07 Aug

Going back-to-school in chunks

About a week ago, I found myself feeling unsettled and anxious about the coming of a new school year.  My son will start high school this month which presents all sorts of new emotional and logistical issues, I lost my carpool partner for my two younger daughters, and I had a lot of questions about what the extracurricular schedule would look like.  Still do.

On top of all that, my three kids have each grown a foot since last year, so they’ll need new clothes, shoes, and of course school supplies.  My water heater is broken, my work load is heavy, I have a blog to write . . . it was all feeling a bit overwhelming.

Until I remembered an old friend’s piece of advice:  “Chunk it up!”  My kids know this saying very well since we repeat it to them whenever they face a daunting task.  High school application needs to get done?  “Chunk it up.”  Need to clean your incredibly cluttered and messy room?  “Chunk it up.”  Got an enormous amount of homework tonight?  “Chunk it up.”

I began to chunk up my back-to-school tasks and immediately started feeling better.  So I’m sharing my chunks with you.  (If you’re ready for school already, skip this!  Instead, read here for my top 3 tips for a smooth transition back to school.)

Chunk 1:  Make a list of everything I need to get done before school starts.   Just having it all down on paper helps because I’m no longer sucking up energy by trying to hold it in my brain.

Chunk 2:  Cluster like topics/activities together.  My clusters are pictured here (transportation, cleaning, shopping, extracurriculars.)Back To School List

Chunk 3:  Start asking questions and doing research for carpools and extracurriculars.  This is mostly emails and phone calls.  My husband is helping.  Little by little, it’s all coming together.

Chunk 4:  Put a date in the calendar to go clothes and school supply shopping.  I hate shopping so I will ask my mother-in-law and babysitter (who both love to shop) to help me.

Chunk 5:  Set a date with each child to clean out their closet and dresser and ID clothing needs.  This could be a major project.  So I’m going to have my kids take a first cut on their own by pulling out everything that doesn’t fit or they don’t like to wear and putting it in a big pile.   Then I’ll take a second look.  We’ll then look through what remains for needed items and make a shopping list.  And then go out for ice cream ( :

Wow!  I feel a lot better now.  I know what needs to be done and I have a plan for getting through it.  Thank you, old friend Duke Pascucci, for “Chunk it up!”

Please tell me:  was this helpful for you?  Is there some chunking of your own you’d like to do?  Share your comments here.

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4 thoughts on “Going back-to-school in chunks

  1. I’d like to quote a friend of mine, initials MSB 😉 who said to me, “break it down to the first actionable step”. I love that advice and use it whenever I feel the stressies creeping in. Thanks for tips!

    • This advice has helped me soooooo many times, too! Identifying the next action, even a teeny tiny one, comes from David Allen in “Getting Things Done.” A book I highly recommend.

  2. Oh Marcilie – this is so great AND you are so organized! I’m reading this during a break or as a distraction from cleaning out my son’s room after he’s left for college. Reminds me, kids don’t need very much, organizing “stuff” is so much work. I’m going to try to keep it simple from here on out 🙂
    Thanks for your cool, inspiring post!!

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