Organizing Tips for the New Year

Kelli Harris

I’d like to think of myself as an organized person, but there are always ways to improve. Here are some ways to stay organized in the new year:

  1. Make a to-do list and do the “dreaded” items first.

I started doing this years ago when I was a director. I am by nature a procrastinator, especially of things I don’t like to do. We all have parts of our job that we love and parts that we don’t. Many of you probably already make a daily to-do list but complete those “dreaded” items first (I’m talking to you, expense report!). For me, there was something energizing about checking off that dreaded item first, and the rest of my list (no matter how many items were on it), no longer seemed so daunting.

  1. Purge, Purge, Purge.

Try to cut down on your paper consumption. Not only is it better for the environment, it helps you stay more organized when you don’t have so many papers floating around on your desk. Always check with your company first to see what its policy is regarding keeping paper documentation. If you can purge those files, do it! You will feel so much lighter as you shred those documents you no longer need. Try scanning information as much as possible in the future to avoid papers piling up again.

  1. Set aside some time

Let’s face it…email has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. We can be much more efficient with email, until your inbox is overflowing, and you can’t keep up. When I began this job three years ago, I had trouble organizing and keeping up with my email. At the end of the year, I had so many emails still in my inbox that I no longer needed or knew what to do with. When I had my first evaluation with my supervisor, I told her how my email overwhelmed me. She suggested I set aside some time on my calendar to go through and organize my emails. I now carve out two hours each month to delete emails I no longer need and create folders for others to stay organized. Pick a chunk of time and tell your staff that you are in the building for emergencies only and shut your office door- no interruptions! I think you will find it is so much easier to do it this way, rather than trying to go back after six months or a year and organize them.

  1. Don’t do it all yourself – Get help from your staff

As a director, you wear many hats, and there is always more work than time in a day to do it. Empower your staff- don’t feel like you always need to do it all. For example, ask a staff member to create a supplies needed list for the building and stock up on things you use regularly (paper towels, batteries, etc.), so you don’t waste time making needless trips to the store. Ask staff to regularly check their room for items no longer needed and purge them. When I was a director, one of my staff loved lists as much as I did. She volunteered to create a chart, and it focused on organizing a particular area each month (art supplies, toys, teacher’s desk). Ask staff to get rid of things that have missing pieces, are broken, or no longer serve your center’s purpose. Purchase bins for staff to help them stay organized. (BONUS: most stores have all types of storage containers on sale in January!)

Trying small steps can lead to big changes! Wishing you an organized new year!




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