31 Days of Organizing Homeschool Stuff: Inbox & File Box – Simply Convivial

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Organizing Homeschool Stuff

During October, I’ll be showing you ways I’ve used what I had to organize what I use. “Organized” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all matchy-matchy and cute, complete with fabric-covered bins. It means that what you use is where you can find it when you need it. So here is how I’m doing that at my house. I hope it will give you ideas for being resourceful with what you have at yours.

“Inboxes” for the Homeschool

containing homeschool clutter

Multiple times over the last ten years, I’ve gone over David Allen’s Getting Things Done and made attempts at applying his advice to my home and routines. One concept he spends a lot of time addressing are inboxes: why you need them, how to be intentional about them, how to keep them empty.

“In,” in the GTD mindset, is any place that collects things you have to process and deal with.

Well, we have things we need to process when homeschooling, don’t we? So we need inboxes! All that means is an intentional place for those things to go, and a plan for taking care of them in their turn.

This year I have three school-related inboxes:

  1. A wood letter holder I bought at a rummage sale, mounted on the kitchen cart. This one is for the kids to put work I need to correct.
  2. A plastic mail sorter mounted in the basement. This one is for any (corrected, if necessary) work the kids want to keep. Mostly it gets filled up with free-time drawings. I try so sort through this at least once a term (6 weeks), and keep a selection of their best work.
  3. A poly-envelope I found at Office Depot for 99c each. These are for the papers I assign that the boys need to work on. This is also where they keep their planner page for the week and any homework-in-progress for their writing and speech classes.

organizing homeschool stufforganizing homeschool stuff


  • Type of container: thrifted wood mail sorter
  • Contents:
    • Work I need to check; this is where the boys put their work when they are finished with it.
    • The other slot is where the envelope-packets live when they are not in use.
  • Type of container: plastic pocket envelope

  • Contents:
    • Weekly planner sheets that we fill in together during our Monday meetings.
      • Pages I’ve assigned to them & work they need to correct.

  • Type of container: plastic mail sorter
  • Contents:
    • The kids stick in any papers they want to keep, including free time drawings. They each have their own slot.
    • I add any work I’ve checked that I think is worth keeping.

organizing homeschool stuff

I like this set up because

  • When we’re done with a paper of any sort, everyone knows where it should go (that doesn’t mean they always put it there, of course)
  • I don’t have to wonder if the math page on the counter is in-progress, to-correct, or all completed. Theoretically, there should never be a math page on the counter, but unfortunately I haven’t yet figured out how to live in my theoretical world. At least now I can say, “Hey, child, where does this belong?” and they can figure it out.
  • I like saying, “Just put it in my inbox.”

organizing homeschool stuff

Assigning inboxes is an idea that has worked in my home. Even if it might not work exactly this way in yours, perhaps it will spark an idea or two for a unique application to your unique situation.

Digital Home Organizer and Planner

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.

  1. Meredith_in_Aus
    | Reply

    Great stuff! I am really enjoying this series, Mystie. Really practical. Thanks.

    I love those plastic button envelopes, too. My (school-age) children have 3 each. One is clear with their coloured name sticker on it. It is referred to as the “This Week’s Work (TWW) Envelope.” I use it like you do and load it up every Monday morning at Circle Time. The other two envelopes for each child are in their colour (eg. Dylan has two dark blue ones). One is their marking file – where they put anything that needs to be marked by me. These files live on the marking shelf (ie. ‘inbox’). The other is their filing envelope, where I put any work that needs to be returned to them after I have marked it. These also live on the marking shelf.

    This system has cut down on so much random paperwork that was lying around, often getting lost or destroyed. I don’t think it would go too far to say that it has saved my sanity.

    Looking forward to more posts.

    In Him


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