Papercrafting Organization: A Series – Back-to-School Pt. II
Good Morning Everyone!
Are you ready for another organizing lesson?
This one is going to be really quick!
After all, it’s Saturday and many of us are worn out from a tough work week, so I’ll take it easy on you this weekend.
Plus, we have quite a few papercrafters still joining in and we want to give everyone time to complete Thursday night’s homework assignment.
So, today we’ll focus on back-to-school season and some simple things you can do to make the mornings, afternoons and evenings less stressful.
And, so YOU have more time for creating!
Getting Organized for Back-to-School
How many of you are already getting in the groove of the back-to-school season?
Ooh, I see some hands raised from those here in Texas!
Following are some simple tips for creating more harmonious home and study environments, and creating habits that can make your early mornings, activity-filled afternoons and evenings, study time, and weekend events less stressful and more fun!
To enable you to have more time for papercrafting (and hanging out here with all of us)!
O.K. now, before we get started, I want to make sure you remember this…
YOU Could WIN!
We are so very lucky to have a wonderful sponsor for our papercrafting organization series – a series all about getting our craft rooms, creative spaces, craft business offices, art studios, portable craft kits (and our study spaces, office and entire homes!) in order – order that can leave us with more enjoyable and functional spaces, increased productivity, less wasteful spending, and more time and mojo for creating (and fun!).
But, they’re not just a product sponsor. No siree!
They’re a sponsor who not only provides quality organizing furnishings and products, but a sponsor who wants YOU to WIN them!
What could be more perfect than a sponsor known for quality organizing products, products such as the Jetmax® craft storage solution?
And, Go-Organize.com not only offers products to get your creative space organized, but organizing products for your study areas and the rest of your home too!
After all, once you get one space organized, it’s highly likely you’ll be so motivated by the results that you’ll want to take on the whole house! Or, office!
FREE REGULAR SHIPPING
on all items!
Can you believe it?
We are thrilled to have Go-Organize.com join our papercrafting community and look forward to sharing their organizing solutions with you as we work on getting all of our spaces more organized.
Check out just two examples of the wonderful study spaces
YOU can create with a little help from Go-Organize.com!
So, how do YOU WIN Go-Organize.com‘s products?
Go-Organize.com is giving
THREE lucky papercrafters a chance to WIN
one of THREE $100 Shopping Codes!
I bet we have your attention now, right?!
You will have to actively participate in this
papercrafting organization series,
sharing your organizing challenges,
providing feedback on ideas and tips we share,
and showing Go-Organize some love (well, LIKEs).
No, it’s not hard!
Best of all? YOU benefit!
since you MUST participate on all six (6) main Get Organized posts,
by leaving comments and/or answering the questions we ask,
in order to be eligible to win one of the THREE $100 shopping credits,
be sure to check out the last two organizing posts we published
A Series for Papercrafters, Crafters, Artists & Students
Back-to-School Edition – Get Organized
and leave a comment,
sharing your organizing challenges, etc.
so you’ll be eligible to WIN!
Organizing 101: Back to the Classroom!
On Thursday we learned three important organizing fundamentals:
- Everything you allow into your environment becomes an obligation to you
- A place for everything & everything in its place!
- Habits take time, at least 21 days of focus and repetition for most of us
Today we’ll focus on simple solutions for making the adjustment to the back-to-school season a smoother one, and creating more joy (and free time!) in your daily routines.
Let’s start with mornings…
How many of us dread the first few mornings of the back-to-school season? Come on, you can be honest.
Getting back into a routine (and waking up early!) can be a bit of a challenge after a summer off.
So, we’ll start with some tips for simplifying your mornings, a time when some of us are not our happiest of selves!
The Launch Pad
Creating a Launch Pad (which we’ll tie into the afternoon Landing Pad in just a few minutes) is a simple way to make mornings run smoother.
What’s a launch pad?
It’s a place where things are staged for easy access in the morning so you can get out the door quickly and with less stress.
What does a launch pad look like?
It’s a “zone” where we stash those items we need before we head out the door, those items that, when missing, cause the last-minute “Where’s my…?” stress!
It can contain hooks, bins, lockers, etc. for each family member and is best placed where you usually leave and enter the house – if that’s through the garage door, then set up your launch pad there rather than by the front door where items are easily left behind.
Items usually included in a launch pad are:
1. Door Hanger: a door hanger is a simple thing you can make or buy that reminds you about anything important that might be easily forgotten. It hangs on the front door handle and may contain your house and car keys and notes to yourself. These can be purchased at home stores, but are just as easily made by us creative types!
2. Back Packs: hung on hooks just inside the entry/exit door, or placed in cubbies hung on the wall or placed on the floor, these should be ready to grab and go! (We’ll discuss this more in the evenings section.)
3. Lunch Box/Bag: while the lunches made the night before are likely kept in the frig, I recommend leaving the lunch bags/boxes by the door (on the same hooks as the backpacks) as a reminder that lunch is in the frig and needs to be grabbed before leaving. (How many times have you had to drive a forgotten lunch to school, give your kids lunch money or buy your lunch because a lunch was left behind?)
4. Jackets/Coats & Shoes: jackets/coats can be hung on each person’s hook and their shoes placed either directly below the hook, or on a shoe tray or shelf, or basket in the same area.
5. Uniforms, Instruments & Sporting Equipment: while it may be a challenge to store larger items here unless you have ample space, this is a good spot for a reminder that these items must be taken along in the morning. One option is to create a photo cut-out of the item, laminate it and add a loop to the top, then place these in the launch pad area in a narrow basket or on a separate hook for easy access. On days when one of these items needs to be taken along, the “reminder” will simply be hung (the night before) on their owner’s hook so they’re reminded that this item needs to come along.
6. Family Calendar: this can actually be kept in a variety of locations (wherever it works best for your family), but many find placing the family calendar in this location makes for a quick reminder of the day’s activities if it’s visible as everyone’s heading out the door. (And, this often prevents those, “Oh shoot, I forgot my leotard for ballet, song book for piano lessons, etc.,” panic sessions.)
7. Mail Box: this can as simple as a hook with a Ziploc bag and as wonderful as a vintage mailbox or nicely-made papercrafted mail box. The purpose of this item is to hold mail that needs to go out that day (as well as for another purpose which we’ll talk about next).
8. To-Do Box: again, this can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be, but its purpose is as a gathering place for anything that needs immediate attention (think permission slips, report cards that need signing, calendar updates, etc.).
That’s it! Simple, right?
The goal in setting this up is to make getting out the door in the morning a happier process, to enable you and your family to enjoy the experience instead of dreading it.
Getting everyone on board with a new system like this will take some energy and time, but with focus and repetition it doesn’t take long (21 days in most cases) to become a habit, a habit that reduces stress!
While not usually as stress-filled as mornings can be, afternoon re-entry can be a challenging experience as well, especially if your family is accustomed to the drop-it-anywhere routine – where anything and everything (shoes, backpacks, jackets, sports equipment, instruments, etc.) ends up strewn from the entry door to the living areas, or worse, piled in a heap just inside the door. Argh!
So, we’ll create a re-entry routine that takes advantage of the effort we put into our morning routine and launch pad set-up.
The Landing Pad
The landing pad is based on the launch pad, with a few additions.
How do we use the Launch Pad for Landing?
Quite simply, we’ll be just be replacing what we took with us in the morning, with a few additional steps:
- First, shoes go back under the hooks, on the shoe tray or shelf, or in the basket from whence they came.
- Second, jackets/coats get hung on each person’s hook.
- Third, backpacks get hung on the hooks, minus anything that needs to make its way into the To-Do Box and any food or other items that can become scary over time! To-Do items are placed in the To-Do box.
- Fourth, the incoming mail is deposited in the (hopefully papercrafted) mail box.
- Fifth, lunch bags/boxes are emptied in the kitchen (with containers being removed and any uneaten food tossed or placed in the frig) and then returned to their respective launch pad hooks.
- Finally, instruments and sporting equipment are returned to their storage spots, and worn uniforms are dropped in a designated spot in the laundry room (where they can be dealt with before they smell up the laundry basket(s)). If an instrument or piece(s) of sporting equipment will be needed the next day, the photo cut-out is again placed on the player’s hook as a reminder for the next day.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what about homework and instrument practice?
While some kids may come home and immediately start on these activities, most need a bit of a break before they dig in again. Don’t worry, I’ll address this shortly!
But now, it’s time for snacks and a bit of playtime.
Having healthy snacks at the ready is a great way to make the transition back home fun and simple, and to ensure that kids don’t fill up on junk before dinner.
(P.S. Let the kids help pick the snacks at the grocery store so they’re more likely to eat them.)
I recommend having one drawer/area in the frig for these snacks that need to be kept cold and a cabinet or drawer in the kitchen for those that don’t. Low shelves and drawers make it easier for little ones to get their own snacks, something that many little ones really enjoy (who doesn’t like choosing their own food?!).
Having incorporated kids’ likes and dislikes into the organizing projects I’ve worked on (with their parents’ blessing, of course), I can tell you that most prefer to have a bit of fun after school rather than getting right down to the business of homework and other activities, like practicing an instrument.
It can be very beneficial for their minds to have this mini escape from structure. You know your child best and whether or not a break like this will be productive or counterproductive.
My only suggestion on this is to provide some structure on time so homework is not put off until so late in the day that it becomes a battle as everyone gets worn out. It’s much easier to work on homework, and help with homework, when we still have some energy and brainpower left!
The Four L’s: Learning, Laundry, Lunches & Launch Pad Prep
Having a dedicated study/homework area is valuable for most kids. Providing them with a quiet place that’s just for this activity makes it easier for them to focus, understanding that when they are in this space, it’s time to get down to business (not watch TV, play games, chat, etc.).
Where you set this area up depends on your home, your family’s needs and your child’s/children’s learning styles and/or needs. Some kids really like doing homework in their own space and some like being where the rest of the family is. They key consideration is whether or not they can focus and be productive in the space.
As an organizer I spent a lot of time working on a certification for working with the “chronically disorganized.” This included those with special needs, more specifically, those on the Autism spectrum and with ADD and ADHD. I learned so much about what these kids (and adults) need in order to be successful at what most of us find so easy. A calm, quiet and non-distracting space was key.
I’d be happy to address this further for those of you who want to learn more.
Stocking the study/homework area(s) with necessary school supplies means kids can grab what they need and stay focused on their studies, and you won’t be running around the house in search of that dang box of staples you know you picked up during back-to-school shopping.
The basics include:
- Stapler, Staples & Staple Remover
- Tape Dispenser & Rolls of Tape
- Pens & Pencils
- Paper (Post-It notes, scratch paper, lined paper, construction paper, etc.)
- Paper Clips & Binder Clips
- Extra Binders &/Or Tablets
Next up, practicing an instrument.
Again, having a dedicated space for this is best, if possible.
This is especially important when a child is first learning as they may be uncomfortable practicing in front of others, and others in the house may not particularly enjoy the sounds that can break glass coming from your violin virtuoso in training as he/she works on the fundamentals.
How many times have you heard these phrases, or something similar, in the rush of the morning:
- “Mom/Dad, where’s my soccer jersey?” or “Mom/Dad, why didn’t you wash my soccer jersey?!“
- “I don’t want to wear that! I’ll show you what I want to wear!” (said a certain exacerbated four-year old, maybe?)
- “Mom/Dad, I can’t find my (insert current favorite, only-thing-I-want-to-wear, garment here) – I can’t leave until we find it!“
(No, that last one is not an exaggeration – I am quite sure I might have heard [ok, said?] that once or twice in my lifetime – how about you?)
Preparing the day’s outfits, and uniforms, the night before (or even weekend before) can alleviate a great amount of stress from the morning routine.
For small kids (preschool through 3nd grade), I suggest pairing outfits once weekly (with their help) and then letting them choose which of the paired outfits they want to wear each day. This is especially helpful for little girls when they hit the stage where they MUST assert their independence through clothing choices (ages 3-4?).
Also, store their clothes at their height so they can get to their daily outfits and get themselves dressed. They love this!
For older kids, hanging their clothes up may or may not work better than having them in drawers. Let them decide which they prefer and offer them nice solutions for storage.
Additionally, getting older kids in the habit of doing their own laundry is a great idea (it’s a great life skill to learn early on).
It does four things: teaches them responsibility, makes them acutely aware of how much work is involved in this chore (and bonus, frees up your workload!), makes them more apt to take care of their clothes (I see a reduction in under-bed clothing stuffing), and usually reduces daily clothing changes (has anyone else had two teenage girls?).
Lastly, make sure uniforms are washed and all components (shin guards, etc.) are ready for action.
Again, these don’t have to be kept in the launch pad area – hanging the laminated photo reminder should suffice in making sure the uniforms go out the door with their wearer (rather than via a panicked cross-town drive by you 5 minutes before the game starts).
This one’s simple: prepare lunches the night before, label them with each person’s name and place them in the refrigerator.
Older kids can make their own lunch (and are more likely to eat it if they do!).
In the morning, their hanging empty lunch bag/box in the launch pad area will remind them to grab their lunch from the frig (yay, no more panicked calls from a hungry kid!).
Launch Pad Prep
O.K., this is where your involvement plays a part. Come on, you didn’t think you were going to get away with letting the kids do all the work, did you?
In order for the launch pad to work, it will require a bit of oversight on your part.
I promise you it’s worth it, especially once everyone is on board and utilizing it and your required level of involvement is lessened.
And, it should cut down on the paper clutter and missed to-do’s, appointments, etc., and STRESS! That’s a good thing, right? 🙂
First, gather the mail from the launch pad Mail Box. Stand over a trash can and/or recycling bin and immediately toss everything that is “junk.”
There is no sense in keeping this stuff, not even for a moment! Remember, everything you bring into your space becomes an obligation to you.
Then, set aside bills that need to be paid in one pile, items that need follow-up in another pile, reference items in a third pile, and magazines and catalogs in another.
Bills: Depending on how you process your bills, you’ll tackle that pile by putting the bills where they need to go. Some find that adding the due dates to a calendar works well, and you can use your launch pad Family Calendar for this so you are reminded each day as you check that calendar.
Follow-Up: Items that need follow-up could be placed in an “urgent” file or where you are most likely to remember to follow-up.
I have a file on my desk organizer marked “Urgent To Do’s” and another marked “To Do’s” and that’s where these would go in my office. I regularly peruse those folders so my to-do’s aren’t forgotten. Really important tasks are added to my calendar so I’m reminded of them.
Reference Items: These include things like receipts, medical insurance payment statements, etc. They should be filed in an appropriate place. But, this can be done monthly if that works for you.
I have a ‘To Be Filed” folder in the closet where we keep our files and I work on it monthly. If I need to access a document, I check the file box and if it’s not there, I know it’s in the To Be Filed folder.
Magazines & Catalogs: Put these in the place they are most likely to be read.
I keep mine by my bedside as bedtime is the only time I have available for leisure reading. My husband’s go on the floor of his office (they used to go in the nice magazine holders on his shelves, but those are full – hmmm, maybe he needs to do a little purging? His space, his choice.).
Now it’s time to go through the To-Do Box, which will be filled with the items your family needs you to attend to, items like permissions slips, etc.
Yes, you can train them to place those items here. It can be done right as they come home, before they hang up their backpack and the task is forgotten.
How? Tell them if it’s not in the To-Do Box, it won’t get attention and they’ll be out of luck. NO exceptions!
It only takes one missed field trip to teach them this lesson, but you have to stand firm on NOT attending to things that are NOT in this box.
No last-minute signatures as you’re all running out the door in the morning. Promise?
Next, on your Family Calendar, jot down important dates from the To-Do Box items, and make note of any important reminders for the next day on your launch pad Door Hanger.
It’s important to have one calendar system. Believe me, I have tried keeping two systems myself, and have had clients attempt to do this, and it rarely turns out well!
Whether you decide to use a pre-made wall calendar, or create your own calendar using a collage frame, or adopt a calendar grid on glass that can be easily edited, what matters is that there’s one system and attention paid to it on a regular basis.
Assigning each family member their own color seems to work the best for most families, as does color-coding personal and business activities, and school, sports and family/social activities.
Maintaining the calendar is the most important aspect of it being a central repository for everything that’s going on and commitments being kept.
Doing so nightly means you have time to make attendance and driving assignment adjustments before the rush of the morning, and you can, at a glance, see what the day’s events are as you are leaving the house in the morning.
I’ll happily share more tips on calendars if anyone is interested.
Whew, that was a bit longer than expected!
Remember, just like when we create, there is no right or wrong way to do this thing called organization.
What matters is knowing yourself, and your family and/or roommates, and being clear about what you (all) want out of being more organized.
I do hope that these tips, systems and suggestions are helpful and that their implementation (in their entirety, or with adjustments to suit your family and your needs) means your back-to-school season adjustments will be smoother and your entire year (and especially mornings) will be more joyful.
Today’s Homework Assignment:
Today’s homework assignment is simple:
1. Tell us what your biggest challenge is around the back-to-school season – is it adopting a routine again, getting the kids to study, a crazy schedule due to extra-curricular activities, or perhaps something else entirely?
2. Tell all of us which of the above suggestions, if any, you are already utilizing.
3. Then, tell us which, if any, of the above suggestions you plan to implement and why.
4. Lastly, if you don’t have anyone in your home going to school this season, tell us what suggestions above you think might work for you anyway. How would you adopt and implement them?
Copy (CTRL + C on a PC) the questions above and type in your answers. Then, copy both the questions and your answers to the comment section of this post.
Thanks so much for joining me again today for another lesson in our Papercrafting Organization series.
Hopefully, we’ve provided you with valuable tips and solutions, tips and solutions you can implement to make this back-to-school season more organized and enjoyable!
And, hopefully you’re excited about putting them in place and completing your homework.
We can’t wait to hear how they work for you!
You MUST do the assignments to have a chance
to WIN Go-Organize.com products
Please join us here again for our next lesson
and your first chance to WIN!
We’ll see you Tuesday!
Worried you’ll forget to check for your assignments
and miss out on your chance to WIN?
Subscribe to our daily blog feed –
you’ll be reminded each time an organizing series post goes live
(plus, you’ll see and hear about all sorts of other cool stuff!).