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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

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Organizing Help for Back to School

It’s that time of year. Leaves are turning, classes are starting, and new school supplies are flying off store shelves. The other day I came across an old pre-printed pad, “A Note to School from Linda Samuels,” which I no longer use since our daughters are in college and beyond. Seeing the notepad made me think about all the years of excited anticipation we had preparing for school to begin. Are you and your kids ready for the transition? Take a deep breath. Getting that organizing piece working for you can make a big difference in having your days run more smoothly. Here are my top tips for an organized, joyful school year.


7 Organizing Help Tips for Back to School . . .


1. Cycle

Giving closure to the previous school year helps us get ready for this year. Sort through last year’s school papers (preferably with your kids.) It’s a great opportunity to review what was accomplished and what they were most proud of. It gives you a chance to create a mini time capsule representing last year. Be ruthless when you sort. Save what’s important and recycle the rest. Store the “keepers” in a large envelope. Write your kid’s name, grade and year on the outside. Store the envelope in a larger container. Add a new envelope at the end of each school year. 


2. Capture

Establish a place to put the current school papers as they enter your home. You can use bins, binders, boxes, or any container that’s easily accessible. As artwork, graded papers, or programs come in, put them in their designated spot. You might want a separate container for each kid. When the container gets full, you can do some editing. Then the “keepers” can be stored in their year-end envelope, as described above.


3. Land

Create a place for backpacks, coats and notes to reside. When kids come home, they will know where to put their belongings. Cubbies work well, as do hooks. Make them easily accessible both in terms of their physical placement in the home and the heights that you place things. The easier you make it, the better chance you have for creating the “place it here” habit. Consider adding a white board or other communication center in this area to leave notes, messages and important items for kids to remember. Before bed, have your kids make sure that all needed items for the next morning are reading in the “land” area.


4. Center

One of the essential ingredients for school success is establishing a place to do homework and have school supplies readily available. When it’s time to do that science project, it’s no fun to have to hunt for the markers. Review your current supplies to see if there are any items that need to be replaced. Create a zone for the supplies to reside. If your kids like to move around to various locations for doing their homework, then put together a portable tote or crate to hold the supplies. Whether they prefer working on a desk, their bed or the kitchen table, the supplies can “travel” with your kids. 


5. Assess

Fall is a natural time to review clothing needs. Organize with each kid separately. Go through their closets and drawers. Remove any items that no longer fit, they won’t wear, or need repair or cleaning. With the “do not wants or fits,” donate or save for younger kids if appropriate. Make a shopping list of items that are needed. Remember that less is easier to maintain than too much. Factor in how often laundry is done. Especially if it’s done frequently, you many not need as many clothes. Getting dressed is so much easier and less stressful when everything fits, is clean, and organized.


6. Resources

This is the time of year when back to school tips and suggestions are abundant. Many of my organizing colleagues have great wisdom to share. Some of my favorite tips and posts are Lorie Marrero’s video about using a binder for organizing school papers and more, Leslie Josel’s Student Organizing Pinterest boardHelena Alkhas’ school paper organizing system, and Ellen Delap’s Back to School Tips to Organize Your Home.


7. Perspective

With transitions come new patterns, more to dos, and extra stress. Reminding our selves to enjoy the moments can be helpful. They go so fast. A few years ago I wrote a guest post for Working Mother, Moms’ ‘To Do’ Lists, about getting things done, parenting and appreciating the various stages of our children’s lives.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay organized for the school year? Come stop by to share your best tips and resources. 






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Reader Comments (18)

Linda, such a great post and I'm learning more ways to make daily life after school is back simpler, more meaningful and more enjoyable - both as a mom and as an organizer. I am right now being the organizer of my own kiddos and assessing clothes, closing the papers of last school year and scrapbooking for a nice way to keep them. The boys are truly enjoying that part! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom and I'm off to the other posts!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Hi Linda,
I didn't know another way to get in touch with you.
I am one of the program chairs for Beth El New Rochelle Sisterhood. We are looking for a speaker for our Dec. 11 lunchtime meeting with N.R. Hadassah. Your name was suggested.
The topic sounds like it would apply to all ages. do you do public speaking and would you be interested, and are you available?

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterellen hollander

thanks for including our academic planner in your wonderful post. Such useful idea. It's not just about organizing papers or time, but having the environment for the student organized as well!

Love it!

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie Josel

@Helena- It's always wonderful to hear from you. Fantastic that you can be both organizer and mom! Those are great skills that you're passing on to your kids. And it sounds like you're introducing the fun factor to the organizing mix. Bravo! Love your pick for organizing school papers. Those magazine boxes are favorites of mine for many things including paper management systems, magazines, and school papers.

@Ellien- Thank you for your message. I received your email and will follow-up with you directly.

@Leslie- Always love sharing what you're up to. Congratulations on the success of your Academic Planner. I know it will help a lot of students. Also really love your "Student Organizing" Pinterest board. The great ideas keep coming. And people can check out your planner from there.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda - Great post - LOVE the Action Verbs as mantras. Really helps anchor the ideas! Keep on sharing your wisdom! Fondly - Cena

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCena Block

Yes this time of year, we are all talking about "back to school." It means different things for different people, but clearly we all can agree it means "back to routines." Here's some of my suggestions to help parents acclimate their kids to the new changes.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

Great article, Linda. I'm in the process of revamping my Organized at Heart website and blog, but for the lighter side of back to school, I wrote the following blog at gardeningnirvana: Back to School in the Fairy Garden:

You'll be happy to know that purple figures prominently in the design.

I love your banner and colors. I've not stopped by for awhile. I"m so glad I did.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

@Cena- So glad you joined us. Nice catch on the verb usage! Love how you described the verbs as helping to anchor the concepts. Lovely.

@Nancy- Top notch tips you've shared on your post about routines and their role in helping with transitions, success and confidence. I encourage my readers to check out Nancy's terrific suggestions.

@Alys- Nice to have you stop by again. I love all the purple on your post. You've figured out that I'm a huge fan of that color! Your post is delightful and I love how you honor the back to school transition with your own brand of fun. Your photos are beautiful too.

August 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I LOVE the 'time capsule" idea - what a great way to review the year together. And I popped over to reread your mom's to do list post. It must have felt wonderful when your daughters picked up on your list and did things and YOU learned to delegate! Parenting is such a great training ground for small business. :)

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

It's great that you stopped by to share, Sue! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts. You're right that as parents, we have the opportunity to help our children learn to organize, delegate, and handle their lives. As our girls are now in college and beyond, I marvel at their abilities to manage life. It's incredible to watch.

I love the post you just wrote about back to school for adults. Your point about creating a distinct work/study set-up to support our needs is key. I encourage everyone to check out Sue's post. Here's the link:

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thank you, Linda! I love your positive energy.

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlys Milner

Glad the positive vibe has headed your way, Alys. So much to be grateful for. You might enjoy collection of inspiring messages and quotes. Take a look at my "Oh, So Thoughts!" Pinterest board. Here's the link:

Have a wonderful weekend!

August 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

A fresh start is always a great part of the fall for you and your kids!

August 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- Yes to that! Amazing, but this is the first time in 19 years that we don't have any kids going back to school. I have such fond memories of school supplies shopping, watching the excitement our kids experienced beginning a new year, hearing all the stories, and attending many events. All things have a season, and I guess this particular season has come to an end for us.

August 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Linda, that's so fun (but not surprising) that you had special pads made up for school notes! I miss the days when we wrote letters and memos instead of emails and texts.

August 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Janet- Those "special pads" made it so much easier to communicate with the teachers and school. While I definitely do more emailing and texting, I still am "old school" and enjoy writing hand-written notes and letters. I love the feeling of the flow of a good ink pen on a nice smooth paper. It's just such a different experience than typing on a keyboard or smartphone.

August 4, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

The school year envelopes are a fantastic idea. It honors the memories and yet creates a reasonable limit. I laugh when I think about the 5 inch binders x 3 children I started with many years ago. That didn't last long!!

September 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterOlive Wagar

Olive- I'm glad you liked the envelope idea. As you might imagine, some years the envelopes were more stuffed than others, but the system worked pretty well. Finding something that works for you be it boxes, envelopes or binders is what matters...and there is something workable out there for everyone.

September 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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