior (and if that is the case, make sure you set a timer).
  6. Have notifications on the computer and phone turned OFF.
  7. Use a daily calendar so your child knows when YOU have meetings so you are less likely to be interrupted.
  8. Use positive reinforcement strategies to promote positive behavior.
  9. Set boundaries on your own screen time and work time.

For more parenting tips for distance learning and working from home, follow me on Facebook @themindbydesign, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or reach out directly by email at I am available for virtual executive function coaching sessions for parents and students.

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