Have you ever seen that Staples commercial where the father is back-to-school shopping with his kids and the song, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is playing? Well, it’s that time of year again. Back to school time! And so I wanted to share some of the best organizing tips for students today.
It’s hard enough for your kids to get back into the swing of things come the beginning of school. But that transition will go a lot faster if they learn some organizing tips. And don’t think these tips are just for your kids. You can definitely take a few lessons from them as well.
Here are 8 of the best organizing tips for students
#1 — Create a routine
If you haven’t started a school year routine yet, now is the time to start. Kids acclimate to routines faster than adults because their brains are still developing. You should create a routine that has them getting up at a certain time, doing homework at a certain time, and going to bed at a certain time.
They’ll complain at first, but give it a week or two of consistency and they’ll adapt. Creating a routine is one of those organizing tips for students that should be the first thing you work on. Without a solid routine in place, it’ll be harder for them to focus on their studies. So start creating one now if you don’t have one already in place.
#2 — Use a paper planner
Smartphones are great and all for keeping notes and events on the calendar. But if you want your student to be successful this year, give them a paper planner. Many studies have been done to reveal the importance of writing things down. When we write down important due dates, our brain retains that information more.
Teach your child accountability. Let them be responsible for keeping track of assignments, tests, and more. It won't be your fault if they didn’t write it down in their planner. It won't be your fault if they’re cramming for a test the night before.
Show them nifty tricks to maintain an organized planner. Just remember that what works for you may not work for them. So allow them to adjust where needed.
#3 — Keep your backpack in check
Women know how quickly a purse can get disorganized. You dig through it to find one item that of course fell to the darkest trenches of the bag. And a student’s backpack can fall into similar disarray.
When looking for backpacks find a brand that has a lot of interior and exterior pockets. These will be useful to students for storing certain items in there. If your child is using the same one from last year and it doesn’t have a lot of pockets, invest in some pouches for them to use. Use these pouches to store:
Writing instruments (pens, pencils, highlighters, etc)
Cords for electrics they might need
As needed items like paperclips, mini stapler, etc
Don’t throw it all in the same pouch. Have one for each category to make finding things a breeze for your student. It's also good practice to have them clean out their backpacks once a week. Remove anything that might have fallen to the bottom. We’re going to talk about a weekly declutter in a few moments.
#4 — Single task
This is one of my favorite organizing tips for students and one people of all ages can learn from. We were taught that multitasking is the way to go if we want to be productive. But in fact, multitasking is one of the worst things we can do. Multitasking produces poor work. Our concentration suffers because we need to give ourselves time to adjust between tasks.
When your student has a lot of homework, teach them to focus on one thing at a time. Use the Pomodoro Technique in which they work on one subject for 25-minutes. After a 5-minute break, they work for another 25 minutes. They can either work on the same project — if they didn’t finish — or start something new.
This method teaches you about the importance of focusing on one task at a time as well as the importance of breaks.
#5 — Take simplified + organized notes
Everyone has a different method for taking notes. And no one seems to know what is the best way. Still, encourage your student that when in class the best method for note-taking is to keep things simple and as organized as possible.
Most teachers will put the most important information on the board. Or they’ll repeat certain phrases. That is what your student should be writing down. They should focus on writing shorter sentences rather than full-length ones. Use bullet points and underline keywords.
If they’re so inclined, tell them one way to retain the lesson better is by rewriting those notes. It’s then they can organize and color-code them. Since most initial notes tend to be messy rewriting them so they’re legible is good practice.
#6 — Reverse engineer for large projects
Reverse engineering is a great skill to learn. It forces you to take a step back and really evaluate the time you have to complete something. If your student has a few projects that aren’t due for a few months, now is the time to teach them this skill.
Have them work backward from the due date. Brainstorm all the things they need to do for this project. Some tasks might include:
Once they have a running list of small tasks, help them plan out when they should get them done. You always want to give a little leeway in case there’s a week or two where they’re busy with other work. By teaching them to work on the project a little at a time, they’ll be able to complete the project with time to spare.
#7 — Use tech to your advantage
I stressed the importance of a paper planner earlier but now I want to talk about how students can use tech to their advantage. It’s no secret that kids nowadays are practically born with a phone in their hands. But outside of social media, there are a ton of ways their phones can be helpful during the school year.
The Reminders app is an amazing tool. Schedule reminders to go off when it’s time to study or when something is due soon. Utilize the pre-loaded calendar or download Google Calendar for them to keep track of assignments and more. There are many task-oriented apps available to download as well. Some favorites include Productive, Google Tasks, and Any.do.
Since your student’s phone is with them 98% of the time, it’s a good idea to show them how beneficial it can be in relation to school.
#8 — Declutter once a week
As a professional organizer, I couldn’t help but talk about decluttering. During the school year students — and you — accumulate a lot. Whether it’s school supplies, returned essays and tests, and other official school paperwork, it all ends up in your house and in your kid’s backpack.
That’s why a once-a-week decluttering session is one of those organizing tips for students that’ll benefit everyone. Schedule a 30-minute decluttering session every Sunday. Have them clear out their backpacks and desks. Is there any paperwork they no longer need? Recycle it. Is there garbage crushed at the bottom of their backpack? Throw it away.
This weekly declutter is a great way to ensure you’re not overwhelmed with paperwork at the end of the year. Show moral support by decluttering your own purse or workspace at the same time. The more your kids see you doing something helpful, the more it’ll rub off on them.
When it comes to teaching organizing tips for students, your focus should be helping them maintain order. The school year can start off easily enough, but before they know it, they’re bombarded with assignments and tests. If they follow the majority of the above-mentioned tips they’re going to have a successful school year.
And if you want to give your student some extra tips, be sure to check out my blog post about the proper steps to take before tackling a large project. These steps can apply to anything — from home projects to school reports — all you have to do is follow the steps.
What are your favorite organizing tips for students? Were you organized when you went to school? Did you ever pull all-nighters studying? Comment below.