(Editor’s note: This article originally ran last August. It’s great info, so we’re re-posting)

School will be back in session in one week. To make this year less stressful, organization is key. Professional Organizer Deborah Gussoff gives us some tips to make our lives easier:

The Night Before
Planning ahead is a guaranteed way to make the off-to-school routine a smooth one. Unexpected events are known to occur (the alarm clock didn’t go off; the dog got loose and had to be retrieved before you could leave the house); the more you can do ahead of time, the less hectic and stressful your morning will be:

  • After your child completes his homework, make sure the assignment, as well as any books that need to go to school, are put back into the backpack.
  • Create a designated spot for the backpack (i.e., a cubby or hook near the door) and make sure it is returned there each evening.
  • If you don’t already have a hook that you return your keys to each time you enter the house, now’s the time to grab a hammer and nail! Knowing exactly where your keys are pre-empts a frantic search in the morning.
  • Check the schedule for the next day and assemble any necessary items (i.e., sneakers for Gym; the book borrowed for Library; equipment for an extra-curricular activity) and place by the door or in the backpack.
  • If your child brings lunch to school, make it as you’re cleaning up from dinner. If your child purchases lunch, make sure lunch money is assembled in the evening to avoid spending precious morning time running around trying to find exact change. Even better, if you can, pre-pay a week or month’s worth of lunches so you don’t have to worry about it daily.
  • Have your child select the next day’s outfit before bedtime. This will give you ample time to wash a favorite shirt if need be.
  • After you clean up the dinner dishes, set the table for breakfast. Put out plates, glasses, cereal bowls, silverware and daily vitamins or other medications.
  • Can’t move without your morning java? Consider a coffeemaker with a timer. You can set it to brew at a specific time, giving you a little extra motivation to resist hitting the snooze button.
  • Stock nutritious, portable snacks like granola bars and cheese sticks for days when you’re running really late.

The Morning Routine

  • To make the morning routine as hassle-free as possible, consider posting a chart or schedule of necessary tasks (i.e., dress, make bed, eat breakfast, brush hair and teeth, take lunch out of refrigerator, take backpack, etc.) to make sure nothing is overlooked. If you are a morning person, you may want to wake up earlier than your child to prepare his breakfast, and get yourself ready so you’re available if your child needs prodding.
  • To minimize tearing up and down the stairs, it makes sense to keep duplicates of some items close to the hub of morning activity. Put a second toothbrush in a downstairs bathroom or in the kitchen, along with extra toothpaste and floss and a brush and comb.
  • Put together an “emergency kit” to keep in the kitchen or other easily accessible place in case something goes wrong in the morning. Include things such as threaded needles (one with black thread and one with white) for last minute repairs; a can of Static Guard and a packet of Shout wipes; and a bit of petty cash.

Stay tuned for Part II, for more tips.

Certified Professional Organizer Deborah Gussoff is president and founder of Montclair-based In Order, Inc.