A how to guide for students to consider on the path to being a pro planner, enhancing their organizational skills and sharpening their attention on what is most critical to being successful academically.
How to plan, organize and focus
Being a student is hard work and organizational skills for students don’t necessarily come naturally. It is essentially a full-time job, several full- time jobs in fact, occurring simultaneously! How to you find a balance? Do you know how to study effectively? Would you like to access and celebrate success? Navigating your academic career requires some serious skill building. Let’s explore some foundational concepts to plan, organize and focus on what you need to be a strong student. The following are organizational skills for students to learn how to study and plan with confidence!
Planning is Key
Successful students have learned that to achieve a goal, they must take small steps to break down tasks into manageable, bite- sized chunks to develop strong organizational skills.
- Make a to-do list and write it out- You’ll be more likely to stick to your plan this way!
- Organize your requirements and tasks into a schedule or in a planner. Pace things out. Do you have a rubric with different due dates for an outline, rough draft, peer review, final draft, etc?
- Pro Tip-Visit the office supply store and browse the planners, select one that supports your needs- monthly, weekly, daily planning are all available options! You’ll be one step closer to achieving your organizational goals!
Ask yourself the following:
- Where do you do your homework? What is this space like?
- Is it organized or messy, quiet or noisy, in a private room or a shared space?
- Do you work well in this space? Is it a space solely dedicated to your work as a student?
- Would you work better somewhere new? How can you create boundaries for work and fun?
Consider all the elements of that workspace.
- Do I find that my workspace is comfortable?
- Is my workspace maybe too comfortable?
- Are there distractions? Can you remove the distractions from your workspace or remove yourself from the space with distractions?
Your workspace needs to reflect your current needs. If you have outgrown your desk, it might be time to ask your parents to help you upgrade your space, this will help support your student organizational skills.
*Tip: Think about how you can contribute to this upgrade, maybe explore some secondhand stores or save up to offer paying for a share!
Be honest about what keeps you from being successful. Is it procrastination, distraction, boredom, lack of preparedness? What is it you are avoiding and why? How do these hurdles affect your organizational skills as a student?
- Triage your work. Just like in a hospital emergency room, you need to determine what work is the most urgent and tackle that first. Refer back to your organizational skills of list making and scheduling.
- Routines are your best friend. Once a week, make a to-do list. This list will ebb and flow as the week progresses, but each Sunday afternoon or evening, dedicate some time to looking ahead at the week and knowing what is coming with schoolwork, sports or play practice, etc. Organizing your time means you won’t back yourself into a corner by thinking you can put something off, only to realize you have more to do than time to do it.
- Rewards! Set time for yourself to take a break. Have some go- to rewards for completing an assignment or a task on your to- do list. Maybe you take your dog for a walk, paint your nails, or have a snack and watch a show. Whatever it is that feels healthy and rewarding for you, do it! You earned it.
Pro Tip: Set your phone notifications on silent and put your phone away during your dedicated study/ work times. Looking at your alerts and socials can be part of your reward. Phone interruption only prolongs task completion and dramatically impacts your organizational skills and focus.
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.