If your teenager or an older child lives at home then, like us, you may find the best thing to do about their room is too close the door and pretend you don’t know what is going on in there. To begin with, it feels like there are only two options, ignore it or do it yourself, but by teaching your older kids to get organized and tidy, you are teaching them an important life skill and saving yourself from having to throttle them with their own garbage.

Explain the Importance

To you, it might be a no-brainer. You have stuff, and things and that stuff and those things last longer and are easier to find when you are tidy and have everystuff and everything organized. However, to many teenagers, staying organized seems like a waste of time – it’s just going to get untidy again so what’s the point?  

So before you start encouraging neat and tidy habits, talk with them about the important role organization plays in life, about how they will spend less time searching for things and that an organized room may save their life one day when their mother goes on a murderous rampage because the entire house looks like a tip.

Whether you consider yourself to be extremely tidy, find the task of organizing things a bit difficult, or, like me, are well intentioned but have a tendency to slowly unorganize everything, you can still help by discussing ways you currently try to stay organized, or by identifying things you want to try as a means of improvement.

Buy Use A Planner

A planner is an essential tool for teens (and anyone else) still working on building excellent organizational skills. A day planner allows your teen to visualize all of the things they need to get done and also see exactly how much time they have to accomplish it.

Even better, this type of calendar system helps with more than just future events and tasks. Encourage your teen to use a day planner to keep track of everything they do, from school to leisure time. This way, they can look back to see exactly how they spend their time, making changes over time should they feel it necessary.

Keep Track of Goals

While a planner is perfect for helping teens keep track of what they need to do on a given day, it may not be the best way to keep track of long-term goals or projects. Encourage your teen to make goal or “to-do” lists in addition to keeping track of scheduled events or deadlines. While a to-do list isn’t as useful as a day planner for time management, It does help your teen to sort out priorities and decide what they want to work on next.

Take a few minutes to perform an online search. There are scads of free goal-tracking sheets available for kids of all ages.

Clean Up Their Space

Even when teens manage their time well, it’s typically difficult to stay organized if surroundings are messy or cluttered. If this is the situation with your teen, there’s absolutely no reason to panic.

To help them get started, buy stickers or sticky notes to use as labels. Then, work with them to figure out the best place to keep all of their things. Once everything has its proper place, it will be easier for your teen to stay on top of keeping things organized.

Don’t let them stop there. After you’ve helped them to find a home for everything in their room, hand over the rest of the sticky notes so they can organize their things in their locker at school, too. That way, they can build a habit of keeping their things tidy on their own and not just when they’re instructed.

Bear in mind that many teens go through a “messy phase.” The majority of these kids eventually grow out of it to become better-organized adults. So, if you teen isn’t organized, don’t lose hope! Just keep up the encouragement and offer these tips along the way.