How a Pro Organizer Preps for Back-to-School Season


The back-to-school season is one of the busiest times of year for parents and students. Getting organized and prepared ahead of time can help make the transition back to school go much smoother. Professional organizers utilize various tips and strategies to help families tackle the back-to-school rush with minimal stress.

As pros in organization, preparation, and efficiency, professional organizers have a unique perspective on what it takes to get ready for a new school year. By starting early, making detailed lists, setting up systems and designating spaces, pro organizers help create order amidst the back-to-school chaos. Their expertise provides valuable insight into how to efficiently prep for the new school year.

How to Create a Master Back-to-School To-Do List

One of the first steps a professional organizer takes is to create a master to-do list. This list allows you to see the big picture and ensures no tasks fall through the cracks.

Take Inventory of School Supplies from Last Year

Go through all backpacks, desks, and storage bins to take stock of what supplies you already have. Make a list of what needs to be replenished for the upcoming school year. Mark expired items like glue sticks and disposable food supplies that need replacing.

Get Upcoming School Supply Lists

Contact your school or check their website to get supply lists for each child. Make copies of each list, marking those supplies already on hand. Create a master list of all missing items needed.

Add In Other Essentials

Don’t forget supplementary supplies like new backpacks, lunch boxes, refillable water bottles, masks and school uniforms. Make sure to include athletic gear if needed for sports teams. List additional supplies required for extracurricular activities.

Make Separate Lists By Store

Organize your master list by categorizing items according to where they can be purchased. This makes shopping more efficient by reducing extra trips to multiple stores.

Schedule Appointments

Add dates for things like doctor/dentist appointments for school medical forms, haircuts, immunizations, school orientations and meet-the-teacher nights. Pencil in school open houses and back-to-school nights as well.

Plan Shopping Days

Block out specific days for school shopping trips, coordinating with school supply sales and tax holidays when possible. Having set days prevents last minute scrambling.

Factor In Organizational Supplies

Don’t forget organizational items like planners, calendars, filing systems, storage bins and labeled containers that keep schoolwork orderly. Meal planning supplies like lunchboxes, food prep tools and snacks can help organize nutrition.

Prioritize Your Lists

Mark must-have items versus wants or extras. Focus first on core supplies, then move to specific needs for each child, followed by supplemental materials once the basics are covered.

How to Store School Supplies

Having a storage system for school supplies helps keep things accessible and orderly. Professional organizers recommend the following tips for organizing back-to-school gear:

Use Clear Bins For Easy Access

Invest in clear plastic storage bins or containers so kids can easily see contents. Having visible school supplies makes it simpler for kids to stay organized.

Designate Drawers For School Supplies

If space allows, devote a drawer per child for school supplies. This gives them ownership while keeping materials tidy and centralized.

Utilize Shelving For Extra Storage

Install shelving in closets, lockers or dorm rooms for displaying bins. This takes advantage of vertical real estate to expand storage possibilities.

Add Labels For Identification

Use printable labels or tags noting contents and to whom it belongs. This helps avoid confusion and arguments over shared school supplies.

Sort Supplies By Class

Separate notebooks, folders, pens and pencils by class or subject. Include dividers or shelves to organize different categories.

Store Craft Supplies Together

Corral art supplies like markers, scissors, glue sticks and construction paper in oversized bins for easy access when needed for projects.

Designate Tech Gear Spots

Identify charging stations for devices in central locations. Have dedicated trays or cubbies for headphones, laptops and calculators to prevent misplacing them.

Contain Locker Clutter

Use shelf dividers, over-the-door racks, magnets and containers to arrange locker contents neatly. Make sure to allow room for coats.

Maintain With Purging

Go through school supplies every few months, removing unused items and refilling stock. Donate unused supplies that are still in good condition.

How to Set Up an Efficient Homework Space

Having a well-organized homework space allows students to maximize productivity and focus. Here are some tips from pro organizers for creating an effective study zone:

Find A Quiet Spot

Look for an area away from high traffic zones in the home to reduce distractions and noise. Bedrooms are ideal for younger grades.

Ensure Good Lighting

Make sure study areas are well-lit with desk lamps or overhead lighting. Proper illumination helps reduce eye fatigue.

Add Comfort Features

Include an ergonomic chair and footrest so kids can study comfortably for long periods without strain.

Include Storage For Supplies

Incorporate organizers like trays, bins, shelves and drawers to keep school supplies accessible but tidy.

Display Helpful Resources

Put up calendars, schedules, to-do lists, strategy tips and inspirational quotes within view. Corkboards or whiteboards are great for posting helpful references.

Minimize Clutter

Only keep essential tools like pencils, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, calculator, etc. within reach. Store non-essentials away from the homework space.

Allow For Snacks And Water

Keep a mug and spill-proof water bottle handy to stay hydrated. Small bowls for snacks help refuel without leaving the study area.

Add Organizational Aids

Use planners, calendars and assignment logs to record homework tasks and due dates. Set alarms and reminders on phones or smart devices to stay on track.

Reduce Distractions

Keep phones, televisions and other electronics away from the homework zone to avoid losing focus. Use headphones or noise-cancelling devices to block sound.

Stow Away When Not In Use

Have students tidy the homework area after each use so it’s ready for the next study session. Quick daily cleanups prevent piles from accumulating.

How to Organize Paperwork and Documents

School forms, notices and records can quickly pile up. Here are some pro organizer strategies for corralling all the paperwork:

Have A Central Family File

Set up a family file system with labeled folders and binders for maintaining school documents, notices and records.

Create A Folder Per Child

Give each child their own folder within the central file for storing grades, notices and schoolwork samples you want to save.

Use Portable Files For Kid Usage

Provide individual accordion files or binders kids can use to store and transport homework, notices and forms.

Scan And Save Important Documents

Scan items like medical forms, registration papers, individual education plans, etc. to have digital backup copies.

Limit What You Keep

Don’t hold onto every paper. Only save items like schedules, important notices, report cards and special projects or awards.

Purge Every So Often

Go through files before each school year and purge outdated or irrelevant paperwork. Maintaining only current documents keeps files orderly.

Have A Mail Sorting Station

Set up trays or cubbies assigned to each family member where you can distribute incoming school notices for them to file.

Use Labels For Clear Identification

Place labels on binders, folders, bins and storage containers to indicate what type of paperwork is inside. Color coding helps too.

Store Sensitive Documents Securely

Keep any files with sensitive information like social security numbers locked away for privacy and security.

Share Calendars And Schedules

Have central digital calendars everyone in the family can access to post school events, practices, games and assignments.

How to Organize School and Sports Gear

In additional to school supplies, students often have sports equipment, instruments and other gear that also needs organizing.

Designate Activity Zones

Define spaces for each child’s equipment using separate shelving units, lockers or cubbies labeled by activity.

Use Sports Bags For Transport

Provide sports duffels or backpacks for carrying uniforms, equipment, towels and toiletries to practices and games.

Look For Multi-use Furniture

Convertible tables and storage ottomans allow for stashing sports gear when not in use.

Install Wall Hooks Or Racks

Coat racks, freestanding hooks and wall-mounted racks near entryways provide grab-and-go storage for bags and gear.

Opt For Breathable Laundry Bags

Use mesh pop-up hampers for dirty uniforms and sweaty practice clothes that need frequent washing.

Designate Bin For Equipment

Clear plastic bins are ideal for holding gear like balls, helmets, gloves and pads when sports are not in season.

Consider Garage Storage For Larger Items

Use shelves, racks and cabinets in the garage to handle gear like hockey sticks, lacrosse nets and baseball bats.

Invest In Protective Cases For Delicate Items

Safeguard fragile equipment like musical instruments in hard cases and protective sleeves when not in use.

Stow What’s Not Needed

Only keep day-to-day essentials handy. Off-season gear can be boxed up in attics, basements or closets to clear clutter.

Check Gear Frequently For Restocking

Periodically take inventory of items like socks, tape and first aid supplies that require routine replenishing.

How to Organize Kids’ Clothing and Closets

Clothing and closets often get disorganized during the school year. Here are some pro tips to help streamline kids’ wardrobes:

Do A Closet Purge

Go through closets with kids before school starts. Donate or sell any clothes that no longer fit or are never worn.

Assign “Keep” And “Toss” Bins

Provide kids with marked bins during closet cleanouts to easily identify what to keep versus donate.

Arrange Closets By Clothing Type And Season

Group closet sections by type – shirts, pants, dresses. Further sort by season. This makes outfit selection easier.

Utilize Shelving To Expand Space

Install organizers like closet rods and shelves to double hanging and folding space.

Use Cubbies Or Bins For Folded Items

Store folded clothing like t-shirts, shorts, jeans and pajamas neatly in bins or cubbies. Labels help identify contents.

Arrange Frequently Worn Items At Eye Level

Keep everyday staples within easy reach. Place items worn less often higher or lower.

Use Hanging Organizers For Accessories

Install over-the-door hooks and multi-tiered racks for quick storage of accessories like hats, belts and ties.

Designate Spaces For Shoes

Use over the door clear shoe holders for visible storage. Boot trays help corral unworn pairs.

Contain Socks And Undergarments In Drawers

Utilize compartmentalized drawer organizers to neatly separate and store undergarments, socks and tights.

Store Off-Season Items Elsewhere

Box up winter coats or summer clothes not needed until next season to free closet space.

How to Prep Morning and Evening Routines

Consistency with morning and evening routines helps kids adapt to the school schedule. Here are some prep tips:

Make Lunch The Night Before

Prepare lunches ahead or do batch prep on weekends so morning meals are ready to grab and go.

Lay Out Outfits

Picking coordinated outfits the night before prevents morning clothing squabbles and reduces decision fatigue.

Charge Devices Nightly

Assign a central station for charging laptops, phones and tablets so they are powered up for the next day.

Ready Backpacks Before Bed

Have kids pack backpacks and by the door before bedtime to prevent morning scrambles. Do a final double check.

Set A Regular Bedtime

Begin adjusting sleep schedules at least two weeks pre-school to ease into an early bedtime.

Create Morning Checklists

Post daily checklists of things like making beds, getting dressed and brushing teeth to keep mornings on track.

Assign Chores

Define what daily and weekly cleanup tasks are expected from kids to help run the household.

Use Timers For Tracking

Set timers for task completion – getting ready, meals, homework, electronics usage – to help kids manage time.

Plan Ahead

Post weekly calendars noting schedules and deadlines to give plenty of preparation time for tests, assignments and activities.

Adjust Alarm Clocks Gradually

Begin moving alarm clocks 15 minutes earlier every few days as school start approaches to get bodies acclimated.

By leveraging the tips and strategies professional organizers use to tackle back-to-school prep, you can enter the new school year with organization, less stress and the systems in place for ongoing success throughout the year. Focus on making detailed lists, setting up storage solutions, designating study spaces and developing solid routines to kick off the academic year on the right foot. With advanced preparation guided by pro organizer principles, you and your students can feel ready to take on whatever the school year may bring!

Frequently Asked Questions About Back to School Preparation

How early should you start back-to-school shopping?

It’s recommended to start school supply shopping 2-3 weeks before school begins. This gives enough time to buy necessities, take advantage of sales, and avoid last minute shortages and crowds. Start earlier for major purchases like computers and furniture.

What should you do to prepare your home for back-to-school?

  • Clean and reorganize bedrooms and study areas
  • Set up office/desk spaces conducive to learning
  • Organize supplies and gear by activity or class
  • Establish daily and weekly chore schedules
  • Plan morning and evening routines
  • Adjust sleep schedules gradually
  • Create calendars to track schedules, assignments, activities

What steps should you take to prepare your family’s schedule?

  • Mark school start dates on calendars
  • Add school event and activity dates as known
  • Schedule doctor/dentist appointments for health forms
  • Sign up for transportation services if needed
  • Arrange child care or carpools if necessary
  • Identify after school activities and programs
  • Plan family time and meals around school schedules

How can you emotionally prepare children for the new school year?

  • Express excitement and enthusiasm about the upcoming year
  • Assure nervous kids that it’s normal to feel anxious
  • Highlight positive aspects of school to build optimism
  • Attend orientation events to preview the school
  • Connect children with future classmates if possible
  • Visit classrooms and meet teachers beforehand if available
  • Remind children of previous school successes
  • Practice morning and evening routines to build familiarity

What are some organizing tips to prepare for the school year?

  • Purge old supplies, papers and clothes
  • Take inventory and make shopping lists
  • Buy extra organizational supplies like storage bins
  • Set up designated schoolwork spaces
  • Establish homework and study schedules
  • Organize paperwork into labeled files and binders
  • Post calendars, schedules, chore charts and checklists
  • Prepare and post morning/evening routines
  • Organize clothes and gear by type and season


The back-to-school season brings both excitement and anxiety for families. By leveraging professional organizer tips for creating lists, setting up storage systems, designating workspaces, and developing solid routines, parents and students can feel confident and prepared for the coming academic year. Starting preparations early, decluttering and organizing supplies and clothes, and establishing consistent schedules helps minimize stress. With some savvy advanced planning, you can say goodbye to back-to-school chaos, and instead focus on making the most out of the upcoming school year!