The Leftover Magnets: Organization Gone Awry

We used to have the magnetic calendar featured above. Someone gave it to us when our son was around 4 years old, and I’m sure they thought it would be a good way for him to learn the months of the year, the days of the week, even his numbers. Secretly, I hoped it might help him develop some appreciation for the concept of time.

Recently, Tech Support and I did a big purge and we came across some of the leftover magnets that he’d deemed useless. I distinctly remember my 5-year-old son saying, “I’ll never use these,” and watching him throw them into a wicker basket along with a lot of other crap very important items.

Turns out, he was right.

For example:

We don’t need this magnet in Rochester, New York. Why? Because in general, the forecast looks like this:

In these parts, kids learn pretty quickly what clouds mean.

And these?

I can tell you that my boy does some serious flips. On the couches. Over the couches. Onto his bed. And he has some ridiculous dance moves. But we have managed to make it almost 13 years without magnets to remind us to do these things.

This one?

If my son is horking loogies or spewing chunks, the last thing I have ever thought about is whether or not I had the appropriate magnet.

Oh, and if we get one of these:

We are all outside doing this:

Also, I was a professional organizer for six years. So this magnet?

It’s kind of a given at Chez Jacobson.

In our house, we all have our own systems of organization. I possess an irrational love for binder clips and composition notebooks. We all hoard Scotch brand Magic tape, Post-It Notes and 3-ring binders. (Hubby’s are blue, Tech Support’s are black, and mine are pink & orange.) It’s terrifying fantastic. My son prefers Ticonderoga pencils. Hubby wants blue Bic pens. And I prefer pens with green or purple ink. Tech Support has a daily planner that was given to him at school. Hubby keeps his entire world on his cell phone. I have less faith in technology, so I keep the master calendar on the desk.

How do you teach your kids to organize themselves? And what is your favorite organizational toy or tip?

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41 responses to “The Leftover Magnets: Organization Gone Awry

  1. If I lose my cell phone, I’m screwed. My entire life is in my cell phone. adresses, appointments, social security numbers, birthdays; you name it, it’s in there. I can’t imagine what I would do if I misplaced or lost it or (or God forbid) it was stolen. The ramifications are just too dire.

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    • You see? This is why I have been unable to make the leap. I lose my stupid phone all the time! It’s amazing I haven’t really lost it. So you relky ont keep things on little scraps of paper any more? I don’t understand… So are you always having alerts go off? I’d need lots of alerts.

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  2. I need you to come over and organize my stuff.

    No, seriously. =)

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  3. My Franklin-Covey planner. My kids call it my brain. I don’t dispute that. And mechanical pencils. I’ll admit, I’m a bit (a whole stinkin’ lot) obsessive about never using pen in my planner (or on the family calendar that hangs in the kitchen.)

    As for a tip…the best one I got came from one of my closest friends who is a professional organizer: Something new in, something old out.

    Welcome back,Renee! Hope your vacation was luxuriously restful!

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    • Shhhhh. I’m not back! Just peeking in. I couldn’t go the whole time without minding the blog!

      As for your friend’s tip. She is spot on! If you bring something in, something has got to go.

      And I’m a Franklin-Covey girl, too! I think that started when I became a teacher. They gave us one — I just love them! And so portable! So I can transfer everything onto the family calendar. Oy!😉

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  4. Mr. Wonderful lives by the Blackberry calendar. I’m an old fashioned paper calendar kind of girl. As for my kids, they’re still Works In Progress.

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  5. I’m with TJ. Actually, since we are putting on our addition and have trashed 3 (large) truckloads of crap, we’re doing much better. Removing a further tractor trailer load has also helped a bit. We have the standard calendar on the wall with all our appointments, meetings, sports, etc. on it. I have my cell phone which is linked to both my google calendar and my work calendar, so I usually know where I’m supposed to be…

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  6. I ever tell you how thoroughly disorganized I am pardner? Um, I am freaking about tomorrow’s Reese’s blog. It’s done, sort of, and I am trying to stroke a single over the shortstop’s head with what I wrote but dammit, it is not up to snuff. I think. I don’t know. Gah!

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  7. I would also like to hire you to come over for a few hours/days to help me with my mess.

    As for my organization tips? I find the old rule “If you don’t put it away, it goes in the trash” works wonders. Mean? I suppose. But it sure gets my husband to pick up his dirty laundry quicker.

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    • Darla: The trash is my best friend in the whole world. The trash saves lives. Unless you throw out something very, very important. In which case the trash destroys lives.

      I’ve had to crawl into the garbage can to retrieve stuff.

      There were maggots in there. Maggots. *shudder*

      That’ll teach me to throw away mortgage-y things. Probably.

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  8. I’m conflicted because I love using my Blackberry for organizing my life. However, I miss writing things down. But it really doesn’t make much sense to double the workload by taking the time to put it in both places…

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    • Frume Sarah! I feel your pain. I’m still double-doing. But unless it is on the big calendar in the kitchen, it doesn’t exist. For real. But I’m too afraid to take a 100% digital leap. I’m bad at backing things up. Maybe AFTER my son’s bar mitzvah?😉

      Or not.

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  9. Besides the calendar on the fridge, the pocket calendar in my purse, and my smartphone, I made each of my 3 kids a Google acct. so they can send me invites on my Google calendar (which transfers to my phone) whenever they have something (mainly work schedules, they are teens).

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  10. I just write on the calamine but I still mess up because half the time it’s in the wrong month. I have to learn a better way to keep time with techy stuff. After all this is the 90’s for goodness sakes.

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  11. I got everything organized once, but I couldn’t figure out where I put anything.

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  12. Welcome back, Renee! Hope you had an awesome vacation. I don’t think I knew you were a professional organizer! How neat (pun intended, har har)!

    I use my Outlook calendar at work to keep track of most things, but I really need to get some sort of electronic calendar with birthdays, etc. going…

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    • Jules:

      My fiction manuscript is about a professional organizer who is really good at decluttering other people’s messes, but she has an invisible mess she has to clean up!

      I’ve never trusted the electronic calendar function. I still have a giant calendar. And what makes you think I’m home? Har Har.😉

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  13. I love my iPhone!! I know I shouldn’t trust technology. I learned that the first time I used a computer to write a sermon. All day Saturday shot to h*!! trying to get the computer to spew forth the sermon. Realizing that I had memorized said sermon because of the number of times I looked at all the pages while casting out printer demons, I gave up and went paper- and note-less the next day. I’m sure I’ll regret relying on technology to keep track of everything–setting off alarms to remind me of appointments, phone calls I have to make, “albums” of vacation, grandkiddies (my 13 year old granddaughter’s creation), political cartoon, books I want to read pics. BUT, boy do I love this new toy, er, tool!

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  14. I organized most of my kids’ toys into clear plastic bins. Car toys, play mobile men toys, fake food toys, my little pony toys. The puzzles have a rack. The blocks are in their own storage box. These toys are all high up on a shelf in their closet, so when they want to play with a toy, they have to tell me (or point and babble, in the case of the little one). Then, if they want a different toy, they have to CLEAN UP the previous toys before I will take down the new toys. Sometimes I help them clean up, ’cause I’m nice like that.

    It’s a pretty good system, and it’s working pretty well.

    I like my Franklin-Covey planner, though I had a few snafus where I completely forgot to look at it. I missed two appointments in one week. It was kind of mortifying. But usually, if I physically write something down, I’m more likely to remember it.

    I’m a little jealous that you were a professional organizer. That’s a dream job of mine. Not even kidding. Soul mates, we are.

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    • Best job. Loved it. And that’s why I’m writing about it! First draft should be done soon. Because its really draft 3.😉

      If I don’t write things down and SEE them, I would just putter about and write all day.

      For real. And I love the idea of being your soul sister. You know I want to try on one of your wigs!😉

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  15. we had license plate magnets for the car – great idea – bad execution… as for cleaning the house and rooms – my son is an ace, seriously. the biggest offenders in the home are the parents, too busy, too distracted, too tired! I use Franklin Planner for Outlook and print my own pages with my lesson plans embeded. It works well.

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    • I like Outlook so much better than Mac’s calendar program, but it isn’t easy to have both. I love the idea of printing out hard copies of lesson plans fom Outlook. Embedded. Le sigh.

      If you know how to do that for a Mac, I might have to call you!

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  16. I’m in a very weird organizational in-between phase right now. I put appointments on Google Calendar because I can’t really remember anything without having a reminder, but there’s something satisfying about physically crossing items off of a good old-fashioned pen-and-paper to-do list that I just can’t let go of, so I’ve got scraps of paper around too. And we’ve got a big white family calendar I rely on. So I guess the techie and luddite in me are at war.

    The one thing I can’t really stand is clutter, which is interesting because I’ve got two kids under 3, a dog, and a husband in a 730-square-foot apartment. My 2.5-year-old is catching on though. The other day he spilled a box of Q-tips all over the floor and then announced to us, without prompting, that he’d be picking them all up. He then did. Wahoo!

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    • “…there’s something satisfying about physically crossing items off of a good old-fashioned pen-and-paper to-do list that I just can’t let go of…”

      Agreed! Is that weird? Probably, but I still love to cross things off my to-do list. I am kind of amazed that 4 people (and a dog) are living in 730 square feet. You HAVE to be really organized. (One of my dear friends keeps her sweaters in her little used Upper West Side apartment oven. I’ll never forget seeing that!)

      Strong work for creating a little organizer. May he take care of you.😉

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  17. I’m super organized like you are . . . here’s my struggle: I want my kids to start putting clothes away themselves. BUT, they do such a terrible job that I’d rather do it myself. Except I don’t really want to do it and the clothes pile up in the their baskets. I end up plucking out clean stuff from the baskets day after day. I know the answer is to let go of the dream/vision of neat closets and let me/make them do it themselves. Easier said than done for me!

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