Inside the mind of a professional organizer: Back-to-school scheduling and priority management

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Jessi Bushman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Here we go, 2023-2024.

As summer break fades into a memory, a new daily routine should be on the horizon.

If you’ve struggled in the past to organize and create a family schedule, now’s the perfect time to evaluate your approach and mindset.

A new school year can be simple, if we stick to the basics:

School, activity and work schedule

• Communicate who does what, when and where we need to be.

• Communicate transportation needs.

• Communicate frequency and duration.

• Clothes and shoes.

• The ritual of purchasing apparel once per year is out the door. It’s likely we won’t run out of options and have stuff that fits and is in good condition.

School supplies

• If last year’s stuff isn’t worn out or used up, why duplicate what we already have?


• Communicate budget, resources and expectation for meal times.

As expected, late June and early July, my awareness of school shoppers heightens.

Like many, I’m intrigued by the latest and greatest school supplies, consumer influence of what stuff we need for a perfect school year and what stuff will make learning easier.

OK, not really.

I’m intrigued by shoppers’ comments in the aisles regarding the overwhelming selection of stuff retailers think we need.

More options, more choices.

This prompts the ultimate conversations and questions between parents, kids and groups, as well as those shopping solo. Yep. They are their own voice of reason.

I usually slide into conversations and share shopping and mindset advice.

As an innocent bystander, I clearly see what parents are up against:

• How many kids are in the equation?

• If multiple, are they attending the same school?

• When are the scheduled school start and release times?

• What is planned for transportation?

• Is before- and after-school care needed?

• Are the kids capable of caring for themselves?

• Does your work schedule allow flexibility for illness and emergency situations?

• Do you have a backup care plan to coordinate with others?

• What school and private activities are kids involved with?

• What is the duration and frequency of practice and meetings?

• What is the expectation for parent involvement?

• What is the duration and frequency of event attendance for family?

• If you work from home, how does this impact your focus?

On a regular basis, caretakers are challenged.

Global changes and family dynamic impact and alter our daily routine.

• Single parents.

• Shared custody.

• Blended families.

• Multi-generation households.

• Complicated work and travel schedules.

• Reside in a location away from immediate family members.

• Age gaps between kids.

• Open enrollment and transportation needs.

• Relocation.

• Loss of family member and caretakers.

Before the school year begins, I suggest placing or upgrading to a large dry erase monthly calendar. Dedicate a space in the kitchen or entry way to identify kids’, parents’ and caretakers’ short- and long-term obligations. At a glance, everyone can see what’s happening.

Communication and clear expectations will improve how we prioritize our time.

Remove the confusion and identify responsibility.

Make a list, factor out low-desired events and activities to make room for who and what matters most.

Jessi Bushman is a professional organizer, member of the Iowa Professional Organizers Association and owner of Organizer Jessi in Dubuque. Visit her at

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