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Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens    by Julie Morgenstern & Jessi Morgenstern-Colon order for
Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens
by Julie Morgenstern
Order:  USA  Can
Owl, 2002 (2002)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

When I opened this book, I assumed that it was all about organizing space, but quickly learned that it addresses time management for teens as well, and that very similar principles can apply to both. There are three sections to the book - the basics; one on organizing your space; and another on organizing your time. It is writing by 'professional organizer' Julie Morgenstern and her teenage daughter Jessi, whose personal perspectives and tips ('Jessi Says') are interspersed throughout the book.

Indeed, Jessi begins her introduction with the advice to put down the book unless you really want to get organized, and understand the benefits you will gain. She emphasizes the importance of designing your own system, with examples from her own experience ... I must say that I found the clustering of post-it's of phone numbers in groups on her bedroom wall innovative. This example illustrates the fact that organization can look messy, as long as it works for you.

The Basics section points out that it's not about discipline but about design and effective function, and that everyone is already organized in some fashion. Self-assessment forms can help you to figure out what is already working, organizational roadblocks, and to prioritize your 'Essential 7'. Then the authors encourage you to 'Analyze; Strategize; Attack' in three steps to personalized (from the inside out) organizing. Funny cartoons throughout emphasize the light, low-key approach that is taken.

In Organizing Your Space, the authors promote the Kindergarten model, with mapping techniques and definition of zones; creative containers and tips for stretching space; ideas for coping with mountains of 'School Stuff' in bedroom, locker and backpack; how to handle of collections and memorabilia; and so on. Organizing Your Time discusses topics like options in tools (e.g. choice of paper or electronic planner); tracking time to evaluate how it is currently spent; prioritizing your 'Essential 7'; charting energy cycles; use of immersion and a study buddy; and so on.

Organizing from the Inside Out for Teens takes a common sense, personalized approach to organization of your time and space. It makes the benefits clear without underestimating the effort, and Jessi's advice on each topic grounds it in reality. This is a wonderful resource for teens, their teachers and their parents. The latter may just learn something new themselves from this volume, as I did.

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