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The Paper Tiger Blog contains great ideas on better ways to stay organized, clear your desk, reduce stress and spend less time managing information.

Organizing for Back to School

Yes, it’s time for back to school already. Teachers are making preparations and gathering everything they need to get started. And parents are already shopping for school clothes and school supplies.

There are lots of things to do and think about when preparing for back to school. Preparation and making sure you have everything needed can cause some anxiety, and then to think about keeping it all organized is another issue altogether. You will want to have a place for everything and an organized system for keeping track of those things.

Organization is helpful in any situation, and getting organized is even more important when adding school schedule and activities to help keep sanity and manage the stress level to a minimum. If you can instill a system of organization in your children and follow the same plan yourself, then you won’t feel completely overwhelmed. Creating a place for all school items will help teach children to get in the habit of getting and staying organized, and they will see how much easier life can be when they are organized and plan ahead.

Following are some great recommendations from Sherry Borsheim of Simply Productive and a Paper Tiger Expert for organizing kids. See if some of these will help you.

There’s sports schedules and phone lists, papers to sign, health records, music books, report cards, and precious keepsakes that tend to pile up around the house.

Then there’s the sports equipment, jackets, shoes, backpacks, lunch containers, homework, projects, and electronics that your children drop at the door when they come home from school or other activity each day. Times this by three to five kids and you’ve got a giant heap sitting on the floor on a daily bases.

  • The key to keeping your sanity and peace of mind is to create a place for them to easily hang their coat and backpacks. I love the storage locker system if you can create space for this in your home.
  • Create a homework area and have all the necessary supplies handy for their projects as well.
  • Then gather all the sports equipment and store each child’s items in separate bins, for each sport, including sports clothes after they are cleaned. Store bulky equipment that won’t fit in a bin in a one area. If they play soccer and baseball, then have a small clear container for each sport and make sure to label the bins “Soccer Clothes” and “Baseball Clothes.” When you’re rushing out the door to soccer, the right socks and shorts will be in one place verses all over the bedroom or house. You’ll know exactly where these items go because they have their ‘own place’.
  • Next create a Family Reference Binder with tabs for each child. Behind each child’s tab you can file their sports schedules, music schedule and any other important phone numbers that you want to have at your fingertips! Everyone in the family will thank you for gathering all the papers and putting them in one central location! (You can do the same thing with hanging file folders if you’d rather have these in a file drawer instead of a binder.)
  • Now to deal with all the other papers. In a filing cabinet, create a hanging file for each child and keep any awards, report cards and other keepsakes in this file for the current school year. At the end of the school year, simply take out the papers and file into their keepsake box. For larger artwork, just take a picture and store the photo in their school photo album. Or store large artwork in an art portfolio. Be realistic about what school papers and artwork you are going to keep. The more stuff you have, the more time and space it will take to store it. A good rule of thumb is to “keep the best of the best and let the rest go”. Ask yourself, when was the last time you looked at your keepsake box stored in your attic?

Paper Tiger Can Help with Back to School Organizing

After you’ve decided what paper files need to be kept, then index the keepers into your Paper Tiger Filing System database. When you need to retrieve an old project paper, you can search the database and you’ll know exactly which hanging file it was placed in. Also, each child could have one file for archives that should be kept and one file for stuff that can be tossed out when it’s no longer needed, to avoid having to sort through the files on a regular basis.

An example Location in Paper Tiger’s database for each child might be:

Location Name: Susie’s School Files
Item Name: Health records (with necessary keywords)
Item Name: Report cards
Item Name: Awards
Item Name: English (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: Math (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: History (with keywords for any projects and when they are due, along with keywords for other paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: Archives (with keywords for all paper files that will be included in this hanging file folder and updated when papers are added)
Item Name: To Be Tossed (set a date to toss these paper files, which could be at the end of the school year)

For any of the files or artwork that you’d like to box up for storage after the school year has ended, simply transfer the items in your Paper Tiger database to track where you’ve moved them. For example, you will most likely want to keep Health records and Report cards for all school years together, but move the other items specific to a school year out of your file drawer.

Maybe you have a file box or bin in the attic or basement where you keep “the best of the best” in storage, so you’ll create a ‘location’ in Paper Tiger for Susie’s Archives. Print out labels for the hanging file folders in Susie’s Archives. In your Paper Tiger database, you’ll select the items you want to move, such as Awards and Archives, then conduct a Transfer, Duplicate or Move function for these files to be transferred to Susie’s Archives. Then you’ll physically move the files for the school year just ended from your file drawer to the correlating file folders in the designated file box or bin in storage, leaving the hanging file folders in the original location in your file drawer.

  • Note, if you duplicate these items in the database, the original item names will remain in tact for the next school year, and you can edit or delete any keywords for the next school year for those items.
  • Or, if you conduct the move function for the items in the database, then you can simply add new items as necessary for the next school year.
  • Or, if there is only a few files that you want to combine into one hanging file folder in the archives location, you can 1) create an item for the school year 2014-2015 in Susie’s Archives location, then select the items to be moved, then Transfer, Merge those items into the new item for the respective school year. In this case, you’ll physically move the files from their separate original hanging file folders and place them in the one hanging file folder for 2014-2015.

For English, Math, History, and To Be Tossed, these can most likely be tossed out at the end of the school year. Simply delete or edit the keywords for each of these items as necessary.

Setting up Paper Tiger Filing System now will help you to eliminate clutter and get organized. If you decide early where everything should be kept, what you will do with the ‘keepers’ at the end of each school year, and maintaining the system of organization, each school year will be less stressful.

Of course, Paper Tiger is not just for your child’s school files, and it’s not just for filing papers. Anything that you can put a number onto can be indexed in Paper Tiger Filing System so that when you need something, you can conduct a search for the keyword relating to the item and find it quickly, as well as where to return the item when you need to put it away. You can live organized with peace of mind because you have a place for everything, and have implemented an organizing system that helps you find what you need, when you need it!

Click here to find more helpful tips for organization is key when going back to school.


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