Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Having Organizational Systems (for homeschool and work)

Many years ago I was asked to speak at a National Convention for Tupperware.  The topic was how to manage and get to a VIP level position.  As VIP level managers (this meant we had significant sales, were managing teams of 30-50 sales representatives as well as our own personal clientele) we were running very busy home based businesses, most of us with young children in the home.  Four of us were flown to headquarters to brainstorm and come up with what would be the best information to include in this session.
Chris and I at the convention I spoke at in 2001

After evaluating how each of us created and maintained our business while balancing our families needs we found one very important thing in common.  We all had systems we depended on.  Everything we did had a system to it.  It was a thought out ahead of time “process” for doing everything we needed to do.  

It freed us up from the worry of , “did I forget to do that” or “what needs to happen next” etc…  Having these systems also freed us up to do the things we needed to do with our homes  and families.  

Now what in the world would “systems” for a working Tupperware mom have to do with your average homeschool mom?  Well first of all I can bet many of you are also balancing part time (if not full time) jobs in or outside the home.  Secondly, homeschooling itself though not a “job” can borrow many aspects and benefits from looking at it as a “job”.  If you’re not comfortable with the term job, think of it as a “role” that definitely needs to be balanced with your other “roles”.  

Your systems simply help you take care of the things you need to when you need to so that you can forget about them the rest of the time.  It’s a little like a place for everything and everything in it’s place but more than that really.   Let me give you a couple examples to help you “see” what I mean.

In my business my system for an order is that if the email containing the order is still marked new I have done nothing with it.  If it’s been printed and is sitting next to the computer that means I’ve send the confirmation email and I’m waiting to process it (which is part of the concept of “chunking which is another concept for later.)  Once I’ve process it and it’s waiting to pack I’ll find the packing slip on a spot on a shelf in my storage room and the rest of the paperwork on my rolling cart to save for tax purposes.  You get the idea…the beauty of this is that I can tell from my “system” if a customer calls or if I forget (which I won’t with the system) what I did or didn’t do yet.  It saves me time and headache.
The Math Yellow folder system

The same idea can save you tons of time and headaches with your homeschooling.  For instance we are doing a computer math program where I print out worksheets for the girls.  My system is that they turn them in to the yellow math folder which sits on my desk.  They just sit it inside the folder.  

Once I correct it the paper moves to the left pocket if the girls need to make corrections (we don’t accept less than an 80%) and if it’s done it goes in the right pocket and I record the grade for that section right on the pocket where I’ve written Ariel ch1, ch2, ch3 etc… and place the grade right beside it.  Simple but effective.  At a quick glance I can see who is missing which assignments and if I need to correct any or hand any back to them to correct.  Saves me tons of time asking for papers turned in or looking for where I sat it down…
Just another system that sits on my desk to hold papers I need

Oh, and a slight rabbit trail here but I think I may have heard a gasp or two when you read that I recorded grades on a pocket of a folder.  Seriously, keep it as simple as you can.  You don’t need a fancy record keeping method (who has time!)  Many times I will simply record grades right on the table of contents page if it’s a workbook as well.  At the end of the year all you have to do it add the column and divide by the number of assignments and wa’la’ you have their grade.  Keep it simple.

These are simple ideas and some of us even used to do them in our former BK (before kids) lives but somehow in the job into homeschooling we didn’t set up any systems and no one left any in the desk before we took over (just kidding!)  So take a minute and set up a few systems that will work for you.  I promise the time it takes to think it through and set it up now will free up hours of your live later.  No more worrying about if you did or didn’t do something or even looking all over for stuff that isn’t in a system.

In fact I think I can think of a few things that I may need new systems for….

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