Author: Nina BowdlerBack To School Clutter Family General

‘Take Back-to-school off the back burner & really enjoy your Summer’

Summer-beach-bag-with-straw-ha-16566098-1Can you believe another school year has come to a close? They just fly by. Although it’s the last thing on most mom’s and dad’s minds in June, come late August, preparing for ‘Back-to-School’ can be a hectic time to recon with.

As we begin the second month of summer, I want to share my annual routine in addressing this issue. Although, as you’ll see, I choose to get an early start; you still have the luxury of setting aside less than an hour to make the transition from summer to ‘Back to School’ stress and hassle free.

With that being said, I always use the last day of school as my barometer to get all my boys’ school supplies sorted, purged, donated, reorganized, and stored away until September. I’ve found few people that do it. Most wouldn’t even consider it. Believe it or not, being organized the first day of school starts with a little ‘to do’ list the final day of the current school year!

In our house, the last day of school signifies the official start of summer, and as you can imagine, in most every household, the excitement is palpable. Each year, I pick the boys up at school which allows me the opportunity to see how excited they are and the smiles on their faces when the bell rings and they charge out of the school. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to friends, teachers, and classmates. Going out to lunch continues the euphoria, and this is where I set the expectation of going home and organizing their school supplies for next year. Realistically, who would want to contend with this the last day of school? But, from start to finish, it only takes about fifteen to thirty minutes.

The first decision is to ascertain if their school bag is still in good enough condition to weather next year. If so, it is cleaned out and stored in our coat closet until September. If not, it is cleaned out and put in our donation pile. Moving on, the purging continues with pens, pencils, pencil cases, rulers, scissors, crayons, markers, folders, etc. The rule of thumb is trash, donate, or keep. Trash is immediately taken out, donations are put in our designated donation pile, and anything that can be used in September is stored in the school bag for next year. If their school bag is being donated, then, the supplies are stored in either a zip-lock bag or container until September.

You’ve only just read this. Yet, aren’t you breathing easier knowing when Summer ends, ‘Back-to-School’ is on auto pilot? Have a happy, safe, and enjoyable summer.

Author: Sherry CastaldiBack To School Challenging Disorganization Productivity Time Management

How to Create Your Own Time Management Schedule

appointment-calendar Do you struggle trying to accomplish everything you want to get done in a week? Are you always asking yourself “where does the time go?” Are you always running late for appointments? Instead of trying to keep it all organized in your head, start a time management system for yourself by using a calendar (digital or paper, whatever your preference), a Day-Timer, or even an excel spreadsheet will work.

Remember school schedules? The week is scheduled by the day, classes with start and end times are filled in first and the remaining time is what you have left for the week.  Start with your non-flexible commitments, such as; work, and then plan the other activities or tasks by the days and times available in the space you have left. Block out the amount of time each commitment, task, or activity will take and include travel time if necessary. This will visually put your time available to accomplish your tasks for the week “at a glance” and into perspective. This is imperative for getting a handle on your time management schedule. If there are overlapping commitments and a shortage of time available to get everything accomplished, you know it’s time to reorganize your week.

Keep in mind, you do need to sleep, so only schedule your time during your realistic waking hours. Each day follow your day’s schedule of events to know where you have to be and when. Then when emergencies crop up and they will, you will have a much better handle on where to reschedule the lessor priorities.

Don’t overbook yourself. Be realistic, allow for travel time and most importantly don’t forget to allow for “down-time”!


Author: Vali HeistBack To School Family

Back-to-school on the Right Foot!

Back-to-school time is upon us. Organizing is critical for a smooth exit in the morning, to make sure homework gets done, and to achieve a tranquil household. Moreover, you are teaching your children how to organize their own lives when they enter the work force on their own. Let’s break it down:

Mornings and Evenings

  • For stress-free mornings and time for breakfast: pack lunches the night before, have papers signed, and backpacks packed.
  • Have a designated area for an easy exit (preferably where you actually go out the door) for backpacks (with homework and signed papers), coats, and after school activities stuff (clothing, sports equipment, and/or instruments).
  • Depending upon the age of the child, have clothing laid out so dressing is a cinch. Use the collapsible sweater shelves that hang from a rod in the closet and mark them with each day of the week (or just leave unlabeled). Kids can put an outfit, socks, underwear and even shoes in each slot so there’s no hunting for items in the morning. This could be done on a Sunday quickly and quietly and then each child is set for the week!
  • Have a family calendar in a central location and review the next day’s schedule. Use this area to post upcoming events.
  • Have homework areas designated according to the age of the child, the amount of supervision she needs, and your space restrictions. Typically the younger the child, the more supervision he or she needs. The kitchen is a good place for parents to keep watch over children and help with homework. Offices work if a child’s room has too many distractions in order to focus. Teenagers typically choose their bedrooms; some may or may not need a desk. You can always change the location if grades go up or down.

Child’s Room

  • Involve your child in organizing her room. Interview your child as a professional organizer would and ask her what she likes and dislikes about her room.
  • Integrate as many of her suggestions to increase the chance the arrangement will work. Allow experimentation with the layout even if the room may appear chaotic at times.
  • Divide the room into zones for different activities so everything has a ‘home’. Use furniture as room dividers instead of ‘lining the walls’ with furniture.
  • Go vertical wherever possible: hooks, single shelves, book shelves, pockets on the backs of doors and inside closets.
  • Use bed risers used by college students to boost the bed to store items underneath (use rolling bins).
  • The less time she has to spend opening a lid, using a hanger, or opening a drawer, the more chance it will stay that way.

Start Organizing Early

  • Unclutter after birthdays and holidays. It’s an easier time to let go of things.
  • There’s only so much room; if you buy something new, get rid of something old. Teach your child charitable giving.
  • Allow your children to sell their belongings at yard sales or on EBay.
  • Set a good example and organize your own spaces.

Clutter Quote: “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling your walk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller