Be Organized Inside & Out!

Be Organized Inside & Out!

By Dijana Bate, Glebe Montessori School Founding Director

organization-page-001Think of the times you felt your frustration level surge. Often, those moments were linked to some form of disorganization, whether it was misplacing your keys or frantically multi-tasking to meet a deadline after procrastinating. Consider disorganization of any kind a waste of time and energy, triggering stress, confusion and fatigue. Transforming disorder into order is far less taxing than putting up with daily drama and disarray; all the more reason to immediately start organizing your own space, time, thoughts and, basically, your life!

Organizational skills rarely come naturally. It’s perplexing why such important life skills are seldom taught in elementary school – or even better, pre-school.  Three major guidelines can assist a three or 99 year-old to improve organizational and time management skills.

First, focus on the advantages of a “prepared environment.” Pay attention to creating a clean, simplified and orderly environment, all of which contributes to a healthy frame of mind.  Start with the home. Organize living spaces, attending to the smallest details, such that everything has a place and is in place. Streamline what is in the environment; anything that isn’t used (or appreciated), give to someone else who can use it. The preschooler who experiences a sense of order knows where everything is and where items must always be returned. The child’s bedroom is organized to foster independence, which builds self-confidence! Toys are stored in containers, books are displayed on shelves, clothes are arranged to facilitate self-dressing, a table/desk is equipped with a replenished supply station, and a station with child-friendly cleaning tools is provided. Support children to take responsibility for keeping their bedrooms tidy. In fact, they will take pride in sharing household tasks.

Second, prioritize, schedule and plan ahead. It’s the unknown that we fear the most. Transitions are challenging for children and adults alike— What can we expect next? How are we going to achieve a goal? Advance planning helps define the problem or task and puts effective strategies in place that increase efficiency and productivity. Logically executed lists are great problem solvers. Pinpoint the essentials, then eliminate the nonessentials. Excess baggage in any form is a burden. Control your calendar for scheduling, guaranteeing punctuality and allocating adequate time for the completion of any task. Long term assignments become far more manageable when implementing the “divide and conquer approach” to getting the job done. Capitalize as well on the vast array of technology options, including task manager apps, that are available to further support planning and time management.

Children, too, need to learn these lessons, prioritizing what they’re going to do first, second…, understanding the impact of making choices and recognizing the importance of being on time. The preschooler who is informed ahead of the daily schedule will feel more secure and in control, knowing what to expect. Visuals are extremely helpful to children for checking off tasks, giving reminders or highlighting special events, i.e. illustrated colour-coded schedules, calendars, charts… Your child will welcome having expectations, responsibilities and scheduling clarified.

Third, categorize, classify and simplify for greater efficiency. A preschooler can find these tools useful while playing with Lego, categorizing Lego pieces by shape, colour, size, and function to facilitate constructing the model! Organization is about classifying, categorizing and training the mind to look for comparisons, similarities, patterns and context – all of which is essential to simplifying tasks. A large project may be daunting, until we can break it down into smaller units, always keeping in mind the bigger picture.

Finally, clean out the clutter in your mind. Mozart told us, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” The mind that practices silence, whether during meditation, yoga, quiet reflection, or otherwise, will experience greater awareness and creativity. Encourage your children to participate in mindful activities, so they can connect within and feel comfortable with silence.

It takes conscious, disciplined effort to be organized, but the physical and mental exertion is far greater for those who remain disorganized.  A favourite New Yorker cartoon shows a boss saying to his secretary: “If you follow these guidelines, you should be out of your depth in no time.” For you to reach the pinnacle of success, learn from your mentors, then proceed to forge your own path, create your own guidelines, make your own rules…Meanwhile, remember these words of Sir Winston Churchill, “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”