By Denise Landers


Most parents want the best for their children and sacrifice a great deal to achieve this.  In the book, “Talent is Overrated,” author Geoff Colvin argues against the idea that displays of exceptional talent among humans are based on genetics.  Instead he believes you can train your child to be a prodigy.  Of course, that involves a huge amount of commitment on your part.  (Think of Earl and Tiger Woods.)  Few have the time or drive to push for the relentless practice that would produce the next violin virtuoso or top-seeded tennis player.

However there are still skills to impart at a young age.  Colvin suggests that business acumen or musical expertise be developed early.  I would like to add on to these areas and say that teaching children organization skills will serve them well for all of their lives.  Even if they do not aspire to become Fortune 500 CEOs or sports stars, there will always be schedules to keep, documents to find, and projects to manage.

Organizing skills rarely come naturally.  Parents usually need to teach them.  Yet many times the things you want to correct in your children may be a reflection of your own habits.  When discussing what a mess your child’s desk is, take a look at your own at work.  When becoming upset about a missed assignment date, think about your own deadlines. If you, as the adult, do not consistently exhibit good time management skills, how could you expect children and teens to have them?  Who would they learn from if not you?  Yet even if you are a great organizer, there is no guarantee that this will automatically make your children the same way.

Every age needs:

·         Supplies close at hand

·         Space to put things

·         Systems, to manage daily activities

·         Weekly maintenance

I am not saying that you need to be relentless in pushing organization of the playroom, but this is a great opportunity to start early.  Involve your children in how things are set up and then in keeping them maintained that way.

Childhood Years:

Have enough shelves and containers.
Put a picture on the container for quick sorting.
Create simple box schedules.  Use pictures on the chart for chores and events.
Plan the night before.  Clothes can be put out for school the next day.
Teen Years:

Guide them in setting up a process for dealing with their own basic files.
Give them a say in how and where their things are located.
Be sure they write down homework assignments and chores.
Help them maintain a printed or electronic schedule.
Your part is two-fold:

You have to model organized behavior.
You have to be consistent in your expectations.
The busier your family is, the more need for organization.  Do your children a favor and help them get a head start in their careers and their lives, regardless of what paths they take.  If you do not feel that you have the skills to do this, or that you are not being a good example of this, take a break and seek time management training for yourself.  Not only will it help you, but it will lead to a more relaxed and successful family lifestyle.

Denise Landers is the author of Destination: Organization, A Week by Week Journey and the owner of Key Organization Systems, Inc. ( ).  Based in Houston, she is a national speaker, trainer, consultant and coach providing conference sessions, corporate training, and individual assistance to improve daily work flow and time management skills.

This article is excerpted from the Fall 2009 Issue of WE Magazine for Women. To read the current issue (PDF) visit: or (Turning Page)