So you homeschool – that is great! Homeschooling is wonderful, we have been enjoying it ourselves for a number of years and we love it. The big question – I have all this great stuff – where do I put it? How do I organize the papers, and pencils and pens and those little tiny bears and don’t even get me started on the books, oh my the books. I have the stuff, now I need to know how to organize it all.
First – take a deep breathe and know that you are not alone, either in your homeschooling journey or in your quest to manage the madness and learn how to organize.
The Steps to Organization (a.k.a. How to Organize) are fairly straight forward. Imagine you are putting together a puzzle. What do you do first? (Well, first you open the box, but I am figuring we got past that part.) So what do you second? Depending on the kind of person you are, you start by sorting the pieces. The pieces with the straight edges go into one pile and the pieces without the straight edges go back into the bottom of the box. So our first step in learning how to organize is:
HOW TO ORGANIZE STEP 1 — SORTING (woo hoo, yeah, think trumpets and fanfare — this is exciting, we know where to start learning how to organize)
After you are done sorting your pieces, we move on to step two. (I know, I know – I didn’t tell you how to sort or what to sort or how to organize anything yet – that comes later in the article. Just hang in there.)
So what is the next thing that you do when building a puzzle? Do we sort it out and then just walk away? Do we put all the middle pieces (i.e. pieces without the straight edge) together first? No, first we build a border for our pieces. So step two is:
HOW TO ORGANIZE STEP 2 — BUILDING A BORDER (more fanfare, sounds of cheering)
The border is now built, but we are not done yet. If you left the puzzle with just a border you never get to enjoy the beauty of it. The same goes for learning how to organize. Building a border is great, but now you have to use it. How do you use a border? I am glad that you asked (OK, I am glad that I asked, but if you were here I am sure you would have asked.) We use a puzzle border to give us information about the puzzle. The border tells us how big the final product will be. It helps us to determine where the interior pieces should go and it also lets us see a light at the end of the tunnel. (I went from puzzles to trains, and soon I will go back again. It’s a mixed metaphor, but I digress.) So step three of how to organize is:
HOW TO ORGANIZE STEP 3 — FILLING IN THE PIECES
This makes sense when you are thinking about a puzzle, after all you have this pile of non-straight-edge pieces just sitting there and waiting. How does this work with organizing? Do you recall way back in how to organize – step one where we were sorting? Those are our missing pieces, so filling in the pieces means that you are now putting stuff away. (Yes, another light at the end of the tunnel) So that’s it we are done, right? After all, we sorted the pieces, we built the border, we filled in the pieces, our puzzle is done. Right? Wrong! Sorry, but there is one more step before you are organized. (Actually, I am not sorry, but it sounds nicer to say it that way rather than – tough luck bucko, quit being a whiner.) So then what is the last step? Take a minute and think about it – when you are done with a puzzle what do you do? Do you leave it where you built it? Do you take it all apart so you can do it again another time? Do you smear goo on it so that is will become a work of art for you to hang 天然止汗劑 on the wall? For the purposes of our analogy (i.e. comparing building a puzzle with learning how to organize) We are going to so no, no, yes. No, we don’t just leave it where it is – that just adds to the clutter. No, we don’t take it apart (What? Are you crazy? We just did all this work getting organized, for goodness sake, don’t take it apart.) Yes, we smear goo on it so it is a work of art. Now, before you go get actual goo and really make a mess of things remember – this is an analogy. The goo is basically the stuff that holds the puzzle together and keeps it looking nice. That is what we need – we want our newly organized area to look nice. So the final step is:
HOW TO ORGANIZE STEP 4 — THE FINAL STEP – KEEP IT ORGANIZED (I forgot the fanfare for step three so let’s just add it in here – fanfare, fireworks and a laser light show, and a skywriter writing out “you just learned the basic steps of how to organize”.)
Now that we have climbed the “Steps of Organization” (aka how to organize) together, let’s look at an example.
Note: if you have only short periods of time to work on your organizing project then still work your way through the steps, however organize in small sections. For example, organize the floor first, then organize shelves (one at a time), etc.)
Step 1: Sorting
This is the hard part, but if you want to learn how to organize and stay organized, it really is necessary. Let’s head off to your homeschool room / area / closet and bring some boxes with you. Begin by labeling your boxes in the following way – trash, donate / sell, doesn’t belong in this area – depending on the amount of stuff that you have you may need multiple boxes. Once you have gone through your initial sort, take the trash away, and move the donate / sell boxes to another place (preferably out of your house). Now we get down to the nitty gritty of learning how to organize – in the next step we will start building our border so that we are able to put things back in an organized way. Keep a box or two around so that any items you decide you no longer need can be placed in the box. If you have a lot of items you no longer need, consider selling them at a local convention or online homeschool books site.