Tis the season to pack classrooms and offices up for summer cleaning. If you haven't done so already, you will be and this may be stressing you out. This was always a love-hate part of the year for me. Love doing an end-of-year cleanse, but damn, so much stuff to go through.
If packing up has you feeling all sorts of ways, here are a couple of tips to help you get things packed pretty quickly, and will also have you set to open up your boxes at the start of a new academic year with a little less angst.
1. As you move something from a shelf to a box, assess the value of the item. This is not a Marie Kondo version of "does this spark joy?" - no time for that. This is a quick "did I use this and will I use it next year?" Quick question, quick answer. Don't think about it, just go with your gut. If it's a "yes", place it in the box.
2. The items that your "no's" do need to get placed somewhere. These items still require a bit of consideration because you do not want to toss still useful items. Have enough room to be able to separate out the items and make separate piles or have other boxes for what needs to be returned elsewhere and what needs to be tossed. Again, quick and easy.
The key here is to start the process of keeping only what you know adds meaning to your teaching in preparation for your next year. When you return to set up your office or classroom again, you will have less to sort. At this point, you will work through a different process when you have more energy and patience.
I've often wondered why people get into the work that they do. And when I find out why, it all makes sense. It usually ties back to a challenge that someone experienced in their own life, and then decided to provide support for people with similar challenges.
So here's why I'm so focused on organization, finding focus, and keeping our spaces optimized for success.
1. I've moved homes 19 times in about 26 years and have occupied many types of dwellings.
2. I've "lived in" about 13 classrooms in 23 years.
I'm sure many of you can relate to moving, whether moving houses, offices or classrooms. And what is it that stresses you the most about moving? Is it the being in a new space? Or is it that you have to move all your stuff?
When you move this much, you have to be able to find peace in your space fast. It's far easier to move into a classroom and leave all the junk it from the previous five teachers, but it's not helpful or healthy for you or for the teacher after you to bear all the stress from what's hiding in those cupboards. I know they haunted me!
Moving stuff requires huge amounts of time and energy, organization and money, and those are four things that often cause stress already! We don't have the time, energy, skills or the extra money to spend on moving things that may not even add much value to our lives.
Prior to moving, it's a solid idea to do a purge as you pack, which is something I got pretty good at and find a lot of value in. Then I usually do another purge after moving and when unpacking. Sometimes those things I thought I "needed" in the new space end up not suiting the space, my needs or vision.
The point here is not to rid yourself of all things, or even bare down to the absolute essentials. That's not reasonable. But do think about what causes you unnecessary and unproductive stress, and what adds real value to what you do and your life in general. It may make your life easier in the long run.
Today in a work session, an awesome lady in the group said something that perked my ears up.
She mentioned how she identifies herself as a disorganized person, yet others perceive her as very organized.
Is this your reality vs perception? Are you disorganized with your things, yet super organized for others? I know others just like this, and surprise - "objects in mirror are closer than they appear!
We cannot realistically expect ourselves, or others for that matter, to always be one way all the time with their organization styles. We are people and our roles, ideas, and needs change.
Now, I will add that there are times when it is essential to your sanity to keep things set up in some sort of system whether it's a stack (almost a system) or a file folder! You have to start somewhere and you can always refine.
If the "disorganized you" is freaking out right now - it's okay! There's a way to identify where you can start as a "once-a-year" type organizer.
In another chat today I was discussing house renovations with a friend who also is in a reno process. I must have started sounding a little overwhelmed because he offered some advice. Get ready for this...
He said: When you look at all the things as big picture you get overwhelmed and you will not get anywhere. Look at each piece of the work and go from there.
Hello?! Have you all heard me say: "chunk it"?! His message to me echoed loud and clear the benefits of breaking things down into manageable chunks. So if you are feeling like getting your reality organized is too much for you, just tackle one thing at a time.
Want to grab the Organizer Identity cards and get a glimpse into your Organizer-Self? They are free here at this link.