Years ago, I remember hearing that technology would help reduce the amount of paper I would handle each day. Nope, didn’t happen. Now in addition to taking care of all of my pieces of paper, I have to attend to all of my on-line messages, payments and promotional information. So much information, so little time. While paper provides communication, it provides stress, too. Should you pile, file or toss this piece of information? Decisions, decisions…
For those of you who teach, the paperwork load is even worse. One of my favorite times of teaching, outside of being with kids, was the time I spent getting my files in order. When I had everything organized, I felt like I could conquer the world!
Summer is the perfect time to take action and go through your papers and file cabinets. Choose a cool, rainy day to go into school to work on your files and desk. Make the day enjoyable by taking yourself out to lunch for a mid-day break. By the time you leave for the day, your office should be spotless, and you will be ready to enjoy the rest of your summer and not think about school until the teacher workshop week (well…almost, anyway).
Here are some tips that I hope will help you organize your papers.
- Make one file drawer or tote tray for vendor ads. As you receive vendor ads throughout the school year, add them to the drawer. When you have an ordering need, you will have all of your ads in one place. At the end of the school year, toss all of the ads, as you will be receiving updated vendor ads during the summer or fall.
- Filing is a process that will never be done. Own this, and you will be much happier. Have hanging files ready for easy access. Label each file clearly and place it in an appropriate drawer. We kept the files for each class, in the actual classroom. This was perfect for when we would be short a handout or wanted to get copies ready for the next school day. Please note: We kept the tests in our office desk drawers and not in the classroom.
- Handle each piece of paper only once; decide what to do with it then and there. If it contains information you need for later, keep it in one accessible place like a bulletin board, in your calendar, a hanging file or a wire basket.
- Have one basket in your office for papers you need to deliver somewhere else. Then, twice a day, deliver the papers to where they need to go such as the office, copy room, mailroom etc.
- Set up your desktop so it is virtually free of items and is an actual work space. Be sure to clear your desk at the end of each day of school. However, have your lessons/worksheets for the next day on your desk ready for you along with a list of your tasks for the next school day.
- Set up one hanging file folder labeled “Reading Materials.” Items of interest to you can be placed in the file and then read when you have time.
- Write notes to yourself in just one place. Avoid using various pieces of paper. Your planning calendar is a wonderful place to keep track of notes and dates.
- Purge learning activities that do not look professional or up-to-date.
Taking the time to get your papers in order will actually provide you with peace of mind, less stress and more time in the long run. Enjoy!