Do you ever remember lying in bed on a school night thinking, “I should have packed my backpack before I got into bed?” And then the next day you go to school, only to realize you left your homework at home?
Strong organizational skills can help us avoid those gut-wrenching moments of regret and they can help us be more productive. It’s just hard to teach these skills to your kids when you feel like you never learned them yourself.
There is no need to fear, though! Organization comes from creating the right habits. If you want to teach your children organizational skills and you want to improve your own, here are some steps you can practice alongside your kids.
Use Visual and Physical Organizers
The key to creating a safe and orderly space for documents is twofold. First, you need to get the right material. Do research ahead of time to find the strategy that best fits your personality. I recommend integrating some sort of bins and labels. Consider an “inbox” and “outbox” concept.
Second, you have to get into the habit of using your system. If you decide to make baskets for specific papers that your child brings home from school, you must get those papers to their appropriate place as soon as possible. As Benjamin Franklin would say, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Practice Self-Discipline and Establish Routine
The biggest threat to creating a habit is the fluctuation of daily schedules. Extracurricular activities can throw a wrench in your daily routine. It’s important to teach your kids that as soon as they get home, they need to think about the contents of their backpack, even if they finished their homework at a friend’s house.
This routine will help ensure all paperwork is completed on time (and no food is left in their bags).
Put Your Home in Order
I’ve often found that at my least organized times, my home is messy. It’s hard to say what comes first: the mess or the stress. Regardless, the process of picking up and giving everything a place of its own relieves my tension. Maintaining that order helps me remain organized and helps keep my mind clear.
Both you and your kids can regain and maintain organization by cleaning and keeping your spaces neat. This may require some decluttering too. I know it’s tempting to push cleaning off to a “less busy time.” In my experience, a less busy time will not come. Even if the schedule lightens up, you will find your motivation does too.
Instead of putting off until tomorrow, I like to use the 15-minute method. I set an alarm for 15 minutes, and during that time, I clean as much as I can. Once the alarm goes off, I either need to move on to my next obligation or I am more willing to clean for longer.
Consider the Origin
If you’ve always struggled with things like time management, task completion and organization, you may have an undiagnosed issue. Very often parents bring their kids to me to identify a learning or processing disorder and they realize they’ve had the same problem all along.
It’s important to note that a diagnosis will not make your troubles go away. A diagnosis will provide insight into the best strategies for you. Once we realize your personal hurdles, we can establish tailored ways to get around them.
Please reach out if you would like to discuss this more. Remember, no parent is perfect and it’s never too late to learn organizational skills.