Keeping abreast of school assignments, tests, and projects can be quite a hassle if you are not organized. Not only can good organizational skills help you complete tasks in an orderly and timely manner, good organizational skills can also help you stay focused and earn higher grades and better test scores.
In this two-part article, we’ll talk about organizing your: a) things b) work space c) schoolwork and d) time.
Organize your things:
A first step in becoming more organized and thus effective at school (and everywhere else) could be to focus on organizing the physical things around you, like your binder, backpack, and laptop.
Binder - To stay on top of all your classes, it is best to have a notebook and a binder with dividers for each class. Try to minimize losing or scattering your notes around by keeping all your notes for one class in the same notebook, preferably in chronological order. Having your notes all in one place, and organized chronologically and neatly will make locating specific notes easier.
Store your notebook in a binder. Make sure to have dividers for assigned homework, documents your teacher handouts to you, completed tests, and completed homework. Having dividers for each of these sections will make it easier to review old tests and homework for test preparation, and will decrease the amount of time you spend shuffling in your backpack looking for your latest homework assignment.
It is best to have a color-coded system wherein each notebook and binder for each class matches. Again, this will save you time in trying to find and identify which notebook is for what class. Label your binder and notebook with the subject of the class you are using it for.
Backpack - You should never have any loose papers or documents in your backpack ever! All papers, notes, and documents should always be placed in the appropriate binder, or divider sleeve! Make sure to bring only binders, notebooks, and textbooks that you will need for your class, and store all other binders and textbooks in your locker or at home.
Keep all of your pens and pencils together in a pencil bag. Also, make sure to store all of the necessary tools and implements (e.g. protractor, compass, calculator) in a case. Never have tools and pencils and pens floating around in a disorganized fashion in your backpack! By having all of your pens and pencils together in one case, and all of your tools and implements in another case, you save time having to dig and find these items that you will need in class. Having everything organized also promotes a sense of calm and minimizes stress, since you aren’t looking for necessary things, like a pencil, in a frantic frenzy.
Locker - Try to keep your locker organized by creating a system of storing your notebooks, binders, and textbooks. If necessary, purchase a shelf to help you utilize the space in your locker more effectively. You can also invest in a whiteboard to hang in your locker in order to remind you of important events or upcoming due dates for tests, projects, and assignments. Also consider taping your class schedule in your locker, as well as hanging a calendar in your locker. Taking such steps will help you stay abreast of due dates for assignments, and will encourage you to prioritize tasks if you are able to see what important events are coming up every time that you open your locker. Additionally, keeping an organized locker will prevent you from losing important documents in your locker.
Laptop - If you use a laptop to take notes or complete class assignments, make sure that you create a folder for each subject (color-coded of course!), and create subfolders for assignments, papers, presentations, etc. Take time to organize and clean out your folders at least once a week. If you really like taking notes on a laptop, consider a tool like Evernote for keeping virtual notes.
Sometimes it may be difficult to keep or binders, notebooks, backpack, and laptop organized at all times. Try to schedule 5-10 minutes a day organizing all your notes, documents, pencils, and other implements. Another strategy is to spend 30 minutes every Friday after school organizing all of your binders, notebooks, backpack, and laptop. You can also use this time to cull and get rid of unnecessary documents, broken pencils, and leftover wrappers or junk that are in your backpack. It is very important to schedule time to clean and organize your things so that you don’t lose track of important documents or carry around unnecessary things/documents. Culling will minimize confusion and stress that may stem from losing assignments, or bringing in the wrong document/assignment to class.
Many people find they are far more productive and better able to retain information and understand difficult concepts when they are working on a structured, clean environment.
Try to have a designated workspace at home where you can work on completing homework assignments and studying for tests and quizzes. Always make sure that your workspace is clean and quiet. Keep your workspace stocked with note-taking paper, pencils, pens, and other school supplies that you may need to complete an assignment or project. Keep your backpack and textbooks close to your workspace. Having a clean and organized workspace will allow you to complete your assignments in a calm atmosphere and will minimize the chances of you losing assignments or important documents.
Once you completed all of your homework, place your homework in the appropriate binders, and place everything you will need for the following day in your backpack. You should always take time to prepare and get everything you will need ready for tomorrow the night before.
In our next article, we’ll discuss how to organize your work space, and perhaps most importantly, your time.