Organizing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Organizing can be a problem for anyone, regardless of age. The good news is that it is an executive function ; weaknesses in this area can be fixed! Here’s the secret: give your brain a break.

Are you tired of rushing around in the morning trying to find papers, backpacks and lunches?

Can you keep up with the different schedules of your family?

Does your child seem scattered?

Some kids, especially those out-of-the-box ones, need extra help in learning how to evaluate, break down, and create manageable routines at home, school, and with friends. They need someone to show them exactly how (this is explicit instruction) things are done.

Get ready for the Hall of Fame Tips, Tricks, and Techniques!

Be a Detective

Before you can begin to implement any organizational tricks, you need to determine WHAT or WHERE your child needs help. You have to break down their routines to determine at where things begin to fall apart.

That is your starting point!

Everything Begins At Home

There is no better way to gear up for success than starting the day off right. Create a checklist to teach them the sequence involved in getting ready for school. You may have to start with going to the bathroom. As your child completes each step, let them check it off the list. When the list has been completed, offer a “well done!”

Teach them that everything has a home. This includes toys, clothes, animals, food…everything! The bedroom is a great place to start.

Ask them where things live when they can’t find them. OR, ask them where something lives when you are picking up! By asking instead of telling, you are forcing their brain to find the information, which will help it stick!

Remember, repetition is the key to learning a behavior.

Taming the Paperwork Monster

Getting paperwork to and from school can be a mess! There are a couple of ways to manage all of the papers that come into your house.

When the kids are doing homework at the table, bar, or other designated area, clean out the black hole, I mean backpack, every night!

You should preferably be standing next to a trash can and your family calendar. Sort through their papers and assign them an area: trash, return to school, file away.

Sign any papers that need it (such as permission slips, behavior reports, ect.) on the spot and return to the backpack. If dates are mentioned anywhere, write them in your calendar.

Carefully select a place to keeping things that are ready to go to school. Make a home for homework supplies, and every day when they are done with homework, return the supplies to their home.

In the morning, this will save you the last minute panic of, “where did I put_______?” You know where it is because you created a nice little trick to help you get organized!

Homework

Homework can be a major source of stress if your child is disorganized.

Doing homework at school is great if your school has an after school program, or homework club.

The advantages of this option is that schoolwork stays at school and home is home, and you don’t have to be the homework Nazi.

If homework is done at home, establish a routine, and use it consistently. Then, use the same techniques that you would for managing paperwork.

At School

Every teacher has his or her own organizational strategy. They usually do a great job teaching the kids how to be organized for their class. However, this doesn’t mean your child will magically internalize this lesson!

As a teacher, every year I had one or two kids that couldn’t keep their desks clean and papers organized for the life of them! We could clean out desks weekly, and they still got lost. Some children benefitted from organizing their desk at the end of each day. Some children needed explicit instruction after every subject! The key is taking the time to do it on a regular basis.

If your child is disorganized, it can affect their academics. A lost paper won’t get graded! Hopefully you will have a teacher that will help you to tag team these issues. Your best strategy is to keep open clear lines of communication.

If it’s a paperwork problem, have a designated communications folder. Teach your child where to put the folder when they get to school.

At Appointments and Evaluations

If your child has several doctors or therapists on the team that cares for them, keeping all of your notes straight can be a challenge. If you’re not organized or have memory problems (who doesn’t?), the task becomes even more challenging. Find a system, such as a planner, to write down your information. That’s one less thing your brain has to remember!

The Momagenda

I’ve used every device and tracker out there from a PDA to a simple pocket calendar. The PDA worked great until the computer blew up. Then I had big problems.

My favorite and most successful system is the momagenda. I like the way it is organized. Each day is set up as a checklist with places for regular schedules, and four sections beneath for personalization.

I use those sections to chart medical problems (headaches, tummy aches, food reactions), plans of action (from doctors or teachers), behavioral notes, and groceries. If doctor “A” wants to know how headaches are going, I’ve got a log. If doctor “B” wants to know if cards were pulled or recess missed, I’ve got a log! If someone needs something from the store, I’ve got it too! It’s wonderful!

I keep my bag, my organizer, and "essential" kids items together using a

tote bag system.

Allow Time to Invest In Success

I guess I’ve saved the best for last. The best advice ever given to me on this topic was that organization takes time.

When you first organize, it’s going to take a chunk of time to get the mess cleared and a system into place.

Then…

You need time to keep the momentum going. If it was organizing a closet, then every day the clothes need to be hung up and the shoes put back on the rack. If you do this it will only take 1-2 minutes. If you don’t, the disorganization will return!

There are ways of dealing with the age-old problem of organization. Find a starting point and learn to master one strategy at a time. Then teach it to someone else. Your household will thank you!