Organized for Student Success, Part 5: Organize Their Space

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

As your student(s) begin their new school year, take the opportunity to work with them in organizing their bedroom and clothing. Use the same basic steps outlined in Organizing a Study Area, in my previous post; Organized for Success, Part 4: Organize the Student .

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out drawers, clothes and any bins that are storing clothing
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as Underclothes, Sports Clothes, Uniforms, School Clothes, Dress Clothes etc.
  • Toss old or worn clothes and donate outgrown, seldom worn, or out of style clothes. The biggest pitfall is keeping more clothes than you actually can use or have room for. Be realistic in what you are keeping.
  • Return the keep pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you may need. Assign a specific space for each sub category of clothing.
  • Store often used clothing close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used items. Store off-season clothes in a clearly labeled bin or under-the-bed container.
  • Be careful not to over-stuff drawers and closets. You will go a long way in helping your child stay organized by actually providing a space for all of their belongings and then making it both easy and accessible to put them away.
  • Make use of storage space, which is often overlooked, such as the backs of doors or inside of closets to mount hooks, racks, or pockets. Use hooks for storage

    Beautiful and Functional Possibilities by The Container Store

    of everyday items such as sweatshirts, pajamas, robes, and towels. If your child doesn’t have many hanging clothes, install shelves in half of their closet for additional folded clothes or for toy storage.

Now that you know what your child owns and what needs they may have, you can still take advantage of summer clearance sales.

Happy (and Organized!) School Year!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies Part 2: The College Years, Part 3: The Traveling Student, Part 4: Organize the Student and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success, Part 4: Organize the Student

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

Give the students in your home every advantage by working with them to develop excellent organizational skills.

Organize Time and School Work

Help your student(s) develop a plan to organize their time. Most students will receive an agenda book. Hold your student(s) accountable to using it. Help them develop good habits. It takes approximately 21 days of constant repetition to form a new habit. Offer them grace, as you encourage them in forming this new habit. It will help them succeed as a student and they will learn valuable lessons of time management for the future.

Teach them organizing skills as you work with them to set aside specific places in their binder, notebook, or folders for homework, current work, and completed work. Many teachers will share their suggestions for organization with you and your students. Take advantage of their wisdom and experience. Finally, consider creating a file box at home to store completed work, filed by subject. When their binder or folders begin to bulge, they will have an easy and convenient place to file their work away, while still having quick access to it for future needs.

Organize a Study Area

A Functional Work Space from PBteen

Create an area in your home specifically for doing homework. This area should be will lit and quiet, with a work area and a supportive chair. It is also helpful to have storage for basic study helps and school supplies. This is the perfect time to inventory all your school and office supplies while reorganizing the area for ease of use. This is an easy process, which includes a few simple steps:

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out any drawers, cabinets, bins or files that are storing office and/or school supplies
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as; Art Supplies, Paper Supplies, Pens and Pencils, Notebooks and Binders, Office Supplies etc.
  • Toss or donate any damages or obsolete supplies
  • Return the “keep” pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you many need
  • Finally, store often used supplies close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used supplies

Happy (and Organized) School Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies, Part 2: The College Years, Part 3: The Traveling Student, Part 5:  Organize Their Space, and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success, Part 3: The Traveling Student

In my previous post, The College Years, Get in Order for Dorm Living, I talked about getting ready for and packing for life in the dorm. What to do if you are heading across the country, or across the state, for that matter? How do you fit all that stuff in your car and still have room for the people? Bed Bath and Beyond has come up with the perfect solution with their new Pack and Hold Service.

Get Organized for Success with Bed Bath and Beyond!

Their Pack & Hold service allows you to shop either online or at your local Bed Bath and Beyond store and have your purchases shipped directly to your school. Alternatively, you can have your order shipped to the Bed Beth & Beyond store that is nearest to your school and pick it up when you arrive in town.  In both instances, shipping charges do apply, but keep in mind that you are bypassing the headache of bringing home, packing up, and shipping these items yourself.

Bed Bath & Beyond has almost everything you will need for a dorm room, as well as packing advice, checklists, and practical solutions to common problems in the dorm. Check out The College Insider with links to helpful college websites, and products organized by sections.

To take advantage of the Pack & Hold service, you will need to know:

The Dorm Room Address

Be aware that many colleges and universities use their gym or other large facility to store all  shipments received before move in date. You will want to call your school and confirm exactly where your packages should be shipped and where you should pick them up.

The Ship Date

Colleges and universities usually have a window of time in which they will accept deliveries for incoming students. Again, you will want to call your school and determine this time frame. Next, keep in mind that when you select your ship date with Bed Bath and Beyond, that you are selecting the date when your order will actually ship, not the date that it will be received by your school. So, factor in an extra 3-8 days for standard shipping methods within the contiguous United States, and 5-10 days for shipments to Hawaii or Alaska. An exact shipping date cannot be guaranteed, so it is important to communicate with your school as you are making your plans.

Thanks Bed Bath and Beyond! You have started a good thing. I have a feeling other stores will be following suit.

Looking for a gift for a college bound student? Keep in mind that Bed Bath and Beyond does offer a College Gift Registry. Not registered? A gift card makes a perfect gift!

Happy (and Organized) School Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies, Part 2: The College Years,  Part 4, Organize the Student, Part 5:  Organize Their Space, and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success – Part 2: The College Years

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

This is true whether your student is heading off to kindergarten or, like 3 students in our family, heading off to college. The better prepared and organized your students are as they head off, the more they are able to concentrate on the important tasks that lay before them.

Moving Day......Simplify the Process!

Get In Order for Dorm Living

Pre-Pack Check

Before you even check out any of the Packing Lists below, it’s a good idea to check out your individual school’s policies. You can find on-campus housing policies both online and in the student handbook of most schools. Alternatively, feel free to call your campus housing office. Find out answers to the following questions before you begin packing:

  • What are the dorm policies?
  • Which small appliances can you bring, and which should you leave at home?
  • How is your dorm room set up? What furniture is provided with your room? Is the furniture stationary, or are you able to move it?
  • What is your bathroom situation? Are you heading down the hall or do you have a private/shared bath?
  • How are you allowed to decorate your room?

Roommate Check

If you are sharing a room, be sure to check in with your roommate(s) before purchasing and packing the larger items that you will need. Dorm rooms are SMALL, and shared items can go a long way in freeing up needed space. Consider sharing items such as: TV, DVD player, Game Consoles, mini-fridge, and microwave. You may also want to coordinate who (if anyone) will be bringing a rug, curtain, etc.

A quick introductory phone call to your new roommate(s) can go a long way toward getting acquainted, starting your relationship off on the right foot, minimizing the stress of shopping and packing, and feeling more prepared.

Life Detail Check

  • Vital Papers – Prepare a small file box with important papers that you may need during the school year.  Create sections for: Banking, School Passwords and Information and Personal Documents
  • Medical Concerns and Health Insurance – Be sure that you are covered under your parent’s policy or purchase medical insurance that is offered through your school. Be sure to have copies of your insurance cards and your current physician’s contact information. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Student Health Center, services provided, costs and hours. Be sure to bring along any medications that you are currently taking.
  • Renters insurance . Most schools will advise you to carry renter’s insurance to cover personal belongings. Accidents happen and thefts do occur, even in the best situations, and generally your University will not replace or reimburse in the event of loss of personal items for any reason. It’s always best to be prepared. A small fee can cover you for several thousands of dollars of coverage.
  • Protecting Your Valuables. Along with taking time to get renters insurance, protect yourself and your belongings by labeling your valuables and electronics with your name and hometown. This can be as simple as using a permanent marker, engraving your name and hometown on your valuables, or going more high tech using assett tagging. A simple assett tagging package can be purchased very inexpensively. ReuniteIT by LoJack asset tags allow you to label your personal assets, so that if they are ever lost or stolen, finders can return them to you. Better yet, removal attempts will always leave a trace, immediately identifying the item as a probable theft, and reducing the likelihood that it can be resold or pawned. A quick google search of “Assett Tags” or “Property Tags” will bring up hundreds of other options.
  • Cell Phone and Internet Access. Check your cell phone plan and be sure it will accommodate your new living situation. If your going out of state, be sure you won’t be paying for long distance or roaming fees. If you will be texting more and/or use your phone to connect to the internet, be sure you have unlimited texting and online minutes. Keep in mind that most colleges do provide internet access to dorm rooms.
  • Banking. Take the time to call your school and find out which banks have branches on or near your college. Many banks reach out to college students and offer free checking accounts.  It’s a good idea to open a checking account at a local bank. You may want to consider getting a debit card and find out where your bank’s ATM machines are located to avoid ATM fees. But, be sure to take the time to consider a spending budget and the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt.

Packing Check

If you are heading off to live in a dorm, chances are your University has sent out a packing list. Use this as a guideline, taking into consideration your personality. The lists tend to be organized into sections of Bed and Bath,Eat, Study, Electronics and Relax, Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps, and finally, Cleaning and Laundry.

Keep in mind, that it probably isn’t necessary to pack clothes for every season during your initial move. Depending on where you are heading, you may be able to bring home your summer clothes at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and pack up the rest of your fall/winter duds. Then during spring break, switch out your winter for spring/summer clothes. Try to keep to your favorites, as this is what you will end up wearing anyway.

Finally, you know yourself. Don’t pack items that you won’t use (even if they ARE on every list!). Remember, “Less IS More”. There is a fine line between being prepared and over-stuffing your small space, your mind, your time, and your energy with useless items from home. I found a list entitled, “Top5Must-Haves” from a reputable and popular online college resource. My students used none of these “essentials” in their dorm room! Think real life and essential. The reality is that most students will have the opportunity to head out to the local discount store and pick up anything they need.

That being said, below you will find a simple packing list of essentials:

Bed and Bath:

Bedding: sheets, blankets or comforter, pillow(s), pillow protector/mattress pad, book light

Send them off in style with Pottery Barn Dorm Bedding!

Bath: towels/wash clothes, toiletries, medicines, tissues

Bath attached to your room? toilet paper, bathmat, shower curtain, toothbrush/soap holder, bath cleaning supplies – don’t forget to coordinate with your roommate(s)

Bath down the hall? bath caddy, flip flops for shared shower, robe


Microwave/Refrigerator -remember to coordinate with your roommate(s), quick snacks such as granola bars & fruit cups, a couple mugs, cups, and bowls,  hot and cold beverage mix. Don’t forget that most likely you have a FULL meal plan.


Books – if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to order textbooks. Check online. Many schools offer the convenience of ordering online and picking up at the school bookstore. Quick, convenient, and space saving! Bring along any basic resource books that you will use (dictionary, thesaurus etc), but don’t bring these items if you generally access this information online.

Check out PBDorm Line of Study Accessories.

Basics – Day planner (if you don’t maintain online planner), notebooks/binders /folders, basic office supplies, alarm clock (to wake up for class!)

Electronics and Relax

Extra pillows/back rest, i-pod or mp3 player, headphones, stereo/cd player, gaming systems

Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps

Hangers, towel rack for the door/closet, extension cord(s), multi-plug outlet, sticky tack, a few basic tools, light bulbs, milk crates or wire shelves for storage, and a fan

Purchase, after checking out your room, or bring along a few organizing tools such as drawer organizers, closet organizers, shoe storage, shelf dividers, but don’t open until you are sure they can be used (and make sure you hang on to the receipts).

Cleaning and Laundry

Laundry: Laundry bag/hamper, laundry soap and dryer sheets, quarters, stain remover, drying rack, small iron/board (another item that can be shared with roommates – and only bring it if you will use it!)

Cleaning: Find out if a vacuum is available on your hall, basic disinfecting wipes will cover most other needs

Check out one or more of the lists below, but please keep in mind that you won’t need all of the listed items. I suggest checking out a few lists to jog your memory, but your best bet is to create your own lists of items that you actually use on a daily basis.

SallieMae College, What to Pack for College Checklist

CollegeBoard Checklist for College Dorm

Bed Bath and Beyond College Check List

Dorm Room Checklist

College Dorm Room Needs Checklist,

Heading Out of State and Travel Space Limited? Watch for my next blog post; The Traveling Student”

Happy (and Organized!) College Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series; Part 1: Saving on Supplies,  Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 3: Organize the Student, Part 4:  Organize Their Space, and Part 5:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success – Part 1: Saving on Supplies

Organize. Plan. Save. Simplify.

The stores are telling us that it’s Back to School time. The “Start of a new year”.  In my little world it’s still the middle of summer. Enjoy. Go to the beach. Get back in the pool. Remember the Lazy days of summer? Try to find one before it’s too late!

No, it’s not time to go back to school, but it is time to get yourself organized, so when it truly is Back to School time, you will be able to ease into those hectic weeks with grace, being more relaxed, and with a little bit of extra cash.

Follow these simple steps to prepare for Back to School:

Gather ALL your school supplies…..from all corners of your home. Check the closets, the kitchen cabinets, how about your kids cubbies? Pull out last year’s backpacks, and dig into your child’s study area.  (Speaking of last year’s backpacks, have you set up a School Memory Box for each of your children? If not, check out my “Organize Their School Memories” blog for a simple, low cost,  solution to a common clutter problem.)

Put Like with Like. You truly can’t see what you have, and won’t know what you need until you take the time to put all of your office and school supplies together. Take the time to divide supplies into simple categories, such as:

  • Paper……….Lined, Computer,  Colored, Craft, Construction
  • Pens, Pencils, Markers, Highlighters, Crayons………….all things that write, draw or color
  • Notebooks, Spirals, Composition Notebooks, Folders, Binders, Dividers
  • Book Covers, Rulers, Glues
  • Calculators, Compass, Protractors
  • Backpacks, Flash-drives…………..And the list goes on…………

Assess What You Have. Now you have a realistic picture of the school supplies that are already lurking in your home. And you’re well on your way to knowing what you will need for the coming year. Perhaps you won’t need as much as you thought!

Be Realistic and Start Saving! Now that you know what you have, it truly is the perfect time to begin taking advantage of the Back to School  sales. Office supply and discount stores are offering some ridiculously low prices on supplies that in-coming students will be needing. Take advantage of the sales, but keep in mind…….

  • How much storage space that you have. You are not purchasing supplies for an army, just your family. Buy accordingly. Don’t purchase more than you can neatly store, or that will most likely be used in the coming semester (remember, the sales will begin again in December).
  • You probably haven’t yet received the official “Class Supply List”, although, unless your child is launching into their first year at school, you most likely have a good ideas of the basic supplies that will be needed.
  • Your local office and discount stores will offer excellent deals to get you in their store. They are betting that you will wander in uninformed, purchasing their incredible deal, but then being pulled into the Back to School buying frenzy, and buying more than you could possibly need. Shop with a list of your needs, and determine to stick to it.
  • Check out the sale adds so that you know what a great deal is.
  • Every week, every discount and office supply store will be having some incredible sales on school supplies. Take advantage of those sales that are convenient for you. Don’t go out of your way, wasting both your time and your gas, to get in on all the sales. Take advantage of the best. Forget the rest.

Happy Summer (and Organized)!

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

As another year of school comes to a close, memories of the past year are piling up. What are we to do with all the photographs, certificates and memorabilia each year?

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The rainy day becomes the rainy years, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of memories, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our child’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the categories or stages of your child’s life.

To document the life of a child, consider the following categories or stages; Baby, Preschool age, School Age, and High School. You will want to develop a system of saving memories for each category of your child’s life.

Finally, consider how YOU operate, and plan accordingly.

Next develop a system of saving memories for each category based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book, and the school memory keepsake? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the memory books, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones on the run, as they occur.

An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!

Happy Summer and Happy Memories!


Clean Out Your Closet for a Good Cause!

Let it Go! Bring Your Goodwill Donations to Gap and Get 30% Off Your Entire Gap Purchase!

Pulling out your summer clothes? Kids and young adults moving in and moving out for the summer? Packing up, packing away, and sorting through those piles of clothes?

It is the perfect time to clear out your closets. While your clearing out, take note of any needs you may have for the upcoming season. Then, it’s time to go shopping! Gap has partnered with Goodwill, and between May 19 and May 29, 2011,  if you bring old clothing to your local Gap (to be donated to Goodwill), you will receive a coupon good for 30% off your purchase of both sale and non-sale items. What a great deal! It’s definitely a win-win situation!

It’s all part of The Donate Movement. Gap Inc. and Goodwill® are encouraging consumers to clean out their closets for a cause. From May 19-29, Gap stores in the United States and Canada will accept clothing donations in support of the Donate Movement. The clothing donations will be given to Goodwill Industries® and then sold in Goodwill’s more than 2,500 stores.

Happy Clearing (& Happy Shopping!)


Twitter Updates

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Follow inorderforlife on Twitter

Visit In Order for Life's Facebook Fan Page!

Click here to check it out!

NEW Home Learning Parties!

Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email

My Favorite Things

Click here for my collection of favorites links for organizing products and other useful sites.

Reuse, Renew, and Recycle

Click here for useful tips and information to assist you in being environmentally friendly!

Proud Member of:

National Association of Professional Organizers