In this interview, you'll learn all the tips, tricks, and hacks for using Leslie Josel's patented Order Out of Chaos Academic Planner. Learn why:
For more school-related tips and encouragement, check out these blog posts:
NOTE: L:inks provided to Order Out of Chaos are affiliate links, so I receive a small commission when you make a purchase.
How much of a child’s artwork, school papers, and mementos does a “good” parent save?
I once read about a mom who saved each year of her children’s school memories, pre-K through 12, in a separate (clean, new) pizza box. Her plan was to deliver the 15 “pizzas” to her kids once they moved into their first apartments. Gee, thanks, mom.
Another mom I know had bookcases overflowing with album after album containing every page her child ever scribbled on. Luckily, she couldn’t keep up with this for long, so the albums only went up to about first grade for her first child. I shudder to think how many albums she’d have filled if she’d kept going!
Let’s get real. Your kids don’t remember much about kindergarten and they don’t care about their brilliant 4th grade report on butterflies. They might like to reminisce with you over an album or a few mementos, but don't make the mistake of overwhelming them by saving everything.
Back to School: Make a Plan
Masks or no masks? Bus or no bus? Digital or paper? What’s the plan for school this year?!?
When faced with back-to-school confusion, what does a professional organizer do? Make a plan!
Taking control of the things that are within your control will help you and your family feel calmer and more confident about the start of school. Here are my top tips for a smooth transition.
Your Back to School Plan
1. Start going to bed and getting up earlier—not just the kids, but you too! It’s time to admit that vacation is coming to an end. Use the extra AM time to work your way into a good routine. You’ll all be less stressed after banking some good sleep.
2. Establish your school-year screen time and device rules now. Get the kids’ buy-in by explaining to them the need for rules, then asking for their input and having a conversation. Just remember that the parents have the final say! ...
Get Organized for College
It was a crisp fall day in 1989. Students were going in and out of the dorms like ants carrying trunks, suitcases, and tote bags. Befuddled parents were standing outside, trying to be helpful but mostly chatting with other parents and taking in the scene. This would be their beloved, newly-adult child’s home for the next year and they wanted to memorize it all.
State-of-the-art ‘80s dorm must haves were an answering machine, a boombox with a CD player, and a word processor (or, if you were lucky, a DOS-based computer or Macintosh SE). Throw in a wall tapestry and a Klimt poster and you’ve got a pretty fine room!
Now that my oldest daughter is heading off to college this fall, I figured I probably shouldn’t rely just on my own experience to help figure out what she needs. So I polled my mom friends with kids currently in college to find their best move-in tips. Now I get to share them with you!
Did you know that 80-95% of college students procrastinate? Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and saying, “Duh, who doesn’t know that college students procrastinate?” And maybe you were one of those students.
But when you’re trapped in a procrastination cycle, it can feel as if everyone around you has it all together and you’re the only one who has, once again, gotten yourself into trouble with the doom of an approaching deadline.
In her new book, How to Do It Now Because It's Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done, Leslie Josel tackles the sticky problem of procrastination.
Back to School: You’ve Got This!
It’s August, so that means time to get ready to go back to school. Sorry, I mean remote learning. No, wait, hybrid. Or maybe a pod?
Wow! And I thought annual school-supply shopping was hard (Why are the supply lists so long?!). Now, we have to contend with shifting school start dates and 11th-hour plan changes.
This year, every decision we have to make around getting our children back to school seems fraught with frightening complications.
What’s a parent to do? Get organized!
Do you have an old Kindle e-reader (or two?) that you aren't using anymore?
A client of mine recently upgraded to the latest Kindle and wondered if there was a school that could use her older model. I did a little research and came across the Pageturner (formerly the Kindle Classroom Project). San Francisco teacher Mark Isero provides each of his high-school students with a Kindle to instill in them a love of reading and encourage them to become avid readers.
Even though Pageturner is based in California, it's pretty easy to ship Kindles because they fit well in a USPS small flat-rate Priority Mail box. Before shipping, just fill out the donation form on Mr. Isero's website and he'll get back to you with the address.
One small caveat: he doesn't take the very oldest model Kindles, so check the donation form to see if your model is listed.
Don't have a Kindle to donate but still want to support Pageturner? Donate money for books to be added to their Kindle library!
A Back-to-School Checklist
.August is right around the corner and, for parents of school-age kids, that means back-to-school time.
Get your family ready with this handy, printable checklist from Smead. If you prefer not to print it to cut down on paper clutter, just save the PDF file on your computer or phone. It's a pretty thorough list, so you won't forget any pesky little tasks.
The checklist breaks down the tasks by when they should be completed, so you can simply glance at the chart to see what you need to do this week or this month.
[NOTE: One thing I disagree with on the timeline is buying supplies 2 weeks before the start of school. Most parents know that stores begin featuring back-to-school supplies in July, so if you wait until mid-August, stocks will have been pretty depleted. Why not get that task out of the way as soon as possible?]
Using a checklist like this will make it easier to get ready for school while still holding onto the summer fun.
School Paperwork Year End Round Up
Way back in the fall, I wrote about how to set up a system to deal with all those pesky papers that come home from school.
The basic weekly system is this:
1. Immediately deal with any notifications (add to calendar, write a check, sign a form).
2. Recycle anything not worth saving (worksheets, scribbles, spelling tests, coloring pages).
3. Display this week’s artwork and accomplishments in your temporary display space (fridge, frame, bulletin board, clothesline strung across a window).
4. Stash last week’s displayed work in an art portfolio or other bin.*
*This is the time to weed out anything that, after one week’s display, can be recycled. Try to save only the best items, such as the unusually detailed drawing, the very clever essay, or the spelling/math test that was a true victory.
Now that you’ve been diligently checking the backpack every week and keeping up with all the papers, what do you do with the stash that has accumulated in the portfolio?
That’s what we’ll tackle today!
The kids have been back in school for about a month and a half now and, especially if you have preschool or elementary-school-age children, the papers they bring home are starting to accumulate.
If you want to get a handle on this influx, you’ll have to be systematic and ruthless!
Your set-up should include two things: