In every school I’ve ever been in, there isn’t a whole lot of extra room, especially when it comes to PTO or PTA stuff. And that means that PTO stuff gets not a lot of real estate to work with (if the group is even that lucky!). But the need to have a central place to collect forms with event supplies easily on hand is such an essential for a smooth running PTO.
Did you know that in addition to being a certified PTO volunteer nerd that I’m also a professional organizer? Yep, I love to have everything in my life organized and I help others to get organized too. So it’s not that surprising that I immediately stepped up to get things organized when my own PTA was a bit of a hot mess organization-wise!
Here’s some great solutions that have worked for my PTAs. The solutions are flexible enough to work for any group looking to improve on their PTO organization.
This Sterilite File Box is the perfect answer to keeping PTO paperwork organized at school. This one box is often all the space there is to carve out at school for PTO paperwork.
It may be small, but when effectively used, it can act as a central mailbox for all of the officers and committee chairs of your PTO. Simply store in a central location, perhaps the main office and make sure everyone knows where it is.
When officers and committee chairs use it to pass paperwork and forms back and forth without needing to drive all over town to shuttle paperwork to each other. It’s an easy solution for PTO organization.
You’ll need some file folders to go in that file box, right?
Here’s the secret to keeping a communal filing system orderly and organized: the positioning of the tabs on the file folders. Make sure to avoid staggering the tabs. Instead pick a single position (left, right or center) and line up the tabs. This makes it incredibly easier to find what you’re looking for.
When the file tabs are staggered from left to right, your eye has to jog back and forth. When that happens, it’s super easy to miss the folder you need.
Another key part of keeping the box organized is to put the files in alphabetically! This is so simple, but so often overlooked. PTO volunteers coming into the school to look in the file box are trying to get in and out quickly. Keeping things in alphabetical order will make it easier to find what’s needed.
The final part of the organization puzzle is to make sure it is gone through regularly. The officers and chairs must be checking their folders at least twice a month, if not more. Since the file box is so portable, tote it into the PTO meeting so officers and committee chairs have easy access.
Ready, Set, Go for PTO Organization!
This is the exact box I bought for my PTA’s Go Kit.
What’s a Go Kit, you ask? It’s a box with everything needed for an event. Name tags, painter’s tape, sharpies, pens, scissors and the like. The idea with the kit is that you keep everything in the box, all ready to go so that when you’re putting on an event, you grab the kit and go. No more running around to make sure you have the basics. With the Go Kit assembled, you only have to worry about the event specific supplies. Half the deal for PTO organization is having what you need when you need it.
I especially like the design of the storage box because it allows for stowing of extra supplies when needed, or you can unclasp the sides and take a smaller amount of items.
It’s such a simple concept, that it’s kind of genius. After I had the kit set up, life got so much better. I couldn’t believe that I had waited to get the kit together. Other PTA members raved about it too- we all wondered why we hadn’t set up something like this sooner.
One of the keys to keeping the larger storage container organized is to keep smaller items corralled inside it.
And this stackable storage bin is like the little sister to the big sister I shared with you just a second ago. You’ll love how you can see straight through so there’s never any wondering what’s inside of the container. There won’t be any questions about where something is because it’ll be plain to see.
In addition to pens and pencils, having a pack of Sharpies in the Go Kit is a necessity! Especially if you choose to use erasable labels (that’s the secret to them working- I know, kinda defies logic being able to erase permanent ink, right?)
I’ve always found that having a variety of Sharpies on hand is oh so helpful for all things PTO.
Who knew that there were fine tipped sharpies available in rainbow colors? Oh yep, gotta have those too! They’re perfect for use on name tags and labels that you’ll also need for PTO item storage.
Other necessities for the smaller storage box
Name tags are essential for PTO volunteers learning each others’ names and starting to form relationships. This is so key for getting parents involved in your PTO as volunteers and even leaders!
I’ve used painter’s tape to temporarily tack up signs and decorations and create queue lines too. I love to keep a roll or two on hand at all times.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event and a need for a pair of scissors came up. Keep a couple pairs in your event go box and you’ll never be without. Pony up a few bucks and buy a set for your group to own. Quit relying on people to remember to bring their scissors from home. No more using your keys to open boxes or your teeth to trim tape!
Name it and Claim it
Labels on all containers is an absolute necessity to keep your PTO organized! Label everything. Yes, everything! Label each side and the container top. Five labels per container. No less. Trust me, labeling on all four sides and the top makes it so that the labels is always visible.
You have to make it ridiculously simple. Less organized PTO volunteers will never surprise you by suddenly being more organized. Because you can’t count on people to put the container on a shelf with the label positioned out. Really, label all sides.
Instead of regular old labels, up your label game with these awesome erasable labels.
When I first heard about these types of labels, I seriously doubted that they actually worked. But I saw a demo in The Container Store and seeing really was believing! Get your group a set. It’s a small investment that will pay off long term.
If you have the space, invest in a set of metal or plastic shelving. Load clear plastic containers onto the shelving and make full use of the vertical space up the wall. This is the real key for PTO organization There’s no need for permanent installation of a structure. Remember, make sure to use labels on all four sides of the containers, plus the top.
I dive even deeper into organizing all sorts of PTO spaces in this video:
Other PTO organization methods