A Teacher’s Tips for Staying Organized

A Teacher’s Tips for Staying Organized

Draven Jackson
Blogger | Teacher

Organization is a teacher’s best friend – and a mother’s, husband’s, grandmother’s, et cetera. We could all use lessons on staying organized as we grow older and our mountain of responsibilities begins to expand. What starts off as keeping track of our toys evolves into making sure we finish all our coursework, then eventually to paying our bills and taking care of our family’s needs. It can be exhausting trying to keep all your ducks in a row, and more often than not a few wayward ducklings go waddling off somewhere and promptly forgotten.

If you’re someone who struggles with organization – or simply need some advice on how to manage all of life’s unexpected curveballs – then I have some great tips and tricks to help. For all the adults around the world who could have benefitted from a few housekeeping (and life-keeping) classes in school, this teacher is here to help!

Start a Planner

A Teacher’s Tips for Staying OrganizedI’ve said it once and I’ll say it a billion more times: the first step in staying organized is buying (and making use of) a planner. I started using planners regularly during college in order to keep track of my assignments, deadlines, and work schedules, but even now I use it every single day without fail. While planners were once a way for me to take notes about my classwork, they’ve now become my main method of making sure my work, social, and personal needs can all be taken care of.

Planners aren’t just good for doctor’s appointments and vacation days – my friends and I actually have a running joke that if a social event isn’t in the schedule, then it doesn’t exist. Not to mention, I keep a separate planner at work so I can make sure I remember when all of my lessons and deadlines are. Having at least one planner (or calendar) for your personal life and one for your work schedule can help keep the days from becoming too flooded with notes.

Separate Documents into Different Folders

Okay, this is a great work tip and life hack – if you want to work on staying organized, then invest in file folders. You can get plain or colorful folders with little tabs you can write on, or take the more whimsical approach (like I do) and buy fun plastic folders with different prints and patterns. Then, make sure all of your relevant files and materials are separated into their respective sections. Personally, I like to keep folders for different classes, as well as ones for extra materials, tests, and schedules.

However, keeping a filing system shouldn’t end with your job. It’s good to keep your personal files – medical documents, bills, pay stubs, etc. – in separate files at home. This helps you to avoid losing important things, as well as making sure everything is easily accessible when you need it later.

Make Backups

Even if you have a filing system, another step in staying organized is to make backups. Back up your lesson plans, have photocopies of important documents stored in a secure location, and always double-check that everything is saved and in the right place. The worst feeling in the world is searching for a specific photo or important Word document and finding that it’s disappeared during the night. Life has ways of complicating situations that should be simple, so avoid the heartbreak of losing what you need by making sure there are always backups.

And if you want to get super crazy organized (like me), it can be a good idea to even make backups of your checklists and planner. You never know when you might need to check if you finished an assignment or if you have a free night during the week to go out with your friends, so keeping a quick list or photo on your phone of all your schedules can help you from having to search through your bag for your planner.

Have a Checklist

On that note, the next tip I have for staying organized (as an overly organized person) is to always have a checklist. Honestly, I keep at least 3 checklists for myself – one that is easily accessible on my phone, one in a notepad at work, and one in the back section of my planner. This ensures that I almost never forget to do anything, which is incredibly helpful if you’re someone like me who always seems to be busy.

It’s also really nice to be able to mark things off as I go along, creating a physical reminder that even though I may feel overwhelmed by all the things I need to do, I am making progress with each box ticked. The checklist on my phone is my day-to-day list, which helps me to make sure I complete all my daily errands and chores. Meanwhile, the list at work is all the deadlines I might have coming up. Finally, the checklist in my planner is for big-picture chores – i.e. buy a new couch, fix the hole in my t-shirt, etc.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

At the end of the day, taking steps to help you with staying organized doesn’t mean you won’t still run into situations where you have misplaced something or written a date wrong. When these things happen, don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers or family members for help! Maybe they know where you put that lesson material for your next class, or they might have their own planner to remind you of the correct date. Whatever the case, never be afraid to ask for assistance or clarification.

Being organized isn’t always easy, and it’s okay if sometimes you get a little messy, things feel overwhelming, or your plan is in disarray. Learn from the people around you – they may even have tips or tricks of their own that you can adopt to help you make sure your ducklings are all in the right place.

Leave it Clean

One of the best tips I learned from one of my coworkers when I needed help staying organized after starting my new teaching job was to always leave it clean. Before leaving for the day, straighten up your work area and make sure that all your files and folders are in the right place. Shut down the applications on your computer, clear your desk of extra clutter, and leave it as a fresh canvas to come back to tomorrow.

It’s easy to let messes take over your life, and once they start they will just continue to spread. Both at your job and at home, remember to try and keep your spaces as tidy as possible. This will ensure that nothing ever gets accidentally lost or thrown away, and it will also improve your mental state as it allows you to return to your work with a clean desk and a clear mind.

Do you have other tips for staying organized? Tell us in the comments!

Draven Jackson HeadshotAbout Draven Jackson

Draven is an avid writer and reader who enjoys sharing her opinions on movies, books, and music with the rest of the world. She will soon be working as a teacher in Japan and hopes to use her experience to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. Draven spends most of her time at home with her family, her dogs, and her ferret.

To see more, view all posts by Draven Jackson here.

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