Organize + Energize: 6 Areas You Can Work on With Your Teens to Get Organized

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Kristin MacRae, GoLocalWorcester Organizing Expert

There are 2 scenarios in relation to disorganized teens. When both parents are disorganized, it’s difficult for the parents to transfer the skill set to the kids. The other scenario is the parents are doing everything for them so the kids never have the opportunity to learn the skill set.  Give your kids some independence and transfer this skill set to them so you can set them up for success!

Here are 6 areas you can start with:

Backpacks. It’s mid-year and it’s a great time to ask your kids how they’re functioning.  I hosted a presentation at a local high school and had one student empty her backpack and she was shocked and thrilled to find a USB drive that she’d been searching for since August! She also found her keys which she was aimlessly searching for the night before. Have your kids empty their backpacks. Categorize everything out on the table. They’re going to find things they’ve been looking for, I can guarantee that! From those categories, create organized systems to contain the items in their backpacks. Talk to them about how they’d like to grab items and how they’d like to function and create simple systems from there. Once the systems are created, talk with them about the benefits of maintaining those systems.

Paper Management.  If they’re overwhelmed by all the paper piles, just start decluttering with them. Decide what to toss and keep. Continue that process until all of the piles are gone. Now you’re left with the “keep” pile. Take one piece of paper at a time and start making categories. Once you have the categories you can talk to them about creating simple systems that will work according to how they want to function. Think about portable filing boxes, filing drawers and using vertical files on their desk for ongoing current projects.

Time management. Are your teens using calendars and to-do lists? Give them a paper calendar for their room so they can keep track of upcoming and important dates. I say paper because digital is tough because they can’t see the layout of the months at one time and it can be difficult for time management. If they’re overwhelmed with all of their activities and can’t seem to find time to study, create a time management grid. Have them first fill in the grid with set activities and from there they can see where the holes are in their day and they can use that time for chores, studying, etc.

Homework Space.  What does their desk space look like? Do they have a quiet place without distractions where they can study? Is their desk covered in clothes and paper? Go through the process with them of decluttering and evaluating what’s on the desk and create systems for what needs to stay.

Bedroom closets.  When was the last time they actually took everything out of their closets and bureaus and took inventory of what fits and what doesn’t? Go through this process with them of decluttering and create working organized systems with their clothes. This will help them when they’re older and on their own. They’ll get in the habit of decluttering, organizing and maintaining their closets.

Memorabilia. As you’re going through these spaces, if you don’t have memorabilia already contained, you’re going to find it all over their room. Create a memorabilia bin for every child and explain to them why it’s important to keep these items contained. Get them in the habit of using it every time a piece of memorabilia enters their room.

It’s so important to explain to the kids the benefits of getting organized. They’re going to have more free time, save money, have less stress, and become more efficient and productive. They’ll understand why they’re getting organized. The benefits outweigh the stress and overwhelm they’ll have when they’re disorganized. Remember; include your kids in this process. This is what it’s all about. You don’t want your kids to enter the world as adults stressed out, anxious, embarrassed, and overwhelmed just because they’re disorganized.

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, is an organizing & efficiency expert and owner of Organizing in RI. Kristin teaches her clients that living an organized lifestyle will save them time and money, decrease their stress levels and help them become more efficient and productive. Her articles have been published in local and national magazines. She has also given over 70 presentations throughout the state. Watch Kristin LIVE every Thursday at 3pm here on GoLocal LIVE with Molly O’Brien.

  • Paper in any form

    This was the most challenging space! 91% of people surveyed stated paper was their biggest headache. Just because we are in this digital age, people think paper is going to disappear. As long as we have mail, and paper at work, kid’s school papers, etc., paper is going to be around for a very long time. We need to develop systems to organize and maintain our paper clutter.

  • Closets

     To stay on top of an organized closet, you should be emptying your closet twice a year. Switch your closets in the spring and fall. This will force you to take inventory of the contents of the closet. You’ll never know what’s hiding in the back corners of your closet unless you take everything out.

  • Kitchen

    When was the last time you emptied your entire food closet down to bare shelves? I asked this question at my last presentation and not one person could remember. Some said the last time their food pantry was empty was when they first moved in and others stated it had been years. Have garbage bags on hand. In every kitchen I organize, we throw out at least three garbage bags of expired food.

  • Basement

    This is the black hole of the house. If an item doesn’t have a home, it usually gets thrown in the basement on a shelf. You’ll walk into the basement one day and wonder how did it get so bad? The first thing you need to do in the basement is declutter, then categorize items and then decide how you want to function going forward. Measure your space and choose shelving units that will fit what you need to hold. Block off 3 hours and don’t leave the basement during that time. Staying in the room will keep you focused.

  • Garage

    The garage is an area similar to the basement. The garage tends to be a drop spot for outdoor items and usually there isn’t any organization.  Most tend to regret not organizing the garage when they find they can’t park their cars in the garage in the winter months when it’s snowing. Put this project on your to-do list this fall.

  • Office at work

    Most will say they don’t have time to tackle this area, but think about the time you are wasting by not being organized. The office can be challenging for some because you have paper, closet space, desk space and bookshelves. Most get overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about tackling this space. They think it’s easier to function this way than to actually tackle the project.

  • Kid’s rooms

    If your kids are over the age of 6, incorporate them in this process. If you don’t have the skill set to help them get organized, call in a professional to work one-on-one with them. If your kids are craving structure, it’s time for them to get organized.

  • Attic

    Another one of those black holes like the basement. You rarely venture into the attic and you continue to toss items in there that don’t have a home. The garage, basement and attic are really challenging areas because you don’t spend much time in them. Think about how you want to function in these spaces. Streamline and maximize this space. This room should have a purpose.

  • Linen closets

    When items are just thrown into this closet without being contained, chaos will ensue. Empty the entire closet, categorize, itemize and then measure the space. Purchase containers to match the space and what you have to hold. It’s all about maximizing space in this closet and being able to put your hand on something without moving five other items out of the way.

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