I’ve recently moved to a new home in another town (now you know why I vanished for a while!). My entire home is being organised at the moment and, as part of the spring cleaning that is taking place, all my teaching/learning materials are being carefully separated, labelled, donated or thrown away.
For a long time I kept many handouts, booklets and books that I would never consult again. I am not alone and I want to share with you guys some of my tips to keep materials in order and not lose track of what you have:
1 – Watch your space
Even if you have a spacious bedroom or a large office for your materials, it does not mean you should gather as much stuff as you can. It is not about space available, it is about knowing what you have and keep what you need. Donate, throw away, recycle, trade and give away. Do what it takes to maintain areas free and with minimal storage.
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2 – Label your materials
Label folders, shelves and CD/DVD cases that have no identification. If you keep things identified, you keep them visible. Therefore, you know what you have. Labelling is for everyone else around you too. If you need to ask someone to enter your office or room they should be able to find anything you ask them.
3 – Keep electronic records in order
Organise emails and folders. Delete what has been sorted out. If it is really important to keep some emails arrange them in folders. Have a good portable drive or use what is available on the net (Google drive, for example) and resist the temptation to print everything. You might never need the material in question. If you do, you will have it online. If you do not want to keep a digital record, great. Remember that you can find nearly everything on the web these days. And what about the handouts? Scan those you like and recycle the paper.
4 – Think before buying
Experience varies from person to person, that is why it is good to share them. Here in IrelandI have moved eight times in less than five years. I cannot buy things on impulse. I can, but then I will have to deal with them and make decisions later. You can buy loads of books in the second hand shops. We all feel great making a good deal. But I have learned that good deals exist only to make people feel smart. But smart are those who think before buying and buy only what they need and when they need. If you do not want to think, then allow me to give you a piece of advice: get rid of something (maybe two items) that you have when you purchase something new. Or change plans. Keep thinking about your space and the queue of ‘materials to read’ you already have, for example. You might have to re-prioritise your ‘to-read list’. Use libraries more, buy less. Books have to be returned and you commit to read them in a certain slot of time.
5 – Be sensible
For many it is not easy to get rid of things. We tend to keep some items that send us straight back to good times in the past, special people and happy memories. But be sensible. Should you keep all those handouts from the fifth grade or that book you do not like just because it was a gift? You decide what to do, but be reasonable. If you are in doubt whether to keep an item or not, it is time to discard it. Ask for an impartial opinion. Outsiders might see things differently and that may help a lot.
6 – De-clutter regularly
Plan big clear-outs. When you get into the habit of organising, it will become pleasure. You see the immediate benefits of knowing what you have and where to find things. You save money (remember those times you bought something you already had just because you could not find it?), you have less stress and have more time for different activities other than spending hours looking for items you are not even sure you have. Again, keep things visible. Also, include in your diary your de-cluttering sessions, their results and actions to be taken. Catch the bull by its horns!
Well, I could go on and on talking about organising. Just remember the golden rule of organising and de-cluttering: a place for everything and everything in its place.
Share your own thoughts and tips to keep your materials organised and clutter-free.
Happy organising !