Sue McMillin
Sue McMillin
Organizing Consultant & Speaker

With Time to Spare

Organize to Make Life Easier


Getting organized can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Streamline your office. Do you have a strategy for organizing your paper and electronic files? Learn proven techniques on how to better manage your information and save an hour a day. Visit Office Transformations to see success stories.

Simplify your home. Do you know what to keep and what to throw away? Learn practical steps on how to gain more space, save more money and reduce stress. Visit Home Transformations.

I’m passionate about creating an organized workplace and a peaceful home so you can make life easier and be more productive. Even though the new year is behind us, it’s always a great time to get organized.Take a look around at the online posts and articles, books and Facebook. Learn how I come alongside clients through services including presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on coaching. Whether in your office or home, I’d love to help bring order to your surroundings.Take advantage of With Time To Spare’s book discounts and get If I File It, Can I Find It? and Organized! How to Create a Happier Home, Family, and Life for half price.




Now that the dust has settled…

In the last three installments we organized and tweaked the student desk, the backpack and the locker.

Today we will deal with the final place where disorder often reigns:  The Student Notebook

Stop Four: The Student Notebook

Has your student’s notebook already devolved into an overstuffed, disorderly mess in just this past month?


  •  Some students like to have a separate notebook for each class, but I feel that it is very advantageous to use just one binder for all their subjects as this will ensure that they have all the necessary material with them for whichever class they are attending.  If they have just one notebook with all their subjects they will not have to endure that sinking feeling that most students have experienced where they sit down in their class, look in their backpack and discover that they left their important homework and other class documents in their locker.
  • Hopefully, your student started out the school year organizing the notebook with index dividers. If not, consider this. These essential dividers come in every color of the rainbow, clear, or sprinkled with graphics. These dividers will separate their subjects with ease. Dividers come with handy little tabs that perfectly fit into the window separator. Label each divider with the class the student is registered for. You may even want to put them in order of the classes’ times, from earliest to latest, as they progress through the notebook in a school day.
  • Another must-have for the notebook, if you don’t already have one, is a zippered notebook pouch. This three-holed pouch securely holds calculator, pens, ruler, compass, and protractor.
  • Some schools provide an academic planner for their students. If you have not already done so, place this behind the zippered pouch. If it is not three-hole punched, do it yourself with your hole puncher.
  • Of course, you need make sure your student has plenty of loose-leaf paper to place between the dividers.

Encourage your student to maintain their organizational system with their papers and notebook. After each class encourage them to take a moment to replace their papers into the proper division, and keep their system intact.  This step only takes a moment, but the benefits of keeping their papers and homework organized in their binder are legion.

As a teacher for 25 years, I could always tell the students that had their notebooks organized.  They would walk into class with a smile, sit down, open their notebooks, and pull out their beautifully organized homework ready to turn in at the beginning of class.  They had learned the benefits of organization early, and they would be successful, I felt, as they continued on into college where organization was an absolutely essential element to success.

So, as a parent you can help your student and guide them in these essential exercises of applying organization to their desks, their backpacks, their lockers and their notebook binders.  They may push back a bit or argue that they don’t need these tips, but with a little love and encouragement you can insist that they apply these principles to their domain.  Their academic life will benefit greatly, I guarantee it!






Chapter 3 — Smiley

Chapter 3, “Smiley”,  continues the story of Sue’s childhood with the focus on Smiley, Sue’s mother. Smiley was a devoted mother and mentor. Sue says it best when she states, “Of course, she was the disciplinarian when I needed it, and for that I’m eternally grateful. But she was also my mentor, friend, counselor, example, and head cheerleader in my life. Smiley McMillin didn’t have a lot of luxuries in life, but she gave me the greatest gifts a mother could offer: her time, her interest, and her heart.”

Reading this chapter will give you a wonderful peek into the childhood of Sue McMillin and will help you to see that a mother’s love is really one of the most amazing gifts a child could ask for.  It will make you wish you had known Smiley McMillin yourself.  She is a worthy example of a loving mother and one that mothers everywhere will relate to and aspire to.

Read chapter three of Sue’s autobiography here.

Now that the dust has settled.

In the last two installments we dealt with the student desk and the student’s backpack.   In this installment we will deal with the student locker.

Third stop: The Student Locker


The student locker can become one of the most dysfunctional of all spaces.

Ask your student to survey their locker: Do they describe a cavernous space crammed with loose papers, a week-old lunch, and stinky gym shoes, and all of this is ready to avalanche out upon them as they open it?

  • As a first step, pick up some interlocking locker shelves. These stacking shelves use up all that wasted lower space and provide an area for books and supplies.
  • Next provide your student with a cool hanging magnetic organizer for the inside of the locker. This organizer is another nifty tool complete with notepads, storage for pencils and pens, plus a mini-bulletin board for reminders.
  • Other gadgets that tame the chaos beast lurking in the locker are magnetic pouches, magnetic buttons and hooks, and magnetic file pockets. How about a magnetic locker mirror for your student? I even found an ad for a locker shag rug!

All of these supplies can be purchased at Target or Walmart or an office supply store like Office Depot or Staples.

Now, with all this in place, they will not experience more locker shock, but instead, they will have a locker that rocks.  If you need encouragement in your parenting of school-age kids, check out Sue’s article Back to school, into life.

Check in next time when we will organize one of the most dysfunctional of spaces:  the student notebook binder.