Time Management Tips For Entrepreneurs

As a business owner, you may feel like there are never enough hours in the day.  Not only do you need to run a business, take care of your own health and fitness and be there for your family, but you also need to be more involved in your community and network as well.  How are you supposed to fit it all in?  Time management is a skill that will help you achieve more with less burnout.

15 Proven Time Management Tips For Entrepreneurs

1) Understand where your time goes

The first step to effective time management is understanding where your time goes. Track how you spend your time for a week or two to get a better sense of where it all goes. Once you know where your time goes, you can start to make changes. You may notice that you spend more time scrolling through social media, watching TV, or even driving to and from appointments than is strictly necessary.

2) Set priorities

Once you know where your time is going, it’s time to start setting priorities. What is the most important thing you need to be working on right now? Make a list of your top priorities and make sure you are spending your time accordingly. Don’t forget that it isn’t all about work either.  Your business is only a small part of your life.  Make sure to prioritize your health and your family as well.

3) Delegate and outsource

One of the best ways to free up your time is to delegate tasks to others or outsource them altogether. If there are tasks that someone else can do just as well as you, delegate them! This will free up your time to focus on more important things.

4) Batch similar tasks together

Batching similar tasks together can be a great time-saver. For example, if you need to make a bunch of phone calls, do them all at once instead of spacing them out throughout the day. This way you can get into a rhythm and avoid wasting time starting and stopping different tasks.

5) Use technology

Technology can be a great time-saver if used correctly. There are a ton of helpful apps and tools out there that can automate or streamline tasks, saving you time in the long run. A small example is the template feature in Gmail.  Most people have emails they send over and over again but very few people create a template that they can use instead of starting from scratch each time. 

6) Set deadlines

One way to make sure you are staying on track is to set deadlines for yourself. Having a deadline will help you focus and get the task done more quickly.

7) Take breaks

Breaks are important! Taking a few minutes to step away from your work can help you refresh and refocus, so you can be more productive when you return. We have found a brisk walk around the block is a great way to gain more energy and prioritize both your physical and mental health.

8) Schedule downtime

In addition to taking regular breaks, it’s also important to schedule some downtime into your day. This can be time spent relaxing, reading, or doing something you enjoy outside of work. It’s important to have a balance in order to avoid burnout.

9) Avoid distractions

Distractions can be a big time-waster. When you are working on a task, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can focus and get the job done more quickly. Consider leaving your phone in the other room when you are working, turning off notifications on your smartwatch, or only having the tab you are working on open on your computer.  Another great way to avoid distraction is to check your email two times a day at set times.

10) Set limits

It’s important to know your limits in order to avoid taking on too much. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a step back and reassess what you can realistically accomplish. Try not to bite off more than you can chew.

11) Say “no”

Learning to say “no” can be difficult, but it’s important in order to avoid taking on more than you can handle. If you are already stretched thin, don’t be afraid to turn down additional requests or commitments.

12) Simplify your life

One way to save time is to simplify your life. If there are areas of your life that are unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming, see if there’s a way to simplify them. This could involve streamlining your daily routine, decluttering your home, or cutting back on commitments.

13) Be organized

Being organized can save you a lot of time in the long run. Having a system in place for things like your calendar, to-do list, and paperwork can help you stay on track and avoid wasting time searching for things or trying to remember what you need to do.

14) Avoid procrastination

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. If you find yourself putting off tasks or avoiding them altogether, it’s time to make a change. Try to break the habit of procrastination by setting smaller goals, holding yourself accountable, and getting started on tasks right away.

15) Make time for self-care

It’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. When you are feeling well, you will be more productive and better able to manage your time. Make sure to schedule some time for self-care activities like exercise, relaxation, and healthy eating.

The iStratus app is a great way to help with time management. Use our checklist feature to keep ongoing list of what you want to accomplish and stay organized.  Download the app today.

25 Goals To Track In 2023

As the year comes to a close and we start considering the new year, it’s a good time to consider implementing new habits. In this article, we will discuss 25 healthy habits to track in the New Year. Tracking your progress can be a helpful way to stay motivated and on track.

Here Are 25 Healthy Habits To Track In The New Year

1) Exercise

Whether you’re aiming to increase the frequency or intensity of your workouts, tracking your progress can help you stay on track. In addition, tracking will help you see what improvements you have made in your chosen exercise.

2) Sleep

In the past ten years, study after study has shown that sleep is underrated.  Getting enough quality sleep is essential for good health. Tracking how much sleep you’re getting each night can help you ensure you’re getting the rest you need. And if you aren’t, it can help you see the pattern you might be able to improve to get better quality sleep

3) Water intake

Staying hydrated is important for overall health and well-being. Tracking your water intake can help you make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.

4) Fruit and vegetable intake

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Tracking your intake can help you ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. You may also find it helpful to track the types of fruits and vegetables you are eating and consider adding a wider variety to your diet.

5) Weight

Whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight, tracking your weight can help you monitor your health and fitness progress.

6) Body fat percentage

Tracking your body fat percentage may help you monitor your fitness progress and ensure you’re losing fat, not muscle. This one has become a bit controversial in the past several years.  Consult your doctor if you are unsure.

7) Waist circumference

Tracking your waist circumference can help you monitor your risk for obesity-related health conditions.

8) Blood pressure

Tracking your blood pressure can help you monitor your cardiovascular health.

9) Glucose levels

Tracking your blood sugar levels can help you manage diabetes or prediabetes. The number of people who have diabetes without being aware is rising every year. Knowing your risk is a great first step toward avoiding diabetes.

10) Cholesterol levels

Tracking your cholesterol levels can help you monitor your cardiovascular health and risk for heart disease.

11) Steps taken

Tracking the number of steps you take each day can help you increase your physical activity level. It is amazing how a whole day can go by without standing up from your desk.  Use a step counter to make sure you are getting enough movement throughout your day.

12) Calories consumed

Tracking the calories you consume each day can help you monitor your diet and ensure you’re not eating too much. Most people are surprised to find how many calories they consume in a day.

13) Protein intake

Tracking your protein intake can help you ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient.

14) Carbohydrate intake

Tracking your carbohydrate intake can help you monitor your diet and blood sugar levels.

15) Fiber intake

Tracking your fiber intake can help you ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient. Eating more fiber leads to health benefits.

16) Fat intake

Tracking your fat intake can help you monitor your diet and ensure you’re not eating too much.

17) Alcohol consumption

Tracking your alcohol can help you monitor your drinking and ensure you’re not over-consuming.

18) Caffeine consumption

Tracking your caffeine consumption can help you monitor your intake and ensure you’re not drinking too much. Too much caffeine may cause health problems, such as restlessness and shakiness, insomnia, headaches, and other symptoms.

19) Smoking

Tracking your smoking can help you monitor your habit and track your progress if you’re trying to quit.

20) Stress levels

Tracking your stress levels can help you identify when you’re feeling overwhelmed. By identifying these stressors, you will be able to find ways to manage or cope better.

21) Mood

Tracking your mood can help you identify mood patterns and help you find ways to improve your emotional well-being.

22) Productivity

Tracking your productivity can help you identify when you’re most productive and help you find ways to increase your productivity during those certain hours of the day.

23) Social interaction

Tracking your social interaction can help you identify when you’re feeling lonely and help you find ways to connect with others. After COVID, many people are still trying to find ways to reconnect socially.  Tracking may help.

24) Hobbies

Tracking your hobbies can help you find balance in your life and ensure you’re making time for things you enjoy.

25) Goals

Tracking your goals can help you stay on track and actually achieve them. 

These 25 goals are a lot of things to track but iStratus makes it easy with our customizable checklists.  Download the app today.

Creating A Health Plan For 2023

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably setting some health and fitness goals for the new year. But a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, let’s work on a plan.

10 Steps To Take Toward A Healthier You In 2023

1) Set SMART goals

Reaching a goal starts with making SMART goals.  A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  Vague goals like “I want to be healthy” are much harder to achieve than something like “I will walk for 30 minutes every day.”

2) Make a commitment

Part of making any goal is committing to seeing it through.  This means being willing to put in the work, even when you don’t feel like it.  When it comes to health, this might mean getting up for a workout when you’re tired or choosing healthy foods even when you’re craving something else.

Part of committing is understanding why you are making the commitment.  What are your motivations for wanting to be healthier? When you have a clear understanding of why you want to make a change, it will be easier to stick with it.

3) Make a plan

Once you know what your goals are, make a detailed plan of how you’re going to achieve them. Include specific steps, deadlines, and who will be helping you along the way. For example, if your goal is to run a 5k, find a training program and map out when you will run each week. Look for a specific couch to 5k program you can follow or better yet, join a running group that has the same goal.  Check your local community center or your local running club to find a program near you.

4) Get support

Health and fitness goals are easier to achieve when you have the support of family and friends. So, tell your loved ones what you’re working toward and ask for their help. Help them understand why it’s important to you and let them know exactly how they can help you achieve your goals.

5) Find an accountability partner

Having someone to keep you accountable can be a great motivator. Find a friend or family member who will check in with you regularly and help you stay on track. And do the same thing for them.  Consider doing some of your workouts together.  It’s much harder to skip a workout if you know your accountability partner is waiting for you.

6) Set up your environment for success

Take a look at your home and work environment and make sure they’re set up in a way that supports your health and fitness goals. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy food options. If you want to work out more but know the weather could be a problem, consider buying a treadmill or getting a gym membership.

7) Establish healthy habits

Forming new, healthy habits is key to reaching your health and fitness goals. So, start by identifying one or two health behaviors you want to change and focus on making those changes. Do you need to drink more water, eat less sugar, or take more steps?  Which of these is most important to you?  Remember not to try to do everything at once.

8) Be patient and persevere

Remember that lasting health and fitness changes take time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working hard and stay focused on your goals. There will inevitably be setbacks along the way. But don’t let them derail your entire plan. Get back on track as soon as possible and keep moving toward your goals. Remembering why you are working so hard will help you shake off the setbacks and move forward.  You may even find you can double down on your efforts because you see how easy it is to begin again.

9) Reward yourself

Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Give yourself small rewards for meeting the smaller goals but also create a big reward for achieving your ultimate goal.  If your goal is to run the NYC marathon next year, reward yourself with a few extra days in the city or tickets to a show.  Make it something you might not otherwise do so it acts as the carrot to your goal.

10) Get professional help

If you’re having trouble reaching your health and fitness goals on your own, don’t hesitate to get professional help. A certified health coach or personal trainer can give you the guidance and support you need to reach your goals.

The iStratus app is a great place to keep track of your goals and your achievements.  Download the app today.

Apps To Boost Your Mental Health

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. From family gatherings to financial pressures, there are plenty of things that can cause anxiety and stress.

But there is one thing that can help you avoid some of the holiday stressors: technology.

From apps that help you stay organized to ones that provide on-demand mental health support, there are plenty of ways that technology can help you during the holidays.

Apps That Help Your Mental Health

Reduce The Chaos

Apps like iStratus can help you get a grip on the chaos.  Use it to keep track of your schedule and to-do lists. This can help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to do.

Still Your Mind

Use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm to help you relax and de-stress. Taking just 10 minutes out of your day to meditate can make a big difference in how you feel.

Track Your Mood

Using a tracking app like Moodscope or P Tracker to track your moods throughout the holiday season can help you identify stressors and figure out ways to avoid them. Don’t forget to make a note about what was happening at the time of your mood.  Were you in a great mood because you had just finished a run or were you feeling insecure because you were spending time with a certain person?  Tracking your mood can help you uncover your more dangerous triggers.

Just Breathe

Use an app like Breathe2Relax to help you control your breathing and anxiety levels. This can be a great tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Don’t stress that you can’t still your mind.  You don’t have to.  All you have to do is breathe.

Seek Professional Help

One of the best things to come from technology in the past couple of years is apps like TalkSpace or BetterHelp where you can get on-demand mental health support. If you’re really struggling, these apps can put you in touch with a therapist who can help.

How Are You Sleeping?

Getting enough sleep is so important for your mental health. The Sleep Cycle or Pillow apps can help you to track your sleep and get better quality rest. This is important all year long but especially when trying to maintain your mental health during a stressful time.

Sweat It Out

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood and not a bad excuse for getting away from the people and situations that are causing your stress. MyFitnessPal or Fitbit will help you to track your physical activity and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

Diet Plays A Role In Mental Health

Eating healthy can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Use an app like Fooducate or HealthyOut to make healthier food choices. You may find that small changes go a long way toward helping you feel calmer.

Nothing Beats A Good Book

Sometimes all you need is some quiet time on your own. Use an app like Goodreads or Pocket to find books that can help you relax and escape from the stress of the season.

Sing Along

Use Pandora or Spotify to help you create holiday-themed playlists full of festive music. Listening to uplifting music can help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Discover Your Creative Side

Sometimes all you need is a few minutes to stop focusing on the stress of the day. Use an app like Color Therapy or Pigment to color and de-stress. This can be a great way to take a break from all the holiday preparations and relax for a few minutes.

Remember Why You Work So Hard

Use an app like 1 Second Everyday or Timehop to create video montages of past holidays. This can help you remember all the good times you’ve had and appreciate the present moment.

Create New Habits

Fabulous or Streaks are apps that help to develop positive habits that can help reduce stress. This can be anything from taking a few minutes each day to meditate or journaling about your stressors.

Harness The Power Of Gratitude

We love the Gratitude Journal or Happify apps.  These apps help you to focus on the positive things in your life. This can help shift your mindset and reduce stress levels.

Back To Breathing

We know we mentioned taking a breath earlier but honestly, it cannot be overstated.  We also love Breathing Space or Stop, Breathe & Think to find quick and easy stress-relief exercises. These can be great to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

Creating A Calming Playlist

Two more meditation apps that are loved are Calm or Relax Melodies to create custom relaxation sounds and sleep preludes. This can help you fall asleep easier and get better quality rest.

Be Understood

Not being understood can add a whole new level of stress.  Using apps like Google Translate or iTranslate to help you communicate with family and friends who speak different languages can help reduce stress and facilitate communication.

Connect With People You Love

Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime are great apps to help you stay connected with loved ones who live far away. This can help you feel less alone during the holiday season.

Coordinate Your Plans

Use an app like Cozi or Life360 to coordinate holiday plans with your family and friends. This can help you avoid stress and stay organized.

We do believe that apps are a great way to help boost your mental health but keep in mind that sometimes apps don’t work to solve what is happening in your life. Sometimes you need more help.  That’s okay.  If you are experiencing unusual levels of stress and anxiety, ask for help.  A therapist, warmline, or suicide prevention hotline can help.

Strategic Goal Setting

As the end of the year approaches, you may be looking forward to the new year. A new year offers you the opportunity to look back at how you did this year and look forward to what lies ahead. This is why at iStratus, we start the goal-setting process in November.  Before our days are filled with holiday parties, shopping, and family obligations, we like to take the time to focus on reflecting on previous goals and setting goals for the new year.

Before Setting Your New Goals

Before setting your goals for the new year, look back at your goals from last year.

  • Which goals did you meet? 

Celebrate those wins.  This is a part of goal setting that people too often overlook.  Rewarding yourself for achieving a goal sets you up for success in your next set of goals.

  • Which goals did you not meet?

Inevitably, we will not meet some of our goals.  Analyzing why is a helpful way to move forward.  Was the goal realistic?  Were you close to achieving the goal?  Did you decide it just wasn’t important? Understanding what happened will help you make better, more strategic decisions when choosing your goals for next year.

For the rest of this article, we will share 10 of our favorite tips for setting goals for all areas of your life.

10 Tips For Goal Setting

1) Set realistic goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new year and set unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve. This can lead to frustration and disappointment, so it’s important to set goals that you know you can reasonably achieve.

2) Set specific goals

It’s not enough to just set a goal to “lose weight” or “save money.” These goals are too general and it’s difficult to measure whether or not you’re achieving them. Instead, try to set specific goals such as, “I will lose 10 pounds by March” or “I will save $500 by the end of the year.”

3) Set achievable goals

In addition to being realistic and specific, your goals should also be achievable. This means that they should challenge you but not be so difficult that they’re impossible to reach. For example, if you’re a smoker, setting a goal to quit smoking by the end of the year is an achievable goal. However, setting a goal to never smoke again is probably not realistic or achievable.

4) Set timely goals

Your goals should also have a timeline attached to them. This will help you stay on track and motivated to achieve your goal. For example, instead of setting a goal to “lose weight,” set a goal to “lose 10 pounds by March.”

5) Set goals in writing

One of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving your goals is to write them down. This makes them more concrete and real. It also gives you a reference point to look back on when you’re feeling discouraged.  We write our goals in the iStratus app so it is always convenient to find them.

6) Set goals in different areas of your life

When you’re goal-setting, it’s important to consider all areas of your life, not just one. This includes setting goals for your personal life, professional life, and physical health. By goal setting in different areas, you can create a well-rounded life and achieve a sense of balance.

7) Set goals with someone else

If you’re having trouble goal-setting on your own, try doing it with someone else. This could be a friend, family member, or even a professional goal coach. Having someone to help you stay accountable and motivated can make a big difference in your success.

8) Set goals that are meaningful to you

It’s essential to set goals that are meaningful to you and that align with your values and beliefs. This will make it more likely that you’ll be motivated to achieve them. For example, if one of your values is health, then setting a goal to lose weight or quit smoking would be more meaningful than setting a plan to save money.

9) Set goals that are challenging but reachable

Your goal should challenge you but not be so difficult that it’s impossible to reach. This sweet spot will help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, setting a goal to lose 10 pounds by March is challenging but reachable. However, setting a goal to lose 100 pounds by March is probably not realistic or achievable.

10) Take action steps towards your goal

Once you’ve set your goal, it’s important to take action steps towards achieving it. This could include making a plan, setting a timeline, and finding resources to help you. Taking action steps will help you move closer to your goal and increase your chances of success.

Download the iStratus app today to start setting your own goals and keep track of them.

Preparing For The Holiday Season

The holidays can be hectic. Between cooking, shopping, decorating, and preparing for guests, the season can be quite overwhelming. But, there are some things you can do now to prepare and take some of the pressure off when the holidays finally come around. In this article, we will discuss steps you can take now to make the holidays a more joyful experience. 

10 Steps To A Less Stressful Holiday Season

1) Be like Santa and start with a list

Make a list of what needs to be done. This will help you stay organized and on track as you prepare for the holidays. You may actually want a series of lists such as:

•  a shopping list for friends and family,

  a list of who will receive a holiday card,

•  a list of recipes for any dinners or parties you will be hosting,

•  a list of your children’s holiday performances and class parties,

•  and a list of ways you can still practice self-care at this hectic time of year.

Use the iStratus folder file cabinet feature to keep all of these lists in one place.

2) Start shopping early

Shopping early will help you avoid the last-minute rush, the traffic that always comes with the holiday season, and the stress that often comes with holiday shopping. Better yet, it will ensure you are able to get the items on your list before they are all sold out.  Many stores are already reporting that they are going to be lower on items this holiday season.

3) Schedule a time to decorate your home

By adding your holiday decorating to your calendar, you may find it easier to enlist the help of your family.  Remember to add your list of decorations to your calendar as well.  This will ensure that you don’t leave your favorite ornaments in storage only to find them as you are packing up and putting decorations away again. 

Another tip that will save you trouble in the future is to toss any of the lights that are not working this year so you don’t have the aggravation of testing them all over again next year.

4) Plan your holiday menus 

Planning your holiday menus will allow you to shop for ingredients ahead of time and make any necessary preparations in advance. In addition, knowing what you want to serve will make it easier to assign some of the meals to friends and family who ask to bring something. Keep in mind that you may need to plan for parties as well as dinners and brunches.

5) Get ready for guests

Prepare your guest room or space in advance. Strip the sheets and wash them a few weeks before your guests arrive.  Have your children dust the room.  Add some decorative touches and some creature comforts such as water glasses for the bedside table. Doing these things now will make things more comfortable for your guests and make your life easier as well.

6) Wrap a little at a time

Start wrapping gifts early. One of the easiest ways to avoid the last-minute rush of the holiday season is to wrap each gift as you get it.  Doing this will save you time and stress later on and may even give you a sense of accomplishment as you see the wrapped gifts pile up.

7) Schedule your travel

Planning any holiday travel in advance will help you avoid any last-minute complications or stresses. Consider the smaller day trips you are likely to take as well.  Will you spend a day driving to a tree farm to cut down your tree?  Will your Aunt Louise host a party in a neighboring state?  These trips can add stress to a busy season if you don’t account for them in your schedule.

8) Practice self-care

We alluded to this earlier, but it is important to take some time for yourself. With all the preparations, it’s important to find time to relax and enjoy the holidays as well. Make sure you add your self-care to your schedule so you don’t neglect yourself during this busy season.

9) Schedule an ending

As important as it was to schedule your seasonal decorating, it is equally important to schedule a time to pack the decorations back up and get your home in order for the new year.  Again, this will give you the opportunity to enlist the help of your family instead of taking the task on yourself.

10) And finally, enjoy the holidays!

One of the benefits of being organized and planning ahead is that you avoid the stress of the season and can actually enjoy the holidays.  It’s important to be mindful of what will make a joyful holiday for you.  Is it certain music?  A specific food? Avoiding a particular family member or dynamic.  Remember the holidays only come around once a year, so make sure to savor every moment.

Take time to enjoy and love the holidays this season by planning ahead. Download the iStratus app today!

Ideas For A Spooky, Fun Halloween Party For Kids

Halloween is almost here and you have been tasked with hosting the neighborhood Halloween party. Don’t panic! We have you covered with these 15 themed party ideas and 5 spooky snacks for a fun Halloween kids’ party.

Halloween Themed Parties

1) Scavenger Hunt

Host a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Hide Halloween-themed items around the house or yard and have the kids search for them. Be sure to hide enough that every kid gets the chance to find something. You may also want to form teams to add even more fun.

2) Make It A Race

Host a Halloween relay race. Divide the kids into teams and have them race against each other while completing Halloween-themed tasks.

3) Costume Contest

Host a Halloween costume contest. Have the kids show off their Halloween costumes and vote on the best ones. You can make this more fun by creating different themes based on age groups.

4) Dance, Dance, Dance

Host a Halloween dance party. Put on some spooky tunes and let the kids dance their socks off. This may be more fun for older kids than for younger ones.  Get the kids involved by asking them to help with a fun playlist.

5) Get Crafty

Host a Halloween craft time. Get creative with some Halloween crafts like making ghosts out of tissue paper or decorating pumpkins with paint or markers. If you have older kids, enlist their help in maintaining a sense of order with the younger kids.

6) Movie Night

Host a Halloween movie marathon. Pop some popcorn and settle in for a marathon of Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

7) One Word, Two Syllables

Host Halloween-themed charades.  Acting out Halloween characters or scenes is always a fun time. Have the older kids help you come up with the clues.  This is also a great one for creating family teams.

8) Let’s Bake

Host a Halloween baking party.  Get in the kitchen and bake some Halloween-themed treats like spiderweb cookies or monster cupcakes. Enlist the kids to help in decorating the goodies.  Take it a step further by selling these items in a bake sale benefiting the local school.

9) Trivia Night

Host a Halloween trivia party. Test the kids’ knowledge of all things Halloween with a fun trivia game.

10) Game Night

Who doesn’t love a game night?  Host a Halloween-themed board game night.  Break out some Halloween-themed board games like Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate or Monopoly: Nightmare Before Christmas Edition.

11) Let’s Sing

Host a Halloween Karaoke party. Sing your heart out to Halloween classics like “Monster Mash” or “Thriller.”

12) Capture It

Set up a Halloween photo booth for the kids to stop in as they are trick or treating. Be sure to have lots of Halloween props and goodies.

13) Blinding Them With Science

Host a Halloween science experiment party.  Do some spooky science experiments like making magic potions or testing out different types of slime.

14) Party Like A Pirate

Host a Halloween treasure hunt.  Hide Halloween treats around the house or yard, create treasure maps, and have the kids search for the loot.

15) Little Witches Tea  

Have the kids dress up as witches to celebrate the holiday season. Serve fun creepy snacks and Halloween-flavored tea like pumpkin spice or apple cinnamon. 

Halloween Themed Snacks

Is it even a party without Halloween-themed snacks? Here are our five favorite snack ideas for your Halloween party.

1) Mummy Dogs

Simply take hot dogs, wrap them in pre-made croissant dough, and bake. Add ketchup for the eyes.

2) Witch Finger Cookies

This is a Halloween classic. Create cookie dough in the shape of fingers and add green food coloring for an extra eerie effect.

3) Candy Corn Bark

Melt white chocolate and pour it into a glass dish.  Add candy corn and let it set.  Once set, break into pieces and enjoy.

4) Monster Mouths

Slice apples and add peanut butter or almond butter to create the mouth. For the teeth, use mini marshmallows or white chocolate chips.

5) Spider Eggs

Hard-boil some eggs and carefully peel them so that they are mostly white.  Cut a small slit in the top and insert a green olive for the spider’s body. For the legs, use black olives.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Be sure to have plenty of Halloween candy on hand for when the kiddos come knocking. Happy Halloween!

Need a place to store all of your favorite Halloween ideas? Download our iStratus app today!

Fun Easy Packed Lunch Ideas For Kids

Packing lunches for school can be a slog for you and can become boring for your children pretty quickly. That’s why we decided to do something a little different this month. In this article, we will share 20 ideas for fun and easy, packed lunches.

20 Fun & Easy Lunch Ideas

1. Keep it simple

Use a cookie cutter to make your child’s sandwich into a fun shape. This is such a simple idea.  Make the same lunch but cut the sandwich into a fun shape. It changes everything!

2. Enlist help

Get your child involved in packing their own lunch. Let them choose their snacks and help with making their sandwich. This will take some of the load off of you and ensure that they are getting the food they really want.  You may even be able to prep for the lunches over the weekend so there are grab-and-go items ready for their lunches each morning.

3. Add some color

Add some color to your child’s lunchbox with brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Don’t let the ideas go stale.  Carrot sticks every day for a year may be hard to stomach. But if you mix up the variety each week, you will find they are more likely to eat them.

4. Think outside the sandwich

Make a packed lunch Bento box style with different foods divided into compartments. Consider hummus and veggies, or yogurt and fruit.  Rolled-up sandwich meats and crackers are also fun. 

5. Jazzy PB&J

Jazz up a PB&J sandwich by using different flavored jams or swapping out the peanut butter for almond, cashew butter, or even Nutella once in a while.

6. Words matter

Make lunchtime more fun for your child by including a fun note or joke with your child’s packed lunch. You may even create a series of notes that tell a story over several days. This will give your child something to look forward to with their lunch each day.

7. Homemade lunchable

Put together a “lunchable” style packed lunch with crackers, cheese, sliced meats, and grapes. Add homemade cookies for a special treat. These are a fun way to let your child decide what small things they would like in their lunchable.

8. Pizzadilla

Make a mini pizzadilla by combining a flour tortilla, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. These are a kid-favorite especially if their school gives them access to a microwave.

9. Lunch cupcakes

Use a muffin tin to make packed lunch cupcakes. Fill the muffin tin with different fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, etc., and then top with a second flour tortilla or pastry dough.

10. Get in shape

Get creative with your child’s fruit by cutting it into fun shapes or adding dips like yogurt or honey.  This is another opportunity to ask for their input.  What would they prefer, apples with honey or strawberries with kiwi?

11. Hit the trail

Put together a trail mix of your child’s favorite cereals, nuts, dried fruits, and chocolate chips for a sweet and crunchy snack.

12. A frozen treat

Create a refreshing packed lunch drink by freezing fruit juices or smoothies overnight and packing them in a thermos.

13. Nachos

Make a healthy-packed lunch version of nachos by using whole wheat tortilla chips, black beans, and salsa.

14. Fruit kebabs

Create a fruit kebab by threading different fruits onto a skewer.

15. Homemade granola bars

Make homemade granola bars for a sweet and nutritious packed lunch snack. There are so many options for these and they often freeze well.

16. Roasted veggies

Pack some roasted vegetables like brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes for a filling and healthy packed lunch option. Consider using a thermos to keep them warm.

17. Plastic mason jars

Use a plastic mason jar to make packed lunch salads that can be eaten on the go. This is actually a great idea for after-school snacks especially if their practice will be running past normal dinner time.

18. Look for no prep lunches

For an easily packed lunch that requires no cooking, pack a cold chicken or tuna salad. Add a side of tomatoes or carrots, a few crackers, and some cheese and you will have hit most of the food groups.

19. Mini quiches

Make packed lunch mini quiches using a muffin tin and your favorite quiche recipe. Simply fill the muffin tin with quiche mixture and bake as directed.

20. Taco bar

Kids love tacos! Surprise them with a bento-style taco bar. Pack guacamole, salsa, cheese, sour cream, a tortilla, and any other toppings they love. Let them be the creators of their taco dreams. 

Planning ahead is an important step to making lunch easy.  

Use iStratus to plan your lunch and dinner menus, create your shopping lists, and keep track of what was a winner and what they hated. Visit iStratus.com and download the iStratus app today!

Time Management Tips For Busy Parents

Fall is coming. Does the very thought make you anxious? The kids are heading back to school. After-school activities will be in full swing. Homework will once again be more of a slog for you than the kids. Dinners will be pushed later and later. How in the world will you manage it all? There are simply not enough hours in the day.

In this article, we will share with you our favorite time management tips just for busy parents.  

Get organized

Make a list of all the things you need to do in a day, week, or month. This will help you prioritize your time and make sure you don’t forget anything important. Our task manager is a great place to organize these lists. 

We encourage you to divide the list into things that must be done by you, things you might be able to delegate to your spouse, your nanny, or even your children, and things that you can simply eliminate from your list.  Too often we add things to our lists by habit.  If there are things that don’t have to be done, take them off your list.

Set a schedule

Having a set schedule will help you stay on track and make the most of your time. Determine when you have free time and block out time for specific tasks. Be sure to schedule the tasks, meals, and exercise as well. If you don’t add them to your schedule, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you add them in.

Delegate and ask for help

You can’t do everything yourself! Ask your partner, friends, or family members for help with childcare, housework, or errands. Trade time with other parents.  If you are picking up some things at the grocery store, ask a friend if they need something and ask them to do the same for you when they go.  These small tasks add up over time.

Take breaks

It’s important to take time for yourself to relax and recharge. Schedule in some “me time” every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This time does not have to be productive.  Although you can use it for getting in a workout, it could just as easily be used for taking time to sit and read a book.  Calming your mind for an hour a day will help reduce your stress during this busy season.

Simplify your life

Streamline your schedule and commitments to make time for the things that are truly important to you. We touched on this earlier but it bears repeating.  Look closely at your schedule.  Do you really have to attend that pizza fundraiser for the school?  What can you simply delete from your day?

Get enough sleep

When we are busy it is easy to justify stealing hours from your sleep schedule.  For your health and happiness, we encourage you to avoid doing that. Sleep is essential for time management! When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy and focus to get things done.

Eat healthy, nutritious meals

Eating nutritious meals gives you the sustained energy you need to power through your day. Take note of how the food you eat affects your mood and your productivity. You will find that healthier meals generally make you feel better.


Exercise is another thing busy parents are tempted to skip.  Don’t!  Exercise is so important for your future health. Taking time for physical activity can actually help improve your time management skills! Exercise boosts your energy and mood, making it easier to stay on track.

Stay focused

When you’re working on a task, try to minimize distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. This will help you work more efficiently and get things done faster. We encourage you to avoid multitasking because every study shows that multitasking actually slows you down.  Focus on one task at a time and you will complete more tasks in a day without having to steal from sleep or exercise to get it done.

Set priorities

Not everything on your to-do list is equally important. Learn to prioritize your time by setting priorities for each task. Write your priorities down for yourself and then share them with your friends and family.  If your priority this year is making sure the kids get good grades, then maybe you can limit the number of extracurricular activities they have. If your priority is your health, then skipping the workout becomes much harder to do.

Being a parent is hard any time of the year and as the school year begins and after-school activities ramp up, it’s harder than ever to manage your time.  The iStratus app can help with that.  

Learn more at iStratus.com. Download the iStratus app now!

Time Management For Teens

As the school year approaches, your teens may begin to feel anxious about the load they will be taking on this fall. Teaching them time management skills is a great way to arm them not just for the school year but for the rest of their lives.  

In this article, we will share 10 of our favorite time management tips for teens but don’t be surprised if you learn something too. 

10 Time Management Tips For Teens

1. Wake up early

Wake up early to get a head start on the day. We know, this is a hard one to convince your teenager of.  But we promise, if you can get them on board with this, everything else is easy.  One way to do this is to help them see the value of using the early hours to practice the things they love.  Mornings are a great time to get in a workout before school, practice guitar, or even sit quietly reading a book. 

This is actually the tip teens tell us they really liked the most. Probably because they were surprised by how effective it was. One teen told us his trick was to get up 5 minutes early every day until he got to a time that felt right for him.

2. Prioritize

One of the reasons people love the iStratus app so much is that they have their task lists right on their phones but best of all they can prioritize the things that need to happen.

Learning to make a to-do list and prioritize your tasks is an important part of maintaining good mental health. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by our list that we forget there are truly some times we can simply move to another day.

3. Time matters

Set time limits for each task and stick to them. This one seems like magic.  We have had dozens of teenagers describe it that way. 

“It used to take me hours to do a single assignment in history. But when I started setting a one-hour limit I was able to get the entire assignment done in that time.”

What’s the secret?  When there is a limit you are much less likely to let other things distract you. One reason it takes teens so long to do an assignment is usually a distraction like their phone or a game being played in the other room.

4. Avoid burnout

Take breaks in between tasks to avoid burnout. Nobody expects you to sit at a desk for hours at a time.  We encourage students to take time between assignments to get a snack or take an easy walk.  These breaks will allow you to come back refreshed and ready for the next task.  But let us remind you of tip #3.  Time matters. Make sure you set a limit for your break as well.

5. Delegate

Learning to delegate tasks to others is a lifelong skill. We teach this one on a regular basis to adults.  Delegate, automate, or eliminate.  Learning to do this with your task list can save you hours each week.

6. No is a powerful word

Learn to say “no” when necessary. Sometimes this is for a volunteer opportunity or a favor someone is asking but sometimes it is for something that seems really fun.  But consider the consequences.  If you take the time right now to blow off this task, how much more stressed will you be tomorrow.  Saying no today could mean the difference between being overwhelmed and being done!

7. Avoid procrastination at all costs

The problem with procrastination is that new tasks are added to your list every day.  If you leave them, you won’t come back to the task you left behind yesterday.  You will come back to that one and plus two more.  This is one more reason using a task manager can be so helpful.  Being able to see the tasks and feeling the pleasure of marking one more thing off your list can give you a huge feeling of relief. Getting things off your plate today is an important step to managing your time and in the end, it is an important step in managing your mental health.

8. Track your commitments

Keep a calendar or planner to track your commitments. iStratus is a powerful tool for the student in your life.  You can keep track of upcoming exams and projects and be ahead of the game with one simple app.  Knowing that is coming is part of the battle when it comes to managing your time.  You can also be sure to schedule your social time. Social time is important too.

9. Simplify your schedule as much as possible

One of the easiest ways to simplify your schedule is to batch activities.  Knowing that you are going to work on Spanish, Chemistry, and Geometry on Mondays, spend time with friends on Tuesday and work on History, English, and art on Wednesdays adds some calm to your life. 

10. Don’t forget the fun

Make time for relaxation and fun–it’s important! We believe in fun so much we encourage you to add it to your calendar.  If you know you have something fun to look forward to, it is much easier to make it through the more daunting tasks.

Download the iStratus app today and let us help you manage your time!