Our team of professional photo organizers deals with chaos on a regular basis. Whether it’s building organized digital photo and video libraries or going through analog photos and videos to get them prepared to be digitized, they’ve seen it all. Our team is masterful at sorting through clients’ gigabytes of digital photos and videos scattered across devices, as well as helping downsizing clients sort and organize generations worth of aging photos and videos so they can pass along digital files to future generations.
Given their vast organizing experience and the fact that many of our organizers are also parents, it’s easy for them to know what tips and tricks will get your through the frenzied back to school season. These top hacks are sure to get you through another successful school year stress-free(or at least more organized!)
School is back in season and while you may be thrilled to get the kids out of the house, you’re probably also dreading some of what comes with them being back in school. Managing the schedules; homework; paperwork; artwork; lunches; field trips, and everything in between can feel impossible at times, but there are ways to control the chaos, we promise. Our list of hacks will help you get your life organized once and for all. We don’t have to remind you that the holidays are fast approaching, so now is the time to put in place systems you can stick with to make the whole year as easy as possible, right?
Organize your summer photos and capture those Fall moments!
Ah, summer. Once it’s gone, who doesn’t think back fondly to the memories of the hot sun on your face, your toes in the sand, and the sound of your children laughing as they splash in the cool water and build sandcastles? We know we do (but fall colors, pumpkin flavors, and sweaters give us the warm and fuzzies too).
You’re three-quarters of the way through the calendar year, you’ve taken hundreds – more likely thousands – of pictures and you’re only going to take more now that the school year is in full swing. Then there’s Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, and as a result, you have tons of photos to deal with on top of what you already had. We swear, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to take some time to assess your digital photo collection. Get them off your phone, review, and archive. Every single one of our organizers swear by this to prepare for the rest of the year. If you want more in-depth advice on this topic you can check out our post about it here.
“This is the most important thing I do all year. The end of the summer is the perfect time to make sure all my photos from the last 6 months are off my phone and on my computer because the couple hours I spend doing that gives me a good idea of what I already have for Holiday cards and gifts. Then I know what I still need, or what I can’t find. We receive monthly Chatbooks Photobooks and they’re great to look through, but for a yearly book, I know I need to make sure all my photos are in one place so I can go through and select the best. Otherwise, that book isn’t happening.”
One of our favorites school organization hacks: The Command Center
Adults tend to stay organized and on track with mobile calendar apps, Google spreadsheets, and other digital means but how do you translate your Google calendar to your kids? Our organizers all have dedicated command centers in their homes and recommend them for parents to keep all of the members of the family on track. There’s a way to make it work for any family, whether it’s a full and structured section of your house or nook in the kitchen where everyone drops their important paperwork and school assignments, establish a dedicated area, and check in with the kids to make sure they’re using it each day.
Build Your Own Daily System Components | Pottery Barn. Aside from being completely beautiful, the ability to mix-and-match the different components offered by Pottery Barn allows you to completely customize an area that works for your family.
Command Center | One Creative Housewife. This command center was totally customized and a great, budget friendly and functional center for it all to come together. If you have young ones, the baskets towards the bottom are perfect for school papers. Follow the link to see how she put it all together.
“Our whole system runs in Google docs. We print out a spreadsheet for morning routines to be checked off that also lists all the events that day, like piano lessons and basketball practice. Our command center has cubbies for important papers that get thrown away after we add them to our calendar – or put back into the cubby to return a signature to school. Important items to keep or share get filed for the end of the school year.”
Kitchen Station | At Charlotte’s House. A command center for back to school organizing may seem like a huge project, or require a lot of space, but this is a perfect example of how to make a small space work for you and your family!
Back to school organization DIY: For all that paper!
We know we don’t need to remind you that there are piles and piles of paper and artwork headed your way and it multiplies with each kid. It’s what you have those back to school command centers for! Some of it’s precious, like artwork; others require immediate attention and others are just extraneous. What do you do with it and how do you decide what to keep?
You can’t keep everything, so before it starts coming in decide now what you need to keep. Here’s a get organized checklist from our team to keep track of what may (or may not) want to hold onto:
- Poems/short stories
- Special projects
- Memorabilia from events like concerts and plays
- Artwork – We wrote a whole post on different things you can do with artwork besides letting it pile up in a closet or basement.
“I always file the leftover school photos after I’ve shared them with family, but I am now requesting the digital files! If your school photographer doesn’t offer the option to purchase digital files, scan the photos on your home computer or use the Google Photo Scan app to make your own file for your digital library.”
We’re going to make this as simple as possible because once you commit to a system it’s easier than you’d think!
- Purchase a hanging file box for each child. Don’t get one that doesn’t allow for hanging folders or you could fall into the trap of just tossing papers in the bin. Try this tote from the Container Store, they have even bigger ones as well.
- Get a box of hanging file folders. You’ll need enough to have one folder for each year for each child.
- Label them by school year. You can find printable labels online like these.
- Keep what you already decided was important. As the paperwork comes in, file it right away and you won’t have to go through piles of paperwork at the end of the year.
The best part of creating and sticking with a system like this is that you’ll be able to make incredible keepsakes for your child at the end of the year, or even when they’re ready for college, and it will be a breeze. You’ll even have more than just photos to include because you’ve kept all the really important memorabilia along the way. Think about how great it will be for your kid to read their 3rd-grade teacher’s account of them or see their artwork from kindergarten.
Expert level paperwork system from Martha Stewart
Mini Office in a Chest | Martha Stewart. We really mean expert level, but we couldn’t leave this one out.
Keeping routines routine with school organization printables & projects
For children (and adults) consistency can make a huge difference. Who doesn’t have a board full of a hundred different free printables to get organized on Pinterest? These are our favorites.
Morning Printable | I Heart Organizing. She also has a great matching Bedtime Routine printable!
Dry Erase Clipboard Chart | The 36th Avenue. For the true DIY lover, these are a creative way to keep track of what needs to be done.
Organizing Checklists! | WhipperBerry. Keep their homework on track with this great checklist by subject.
Dedicated stations make organizing school supplies at home easy
We could write a whole post just on back to school organizing for homework. It just keeps getting more involved than the year before and you inevitably need markers, glue, calculators and other supplies for them to do their best. Lugging all their supplies back and forth also means things get lost or broken. So, we advise that you set up a homework station and get a school supply organizer for home where all the traditional items live and get used.
DIY Homework Station | Design Improvised. Not only is this a great way to give your children a space that feels like their own, this DIY tutorial shows you how to pull it together and how to create that great supply storage cart.
Homework Area | Postbox Designs. We have words other than ‘WOW, let’s just move in here.’ If you’ve ever wondered how a professional interior designer would put together a homework area to keep back to school projects and homework organized, look no further. We’d recommend some storage under the table for school supply organizing, and this is, of course, an area better suited to older children or high schoolers.
School Supply Station | Sprinkle Some Fun. You don’t always need a whole area just for doing homework, sometimes the biggest win is keeping all the supplies in one place for easy access. This is a great DIY tutorial for just that. Not all school organization ideas have to be complicated!
Over the Door Supply Organizer | A Bowl Full of Lemons. If you consider yourself DIY-challenged but are open to a DIY closet organization idea, consider this incredibly easy way to keep everything together!