Tag Archive: paperwork

Every year, inevitably, both parent and child arrive at a place where paper becomes their arch nemesis. That is, if they do not have a good system in place.

Sometimes, people think because I am a home educator and an organizer that things ALWAYS go off smoothly and I NEVER have to make adjustments, maintain or catch up. None of these can be the farthest from the truth. Organization is work, it is work to maintain it and life does not always ‘play nicely’.

And, being an organizer does not make me immune! But I am armed with a tenacity to find a solution, so I tend to tackle problems with an attitude that a solution will, indeed, be found.

To this end, I have a younger son, who, a few years ago, we found was fighting an epic battle with school related paperwork. Prior to the new school year beginning, we had set up a binder system  where he could place his assignment planner, his work in progress and notes, etc.

He had all the tools that he would need to complete his assignments…So, we thought.

As I am his instructor, I began to notice that on a frequent basis, his assignments were not all being completed.

Almost simultaneously, it occurred to me that each time he came to our schoolroom to attend class, his binder was almost empty, while his pile of paperwork was toted down the stairs poking out of books, stacked precariously atop of his pile of books or simply MIA.

I decided to take a few days to observe. Day after day, the same scenario occurred. Finally, on the third day, I asked him a question that changed his educational career and saved my sanity!!

Now brace yourselves, this question is momentous!!!! Are you ready for it?

I asked, “Son, why do you not use the binder system we put into place?”

With a frustrated sigh, he replied “Because it makes me really, really mad!”

I was shocked. How could a binder system make anyone ‘really, really mad’?

I asked him to tell me why this particular system provoked him to such disgust.

He began to tell me how much it frustrated him to have the paper holes tear and for the pages to be hanging askew, lacking tidiness. Now, folks, I’ll admit this astounded me, because he toted this papers down in ways that would make me crazy. Nonetheless, he had shared what he thought about it and I took it to heart and began to think about solutions.

So, I asked him about using the ring reinforcers. He did not like that idea either, because it “made everything look, I don’t know, off…”

Ahhhhhh. I got it. I really did.

Because the system produced less than stellar aesthetics and functionality, in his mind, it provoked him to anger, which made him not want to use it. He didn’t want to turn in torn work or work that looked less than what he thought it should look like.

I can TOTALLY relate to this. When I use something, I want it

1) to work and 2) I want it to be as aesthetically pleasing as is possible. If it isn’t, I don’t want to use it and, apparently, neither did he!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. This child is a BOYYYYYY. He doesn’t do frills. He is interested in things that are functional and do not create a disaster. Something that works. For him, the binder system just did not work.

So, what were we to do? Well, I decided to go try an accordion file.

I zipped down to Target and purchased an eight pocket file, zipped back home and he began to label the tabs with the names of his courses. Place a legal pad in one file, along with his zipper pen holder, and then, place his planner which he uses to keep track of assignments and events in the front.

I cannot tell you what this small change made in our lives. He began to not only be able to track his homework assignments, he came to class prepared, less stressed, turning assignments in on time and receiving good grades. It was amazing. Now, the young man will not be found without it, when he is pursuing something academically!

This just reiterated to me how much having a tool that does not work affects us. And this is true in any organizational feat. The tool may work fine for others, but it may not be a good fit for us.

My daughters, for example, work just fine with a binder system. In fact, they prefer it. He simply cannot abide it, so it does not work. And it showed in everything  he was trying to do. It kept him from being successful.

Now, my younger two children are teens and my older two are adults, so I have been writing more about teens. But you may be a younger mother, or, at least, a mother with younger children and you may begin to ask, what about filing for the little ones in our lives?

The lil’ people are so fun to find storage solutions for, because there is so much more color and texture (Generally, speaking…) than for the teens. Or maybe, I just feel that way, because pretty paper, glue, markers, etc. get to be pulled out and I get to have more FUN!

At any rate, stay tuned and we will look at storage for the needs of our little ones tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, if you have a ‘frilly, creative’ girl, whose desire is to use an accordion system, as well and wants to add some sass, you can follow the idea from this Pinterest page, using whatever material she would like to. Make it modern, antiqued or whatever your style is…the point is to make something functional beautiful or cool. Just have fun with it!

This idea could also be used for Mom’s organization of paperwork that has to be kept, but available on the go! So, don’t forget the possibilities for yourselves ladies! After all, we are the managers of our home!!


When we examine the question, “Disorganized or Just Plain Messy?” it may seem to be quite obvious…aren’t they one and the same?

Well, not really. Organization is about being about to find what you need, when you need it and quite frankly, there are a few folks who have been clients that have literally astounded me with their ability to find the darndest things in the middle of what I call complete chaos! They are messy people, but they are not “disorganized” in the sense of being able to live life without the mess interfering. In this case, these folks simply needed help in setting up systems that work in reigning in the mess, a task they did not have time to do themselves. When I checked in with them after the job was complete, they were using the systems and functioning quite alright. If they had truly been disorganized, this would not have been the case.

Let’s review why…

Messiness occurs, and accumulates quite rapidly, I might add, when we either do not have time to tend to certain tasks, or we do not have the proper systems in place to reign in the mess properly. A person may know where to find their items, but their “storage system” is unsightly.

For example, I spoke with a professional our family frequently uses for a service he provides and he was commenting on his paperwork and how it builds up and makes him stressed. On the outward, it appeared to be disorderly, indeed. However, as my husband and I spoke to him about the situation, he demonstrated being able to find anything he needed. The problem was, as we found later in the conversation, the computer system he uses to invoice and the consequent storage of printed invoices, receipts, etc. were lacking. This caused a “back-up” in his system, which was causing him stress. We made some suggestions and look forward to seeing his back-log cleared up. Problem solved.

True disorganization will have some tell-tale signs, which just seem to scream “I am disorganized!!” Here are just a few:

  • Unable to find what is needed the majority of the time
  • Constantly have to “run here or there” to pick up something they were just at the location to do.
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Forgetting assignments
  • Late payments on bills due to not knowing the due date and payment amount (or where the bill is!)
  • Frequent “melt-downs” when the person is under a deadline.
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of follow through in the details

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a springboard for evaluating whether a person is messy or really dealing with the effects of disorganization.

One last note, I would like to comment that I have found that messiness is a thief, as much as true disorganization, so I am not advocating remaining a messy individual. But the solutions, while similar, are different in the sense that the truly disorganized will require new systems, new thought and behavior patterns and a LOT of practice; whereas, the one who is messy simply needs a system that works and, generally speaking, can have the mess taken care of fairly quickly with the right tools.

Diagnosing properly is important, particularly within a family, where provocation can happen very easily. Knowing what we are really dealing will give us a “leg up” on solving the problem.

Tune in tomorrow for some practical paperwork solutions for your kiddos schoolwork, as some of them will be needing help right about now!