Organize & Clean

A Fresh Start for Everyone: Take Advantage of the Back-to-School Energy Boost (Even if You’re Not a Student)

published Aug 15, 2016
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(Image credit: Abe Martinez)

Even if back-to-school doesn’t actually mean back to school for you (or anyone else in your household), the season is a great time to give yourself a fresh start. Taking the opportunity to re-examine some areas of your home life will give you a “new year” in August, and who couldn’t use one of those?

Declutter and Containerize

The back-to-school season means that storage items are available on display (read: easy access), and on sale. But don’t forget the golden rule of organizing: only buy containers for exactly what you need. This means that before you hit the stores, you need to declutter and sort through your items.

Some dorm-room or student-type items to consider:

  • Underbed storage bins: great for wrapping paper, children’s toy storage, out-of-season clothing storage, bedding storage (especially in space bags).
  • Plastic dressers: great for organizing supplies under the sink, small clothing items in the closet, craft supplies, even smaller loose pantry items.
  • Locker accessories: magnetic pen holders for coralling pens on the fridge or office supplies.
  • Office supplies: stock up while they’re on sale (notebooks, pens, etc.)

Start Scheduling Your Days, Weeks, Months, Year

If you’ve been meaning to take control of your time or if, like me, your current digital method just isn’t cutting it, the start of a new school year is a great time to try out a paper planner. Consider using the season to re-visit your yearly goals, break them down into monthly and/or weekly tasks, and impose order on your days so your time is under your control rather than running away from you. I’ll be using the Simplified Planner again this year, but there are myriad options and price points to choose from. Just do it! (I do use an app for to-do-list reminders, and still loving Todoist.)

Refresh Your Lunch Routine

Think like a grade-school student and try bringing a packed lunch to work—at least some of the time. You’ll save time and money, and likely be a bit healthier. If it helps jump start the habit, take a look at the functional (and fun!) lunch box options that are promoted during back-to-school. My personal favorite (we’re on year three) are PlanetBoxes.

Tighten Your (Money) Belt

As you’re getting more frugal with your time and your lunch routine, use the momentum to take a fresh look at your budget. If you don’t already have a system in place or if you’re having trouble meeting financial goals, I highly, highly recommend YNAB—You Need a Budget—which I found out from the readers here on Apartment Therapy. Check out Basics of a Household Budget that Works for tips on how to build up a functional budget.