Keeping organized seems to be one of those Liam Neeson special skills for some people, while for others it's a difficult task to master. The organized mom with the reputation of having it all together isn't perfect, we promise; everyone is dealing with something behind the scenes. And while not everyone needs the perfect planner system complete with washi tape, stencils and sticky notes, having a simple organizational system in place can definitely help you through a smoother, calmer school year.
There's nothing fancy or expensive needed to stay organized, but you do need your own powers determination to stick with your system once you decide to commit.
10 Keep A Simple Wall Calendar
Keep track of everyone's schedules easily with a simple wall calendar. Get it for a buck at the dollar store or just use the one you received in the mail from donating to charity. Hang this in a place where everyone has access to it and make sure everyone writes down their own plans as soon as they know they have them. Encourage everyone to take a look at the calendar every day.
With teens and adults you may want to use a digital calendar instead, which is fine as long as you have some way to visually implement it every day. Digital reminders can fail, and seeing what's coming up on a hanging calendar helps you plan ahead.
9 Use A Personal Calendar Or Planner
For everything you want to plan, from meals to PTA meetings, work schedules and deadlines to soccer games and plays, you need some sort of system in which to organize it all. Whether you like free digital calendars or complex paper planners, choose one program and stick to it. Don't add things in multiple planners everywhere or you're bound to lose something or overbook yourself.
This doesn't apply to your shared family calendar where you can jot down events so the entire family can see them. This is your personal log where you can write yourself reminders to bake for the fundraiser and turn in permission slips.
8 Use Different Colors, But Only If It Helps
Some people swear by using different colors in your planner and calendar in order to track events by category, such as family, work or school functions, or to separate events by person, assigning each family member a color. Both can be effective but only if they truly work for you. Keep the colors next to the calendar at all times so you're never scrambling for them. Try a pack of highlighters to go over ink if you don't want to deal with various ink colors.
Some families also use symbols, such as a special sticker for days off that are meant for family time. This is great, but again, only if it works for you. The idea is to keep it as simple as possible so it continues to work. A simple notebook can even suffice; check out the Bullet Journal to see if that system will work for you.
7 Have A Homework Station
To help keep your kids organized and homework done on time, maintain an area in the home for doing homework. Ensure that it's a quiet, comfortable place without distractions like TV, although a computer is often needed and music can be helpful, depending on your learner.
The station can be as simple as a drawer next to the kitchen table where you keep pencils, paper, a calculator and so forth, or as complex as a desk with all the necessary supplies. Just be sure it has everything your child needs daily to help you avoid the chaos of looking for supplies and wasting time that could be spent on the work itself.
6 Maintain Your Own Station
If feasible, keep your own station of materials to stay organized. Include a container of writing instruments, tape, a ruler, stamps, paper clips, Post-its — anything that you know you always need so you'll never have to scramble for it again. This could be as simple as a rolling cart you store against the wall until it's time to get business done at the table or your own private office. It doesn't have to be elaborate unless you want it to be; it only has to work for you. Out of glue, tape or printer ink? Write yourself a note in your planner to pick it up.
5 Designate Spaces For Everything In Your Home
To keep the last minute scrambles down to a minimum, have a place for everything in your home and enforce a rule that everything must be put back after it's been used. From a drawer with the glue gun and its supplies to a bin for winter scarves, gloves and hats in the closet, make sure that everything has an official home.
If an item doesn't really fit anywhere, do you really need it in the first place? You don't have to go all Marie Kondo on your home unless you want to, but do get rid of anything you don't need or use to help keep the clutter and confusion down to a minimum.
4 Modify Your Planner
Many people find it helpful to modify their planners to include special sections for tracking bills, groceries, menstrual cycles, health goals and other weekly goals or habits. This is totally up to you and what your needs are. You can create section boxes with a stencil or simple bullet dots, or buy a planner that already has sections, like a Planner Pad or the Uncalendar. You can also list everything from books to read to holiday gifts to buy.
Keep all of your important information, from emergency numbers, blood types and medical info in your planner. While many of us keep digital records of these things, our tech can often die or fail, leaving us scrambling for an analog record.
3 Create A Family Notice Board
Wherever you hang your wall calendar is a great place for a family notice board. This is an area where you can use a cork board and tacks to hang tickets, permission slips, forms and other items to use when you see them on the calendar. This ensures that you don't lose anything important. Alternatively, you can keep a hanging file system, a folder or some pretty shelves beneath the notice board to store these items as long as you know where everything is. Labeling can help.
You can also use this area as a way to connect with your family by posting photographs, birthday cards, seasonal artwork and progress charts for family projects, like giving during the holidays or lists of things you're thankful for.
2 Maintain A One-Touch Rule
If you can make this rule work, it's a lifesaver: pledge to only touch each piece of paper that enters your home once, whether it be a bill that you immediately file on payday (technically touching twice) or a progress report that you immediately sign, date and slip back into your child's backpack. Naturally there will be an exception here or there, but the one-touch rule ensures that you don't have piles of paperwork waiting for your attention... ever.
Sometimes you can't complete the paperwork needed when it's pending on more information. In that case, slip it into a pending folder and write a note to yourself in your planner on the day you know you'll have the information you need to complete it.
1 Plan Your Next Day
Planners only work if you use them, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to take a look at tomorrow each evening, noting everything that needs to be done. See what supplies you might need, whether it's a board for a work project or your turn to get tissues for the classroom. Get into the habit of writing down each of these items and others you need a day or two before they're needed so you never forget anything important.
You can do the same with birthdays, bills, and anything else needing your attention. Make a note, use a sticker or draw a symbol — whatever helps you track what's due and when. You can even get a binder or folder to keep birthday cards in so when it's time to send one, you already have them ready.