Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stump the Organizer! Organize The School Paper Deluge


I had to take care of an emergency over the last couple of weeks so I'm posting the responses to two different questions this week. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


“Help! I’m already overwhelmed by the papers the schools send home with the kids.”
It’s amazing how much paper the average student brings to and from school. But you need only three things to defuse the overwhelm and manage the school paper flow:
1. Homes for the papers,
2. A procedure to process the paper, and
3. An “appointment time” to do the processing.
To prevent school papers from scattering all over the kitchen counter, use an inbox to house everything that you need to review. You will also need a place to store papers that you are actively working on. I like using desktop file boxes or project boxes to hold active paperwork. These boxes hold several files so paperwork is easily organized. To determine the best place for your inbox and active papers, look at where the papers naturally land – for many families this is the kitchen counter. Keep your family calendar accessible so it’s easy to schedule new events.
As you go through your inbox, consider what your next action should be for each paper. You may need to update your calendar, fill out a form, or make a phone call. Generally, take care of an item immediately if the needed action takes less than a couple of minutes. If more time is needed, enter the needed action on your calendar and put the paper in an action folder. In my experience, schools send home a lot of papers whose sole purpose is to inform. Recycle these papers as soon as you’ve finished reading them. Bookmark your school’s website so you can quickly access information without storing a lot of paper.
Of course every family needs a special place to showoff the children’s artwork and outstanding assignments. A special bulletin board or a magnetic strip will creatively showcase your child’s work with a little more fun and attention than the front of the fridge. Keep a special portfolio for each child to store the really special items at the end of the display period. Be selective. Only keep work that reflects your child’s unique character and talents.
Processing the papers in the inbox should only take a few minutes, if done daily. Considering making the paper review a part of the end-of-school day routine. The review dovetails nicely with a conversation with your child about the day’s events.
With the evening ahead of you to process the information, you will find that you are in better control of your time and actions. The feeling of overwhelm will become a distant memory.
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