My Must Have Tool for Back to School

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


“Back to School.” The words veritably ooze with meaning. For some the words conjure up fun pictures of shopping, bright colored tools, making new friends and hanging out with old friends.

For others it means studying, adjusting to new teachers, and studying (did I say that already?).

Mostly it means finding and settling into a routine. A routine that includes:

  • A place to study
  • A place to keep supplies
  • A stock pile of supplies appropriate to each child’s age and needs
  • Time periods for studying
  • Morning processes for getting out of the house on time
  • Processes for having the essentials when you leave the house
  • How to get homework done in a timely manner

WAIT! “Getting homework done in a timely manner!”

I’m a parent, and I’ve spent time teaching in a high school classroom. So trust me when I say the most important tool for school this year is your student’s academic planner IF they use one that actually helps them manage their time.

I was back in the classroom recently and was reminded just how most students limp through their year. Most are using assignment books.

Assignment books amount to a list of assignments listed on a due date. This list is usually referenced the night before the assignment is due, which is why teachers often hear reasons excuses about work not being done.

  • “I didn’t get my homework done last night (last night being the operative words) because I had play practice.”
  • “I couldn’t finish my homework because I had to go shopping for my basketball shoes.”

If only they had been able to see just how busy their week was going to be, the student could have planned another night (other than “last night”) to do homework.

Take a look at this Academic Planner.

Physical features that are great:

  • comes in two sizes: 8.5″ x 11″ and or 8.25″ x 8.5″
  • card stock dividers
  • two page  layout
  • choice of covers


Features that set this planner apart:

  • Space for recording after school and evening responsibilities. If the student can see how all of their time is being utilized, they will be able to see what time is available for doing homework during the week, rather than just the night before.

You can’t manage the time you cannot see!

  • Record classes just once. For high school or college when your classes may change mid-year, you can purchase custom-fit labels to cover the old class schedule.
  • Project planning sheets.
  • Can be used alone or place in a three-ring binder.
  • Complementary tools to use with the academic planner.

The planner is more expensive that your assignment book. But I think it pays for itself in teaching your student to manage his time. Less reminders from you is always a win.

But I can also offer you a one-time 20% discount on the planner. Use the code PLANNER20.

As a mom, former teacher, and especially as a department supervisor for a clothing company, I can tell you how important I think it is for people to know how to manage their time! It’s vital!

Check it out and enjoy the discount. And happy ‘Back to School” shopping!

Pretty Organizing on a Budget

We all hate it, but most of us live by a budget. Maybe, we don’t hate the budget; we just hate it when there doesn’t seem to be much allotted to organizing.

I mean, really, have you ever seen a line item on any budget that says “organizing.” It almost makes me laugh to think about it. (As a professional organizer, I know that everyone from time to time needs something or somewhere organized, and the help of a professional is often a great option. But no one ever told me I was a budgeted item. Come to think of it maybe we should encourage such a thing.)

When there isn’t a budget for organizing or buying products that aid in that pursuit, then organizing on a budget it is.

But just because you don’t spend a lot doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful!

A deep search on the topic will yield tips  for storage containers like:

  • “shop” for baskets and bins in your own home first
  • use hacks for storage, i.e. cover cereal box bottoms with pretty paper, egg cartons, muffins tins
  • shop at thrift stores and dollar stores

Ideas for shortcuts are everywhere for different areas of your home, but when you finish, somehow you think “this isn’t as pretty as the pictures I see online. I guess that’s what I get for trying to do this on a budget.”

Here are a few ideas on how to be pretty on a budget:

  • Use the same color containers or involve a color scheme that you love. Even if you have to cover boxes with paper, for heaven’s sake cover them with paper; don’t leave just the box. Make the papers coordinate or match, whatever you love. Even if you have to buy dollar store containers, buy the same color. The color coordination will add the value of being pleasing to the eye.
  • Use items that you have stashed away because you “love them and don’t want anything to happen to them.” My experience with my own “valuables” tells me that I’ll never enjoy them because there is always the possibility that “something will happen.” Truthfully, I’m not hard on my possessions, and I’m guessing that you’re not either. Get out those beloved pieces and re-purpose them for your organizing. It helps the budget, and you’ll love “what you’ve done with the place.”
  • If you need to buy products, spend the little bit more to get buy the products that enhance the appearance of your space, even if it is a closet. I know that other people don’t see inside your closet, but you do. And you matter. This is the space that you live in and work in. It matters what it looks like. It makes the work seem lighter if you love being there.

Organizing on a budget doesn’t mean that you can’t have a pretty spot. Take your time finding the right pieces in the right color scheme that are the right size and shape for the job. You’ll enjoy space even more.

Three Reason to Protect Your Bedroom

We’ve all done it. Used our bedrooms as storage. Ugh! What were we thinking?!

Oh, it happened so innocently. Perhaps you got a box out of the attic to sort through seasonal clothing for the upcoming season. Then on a whim, you decided to have friends over for dinner. But there sat that box of clothing in the middle of the living room floor.

No problem; you can just set it in the bedroom for now.

But the weekend is over, and it’s back to work, children’s activities, grocery shopping, etc. You think to yourself, “There’s always next weekend to tackle that box.”

Next weekend came but there were kids’s ballgames. So, it’s okay that the box is in the way. You’d been working around it for a week now anyway. What’s another week?

Then you teen’s science fair project took up residence in your bedroom where the siblings wouldn’t destroy it before the science fair next month. Next month?!

And then the stack of magazines you were scouring for new recipes showed up.

The stack of T-shirts for the quilt have been washed, but you’re not quite ready to sew. So . . . yup, they’re now lurking in your bedroom.

You not only get the picture; you’ve actually lived with the mess. Your bedroom often becomes home to a barrage of items that don’t belong there in the first place.

Eventually, you decide you must sort through everything that is now at home in your bedroom.

Bedrooms are an easy target for clutter and extra storage space, but they shouldn’t be!

Instead of talking you through the usual organizing steps, I want to talk you through WHY you should organize your bedroom. Understanding the sanctity of that space will go along way in motivating you to get it organized and keeping it organized.

  • Bedrooms are for sleeping and ultimately resting.

It’s common information now that clutter adds mental weight. When our minds are heavy, rest is, at best, well . . . restless, and at worst, illusive. We simply cannot rest when we are buried in “stuff.” The “stuff” veritably screams out to us to put it away, meaning we do not truly rest.

  • Bedrooms provide a haven.

Relaxing by its very nature implies a haven. Think spa. Need I say more? We all  long for time and a space to feel like the cares of the world are far away. Bedrooms should provide just that.

Have you ever been to a spa or salon where the boxes of shampoo, nail polish, or incense are sitting in the waiting room? There’s a reason that area and the massage rooms are clear of clutter.

Hotel rooms are a classic picture of why we like and need clutter free bedrooms. We all love the picture perfect place to relax. In fact, have you ever walked into your hotel room and just flopped on the bed with a deep sigh. Me too!

Your bedroom should be that space and evening should be that time to find your haven away from the  cares of the world.

  • Bedrooms are often our only place of retreat.

There’s a lot of activity going on in a home: meal prep in the kitchen, eating in the dining room, homework in the kids’ bedrooms, TV watching in the family room. And sometimes the standards are all over the place: eating takes place in the kitchen or the family room and homework is done in the dining room. Nonetheless, home is a busy little place.

If we want to get away with a book, find a place to work on our planners/journals or just to think, we head to our bedrooms.

I know; I know. It won’t be long till some little fist comes rapping at the bedroom door, and somebody wants you for some reason. But the fact that there was even a knock at the door, tells us that for some reason, it’s understood that something quiet is going on in there, and he who enters needs to do it respectfully.

We all need to retreat away from the busyness of life from time to time. You want your bedroom to function that way for you or your spouse.

(We could deviate here and say the same applies to your guest bedroom. Do your guest find a retreat, a haven, a quiet resting place in the space you provide for them? Or do they feel like they are keeping you from your hobby?)

Organize as you will. But let me recommend some things to eliminate from your bedroom.

  • Hobby paraphernalia – all of it! Even projects that you are presently working on. You don’t do them in your sleep anyway.
  • Stacks of magazines that you plan to read before going to sleep. It’s doubtful you will.
  • Removing a TV may be necessary if watching it makes you stay up later than you should.
  • Electronic devices; unplug for a bit, for heaven’s sake.
  • Laundry – if it’s clean, put it away; if it’s dirty, put it in the hamper. Your bed nor the floor are storage facilities.
  • Any kind of box of any kind of thing. If you need the items in the container, then they need a “home” where you can get to them. A box is not a “home.” For anything.
  • Clutter on your dresser top. What? You were able to make it to the dresser, but you couldn’t get the drawer open to put that item away?

When it comes to organizing your bedroom, you can go about it in a variety of ways. In the end, if you truly value your bedroom, it will serve you well.