Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Thinkster
Being a parent is hard.
We don’t talk about that enough.
Juggling work, social responsibilities, hobbies, and daily chores—like grocery shopping and cleaning the house—while simultaneously keeping up with your kids’ schoolwork and extracurriculars is pretty much impossible. Unless, of course, you’re some sort of superhuman cyborg that never sleeps. Or eats.
And as challenging as managing all this can be, the stress is even more intense for single parents.
Not to mention the fact that virtual learning is gaining significant steam in the wake of the global Pandemic, leaving parents scrambling to figure out how that particular shift will impact their daily routines.
Then, just for fun, we’ll throw in the heavy weight of actually having to raise your kids to be decent and moral human beings.
We’ll say it again: Being a parent is hard.
And as a parent, you’ve already learned just how powerful healthy organizational habits can be.
Schedules, routines, checklists, calendars, reminders…they’ve become the tools you trust to ensure you don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
For some of us, though, our lives are a disorganized mess.
We forget meetings, assignments, and birthdays. We space social hours and forget to restock the fridge. Even something as (seemingly) simple as showering gets ignored.
Yet, it’s safe to say that all hope isn’t lost. Organization is a skill that can be learned at any time and used as a strategy for success in school, work, and most anywhere life takes you.
It’s a skill your kids can learn, too.
And the earlier they start developing healthy organizational habits, the more likely they are to carry them well into adulthood.
Just think about it. These days, kids are hit with loads and loads of homework, their after-school activities require exceptional commitment, and their social lives never seem to slow down. So it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine how overwhelmed kids might be if they don’t have solid organizational skills.
Let’s suppose your children fall into this category—they always seem to be one step behind when left to their own devices. That’s when the burden of organizational labor falls on you.
So it would behoove you to start helping your kids practice better time management, planning, and organizational skills.
It’s tough, though.
This isn’t like teaching them to ride a bike or say please and thank you. It’s a bit more nuanced than that.
But there are ways you can help your kids learn techniques that help them become more organized and efficient.
And, luckily for you, we’ve got some ideas.
You know the type: they’re always on time (or early), they always look sharp, their home is tidy, and they never miss a deadline.
In other words, they’ve got their life together.
It’s easy to envy those folks when you feel like you barely have enough time to eat. You don’t have to be jealous, though.
You can learn how to be organized, too.
Just what kind of organizational habits do these people have that make it seem like they’re dominating this game of life with seemingly little effort?
Here’s a breakdown of the habits highly organized (and successful) people swear by:
Life is just more manageable when you have a routine, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider the fact that human beings are creatures of habit. We thrive when our lives have some level of structure.
All those highly productive people you see out in the world have probably tapped into this idea.
But what makes a routine so valuable? It all comes down to stress reduction.
Think about how many decisions you make every day. From the moment you wake up in the morning, to the minute you go to bed at night, you’re making decisions. Do I check my email or shower first? Should I start my next project or review my previous work? Do I make spaghetti or salad for dinner?
Imagine how nice it would be if you could eliminate even just a few of the decisions you have to make every day.
That’s the power of routine.
It reduces stress, saves time, and comes chock full of benefits:
One of the best perks, though, comes in the form of psychological safety—especially for your kids.
Outside of spontaneous gifts and trips to Disneyland, kids aren’t the biggest fans of surprises. The sense of ease that comes with knowing how their days are structured makes them less anxious.
To support this theory, researchers have discovered some pretty convincing links between concrete routines and children’s social and academic success. They believe this is a direct result of the comfort and security that comes from having a regular routine–because routines can reduce the chances of a child showing symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and other behavior disorders.
According to one study, children who don’t have consistent routines are more prone to oppositional defiant disorder, in which they become hostile and resentful.
Procrastination is a trap—a trap that’s easy to fall in to.
You know the feeling: a deadline is rapidly approaching. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to check this project off your very lengthy to-do list, but you found yourself scrolling social media or bathing in the soft, warm glow of your Netflix queue instead.
Yeah, we’ve been there too. In fact, most everyone has. One study found that a whopping 95% of people regularly procrastinate to some degree.
And when we talk about procrastination, we’re not talking about laziness. It’s easy to conflate the two, but it’s important to recognize that they’re not the same.
Laziness is a general unwillingness to act.
Procrastination, on the other hand, is an active choice. You choose to debate with your distant cousin on Facebook instead of getting a head start on your work.
Organized folks don’t do this. At least, not often.
Instead, they prioritize, carefully plan their downtime, and drive forward to achieve their goals, only scrolling those endless newsfeeds when the important stuff is done.
You put a lot of pressure on yourself.
Your days are long, you work hard, and you pride yourself on your ability to tackle each task with enthusiasm.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t have to do it all alone. It may be difficult, but asking for help is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling like you might have a little too much on your plate.
People who truly excel (in work, in school, and in life) know their limits and they raise their hand when they need a little support.
Doing so is actually a bit of a skill in and of itself. It takes an incredibly self-aware individual to know when they’ve taken on too much. And it takes a healthy dose of humility to pump the breaks and call in some reinforcements.
But it’s important we all feel comfortable with this. Not just because we all need somebody to lean on sometimes, but because—when we ask for help—it teaches our kids that they’re never alone. It teaches them that reaching out and asking for a helping hand isn’t weak.
It’s smart and brave and—sometimes—the only way to get through.
Time is a valuable resource. And organized people don’t waste it—they take full advantage of every minute they have.
Yes, they have the exact same number of hours in a day as the rest of us. They just know how to squeeze as much productivity out of the day as possible.
They know how to prioritize, and they believe that “perfect” is the enemy of good enough. They let the little things slide and put all their energy into the tasks, assignments, and activities that will have the greatest impact.
This is what we call effective time management.
Fun fact: For every hour of planning, 3 to 4 hours are saved from redundancy, waiting for information, and poorly managed tasks.
One step (or task) at a time. That’s how the most organized, productive individuals approach their daily life.
That’s because they know that by making a habit of trying to juggle too many things at once, balls are going to get dropped.
Sure, multitasking has its place, but generally, it just adds to the noise.
In fact, people who multi-task decrease their productivity by 20-40% and are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time.
One step at a time, one foot in front of the other is the best way to make sure you get where you’re going.
You already know that most kids are little agents of chaos. Wherever they go, a path of disorganized destruction is sure to follow.
They flit from one activity to the next, leaving toys in all areas of the house and forgetting where they’ve left the things they need most. If they’re like most Americans, they’ll ultimately spend one year of their life looking for lost or misplaced items at home and in the office, according to the US News and World Report.
You’ve probably already tried to teach them to focus and stay on task—maybe even help them understand the importance of cleaning up after themselves.
And you’ve probably found that organizational skills don’t necessarily come easy—maybe even for yourself.
But it is possible to help your kids wrap their heads around this idea.
We understand the challenge you’re up against here, so let’s talk about what you can do to make healthy organizational habits something your kids will enjoy.
Routines can be reassuring and help remind kids of what needs to be done and when—and a stable routine is the proverbial cornerstone of effective organization.
But establishing these routines can be tough.
Here are a few tips:
We live in such a verbally driven culture that we often forget there’s more than one way to communicate an idea. We can use gestures, pictures, and demonstrations.
And there are children who learn and process information by seeing and doing, rather than by passively listening.
They’re fascinated by colors and enthralled by motion.
This makes sense, too. Plenty of research shows that checklists, calendars, and reminders help all of us keep up with our responsibilities and plan more effectively.
If your child is a visual learner, you’ll want to teach them organization by catering to their strengths. Use colorful markers to check-off tasks on to-do lists, highlight reminders on whiteboards, or use flashcards.
Teaching children how to think about the future is critical to their success. While difficult to comprehend, they need to understand that they won’t always be kids with someone telling them what to do—that they’ll eventually be grown adults with real responsibilities.
And learning to set goals now will set them up for success in the future. It will also help them tackle life in a more organized fashion.
It’s an abstract concept, though. One that’s difficult for young minds to fully grasp.
Here are four research-based steps for helping your child set effective goals, track progress, and stay motivated in the process: