Today is part five in our six-part Back-to-School series, and we’ll be focused on that time-honored tradition of organizing one’s locker. The locker is a sacred symbol of grades 6-12, and it’s common knowledge that anything worth losing is worth losing in a locker. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right…

There it is. Number 271. Your locker. It’s beautiful, or at least more beautiful than the one next to it where the paint is falling off.

You’ve got what you need to make this the best locker in the world: funny magnets for the inside of the door, a shelf, a trustworthy Master Lock, a spare stick of deodorant, just in case (and if you don’t have that last one, get it. Seriously.)

But what’s missing from your locker?

Well, your six textbooks, for starters. You’ve got those bad boys covered, and for the last three days you’ve just been carrying them around in your backpack. Why? Take our word for it, there’s nothing less sexy than Carries All His Books Around Guy.

So why don’t you get to work on that locker? You’ve had it checked out for four days now, and you still haven’t put anything in it except your lunch. So take 10 minutes of your life to take a stab at getting your 1.5 cubic feet of real estate primed to make you successful.

Oh sure, you could just throw all your textbooks in on the bottom and toss your lunch in on top every morning. You could also drive with the parking brake on. You could set a bottle rocket off up your nose. You could leave your pants on when you go to the bathroom. Just because you could doesn’t mean you should.

So hop to. You’re the only person who knows that your locker combination is 9-31-17, so you’re the only one who’s going to be able to organize the thing.

A well-organized workspace is key, be it a locker, a desk, or a work bench. Look back through the annals of history, and you’ll find legends of well-organized men and women changing the world. In 15th century Germany, a young man named Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing a printing press with movable type. He kept his letters compulsively, almost maniacally organized by typeface and size. He printed thousands of Bibles and other works and set the wheels in motion to bring reading to the masses. It was great. But you know what wasn’t great?

Steve Gewürztraminer, Johannes’ neighbor. Steve was also an inventor, and two years before Gutenberg became famous, Steve actually invented the printing press. Look it up. Steve could have been the father of mass printing, but he failed because he just haphazardly stored his letters in one big bin. Searching for a question mark was like finding a needle in a haystack. It took him three months just to set up “In the beginning; God created the haevens and the Earfh.” Yes, it was riddled with typos and used an inappropriate semicolon because he couldn’t find a comma in two days of searching. Finally, after two frustrating years, Steve sold his press and his bin of letters to his neighbor at a garage sale for fifty marks and a case of Warsteiner. You know the rest of the story.

So let’s set up the shelf. Hopefully it’s a sturdy wire one, but even if you’ve got that craptastic adjustable one that stays up by forcing four little rubber feet into the walls of the locker, all is not lost. Our goal here is to create two distinct areas in your locker. The last thing you need is items from your personal life fraternizing with items from your academic life. This can be disastrous. Need proof?

Consider my “friend” “Gary.” Now, “Gary” wasn’t the suavest guy in high school, so when a girl gave him her number sophomore year and told him to call her even though they weren’t working on a group project together, it was a pretty big deal. So “Gary,” who didn’t own a cell phone at the time, tossed the note containing the girl’s number up on top of his books, thinking he’d grab it after school and give her a call.

He didn’t, and not because “Gary” was a wimp. Instead, he was a mess, and the girl’s number disappeared. He found it four months later, hiding in the pages of his trigonometry textbook. Elation filled his heart as he thought, “Hey, I’ll call her now,” but then he remembered that she was dating the captain of the football team. Don’t be a “Gary.” Get that shelf up now, and use it to store important personal items. Don’t let books come between you and a hot date.

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