Back To School Organizing
Simplify the time management.
A new school year is an opportunity to start over and when we do that, there is a tendency to want to “get it right this time.” And when that happens there is also a tendency for the pendulum to swing from one extreme to the other. Don’t start an elaborate time management system that you won’t be able to maintain. A large dry erase calendar, visibly located, makes a simple solution for the kids. Just limit it to major events. Too much information has the Where’s Waldo effect of overwhelm.
Sticky notes get a bad rap because they don’t stick, but spend a little extra for the “Extra sticky” variety. Smaller ones can hold events for upcoming months and larger one’s can list parents’ simple daily targets. Again, don’t list everything, just the essentials. Maybe it’s vitamins with breakfast, backpack emptying at midday, and homework-check in the evening. Another huge time saver is setting the clothes out at night in anticipation of morning crunch time.
Accessibility on the go.
A big part of organizing is finding what you want, when you want it. For students, that needs to happen on the go. If their back packs lack adequate smallpockets for an assortment of small items, the Grid-it from Cocoon is a great solution. For more accessible files, Smead makes vertical folders, for back packs,
which can accept labels that you can see at the top. Lockers require maximizing their vertical space. Hang what you can and if you need more hooks, the 3M damage free Command Hooks are a great way to go. Locker shelves create more room for book storage. Supplies can be more accessible in magnetic holders on the door.
Your number one tool for staying organized is a clear work surface, for processing. A mudroom, garage, or closet can work well for stowing outerwear and sports equipment, but there should also be a dedicated surface for emptying back packs. This is the best opportunity to see if there are permission slips or other items that need signing. Things go into a backpack very easily, so it’s important to have a plan for them to come out just as easily. A clear surface allows you to spread out, prioritize, and process. Then is must be cleared again for tomorrow’s processing. Circulation prevents accumulation.
Focus for homework.
Another important clear work surface to maintain is a homework station. A desk with drawers is great, but if your student needs to work at the dining table a rolling set of drawers (see photo) work well.
If the midday back-pack review doesn’t always happen reliably, it’s not a bad idea to keep a dedicated place for permission slips and other things that parents need to see, with the ongoing projects.
It’s never too early to learn about filing, but again keep it simple. Provide a good, accessible structure. I like removable file jackets combined with box-bottom
hanging files, for old school-work. Keep the categories super basic, like maybe:
Maybe get more refined as the child gets older, by filing by subject.
Managing the artwork.
Speaking of artwork, for younger students, there’s usually a lot of it and it can be overwhelming. So what do you do? For the new masterpieces you’d rather not tape on the
refrigerator, there are these colorful job jackets. Combined with the damage-free command hooks, they make a great way to keep the new artwork circulating in.
But what about the art that’s not so new?
Well it needs to circulate OUT, which leads me to my best tip on artwork.
DECISIONS ARE EASIER WHEN SEASONED WITH TIME.
A flip top bin, labeled by child,’s name, is a great option for dealing with the VOLUME. Relieve yourself of the pressure to make the perfect keep/toss choice everyday. Give it some time. Maybe wait until the bin is filled, maybe every 4 months. CONTEXT DRIVES DECISIONS.
Also, acknowledge that a lot of the artwork is larger than 8.5 x 11 and make allowances for it, with an 18 x 24 portfolio, one per child.
Finally, we almost always find that it is the parent that is more attached to the artwork than the child, so get clear on just who you are keeping it for.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on great back-to-school organizing tips. Do you have some time-tested favorites?