It’s still summer, but back to school has already hit the shelves at the stores, which means it’s time to get ready for back-to-school at home. Be a star-organizing student with these back-to-school tips & tricks. When it comes to starting the school year on the right foot it’s all about the organization. Thinking ahead and creating a space for everything that’s coming into your home is key but also purging that old stuff from last year is just as important, don’t skip the latter to get to the fun of the first. Always start by purging the old. Once you’ve done that, I’ve created three steps to follow to help you get organized for the school year. Doing these three steps will lessen stress and free up time, something we can all use more of!
The first step is creating a command center in your home.
This should be in a centrally located area of your home, like part of the kitchen or mudroom, for example. If you’re lucky enough to have a desk area off of your kitchen this is a great space to do this in. You’ll want to have key items that are essential to making your day go smoothly located here. For example, cell phone chargers are a good item to have on hand. A wall calendar outlining the week or month is an excellent addition. The new school schedule can be posted on a bulletin board or cork board. Important school papers (ones to be signed and returned, outlining upcoming events, etc.) can be either on display on the bulletin board/cork board, in a desktop document holder, or filed in a file folder holder on the counter or desk. It all depends on whether or not you’re a visual person as to where these documents should be kept. They’re either in sight or filed away, but either way, they shouldn’t get put into a permanent file drawer if they’re an action item as out of sight out of mind is a real thing. If you opt for the file folder option, you can give each child a folder.
PRO TIP: Make each child’s folder a different color to help those that are visual.
Keeping pens, pencils, and highlighters organized in this area is also helpful. Sticky notes, notepads, and even a lined journal will help keep you on track. If envelopes for cash or teacher notes are something you find yourself reaching for regularly, this is a great item to have in your command center. You’ll want to use drawer dividers if you’ve got drawers to store these items in or even create drawers if you’re using a cabinet by purchasing small acrylic drawers to stack in the cabinet. At the end of the day, everything that you need, love & use to make your day start on the right foot should be easily accessible in this area. Keep it clear of clutter and keep the command center organized for its purpose: to make your life run smoother.
The second step is creating a system for school papers.
We’ve already touched on where those important school papers should live: in your command center in your home. Those are the action-item school papers that need to be returned to school with a signature, that outline an upcoming event, or remind you of something important. Those can be on display, in a desktop document holder, or in a file folder holder. Everything should be labeled if it’s going into a folder; for example, the folder label could be each child’s name. Now what to do with the rest of the papers: the ones you want to keep long-term but don’t need in the command center? Those should be divided into two categories: memorabilia or administrative reference. If the paper is, for example, a completed A+ homework assignment or piece of artwork that you want to keep as a keepsake, that falls into the memorabilia category. I recommend having a clear plastic tote with a lid for each child labeled with their name and the word memorabilia on it to store these treasures in. You can organize the tote by grade if you like, although that’s not necessary for everyone. Keep the tote in the basement storage room on a shelf so that it’s out of the main living area but tucked away for safe-keeping to pull out for their high school open house or another fun event. If you'd like, you could create a memorabilia folder in your hanging file system in your home office to store items daily, and then weekly or monthly empty the folder into the memorabilia tote in the storage room. Often children end up with more than one memorabilia tote by the time they are teens, but if your space is limited you can always use the tote as a boundary and select items to purge once the tote is full. Your space should dictate how much memorabilia you keep. Space is maxed out? Limit it to one tote per child. Have a huge storage room? Have as many totes as you need. Now for the administrative reference paperwork: this is the paperwork you don’t need in your command center daily but that you need to store long-term in case you need to reference it later. For example, a list of classroom phone numbers or names. I recommend creating (if you don’t already have one) a hanging file system in your home office and creating a file for each child that holds these documents. At the end of each school year go through each child’s file and purge what needs to be removed and leave it fresh and as empty as possible for the following year. Be sure to alphabetize your file system as well. Don’t have a home office or file cabinet? No worries! You can get really cute hanging file holders that look great on bookshelves to create this space within your home. You don’t need a pile of papers cluttering up your command center, kitchen counter, or other surfaces because you might reference the paper in a couple of months. Instead give it a home to retire to until you need it, one that is tucked away but still easily accessible.
The third step is creating a homework zone or study space for your studious ones.
It can be hard to find a space to focus when a home is full of clutter so that’s why it’s so important to organize a space for homework ahead of time. The possibilities are endless. I’ve seen homework stations created in bedrooms, dining rooms, playrooms, and living rooms. The key is that there’s a place to sit, a desktop-like surface to hold their laptop, tablet, or books, and some storage for supplies. This is important because the child should be able to sit down and have everything they need for study time within arm's reach. Using a craft cart is always a good option for spaces lacking storage. The items you keep in this area are going to be different depending on the child’s age but some examples are pencils, erasers, and scissors. You’ll want to keep the desktop area clear of clutter, which is why storage is so important. Have a clock in this area too so they can check the time without looking at a device which can lead to distraction if their assignment is to read a book, for example. It’s also fun to let the children have some input on their study area. What colors do they love? Do they have some special items they’d like on the desk or hanging on the wall? Do they need noise-canceling headphones or music playing to focus better? The homework zone should be an oasis for peak studying and that will look different for each child.
If you create a command center, set up a system for school paperwork, and create a homework zone this year, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time and a lot less stress when the school year is in full swing. Not sure how to implement all of these suggestions? Utterly Uncluttered is here to help. We’re just a phone call away and can help you achieve all of this and more so that you’re organized and ready for the school year to begin. Remember to get rid of the old and start organizing what’s left, following these three steps to be a star organizing student!
Here’s to back to school time!
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