Thursday, December 27, 2007

Organizational tools

Nothing makes me quite as content as having my things in order. Rarely, though, do I have everything together. My desk can start out with everything in its place but by the end of the day, the piles have begun.

Starting a new whatever, whether it is a new job, a new room, a new desk, a new house, a new routine is necessary. And sometimes it takes time for you to find the best, or a better, place for things.

When I began my new teaching job, I had to transport my stuff (and I have lots of stuff) to my new room. I had to find new places for things. I had to find new storage for things. And then I had to remember where these new things and places were. I can't tell you how many times I "lost" things. Important things. Like tests. I remember one day that I had a spelling test planned and I could not find any of those tests that I KNEW I had printed. It was like they were invisible. So I made a frantic run to the copy machine for more copies. (For whatever scatter-brained reason, I had the master copy just no student copies.) Of course, a few days later I came across the neat little stack of student copies I had originally made.

One little item that has become my new favorite organizational tool are Avery Binder Pockets.
These heavy-duty plastic pockets will hold 20 pages (I've actually gotten a lot more than that stuffed in them.) What I've done is to use one for each lesson. They are so handy because I can stuff in my lesson plan, any copies of handouts or tests, and transparencies that I will use that day. Equally handy is the fact that when I give tests, I stuff them all in a pocket with my key and can carry them wherever without losing them.

If a chapter in history does not lend itself to much extra material from me, I use one binder pocket for all the chapter material which is stuffed inside in order. Then I label the front of the pocket with a stickey note denoting the chapter number. The pocket then finds its way into my big history binder where all the chapters are stored in order for future use.

This method proved itself effective when it came time for me to write my semester exam. All notes, handouts, and past tests were conveniently in order for me. I love ease.

These pockets are better than simply storing the papers in a binder with page dividers. Because of the plethora of stuff I accumulate for most chapters, storing many papers in a binder is hard on the holes in the papers and tears most of them over time. The holes in these heavy-duty binder pockets are tough and don't tear.

For my sixth grade English, I've found these indispensable for storing worksheets on particular punctuation that often needs practice. One binder pocket holds accumulated worksheets for commas in a series, for instance. When I find that a review is necessary, I simply grab that pocket and pull out a worksheet to use. I've started collecting free-off-the-Internet worksheets for every kind of capitalization and punctuation practice.

One drawback to this system that I've come to love is that I use a LOT of binder pockets. And that can get expensive quickly. At my favorite office supply store, a pack of five pockets costs about $3.25. I can use five pockets easily in one week. But with a little sleuthing I found some for only $2.37 a pack. But the shipping was the biggest moneyeater, until I found free shipping for the same price per pack with a $45 purchase. So, 19 binder pockets came to $45.03 and qualified for free shipping.

UPS is delivering today. And I'm smiling.

Before school began, I purchased one of those large Desk Apprentice organizational boxes. It is huge. And since it rotates, it needs extra space to spin in. This big box holds an amazing amount of stuff. I don't have it on my desk but on an adjacent table.

Sometime arou
nd Thanksgiving, this went on sale at Staples, the company who produces it. I decided to get another one for my front table. I had about $20 in rewards from Staples so the purchase price would be minimal.

Also on sale were two other neat little tools that easily fit on my desk and hold things that were previously in several containers. All three of these cost me the same as the regular price of the big box, and I got free shipping!

I love having these little do-jiggers! Little organizational helps in the mid-winter.....ah, they're right up there with a hot cup of tea, a good book, and a cat on my lap on a blustery winter day.

Do you get as excited as I do about these things?


Kathleen Hamilton said...

In a word, YES! My husband often tells people how easily pleased I am ;-). I can get a new spade for the garden and be thrilled to pieces.

I'll give you a funny (to everyone else) example. We have this little device on the outside frame of our garage that allows us to open the door with a code. We use it after our walks, since all our shoes/coats, etc. are in the garage, it's easier to get ready there and go out and in through there. Well, the device had been acting up, and coding in the numbers sometimes took a few tries. I hauled out the manual and found out it probably needed a new battery. I replaced said battery. The next evening when it was time for a walk, I was excited about something but couldn't quite place it--until I had to code in the number to close the garage door! I had been excited about seeing how the new battery would work! My family cracked up.

ukrainiac said...

Life's little pleasures...

Jackie in AR said...

OK, Janie, you just sold me a Desk Apprentice.

Staples thanks you. ;-)