How to Organize Kids’ Art and School Work

 

What to save and how to save your kiddo’s school work a common challenge for parents. The papers flood in weekly, there’s so many papers, and there is no time to review that papers. Handwritten stories are mixed in with worksheets. In May, a entire desk worth of supplies, papers and possibly yucky food comes how in a bag from school. For families with multiple kids, this is repeated over and over. Many of us are too busy to do something or too overwhelmed.  Help is here!

 

Define what is precious

Through many years of working with parents, it is hard to know what is defined as precious.  There are multiple scribbles, holiday place mats, spelling quizzes, prolific art work, macaroni necklaces and science boards.  There is a massive compilation of stuff! By defining what is precious before you begin helps you sort through the papers and stuff.

My definition of precious may not match your definition. It is an emotional attachment depending on many things.  Try to drill down this definition. Here are my thoughts.

  • Artwork that shows personality, effort, and originality.
  • Paper work that shows accomplishment and originality.

This gives you a lot of open ended options for you.  You can best decide with a little thought ahead of getting your work started.

 

Sort and edit

Sorting and editing are difficult. Many times it depends on how long it has been between the arrival of the papers, the amount of papers and the way you are sorting. Pace yourself and set up bins to sort into as a first pass on organizing.  Label the bins to be clear what goes where.

  • If your art is a combination of all your kiddos’ stuff, sort first into bins that are named by child.
  • Next group art by time period, such as pre-school, elementary, middle school and high school. Add summer camp and art school if necessary.
  • Assess how precious the art is for you to keep.

 

Organize and Display

There are many options to organize, display and share your kiddo’s art. It helps to know what you want as the end result. Your vision can guide what you keep and how you want to organize the materials that remain.

  • Take a photo or scan the keepsake and create a coffee table art book. This is by far the most fun and popular. It is easy to keep on a bookshelf.
  • Send art work and papers off to grandparents or other special family friends.
  • Keep the keepsakes in a large fed ex box by year in the top of a closet.
  • Keep the art in a portfolio under a bed, in the back of a closet.
  • For a monthly art rotation, set up a “clothesline” with 6 clothespins on an wall in their bedroom. Another Create a “gallery wall” in your kiddo’s room for an art display area.
  • Use a file tote for each child and a expandable folder for each school year.

 

Maintain Your Organization

Maintaining your organization takes practice. Start by gathering your kiddos’ art and papers each week in your Command Center. That is the hub of all active papers in your home. Have a slot for each kiddo’s stuff and have them drop it in weekly.  After a month, go over the items and share what was special. This is a great time to display or edit.  It prevents a year’s worth of editing at one time.  Items can be moved to an auxiliary space to keep until the end of the year. Each summer plan to create your special keepsake item or move all the items to archive storage.  If you are able to sort quarterly, that still keeps your routine together.

 

Apps to help

There are several options to help you with organizing your kiddos’ stuff. These work a variety of ways to help you document, scan and do the next steps.

 

What’s best about sorting, editing, and organizing these keepsakes is the joy you have in seeing your kids’ skills, strengths and talents!

ADHD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Papers

adhd friendly ways to organize paper

 

Join me for a 15 minute presentation on organizing your papers.

Please print this handout before you begin the presentation.

ADHD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Papers

(Handout)

 

 

Start big

 

  • Move from overwhelmed to informed
  • Keep the end in mind
  • Know what to keep and for how long

 

 

Organizing strategies for your papers

  • Your Command Center for actionable paper
  • Your Files for reference papers
  • Archive Files for long term storage
  • Organizing options

 

 

Going digital

  • Device options (photo, Genius Scan, Scanners)
  • Fundamentals
  • Organizing options

 

Staying organized

  • Triage time
  • Admin time
  • Back log

 

 

Home and Office Paper and Digital Organizing Categories

 

Home

 

  • House and Auto
    • Auto purchase
    • Home Major Purchases
    • Home Repair/Maintenance
    • House inventory
    • Insurance
  • Financial (anything to do with money)
    • Banking
    • Credit Cards
    • Investment
    • Retirement
    • Property Taxes
    • Life Insurance
    • Mortgage
  • Personal (anything to do with people or pets)
    • Medical Benefits
    • Medical History
    • Medical Explanation of Benefits
    • Medical Paid bills
    • School/University
    • (Interests such as parenting, decorating, collections, etc.)
  • Work
    • Work history
    • CV or resume

 

Office

    • Clients
    • Resources
    • Vendors
    • Projects
    • HR or Employees
    • Financials 20XX
    • Expenses

 

Resources

ABCs of Important Papers (Oprah.com)

My Life Packet

ADD Friendly Ways to Organize

 

Organize your Papers with a Command Center

 

 

 

 

 

Scraps of paper everywhere?  Not sure where your bills are? What about your kid’s papers to return to school?  Organize your papers with a command center.

 

This custom creation pulling together several solutions for paper can make finding and accessing your papers super easy.  Bulletin boards, wall calendars and wall pockets may be the perfect spot for you to post your paper and get organized.  Having components that suit your organizing needs and create slots for specific categories of papers make it easy to find things.

 

Here are some ideas to post your paper and organize with a bulletin board, wall calendar and wall pockets.

  • Your bulletin board is a visual reminder of activities coming up.  Its a place to post important papers, schedules, invitations, announcements, and inspirational quotes.  As papers come in, simply pin the most important papers that you won’t want to lose to your board to keep track of them.  If an invitation or announcement arrives, keep it if it has directions, a gift registry, or as a reminder.  Be sure to add this date to your wall calendar as well, since duplication can help too.  Don’t overcrowd  your bulletin board as a clean, neat appearance will serve your purposes better.  Edit what is on  your board regularly to keep up to date.

 

  • Use 2 dry erase month at a glance calendars on your wall.  We always have dates that are more than one month away.  Having 2 calendars means that  you can keep up to date on activities.  Keep a handy container of different colored dry erase markers to use for different activities or family members.

 

  • Wall pockets are a fabulous way to keep up with paper.  Have one container for each family member. Have one container for receipts. Have one container for resources like directories.

 

  • Dry erase board lets you make notes, lists, and check lists.  It is an easy way to create reminders for you and your family.

 

  • A desk top sorter command station is another way to keep all your papers together too.  Use hanging files with tabs on them, labelled with To Do, To Pay, To File, Receipts, and Taxes.  You can add a hanging file for each family member too.  This compact solution keeps your bills and papers together.

 

  • Be sure to color coordinate your space. Having colors that match the walls or simply black or white make for a more serene space.

Check out my pinterest board for lots of ideas.

 

Your Command Center for Papers

 

Your command center

 

desk top sorter acrylic desk top sorter

 

 

In our busy lives, information and paper come at us from all directions all the time! Where does all this come from? It comes in with the mail, from school or work, or in your purse! These items require immediate action, with dates and times to enter on our calendar, bills to pay, or addresses or service providers we may need later. The Command Center is a space for information and paper that needs easy access and quick retrieval.  Keep organized with a command center for paper.

Command Center location

Our first decision is where best to create the space for this work zone. Where do you see these papers? In most homes, it is the kitchen since it is the hub of your home.  In the office it is on your desk or on your credenza.  However, if your home office is on the first floor and in a central part of your home, this is a great space to establish this area. Your command center for paper must be located where it’s most valuable.

Setting up your Command Center

Begin by reviewing the current clutter that’s on your desk or counter. Start by deciding what to keep and what to toss. Be decisive! This ensures keeping only what you need.

Continue by sorting your papers into the categories that work for you. Most people need these categories: to do, to pay, to scan, pending, and to file. Other categories include the names of each of your children and partner, weekly activities, other school and organizations’ papers.  At work these categories include your assistant, your boss, hot projects and resources.

 

Choosing your container

Now that you have categories, decide what organizing product might assist you best in keeping these papers in order. Look around the space, measure the area for size, and think about your personal organizing style. Look for a desktop file suited to the décor of the space with hanging files to label with each category. You can also use wall pockets, one for each category, if you have h ave vertical space.  Be sure to choose a product you love and this will help you stay organized.

A calendar and bulletin board are a vital tools in this area too!  Add a month at a glance calendar where everyone can record their activities.  Placing it where all the family or your work colleagues can see it helps everyone stay on top of weekly plans.

 

Command Center routines

Designate an administrative time for you to work  on the command center. This routine usually takes just one hour a week, especially if you choose a time you are high energy to get the job done. Write your administrative time in your personal calendar to commit to the time and make yourself accountable to get the job done.

 

 

Creating a family Command Center and a work Command Center makes the difference in keeping information accessible and easy to locate. Find the right space, the right categories, the right products and the right time to make this work for you. You benefit by having balance and peace of mind!

 

 

Want more ideas on a command center for papers?  Visit my pinterest board Command Centers for Communication and Cohesiveness.

 

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What to do with Meeting Agendas?

 

What to do with meeting agendas?

 

If you are like most, meetings are an necessary evil of work life and volunteering.  Each meeting you are either given a paper agenda or a link online.  A well run meeting requires an agenda. It’s about preparation and communication.  But what to do with meeting agendas after the meeting has finished?

 

Meeting agenda general plan

If you meet routinely, a meeting agenda helps you keep a structure for the goals of the group.  Your agenda is the place keeper of your accomplishments, your tasks and next steps.  Having a specific file, file drawer or notebook to keep your meeting agenda, labelled with the meeting name, is generally a good idea for the duration of the project.  Be sure you create a spot to easily drop the agenda in when you return from the meeting.

 

Meeting agenda notes

If you are like most of us, your meeting agenda has next action steps noted on it.  You want to consolidate these action steps on a general capture tool, such as a notebook, task list or digital list to be sure to do the next steps before the next meeting.  Adding the actions to your actionable spot makes sense so that the meeting agenda can be stored away and you can accomplish your tasks.

 

Meeting agenda when you are the meeting leader

There’s a time line to preparing a meeting agenda before the next meeting. You will want to recap what has been accomplished, lead your meeting onto the next steps and be sure your attendees are prepared at your next meeting.  Having a digital template to save as a new meeting agenda keeps you moving forward.  You will want to share this agenda at least 24 hours in advance of the next meeting.

 

What’s best practices for your template?  Here’s what I include: name of committee meeting, date of meeting, call in or other contact information, and who is attending the meeting.  The agenda can be a simple, prioritized list of what you want to accomplish.  Be sure to begin your meeting on time and end within an hour.  Efficient meetings are where best work is accomplished.

 

What about when your comittee concludes?

There’s a definitely happiness to ending a well run, successful project!  At that time, sort through, declutter and eliminate the agendas. You might keep one of the last agendas to finalize the project and move the file to an archive location.

 

You might be wondering, does this apply to conference materials as well?  Conference materials are becoming more digital, rather than paper based.  Generally it’s a best practice to pull the materials you will use to save in either paper files or electronically by topic.  I suggest keeping these materials for 2 years to see if you use the materials.  After this, it’s time to delete or recyle.

 

More ideas on paper management here!

How to Simplify Your Paper Files

How to Simplify Your Paper Files

 

Organizing your files today? Or would you rather watch paint dry on a wall?  It’s seems that this is not the most exciting topic however it can be one of the most necessary in every day life and in emergencies.  Simplifying your filing and paper files includes knowing what’s holding you back as well as knowing what to keep.  Build your simple filing system with your strengths in mind.  Here’s how to simplify your paper files.

 

Assess what’s holding you back

What is filing for?  Here’s the first step to get clear. Files are your reference section to keep information to be used in the next year or so.  It’s not necessary to keep every piece of paper that comes into your home or business, especially if it’s not useful for you.  Be ruthless when it comes to keeping what you need now, knowing  you can use the internet, friends’ references, or other ways to get information instead of keeping extra paper.

 

What do  you need to keep and how long?  On Oprah.com, Julie Morgenstern has an extensive list.  Print this to keep as a reference while filing.  However, that’s not generally what’s causing a filing problem.  Instead it’s the articles on parenting, decorating, landscaping or other hobbies that keep holding us back.  Remember, that’s what the internet, pinterest, blogs, podcasts and google are for when we are ready to get started on a project.

 

Simplifying your system

What’s the best system?  The best system for you is the simplest way to move paper into a system. It’s also the best system for you to know where to retrieve the paper.  Categories are often the context that’s easiest to use in creating files. Whether there are for file folders, hanging files, notebooks or digital notebooks, using general, broad categories helps us file and retrieve.

 

For homes, these are the general categories I suggest:

  1. House and Auto
    1. Auto purchase
    2. Home Major Purchases
    3. Home Repair/Maintenance
    4. House inventory
    5. Insurance
  2. Financial (anything to do with money)
    1. Banking
    2. Credit Cards
    3. Investment
    4. Retirement
    5. Property Taxes
    6. Life Insurance
    7. Mortgage
  3. Personal (anything to do with people or pets)
    1. Medical Benefits
    2. Medical History
    3. Medical Explanation of Benefits
    4. Medical Paid bills
    5. School/University
    6. (Interests such as parenting, decorating, guns, etc)
  4. Work
    1. Work history
    2. CV or resume

 

For office files, here are categories I include:

  1. Clients
  2. Resources
  3. Vendors
  4. Projects
  5. HR or Employees
  6. Financials 20XX
  7. Expenses

Use hanging files for the broad categories and file folders for the subcategories. Use naming conventions, where the file names are created in a parallel way, in order to stay consistent and find documents.

 

Archive annually

Tax records for each year, legal documents such as purchase or sale of property, and final loan payments are should be kept permanently. While you only need to keep tax preparation documents for seven years, please consult your own lawyer or accountant to be sure.  It’s best to archive annually when you are preparing for tax time in the spring.

 

What’s left?

  • I typically keep mementos and keepsakes in a box, one box per person, in the closet of that person. A one box per person system also helps you limit keepsakes.
  • Important documents are generally kept in a safe or safe deposit box.  Here’s a list of important documents. It’s critical to keep these up to date each year. While you are archiving during tax time, update your important documents too.

 

Paper can be overwhelming and it’s always coming in. Always keep in mind the document’s value in terms of “shelf life.”  How long will this information be “good” is a relative value and you may be able to find information more easily on the internet or elsewhere.

 

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Start Small Go Big

Start organizing small, then go big

 

 

How can SMALL and BIG be used together for organizing?  When we think of these opposites, can we use these together in getting organized?  Well here’s how!

 

Organizing and productivity are overwhelming. The most frequent question is how do I get started?  Whether your view is a cluttered desk or home, it’s not clear where, when or how to get started. And what about the next steps? Is that starting with the small of units, like organizing your paper clips or the shoes in your closet?  Or do you go big with the big stuff? Here’s answers to these 2 important questions.

Start small

I love the question, how do I eat an elephant? Its the analogy I use most often in presentations.  Of course the answer is one bite at a time!  It’s in getting start in a small way that gets you started at all.  It doesn’t matter if you take a nibble at the trunk or the foot, starting with a nibble gets you started. Your nibble in your home could be the junk drawer in your kitchen, the floor of a closet, the shelf in a linen closet or the papers in your kitchen.  Nibbling can be an amount of time, like only 15 minutes.  A nibble can be a number, like picking up 3 items to donate.  Your office nibbling can be your inbox, a bookcase, or a file drawer.  Decide what small looks and feels like to you then set a date on your calendar to commit.

 

Go big

Look around at your home or office.  What’s the big stuff in your way?  We organizers call it macro organizing.  Start with the big stuff when you keep on organizing.  It’s not the time to launch into complex sort ing of your stuff. It’s also not the time to go to that shoebox full of small random items.  Work on the big stuff first.   Big stuff open up space. That’s the space you see and feel.  It’s the big stuff that helps you break through being stuck and you feel the openness of your space.  Take a big picture with your papers too.  What are the big categories you can sort?  Broad categories make it easier to work through tedious papers.

 

Is this a new perspective for you?  Have you thought you needed hours to organize and never started?  Have you walked about from your papers after creating an overly complicated system?  Here’s a new way to make organizing happen for you.

 

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3 Essential Filing Tips for Home and Work

3 essential filing tips for home and work

 

According to the Economist the average American uses the paper equivalent of almost six 40-foot (12-metre) trees a year.  That’s a lot of paper!  While we would ideally have less paper in our home and office, frankly we need to find great strategies to create filing solutions and more efficient strategies to find what we need.  Check out these basic filing techniques and tips.

 

#1  Know what to keep and how long to keep it

In the tsunami of paper that comes in your space, knowing what to keep is the crucial first step.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed so look to a resource to help you.  Every situation is a little different so start with your lawyer and accountant. They know your home and business details.

 

A detailed list of what to keep and how long is critical.  My favorite resource is Oprah.com ABCs of Important Papers.  Julie Morgenstern has a list that includes details about your home and work. For finances, I rely on Real Simple 5 Steps to Simpler Record Keeping.  This document focuses on your financial documents.  Between these two resources I find that your record retention is up to date.

 

While much of this information can be found online, it’s up to you to decide if you want a paper statement too.  In some circumstances you can save a PDF of the online document to your personal Dropbox account or on your computer. Be sure you are always backing up if you decide to keep your documents electronically.

#2 Separate your documents by how long you will keep them

Divide your filing into two categories: reference and archive.  Reference refers to document with information you refer to regularly.  These are documents that are up to a year old.  Archive refers to documents you must keep for the duration.  By categorizing your files, it’s much easier to keep up to date and much simpler to know what information is kept in what area.

 

Set an annual file organizing time.  It’s when you move files from reference to archive. This keeps your files updated and uncluttered.  There’s nothing worse than a paper cut from overcrowded files! It also reminds you what you have in your files.

#3 Keep your filing simple

The simpler your filing the more you file.  There are a few options for filing systems, depending on your style.

  • The 1 box method takes only a little time and effort.  Have a box in your space to drop in papers throughout the year.  Label the box 20XX and you are all set. You can go through the box as needed to find papers.
  • Notebooks make paper storage more accessible and visual.  You can assign one category of files per notebook.  It’s also an attractive way to store paper.
  • File drawers with hanging files are the traditional organizing method. Use your label maker to create tabs for the files. You can see what the titles are and drop in  your papers.
  • File bins can used for archive documents and can be stored in the top of a closet or attic.
  • Keep a basket for “to be filed” papers.

 

General, consistent categories make it easier and simpler to file.

  • Traditional Home Categories: Financial, personal, home and auto
  • Traditional Business categories: Financial, clients, vendors, administrative
  • Traditional set up for file cabinet is a hanging files for category and an inner file folder for more specific details.  (Financial drawer or notebook -> Hanging files Banking -> Bank of America and Compass Bank file folders)

 

Your file system is ready to go! Now it’s time to establish a weekly administrative time.  Each week go through papers and place those that needed to be filed in your “to be filed” basket.  Once a month or every other month do your filing. Make filing “fun” with a music set or while watching your favorite show.  Filing is like laundry, there’s always some to do!

 

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Hugs and Happy Organizing: Office Organizing

Hugs and happy organizing are client success stories.  Here’s a story about a client’s office.
Home offices are cluttered!  These spaces are jammed paper, office supplies, books and more.  Why not add more vertical storage to create more order.
  • Each different category of paper needs a “slot.”  Create a slot with a basket labelled for each  type of paper.   These categories can include taxes, small business, utilities, instruction books and other papers.
  • Create more space by going up!  With these additional bookcases, there is a basket for each type of paper.
  • Keep your desk clear by having a slot for unprocessed, unopened or to be reviewed papers.
  • Keep papers in notebooks or magazine sorters so these can be orderly.
  • Editor’s note: Our work together was done virtually!

 

Check out more Hugs and Happy Organizing stories here.

My Organizing Obsessions: Wall Pockets

wall pockets organizing

 

 

From a young age, I loved adorable small boxes, neatly arranged closets and all sorts of planners.  Of course these obsessions molded choice of my profession!  I’d love to share my current organizing obsessions with you  ~ wall pockets!

 

Wall pockets are used for paper management in your command center. These can be in your office, kitchen or other places to keep paper clutter away.  You can label these with different categories for your paper, such as To Do, To Pay, or To File.  For your kids, there can be one pocket per kid for incoming school or activity papers.

 

Container Store wall pocket paper management

Container Store Wall Pocket Charleston style

 

Office Depot wall pocket paper management

Office Depot See Jane Work Wall Pocket

 

wayfair wall pocket paper management

Wayfair Wall Pocket

 

Here are a few ways to use wall pockets and see them in action!

 

office with all pockets

 

wall pockets command center

 

 

Match  your wall pockets to the colors of the space.  Be sure you have one pocket per category and be sure to label your pockets.  Happy organizing!

 

 

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