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Back To School Organizing, Z to A

Back To School Organizing, Z to A

spiral notebookOver the weekend I made the mistake of going into Staples for some boxes I needed. As I should have anticipated, the store was overrun with back-to-school shoppers. While waiting  in a very long line, I couldn’t help but notice how similar the stacks of new spiral notebooks I saw awaiting purchase resembled the stacks of used spiral notebooks I see in my clients’ basements and attics.

Fast forward to June 2015. School’ s out for the summer. What do you do with all the kids schoolwork? You may go through it and pull out all the really special reports, perfect grade tests and artwork, but if you are anything like most parents I see, you will just keep it all and deal with it later. It would seem like such a waste to just throw it all out. Why? Part of the reason has to do with all those buried treasures I mentioned, but the other part has to do with the fact that half of those spiral notebooks are unused.

If this scenario sounds familiar, keep it in mind when you buy school supplies. This is what I mean by organizing Z to A, that is, considering the final outcome when you buy something new, Z before A.

If it’s not already obvious, I’m not a fan of the spiral notebook. It is inherently wasteful. More often than not, they go half used. If you have a brilliant child who does fill up her spiral notebook by the end of the school year, then what do you do? Buy another spiral notebook to see her through and then that one gets partial use.

file jacketsI favor loose leaf notebooks for several reasons. You can add as many pages as you need and take out pages when they are unneeded. Also, you can integrate handouts in with your notes and keep all learning material for one subject in one place. Pages torn from a spiral notebook look horrible and it is impossible to feel organized, if you are keeping them.

Another organizing tool I like is the file jacket. It’s great for collecting large numbers of notes and handouts, you may need at the end of the year, but don’t want to lug around the rest of the year when you don’t need them. At the end of the year, they are great for holding schoolwork that you haven’t decided on yet. Meanwhile, the binder has been liberated for use next year. There’s no waste and there’s more storage space, because it’s not half filled with unused school supplies.

Do you have any strategies for dealing with excess school supplies?

Comments 12

  1. I keep all “stock” of school supplies in a designated dresser. Kids can take what they need in the moment to the study area, but I keep the dresser stocked up. This way I shop when its convenient for me, instead of in a crisis moment.

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  3. I also keep a stock of school supplies. It’s great to have a drawer or cabinet to put what isn’t used each year so that it can be “recycled.” If I had tried to use spiral notebooks in med school, I never would have made it out alive. Great blog post!

  4. Smart idea with the loose leaf notebooks! I’ve always HATED spiral notebooks, if for no other reason that they aren’t friendly for lefties. Ouch.

  5. Ehhhh, Matt! I get why you favor loose leaf notebooks but I do not think I can ever get ride of my spiral notebooks. Love ’em! And yes, I do have an sttic filled with them.

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  8. When my twins were young they were very small. Each fall, we would get the required list of supplies from school and purchase them. By the time we loaded all the notebooks in their backpacks, along with books and other supplies, they could hardly carry them. I saw other little ones too, chugging along with backpacks that definitely weighed as much as they did – not good!

    My suggestion then, as it would be now, is to have one binder with looseleaf pages, and folders with holes punched that all fit into one binder. Much less expensive and weighs less.

    Some teachers wanted a separate binders for just their subject, and we had to tell them there was no way kids could carry all that, or keep track of them all, for that matter.

    The only issue we had was with pages becoming loose and we never seemed to have enough of those little reinforcements.

    I do have a tiny spiral notebook I keep in my knitting back to keep track of my stitches, but I promise I use all the pages!

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  10. Matt, what binders do you recommend? I’ve gotten stuck with binders in which, after a month, the metal rings either don’t close or they cris-cross. Have you found a reliable brand? Great post, by the way.

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    Brian, I can’t say that binders are any kinder to lefties, but letter size note pads are. They are all I have used for note-taking for years. I find I am more compelled to tear the top pages off and integrated them with my binders or files. I am then more likely to take action on those notes than if they are locked away in a spiral notebook.

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