With five days
full of classes to keep up with, not to mention homework, sports and
after-school activities, family time and time with friends it's often difficult
to stay on top of your schoolwork and manage free time.
Gain control over your life by learning how to organize properly with these
How Do You
What exactly does an organized student look like? Thankfully, there are
some easy ways to tell if you measure up or need a little schooling in
organization. Start by asking:
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you might need a little
The Bottom Line
Don't get upset if your backpack , desk and locker are on the messy side.
Organization is not a trait we're born with, it's something that must be
learned and then practiced. Fortunately, the right supplies will help you
on the path to organization success.
The Right School
Tools - Building Blocks of School Supplies
Here are some basic tools to get you organized. Feel free to mix and match
these options to create a system that works for you:
This is a must-have. Look for one large enough to store all the papers and
folders you'll collect throughout the school year or semester. Use binder
accessories to help manage your binder contents.
Separate binder contents. Don't forget to label tabs to create different binder
sections for homework, assignments, quizzes, etc.
Insert sheet protectors to shield important papers from the occasional rain
shower (or soda spill!)
Store smaller supplies (e.g. pencils, pens, highlighters, index cards,
calculators, etc.) in convenient binder pockets. These portable pouches will
keep your backpack from turning into a messy jumble of supplies.
Pre-punched or Snap-In Folders
Insert these twin pocket folders into a three-ring binder. They are a
convenient way to keep track of homework, project instructions, permission
slips and other loose paper. To easily find papers, label each folder based on
contents (e.g. homework, current assignments, tests, etc.).
These are great for storing extra papers and keeping track of important
information. Pick colorful folders or designs that say something about you.
Coordinating folder and binder colors will help you to find your paperwork
A calendar can help provide a big-picture view of your classes (and lessen your
chance of forgetting tasks). Avoid last-minute stress from rushing to complete
another huge project again - write reminders well in advance of the due date,
so you can get a jumpstart. Calendars are also great to keep track of your
extra curricular activities, doctor's appointments, field trips and any other
The Right Bag
Choose a backpack or book bag that matches your personality and has plenty of
pockets for storage. Reduce clutter, by emptying your bag once each week, on a
specific day. You'll find missing assignments and perhaps even that lost banana
A Study Space
Before you set up your work area, think about how you like to study. The
answers to these questions will give you an idea of how to set up your work
Regardless of how you study, you need to stay focused. Remember,
distractions and endless searching for misplaced paperwork wastes tons of
time. You can quickly create order by focusing on one thing at a time and
designing an organizational system that works for you.
Papers, Notes, Files and More
There are several simple ways to organize your schoolwork - but feel free to
tailor these ideas to fit your personal style (after all, there's no use setting
up a system if you're not going to be able to stick with it).
Clean out your backpack. Dump everything out and go through each item one
by one. Separate everything into a keep pile important papers and
information you'll need to use now or to study for future tests - and a dump
pile - things you no longer need, like old homework and last months sports
Next, go through your keep pile and figure out how to store this
information. Consider keeping papers in a three-ring binder or placing them in
a two-pocket folder for future reference. You may also decide to file
your notes and papers in a file folder and keep them at your desk for future
Finally, don't forget to throw out the dump pile.
Color Code By Subject
Assign each subject its own color (think green for biology, red for math, blue
for English, etc.), then make sure everything you buy for that subject is the
right color. This is a great system because it cuts down on time spent
looking for things, you'll be able to tell which binder or notebook is the
right one with just a glance.
Keep at least two binders (or one binder with two sections) for each class one
to hold all of your important review handouts and notes, and another for all of
your day-to-day class notes. When it comes time to study, you won't have
to waste time searching for the handout or notes you need.
Make sure you date your notes each day, and label whether you were taking notes
in class or from the textbook. This makes it clear which notes need to be
studied for any given test.
Only highlight the main ideas on a page. Its easy to go overboard and end
up with full pages of highlighting, but that won't help when you go back to
review your notes.
Use index cards as flash cards to help you study they're inexpensive, and will
help you memorize theories and facts. Just write the question on the
front side and the answer on the back.
Managing Your Desk
Once you have a system in place to help keep track of all your papers, you can
now focus on organizing your desk.
If your desk is small, the easiest way to make it seem bigger is to
create a place for everything you'll need (this also keeps clutter to a
minimum). Keep in mind that homework and handouts aren't the only thing you'll
need to keep track of. Copies of old tests and magazines can easily be
filed away or stored in a folder. There are many organizational supplies
to help you keep everything tidy (such as stackable organizers, magazine
holders and more), so experiment with the different solutions until you find
ones that work for you.
Don't forget about your desk supplies, you probably have a variety of
highlighters, paper- or binder clips, pens, pencils, paper, a stapler and a
three-hole punch. If you can't fit all of these in your drawers, look for
small baskets, pen holders and other desktop storage to help keep these small
items in place.
Now that we've explored the basics of organizing your room, we'll cover the
trickiest subject of all, planning ahead and managing your time.
Ahead Time Management
It's amazing how fast time can go by, keep the big picture in mind with a
portable, wall or desktop calendar. At the beginning of the year (or when
your teacher tells you there's a test coming up), mark all of your upcoming
exams, dances, practices, games, etc. on the calendar. This not only
helps you plan your schoolwork, it will actually let you organize your social
After a couple of weeks, you'll find that planning your time will become a habit
and you will be setting yourself up for success in school. In the
meantime, here are some additional tips for managing your time:
Make Time To Study
And mark this time on your calendar! Doing so helps you avoid
procrastination and stops you from double-booking yourself. But, when
you're studying for any length of time, remember to reward yourself with
five-minute breaks and small treats. Also, set reasonable goals for
yourself. If you have four chapters to review for a test, aim to be done
with two chapters in time to join friends for a walk or a snack.
Always work on the most important assignments with the closest deadlines and
set aside time to work on longer-term projects.
For a large project, break it down. Divide the project into several smaller
steps so it doesn't appear so overwhelming. Be sure to jot down when you
will work on these pieces in your calendar.
Weekly To-Do Lists
Making a list of smaller tasks lets you cross off finished items as the week
progresses. Seeing all the crossed-out items is a visible reminder of
your progress and an amazing motivator.
Monthly To-Do List
Larger to-do lists should be reserved for big responsibilities, like research
papers and finals. As with the weekly lists, crossing off items as you
accomplish them is incredibly satisfying (and a great excuse to reward yourself
with a small treat).
practice makes perfect! Don't forget, everyone needs a little
organizational refresher every now and then. Have confidence you can reach your
organization goal! Take pride in your accomplishments and pat yourself on
the back. Before you know it, your teachers, parents and friends will
notice and be impressed with the newly-organized you.
And to be sure you stay on track, download the .pdf "Keeping it Together".
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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.