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BACK to school is coming. Yep, I went there with a reference to Game of Thrones. Still too soon? This year going back to school, let alone getting organized for back to school, is a daunting thought. Especially if you’re starting your graduate studies this year. School is starting for our little ones and in many instances for you as well. You’ll need a plan. It’s an unprecedented time with our new normal. Whether you’re completing distance learning, in person learning, or hybrid; you’ll need some tricks up your sleeve to navigate the hurricane of multi-tasking headed your way. In this post we’ll explore some tips for getting organized for back to school while juggling work and home.
- Get your pre-game in order. I know you’re probably dreading it. But, you’ve got to adopt your pre-game mindset and get it together. Adopt your mantra or whatever motivates you to get in gear. I personally like, “Let’s do this!” I imagine painting black lines under my eyes to reflect the glare of the blinding lights of confusion and sleeplessness. So adopt a positive mindset and prepare to get it done. Since there’s no college conference football this year we can get ready for this game instead.
- Designate a space in your home for learning. Even if it’s the kitchen table. Designate a space for gathering each day. Not everyone has the ability to set up a complete home office. So gather a few organizers that you can store in a dedicated kitchen cabinet such as a lazy Susan with pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc. Mason jars are fantastic catchalls. If you do have extra space for a home office, then go for it. Set up your office space to be functional and stylish. Add in any accessories, bins, and bookcases that you feel necessary.
- Make sure your internet connection is on point. Whichever provider you utilize, you’ll want to make sure that the internet connection is optimal. This is a no brainer if you and everyone in your household will have to log on multiple times a day for Zoom, Google meets, Skype, and the like. Understanding that the digital divide is very real, if you can’t have access to internet in your home due to financial hardship then let your school administrators know. There are government programs and low income subsidies underway to help students gain access.
- Choose the right electronic device. Even though almost everyone has a smart phone, they’re tiny screens are not optimal for all day learning. Make sure you pick the right device for your classes. More than likely a laptop, desktop, or smart tablet will be needed. Most middle school through high schools are issuing devices for rent for distance learning. If you need help purchasing a device, then be sure to check out local options. California has an initiative to supply children with internet access and computers. Google Chromebooks are economical and offer a suite of tools typically needed for students.
- Create a schedule and stick to it. Invest in a planner to keep your schedule organized. This can be paper or digital. You’ll need to keep track of daily assignments, Zoom meetings, and Google classroom. My personal favorites are Evernote and Google calendar for digital and the Happy Planner for paper. Also, please see details about the Boss digital planner here, touted as the best digital planner of 2020. Of course, Erin Condren is the top of the line as far as paper planners go. Erin Condren’s daily planner is out of my budget at the moment. But from time to time I’ll invest in her stickers or mini planners, which are budget friendly. I was pleasantly surprised to see EC stickers at Target this year.
- Create a team strategy. Make sure everyone in the household is responsible for their individual tasks. Even kindergartners can understand that they need to come to the table at a set time each day and get their markers off the shelf. Don’t try to do it all on your own. This goes for the single mothers too. Foster independence in your children and have them help out with their tasks each day.
- Set aside time for yourself. This is easier said than done. When I applied to graduate school, my son was 1 month old and I started NP school when he was 3 months old. I worked full time the majority of the program. You’ll definitely need to plan your “free time” and make sure you can step away and have a cup of coffee. Come up with a schedule to ask friends and family to provide respite care and/or baby sit when you just need a break.
- Don’t buy anything but the basics until school starts. Most schools post a generic list of school supplies. I understand the pull to buy everything on that list and be prepared. Normally, I would suggest it with the thought “it’ll get used eventually”. But, at this point, with plans swiftly changing from day to day I wouldn’t buy anything but the basics until school starts. Wait until you’ve had a chance to meet the teachers. At a bare minimum you’ll need a paper spiral notebook, pens, pencils, headphones, highlighters, a planner, organizers, a backpack, and some post-its.
Getting organized for back to school this year will be essential. The end of the last school year caught us off guard. So let’s not have a repeat of that and prepare a bit in advance or at least as much as we can. This post was about getting organized for back to school. What’s your “pre-game strategy”? Any suggestions for getting ready for the big day?