School Part II

Most large projects take 6 to 8 hours and that is why I have my "make the time" rule. This however was a HUGE project.

It seems that sorting my friend's things goes rather quickly when that friend actually purchased, and 'put away' those things. But going through her stuff, a retired teacher's stuff, and a no-longer-working-there-teacher's stuff takes a really long time.

The trick seemed to be to go through everything and work in zones. It was very important that we took the time to do this now at the end of the school year, so that my friend can enjoy her short summer (we do year-round school), and focus on next year's plans. I knew that if we left it as it was, she would fret the entire 3 weeks before the next school year, and be too overwhelmed to complete it. That would probably work out okay, but her stuff would just go on top of what was there and eventually we'd have an even bigger mess. (not to mention how hard it would be to concentrate in such an unorganized room).

It turns out that I didn't take good before pictures, and I really must start taking more. The problem is that I never know which area of the room will actually show the most progress. And after I get started, it's too late for snapping pictures of what it looked like before. But just to give you an idea--the room has many cabinets, cupboards, and drawers. Every one was very random. Sometimes there was an idea behind the contents, and sometimes there were duplicates.


This was the only picture I took of a long wall (North Side) of cabinet/counter space. It was completely filled.



The same counter space after. The cabinets are open to show that the insides are sorted and neat.

The easiest thing seemed to be to start with the biggest cabinets, take everything out of them, and assign them a purpose. The cabinet on the right now houses the craft supplies, and the one on the left houses games and teaching tools. Once we had them working for us, we could go through other cabinets and find a new place for them.


The long cabinets (left side of the picture) after our big sort. It turned out to be a big help to organize these first, so that we had room to move other things as we came to them.

We had spent 3 or 4 hours previously, and this day we spent 9 hours. It was a little tough because my children were misbehaving, and we had to be quiet because testing was going on in the adjacent room. We got a lot accomplished though, and here is another after pic. This is the East Side of the Room.



East Side of the room was another row of cabinets and drawers, with a sink. These mostly housed painting supplies as the laminate floor and sink were good for clean up.

I took home all of the crayon bins (from the right side of the above pic)and spent the next day cleaning them all out. My advice for these are--Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (love it!)


Left bins = AFTER Right bins= BEFORE

Then I went back on the third day because I had seen a cabinet with books in it. They were crammed every which way. My friend needed some of these books as references, but had no way of telling what books were there. Since bookshelves are one of my favorite things to organize, I just had to get my hands on this cabinet. Also on this day, I did a few small cabinets. My friend's teenage daughter was amazing!! She helped us on the first day, and on the third, she went through all the lower drawers/cabinets and cleaned the dirt and dust, and pulled out all the toys in the bins and steamed them to disinfect them. I spent only 2 hours at the school on this day.


Book cabinet AFTER. I put the books into categories by subject (Reading, Math, Art)
I hated not being able to help finish, so I left a note for my friend letting her know that I would love to help her sort all of the papers. Since papers are my least favorite thing to sort, I usually leave them for last. So the room was coming together with maybe a few more cabinets and drawers to be gone through, but on the opposite side was a ton of boxes with papers. The retiring teacher had left her copies for my friend to use. The problem was that the retiring teacher sorted her papers by weeks, and my friend was going to use a different curriculum and so couldn't use the papers in the same way. Since printing copies is a major expense for teachers, she wanted to use as many of the copies as she could, but she needed to be able to find them. She brought them to me and I spent a good chunk of the weekend going through them.


7 Bins of Papers BEFORE


6 Bins of Papers AFTER (may not look like much, but I went through every single paper and sorted and collated them. It was a lot of work!!

So lessons:

1.Take the time to sort beforehand, so that you don't end up with this big of a job.

2.When tackling this big of a job, allow yourself several days...but don't put it off. You've got to keep your momentum. (I estimate that I spent 35 hours on this project, and I'm sure my friend and her daughter spent just as much time)

3. Work in stages, and give yourself a cleared-out space to sort into.

4. Take some of the things home with you (if you're sorting for work). Things like craft supplies, papers, and even cleaning crayon bins can be done while watching TV or a movie.

5. Don't get discouraged. You can do it, and you deserve a great big pat on the back when you're done.


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I'm a stay-at-home mom of 3 who likes to organize, craft, & read (among other things)
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