How to Get (and Stay) Organized for Back-to-School

How to Get (and Stay) Organized for Back-to-School

The days are getting shorter and that means that summer is winding down ... and THAT means a new school year is on its way.

In addition to shiny new backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils or freshly charged tablets (!), there’s also the morning chaos that’s about to return.

The scramble to get everyone fed, dressed, and out the door (or down the hall) on time—along with the adjustment to a new sleeping routine after the late nights and lazy mornings of summer—can be managed with some planning … really.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re homeschooling, virtual schooling, or schoolhouse schooling—back-to-school involves an adjustment period. If you remember that, instead of being surprised by it, you’ll be in the right headspace to set yourself and your students for success.

And that’s true whether it’s your kid’s first day of kindergarten or YOUR first day back at college after summer break.

And while the transition this year is sure to be bumpy, what with all the pandemic-related ups and downs, YOU don’t have to be bumpy. Sloppy or conflicting communication doesn’t have to wreck your day or your week if you set the bar low enough so that you’re not expecting better from anyone other than you and your kids.

You don’t have to let the school district off the hook for being wobbly … you just don’t have to be surprised if/when they are.

It feels like so much is outside our control these days that it’s helpful to take a step back and focus on what we CAN control. 

To help you adjust as gracefully as possible and set a good example for your kids in the process—because, if you’re a hot mess going into the new year, how organized can you expect your kids to be?—here are my top back-to-school tips to keep you and your kids organized, balanced, and ready to learn.


Back to school feels a lot like the beginning of a new calendar year: a clean slate, the chance for a fresh start, and an opportunity to be “more perfect” than we were last time around.

That’s all nonsense, of course—and putting too much pressure on the school year ahead does more harm than good. (More on that below.)

Here are the best ways I’ve found to prepare for the school year ahead without putting undue pressure on your kids (or yourself):


Of course, back-to-school involves some tactical adjustments that go beyond mindset. Here are the best tips I’ve learned from parenting experts and clients, not to mention my own student years:


The new school year doesn’t have to mean chaos OR perfection. You can make this school year your most organized ever by adopting a few simple habits.

Spend time getting your head in the right place before school starts. Don’t wait until the day of, or you’ll find yourself scrambling … just like last year.

Establish a few simple habits two weeks ahead of school, and involve your kids in the process. Of course this doesn’t mean you suddenly let them call all the shots—but by putting some of the decisions in their hands, you’ll empower them, teach them to monitor the consequences of their choices AND increase their buy-in since they now have skin in the game.

And remember—wherever you let yourself off the hook is as far as most kids will be willing to exert themselves. Don’t fool yourself into thinking they are NOT evaluating your every move—they are. So it’s only the outlier children who will exceed your efforts. Most kids will not be any more organized than you are, so the better you are at integrated these best practices yourself, the more likely they are to follow suit.

Want even more tips on how to create a stress-free school year? Join our 5-Day De-Stress Your Mess Challenge, starting on August 16!

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Written by Andrew Mellen

Andrew is the Wall Street Journal,Amazon and Audible best-selling author of two books: Unstuff Your Life! and The Most Organized Man in America’s Guide to Moving.

He has been a professional organizer since 1996, and has helped over 500,000 people + businesses get AND stay organized ... so far!

Sharply dressed Andrew Mellen smiling at the camera.

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