|Dodgerton Skillhause via Morguefile|
The next thing I knew, it was 5:00.
When I checked in with my laptop to get started (better late than never), I was greeted with the sad, gray screen that comes from being used for back-to-back classes then left in a school bag while its owner takes a nap.
First week of school. Predictable as ever.
Luckily, there are organizing tools that predict success even when their owners are snoozing on the sofa. Unlike laptops that have to be charged, low-tech tools that fit our styles help us to stay organized enough to find what we need when we need it.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Standard issue: A pocket folder. I've been using the same purple plastic pocket folder every semester for as long as I can remember. It's a report folder, actually, with prongs at the center so I can put the papers I reference throughout the semester in one safe place. The front pocket holds the syllabus, rosters and memos for one class and the back pocket holds the same information for another. When I teach three classes, I tuck a patterned file folder (leopard print this semester) with the same information for that class into the center. I'm not usually a pocket folder sort of girl, but since the same papers - nothing more, nothing less - go into it every semester, it serves as my on-the-go reference folder. Sheer repetition and defined locations have made this an essential tool that works for me, despite the fact that I usually ditch pocket folders for other paper-wrangling tools.
Three-ring circus: Ditching the binder. I use three-ring binders only rarely, preferring their more casual cousin, the accordion folder. At the beginning of the semester in particular, I swear by an accordion file with built-in handles instead of the usual Velcro or loop/tie closure. On the way to class, it's loaded with handouts, separated neatly into sections and on the way home, it's either filled with completed assignments or, some days, blissfully empty. By not loading all of this into my school bag, I can distribute the weight between my bag and the portable file, saving my shoulders from the saggy, aching sensation that follows a day of lugging supplies from place to place.
Rule breaker: Multiple planners. I'm not primarily an I love stuff person, but I have a weakness for planners. My personal planner lives in my purse and holds all the family and non-work appointments, most of which are duplicated on the family calendar in the kitchen. My larger school planner serves as a place to both plan and record my course information and the semester schedule. My chunky, lined, 6 x 9 calendar lives on my desk, providing a one-day-at-a-time approach to lists and appointments; this is the place where home and school converge. I'll be the first to admit that this is probably an inefficient system but, the fact is, it works for me. I am a paper-and-pencil girl through and through, and keeping separate planners means reducing visual clutter; everything is organized either by home/work or day of the week. Yes, I sometimes end up writing the same thing in different places, but that repetition works in my favor, reducing the likelihood that I'll forget something important.
One of the reasons these tools work for me is because I know what goes in or on each of them. By using the same tools in the same way over time, we develop systems and habits that make it easy to stay organized.
And, if we're really lucky, we might save enough time to sneak in a nap.