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Back to school organizing tips / Matt Baier Organizing

Published 2:39 pm, Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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This time of year, some things automatically go on the to do list. Stock up on school supplies? Check. Sign up for after school activities? Check. Back to school clothes? Check. You might also want to consider these five organizing tips to reduce the stress in your family's routine, for the new school year.

Central Calendar

I see these in many homes, however I also see ways to make them more effective. For starters, keep only one. It avoids frustration and confusion. The location is really important. The kitchen usually makes the most sense because everyone in the family passes through it every morning. Finally, don't go nuts with the color-coding, just one color per child. Kids are more likely to respond to an event when they see their color.

Entryway

Choose just one area that is used most frequently as an entryway, whether it is a mudroom, garage or kitchen. Dedicate it to family items that exit and re-enter the home on a daily basis. Include sturdy hooks for backpacks and coats. Different height hooks may help keep it straight for different height kids.

This is a very critical area, so relocate any non-essentials like plants and other decor.

Action files

School papers, like all paper, can be overwhelming. So, remember to always start by simply deciding if you are looking at a paper that you need to make a point of acting on or if it is a paper you just need to find reliably. Announcements, permission slips and forms to fill out, all require action, so don't file them away where they will be forgotten. There are many organizing products that can help with this, but the goal is to make your action items, vertical, visible and minimal.

Findable files

Items to find reliably, on the other hand, should not be taking up prime real estate on your desk. That compromises the minimal goal for action files. Instead, things like school handbooks, directories, and class lists should go either on a shelf or a file drawer. It is important that your file drawer is user-friendly. The first step to accomplishing this is unclogging your file drawer of files that don't need to be there. This would include archives, owners manuals and keepsakes.

Artwork plan

Speaking of keepsakes, I often see parents struggle with the decision of what artwork to keep. My advice. Give yourself a break. Decisions are easier when seasoned with time. You know that every school year comes with a lot of artwork, so be prepared. Get an 18-by-24 paper portfolio for each child, from an art supply store. A file drawer won't cut it. Some drawings and paintings may be honored on the refrigerator for a while, otherwise they go in the portfolio for now. At the end of the semester or school year, take a look at all the artwork from that portfolio. Seeing it all in context and seeing the quantity, makes it a lot easier to separate the masterpieces from the scribbles.

Matt Baier is the owner of Matt Baier Organizing LLC. Baier is in the business of decluttering, paper management and organizing systems to help people get organized and stay organized.

in Fairfield and Westchester counties. MBO has also helped people deal with moving, clearing after a death and hoarding.