As another summer is about to end and the kids are heading back to school, we are all focusing on how to best handle our new fall schedules. So now is the perfect time to take some steps to get and stay organized so you can get the most out of the rest of the year. Here are 9 back to school organizational tips that the whole family can use to have more time and energy with which to focus on school work, career work and family time. The more a family works together as a unit, the easier time everyone will have getting used to a new schedule without experiencing major problems. I’ve included a few of my favorite tips with each category:
Prepare Ahead of Time:
The more you can prepare and organize ahead of time, the easier it will be to stay on track when it gets chaotic, especially in the morning when you’re all trying to prepare for a new day.
Tips: Create a family calendar to help you keep track of everyone. Keep it where everyone can see and use it.
Prepare everything you can (like lunches & planning your outfit) the evening before so you don’t have to make as many big decisions during a chaotic time or if you’re not a morning person.
Keep your bags/shoes/books/coats together and ready near the door so you don’t forget anything and you don’t waste time looking for anything, either.
When everyone communicates their wants and needs it’s a lot easier to ensure everyone is taken care of before a big blow up happens. This also helps with ensuring that important activities and dates aren’t forgotten and with making sure your family doesn’t spend a part of every day arguing over whose turn it was to do the dishes.
Tips: Have a quick weekly meeting to ensure everyone is on track and aware of what’s going on during the week ahead.
Talk together about what is and isn’t working so you can find a solution as a team.
Respecting is a two-way street and starts at the topic. The more all members are valued, the happier your home will be.
Use Reminders and/or Lists:
Reminders are a great way to get and stay organized and helps you stay on track. Checklists are also useful to ensure plans and projects don’t go awry thanks to a forgotten detail.
Tips: Post a reminder at your door: “Do you have your coat, shoes, school/office work, books & keys?” This will help ensure everyone leaves with what they need to succeed during the day.
Lists can be helpful with successfully maintaining a busy schedule. It helps remind you of everything you need to buy and do.
Cell phones have alerts and timers, use them to help you stay on track and on time.
Get Plenty of Sleep:
Seems weird that while talking about organizational tips I bring up the topic of sleep, yet so many people suffer serious physical and mental health issues because they aren’t getting enough sleep. Teenagers especially need a lot of rest so they can stay focused in school but the whole family will benefit as a unit when everyone is well rested.
Tips: Go to bed at the same time every night, at least during the week. This habit will help your body realize it’s time for rest and you’ll fall start to fall asleep more easily.
For a better rest, remove or cover all electronics and paperwork from the bedroom. Everything is energy and these 2 items are half the reason you can’t sleep. They give off tremendous energy.
Light stretching or meditation can help those relax more easily if they experience difficulty falling asleep quickly.
Create and Maintain Routines & Systems:
Organizing works best and is so much easier with systems and routines. You do one thing the same way over and over because this way it’s easier, more effective and you can do it automatically without needing to focus on the task.
Tips: Small systems like setting up one spot to keep your keys so they’re easily found will go a long way in saving time and energy.
Routines help kids know what to expect and feel safe which helps them focus more on their studies.
Set up a morning routine around breakfast, serve it the same time every morning which will help you stay on schedule. It also helps the kids take more responsibility for getting themselves to the breakfast table at a certain time each morning.
Focus on the Positive:
You start out each new school year excited to be moving forward but quickly unexpected things come in your way and threaten to derail you. Sometimes you give up thinking, “why bother” but there’s a lot of positive to be had in these unexpected events if you’re willing to take a closer look.
Tips: Don’t be so quick to judge. Sometimes something that looks “bad” can actually be a good thing or at least provide you with valuable information to help you make positive changes.
Focus on what parts of your routine are working effectively and keep those – they might provide clues on how to do other things better.
Don’t give up when things don’t turn out how you expected. Instead, take an open and honest look at what isn’t going right and then keep making minor changes until you find a system that does work for you.
Look Around for Help:
No one can be expected to do it all alone and you, nor your family should have to either. We all benefit from helping one another out and behaving like a community rather than a single unit.
Tips: Look to see if other families with kids in the same activities can help with the carpooling, etc.
Kids benefit from routines and from responsibilities so have your kids help out in the morning with breakfast and lunch preparations or other chores that don’t need to be managed only by you.
If your budget allows, hire someone to help out with various chores that you nor the kids have time for, why waste time arguing over who is doing the task everyone hates?
Keep It Simple!:
The more complicated a routine or system is, the easier it can break down and the harder it is to maintain.
Tips: People feel often overwhelmed having to make too many choices, especially before 8 am, so don’t provide more than 1-3 options when it’s time to make a big decision – like what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to school.
Keep items closest to where you need them so they’re easy to find, grab and return.
Map out Your Time:
You know how you think you have no time to ever accomplish anything and that somehow must mean you’re not spending enough time with your kids which somehow means you’re a terrible parent? Turns out, that’s probably not true, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t greatly benefit from taking a closer look at how you’re really spending your time.
Tips: Track your time in 30-minute intervals. Do this for 2 weeks to help you take an honest look at where your time goes.
Use this to see that you are spending time with your family and then see where you might be able to make some tweaks to create more time.
Stop choosing to feel like you’re inadequate in everything you do. It’s not true and it’s an emotion that doesn’t do you, your family or anyone else any favors.
Remember: small changes can make huge differences.
Getting and staying organized during the school year doesn’t have to be hard. Yes, things will happen that no one was counting on, but with an effective system put in place, it makes dealing with the chaos much easier without everyone or everything else, falling apart. Taking it one moment, one day at a time and keep choosing to make self-love based decisions rather than fear based decisions and it will all come into place for you.
Long before decluttering expert, writer & speaker Alison Kero started her first organizing business in 2004, she searched for ways to make life easier. After much research, she realized it came down to 2 simple organizing techniques: first to use self-love as her decision-making tool so she can easily determine what she likes, uses and needs in her life and second to set boundaries so she doesn’t sabotage her efforts. Alison also recognized the importance of figuring out her priorities so that she could determine what she considered valuable to her and what wasn’t. Alison first started with physical clutter but soon realized she could transfer those same simple techniques to every aspect of her life; whether it’s who to spend time with, which activities to do or what objects to bring home, Since implementing her new decluttering system, Alison has found she now enjoys; increased energy, improved productivity and overall greater contentment thanks to her organizational system and she loves teaching this easy system to her clients.