I admit to lacking personal, self-directed organization. I noticed this most when I started teaching. Like the kids, when the school day was over, I wanted to do almost anything but actually lesson plan and grade. Oh, I’d look up all sorts of ideas and imagine what great lessons I could deliver; however, most of the time the lessons involved MORE stuff. I already had an issue with where to place MY stuff. Adding STUFF to STUFF leads to CLUTTER.
The year I moved from middle school to elementary, I had so much STUFF that people were giving me organizational materials. Of course it didn’t help that I had MY middle school stuff, the previous teacher had left HER stuff, then I was GIVEN more stuff to teach elementary. Sigh. Seriously, it was paper, books, boxes, more of all that plus storage containers and file cabinets — all in disarray. Finally, one day a coach at the school asked if there was anything I needed help with. I took her to my room and showed her this environment what looked like a paper factory had swallowed a school supply store and vomited the contents all over my room. I needed help organizing ALL THAT STUFF. (Seriously, it was looking like an episode of hoarding)
She was kind, came in and asked if I cared what she did. I needed clarification. She wanted to know if she had permission to throw things out that she knew were useless. Of course, I answered. About five hours later, the room was a lot neater, more organized, and felt peaceful. She threw away old curriculum and training manuals. She grouped materials. Once she started, I could figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. I’ll be honest, I had been hoarding teaching stuff because I just didn’t know.
From there, I continued to weed, give away, and discard. I realized that not taking or buying was much easier than having to find homes for new stuff. Even if I’m given something, it is mine to decide what to do. Most of the time, I’ve just gotten rid of things that I truly cannot fathom having to store. If I don’t have a place for it… well, I don’t have a place for it.
While buying boxes, tubs, notebooks, and other organizational systems work for others, I know that I can’t keep everything. Therefore, I just stick with what I learned that day. You don’t have to organize what you don’t have. If it doesn’t really fit into your system, don’t buy it. Don’t buy with someday and some vision in your mind of perfection and idealism. If something comes in, for goodness sake, send something out!
I’m still working on being organized. I’ve just learned that for me, organization doesn’t come with binders, boxes and label makers. It comes with simplification and paring down.