Being organized is about making the process work for you efficiently, not about maintaining a neat and tidy row at all times. Here are some ways I’ve tried to make the processes work more conveniently so I can spend more mind-space on the children and less on the stuff.
File by Scanning: Shred the Paper!
One of the clutter issues we homeschoolers have to deal with is all the papers and “records” (i.e. validation that we really aren’t slackers, which I think we all fear being) that we feel obligated to keep. The Well-Trained Mind has us keeping binder after binder, but sometimes we wish we could use all that bookshelf space for – I don’t know – books.
Now, if you tend toward the sentimental and not toward the clutter-averse, you might not like my approach. By all means, if you want to, keep keepsakes and samples and whatever else you like. I’m really not trying to talk you out of it.
But if you don’t want to keep it all – maybe even one half or one quarter of it all seems like more than you want to keep – I’ll share my solution. This solution has not yet been time-tested. I have not graduated any students. I have not had to prove myself to any official in any capacity yet. But I still think it will work just fine.
I keep a small – tiny – percentage of each child’s work, including their free-time drawing, writing, and projects. Actually, my unschooler sympathies come out here, because I tend to value what the kids did on their own time on their own initiative more highly than their assigned work (and I don’t assign much that leaves a physical trace, either). One math page, one written thing, one Latin sample, and then the cream of the drawing/free-time crop (the quantity varies), per child per term (every 6 weeks at our house).
Then, here’s the awesome, space-saving, clutter-annihilating part: I scan these. I save them on a hard drive (my husband takes care of frequent backups) and in Evernote (which will save them with OCR so the written words are searchable, even though they are images). Then, I shred them. Or, just toss them out in a big ol’ garbage bag with the rest of the papers that didn’t make the cut. Or, the kids’ favorite option: burning them in the fireplace.
- Type of container: Sterilite Drawer Set
- Contents: Papers you feel you must keep, waiting until Scanning Day
- Type of container: All-in-One Scanner
- Contents: Papers you feel you must keep, so you stack them on the tray and scan them
- Type of container: Evernote & Dropbox
- Contents: Papers you feel you must keep, saved digitally in the cloud, tagged & searchable
- Type of container: Shredder
- Contents: Papers you feel you must keep; let them go now.
In addition to these digital records, I also keep a Goodreads account for each of my readers that keeps a lifetime reading log. And, if they make something more involved and three-dimensional, we get pictures of it that are also digital records. The kids like to take the pictures themselves, and after it’s recorded, they aren’t too attached to keeping it forever and always.
I like this set up because
- We do have samples of work saved, but they don’t take up any space.
- Those samples won’t be torn or discolored or lost.
- I simply prefer digital information to paper.
- I love our all-in-one machine.
Being organized means making it work for you, your way, not you for it. If it makes your life harder rather than easier, that’s not organized.
Also, check out my eBook Paperless Home Organization, which lays out step-by-step instructions for creating a home management organizer & planner digitally. Make that smartphone, tablet, or iPod touch a useful tool of your trade!
During the month of October, you can use the discount code organizing for $1.50 off the $3.99 retail price (pdf only).
Moms have a lot of details to keep track of. Here’s how to make your technology work for you, using only your mail program and 2 free apps.