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For the 13th time, it’s back to school season in the Garvey household. In just two short weeks, I’ll be sending a senior (!) and a sophomore back to school. The process of getting everyone organized and ready for the school year is much easier now than it was in the early days. There are fewer school supplies to buy. We also wait to buy fall clothes until closer to the cooler temperatures, just to hold out for any last minute growth spurts or changes in fashion preferences. But one of the biggest reasons back to school is easier now is due to tried and true organizing systems. Here are my top five organizing systems for back to school:

Command Central Binder. Also know as a household binder or reference binder, this system houses paperwork that you want or need to refer to on a regular basis. It’s a great place to stash an extra copy of the school schedule for older kids, or the lunch menu and classroom policies for younger children. If you don’t yet use a Command Central Binder, now’s a terrific time to set one up. Here’s a link to a free step-by-step guide to setup your own household binder.

sunflowers and binder

File basket. My file basket is a great compliment to the command central binder. I use it to stash coupons (great for back-to-school shopping trips), my menu planner / grocery list template, and there’s a folder for each child to stash frequently accessed items (like my daughter’s driver’s permit!) I used to keep my file basket on the counter, but recently moved it to a small table off my kitchen, creating a mini command center.

Drop zone. Having a place to drop items as you walk in the door, is one of the most effective strategies I know for keeping surface clutter under control. Our drop zone is equipped with hooks for backpacks and jackets, and cubbies for stashing gym bags and gear for after school activities.

Supply cabinet / homework center. Our supply cabinet is much more streamlined than it used to be (less need for colored paper, crayons and glue) but the system has definitely stood the test of time. This blog post shows you how to create a homework cabinet and this post has a checklist for your homework station.

Home Organizing Tip: Set up a craft and homework cabinet

Planner / Calendar. Finally, the glue that holds it all together is a calendar or planner. If your kids are younger, a family wall calendar is a terrific way to make sure everyone knows where to be when. As your kids get older, assign them the responsibility of adding their events and due dates to the family calendar. This way they’ll have basic time management and planning skills which will set them up for success when they receive school-issued planners for tracking homework assignments and test dates. This is the stage we’re at now, so I use my planner to track school holidays and school-related events I’ll be attending (college planning seminars!). My kids use a combination of the school-issued planners and phone calendars to keep track of school deadlines, after school activities and work schedules.


So there you have it, my top five tried and true systems for an organized school year. What keeps you family on track and organized? Thanks for sharing!

blue Aby

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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