Back to School Organizational Tips for High School Students
Posted on September 25 2019
It’s that time of year again. You’ve returned to school and, all of a sudden, it seems like the organizational strategies you’ve used in the past aren’t working so well anymore.
Maybe the way you scheduled your school life in the past wasn’t quite as solid as it could have been. Or maybe you didn’t really have an organizational plan at all. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help.
Now, you might have heard that the secret to happiness is to be a little disorganized. But when well-respected experts like Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, look at that contention, they say there are a lot of caveats. For one thing, Rubin says, you can afford to be less organized if you are — ready for this? — more organized to begin with.
For students, there’s no question. Better organization make you a better student.
Here are three tips for getting your school life in order.
STUDENT ORGANIZATION TIP 1: SCHEDULE A ‘POWER HOUR’
Even if you have your life scheduled down to the minute (and, in fact, especially if you have your life scheduled this precisely) there will always be things that come up, things that take a little longer, and unpredicted speedbumps that will slow you down.
Scheduling a little time into each day that is specifically dedicated to catching up is a great way to ensure that little setbacks don’t turn into big setbacks.
This isn’t the time you’ve already scheduled for homework. It’s also not an hour late at night when you’re supposed to be asleep. This is time specifically dedicated to playing catch-up.
What do you do with that time when everything is on track? You celebrate! Read a book for pleasure. Take a walk for relaxation. Call a friend. You do you.
STUDENT ORGANIZATION TIP 2: SCHEDULE THE ‘OH YEAH THATS’
Once you’ve started addressing the extra stuff with a “power hour,” something is going to become very clear, very quickly: A lot of extra stuff that you didn’t budget time in your schedule for will show up again and again.
In other words: It isn’t actually extra stuff. It’s stuff you need to be scheduling for.
Keep a running list of the stuff you do during your catch-up time. If something ends up taking up that time more than once, schedule it into your regular calendar for a few weeks. If you end up not using that time to address that specific issue, enjoy some more “you time” and, after a few weeks in which it turns out that it didn’t need to be scheduled, you can take it off the calendar.
STUDENT ORGANIZATION TIP 3: KEEP ONE CALENDAR AND PUT EVERYTHING ON IT
If you’re like a lot of students, you’ve got a lot of different schedules to keep. You’ve got a work schedule and a sports schedule. You’ve got a schedule for classes and a schedule for homework and probably a few more, too. And the problem is that these schedules are all kept in different places.
If you want to improve your organization this school year, a first essential step is to get your “to-dos” all in one place. Importantly, that doesn’t just include events like, “piano practice” and “soccer game.” It also includes anything that you’re not doing right now and you know you need to do later. When you get a new assignment in class, the first thing you should do is find time for it on your schedule. When your coach asks you to do a little extra running on the weekends, the first thing you should do is open your calendar app, find the hour you’ll dedicate to that task, and give it priority.
GETTING ORGANIZED — YOU CAN DO THIS!
A lot of people who are perpetually disorganized think it’s a character flaw, or that they just aren’t very good at getting things done. The reality is that these people don’t lack a trait, they lack a skill — and skills can be learned.
Scheduling is a skill, and when it comes to back-to-school organization, it’s a skill that anyone can learn. As you can see, the first and biggest trick is to simply not leave anything to the notion that “I’ll get to that later.” Make time for the things you need to do by putting those “to-dos” on a calendar. You’ll be amazed at how organized life feels after that.
- The American Academy: “How to take effective study breaks”
- The American Academy: “How to eliminate study distractions”