Harness Back-to-School Energy

Published Monday, August 30, 2010 2:01 PM

Back to school season means unsullied notebooks and squeaky clean chalkboards. Fall is a fresh start. Tap into that "anything is possible" energy and set your students - and yourself - on an organized, productive path this season.

Get in Gear

With the start of school, families often need to put the lazy low-gear days of summer into high-drive. If late summer nights turned into indolent morning sleep-ins, give your family time to adjust to the earlier school schedule. Start encouraging kids to hit bed a few minutes earlier each night and let the alarm ring a few minutes earlier every day. Expect about two-weeks for the circadian sleep rhythms of your family to reset.

Command Central

School brings schedules. Lots of schedules: lunch schedule; sports calendars; test dates; and invitations. When the list is endless it's time for a kitchen command center. This fall, commit to setting up a family calendar and message board that works for your needs. Permanent filing solutions need not apply; what you want is a communications hub handling incoming and outgoing information needing action on a day-to-day basis. Set up your command center to enable family members to walk in, unload crucial papers and items and have them at their fingertips when next ready to leave.

Keep the Motor Humming

Keep your organization motor running with regular tune-ups. Set aside a scheduled block of time each week to prune the paperwork in your kitchen command center; dedicate a longer chunk of time once or twice a month to file away bills and paperwork. Deputize your helpers (aka your spouse and kids) to tackle specific tasks. One can help keep sports items corralled in proper bins; another can help keep key closets and the pantry in order. Keep a running grocery list on the fridge, encourage all familiy members to add to the list when an item runs out. Finally, at the start of the year, find a designated spot for homework and backpacks for each child and make sure items are stowed there when not in use.

Carrots & Sticks

Membership has its rewards. Make the American Express tagline apply on the home front; all family members need to pitch in on Operation Organized, and when they do, good things flow their way. Are backpacks and homework supplies in designated spots? Computer free time is yours! Keeping your designated zones (hall closets, the linen closet) shipshape? Earn a later bedtime or extra texting minutes. When all family members pitch in each month to tackle bigger organizational projects, treat everyone to a family movie outing or take-out dinner. Conversely, lapses in maintenance can result in special privileges being curtailed. Carrots and sticks. You get the idea.

Be Realistic

In all things be true to yourself. Operation Organization will look different for a family of six with a garage full of sports equipment then it will for an empty-nester or young single. Fall's fresh start doesn't have to be radical. Carefully assess what basic steps will help you get organized enough to be productive AND relaxed.


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