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Take a Few Minutes to Organize.

Several years ago I took a class focused on organizing memories. The basic mantra of the class was this:

You can only scrapbook as well as you are organized.

During the six month class I organized photos, memorabilia, and memories. I also paid particular attention to the way my studio was organized and diligently made a place for everything. Last year I created more than 150 scrapbook pages (and twelve mini-albums). This was over a hundred more pages than the year before. I attribute this solely to the fact that I was organized in a way to make me more efficient. (Especially since I increased my momma-duties, thus increasing my chores!)

Little did I know this would be just as meaningful in my professional life. I’ve found I’m as effective as I am organized. When life gets busy and my system gets a little harried, I am less productive. I’m beginning to believe this is true for most of us. So today’s post is an encouragement to spend a little time organizing your teaching-life. No matter who you are — Uber-Organized Ursula or Completely Chaotic Chloe, here are some ideas to get you started. They are listed according to the time you have to organize.

10 Minute Clean-Up Solutions

  • Clear your desk! Throw away the trash. Sort the rest of the papers in these piles: File; Immediate Action; To-Do; Leave-the-Room. Stack everything neatly and enjoy the view of the top of your desk.
  • One-by-one take care of the piles from the previous solution. (Begin with the Immediate Action pile!)
  • Clean out your school bag (or bags ,for those of you who carry more than one!)
  • Tidy the Writing Center. Sharpen all of the pencils.

15 Minute Tasks

  • Go through your computer files. If you have several files on your Desktop, put them into appropriate folders. If you don’t have folders, start some. Begin with Units of Study and begin to file your documents. If you have folders set-up, go through them and delete the files which are no longer needed. Set the timer for 15 minutes and STOP when it goes off. Come back to this task often.
  • Straighten your classroom library. Pull a few books for book talks.
  • Collect and file student work.

30 Minutes to Get Going:

  • Organize (or update) your mentor texts.
  • Rearrange your anchor charts. Take down those which are no longer needed. Group charts according to those with similar topics. Open up the “premium space” for the most recent charts.
  • Update Student Work bulletin boards.

I’ve found a kitchen timer to be my best friend when organizing. I set it for a few minutes (usually 15) and just get started. Knowing I only have to work for a certain amount of time keeps me focused and content. Sometimes tasks seem so big we don’t even want to get started. The timer is a way to get started and see the end. (It also works wonders for my family as we set it every night for a 15 minute family pickup. A lot can be put away when five people work for 15 minutes!)

Minutes spent organizing are almost always minutes spent becoming more effecient. What are your best tips?



Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

5 thoughts on “Take a Few Minutes to Organize. Leave a comment

  1. I had a TA in my class one year who used to come in, see that I was having a bad day, and just walk over and organize something…paper, books, even just straighten the stacks for me. It made all the difference. I love your timer idea. I start a load of clothes in the washing machine and sew or organize until they are done. That is my timer.


  2. I definitely feel much more productive when I am organized. I strive to be more organized all the time! Often I put clearing off my desk or a pile that is driving me crazy and then moving on to other to-do items so that I will not have that overwhelming sense of clutter!


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