Between school work, studying, extracurricular activities, and finding time for a social life, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything. When I first started high school, I had a rough time figuring out how to fit everything in, not to mention which assignments were due when. My school had the very clever idea of giving us agendas at the beginning of the year. That helped significantly, but even that wasn’t enough for me to organize my life.
As a pretty messy person in general, getting organized seemed like an impossible feat at first, like teaching-my-dog-to-do-my-homework-for-me impossible. However, with a few tips and tricks I gathered from my friends, suddenly getting organized seemed vaguely possible. Over the years, I’ve found which tricks work best for me and thanks to my super awesome new skills, I have two months of high school left and I’ve kept my head above water. Try a few of these tricks, stick to them until it becomes habit, and you’ll find your life is much easier.
1. Invest in an Agenda
The first thing you should do in any situation where you feel overwhelmed is to buy an agenda. Writing down all tests, quizzes, and homework as well as the date they are due, makes keeping track of your life so much easier. Invest in a good-sized agenda with ample space for day-to-day notes. (Personally, I have an aqua blue Lily Pulitzer agenda and I’ve found it has just the right amount of space for everything to fit.) Start with writing down your assignments under the day it was assigned and recording the due date next to the assignment. Then write down all important assignments, like tests or major projects, on the month page. That way, even if you only skim over your agenda, you won’t miss the really important stuff.
A good tip for using an agenda is to color code everything. Choose different colored highlighters for different assignments to make them easier to spot. For example, highlight all tests green, all quizzes blue, and all projects orange. That way, it makes it even easier to pick out the important stuff and it helps you manage your time better. Be aware of how many big assignments you have coming up each week and plan accordingly. Always leave a little more time than you think for studying or homework will take just in case.
The last, but certainly one of the most important steps to having an agenda, is to check everything off once you complete it. As soon as you finish an assignment, draw a thick black line through it so you know it’s completely done. This allows you to easily see what you have left to do for tomorrow and makes it perfectly clear when you’ve finished everything for the night.
2. Try a Calendar
Calendars might seem a little bit old-school, but they can be incredibly helpful! I definitely use one and all of my friends use one. It’s the perfect tool for planning all of your academic engagements and your social engagements.
When you do choose a calendar, pick one that fits your personality and one that you find interesting. (I’m way too old to have a One Direction calendar, but I have one anyways. What? They’re cute!) Make sure to put it in a place where you can easily see it. Over your bed, by your door, or by your desk are all perfect places for a calendar. Whatever you do, make sure to only use one calendar. Using more than one calendar causes a lot of confusion and can cause you to double-book social engagements. Use one for all types of events during the week or the weekend and you will easily be able to plan ahead and prepare for your week.
3. Post-It-Note Reminders
Another trick I frequently use is the Post-It Note. Oh how I love my incredible, colorful, sticky Post-It Notes; they’ve always got my back. Whenever I have an important event for the next day, homework I need to get from the printer, or clothes I need to pack for my dance classes, I write it down on a sticky note and put it on my door, right above the door knob. That way, when I drag myself out of bed in the morning, I’ll remember to get what I need for my day, even in all of my pre-coffee, zombie-like glory.
The same trick can be used for homework assignments. If you have a really big test coming up in the next few days, leave a sticky note by your mirror or on your desk to remind you to study for a little while. You can also leave sticky notes reminding yourself to grab a certain book from the library or to email your teacher about one of your grades.
Sometimes I even go a step further and use Post-It Notes to plan out papers I have to write. If you have a blank section on one of your walls, write down all the ideas and facts you need to incorporate into your paper and stick them all on the wall. Then, rearrange them into concise, cohesive paragraphs and your paper is pretty much done! It really helps, especially when you have no idea where to begin.
4. Phone Reminders
Students nowadays have access to so much more than students of previous generations did. What exactly am I talking about? Smartphones. We’re glued to our phones anyways, so we might as well do something important with them.
Most phones now have a wonderful reminder feature. You can set an alert to pop up on the home screen at a specified time. This means you can set an alert to remind you to finish your math homework packet at 6 PM, the time you normally get home from sports practice. It even lets out a little ring tone to let you know you have something that needs to be done. It’s a wonderful way to make sure you’re on top of your work. Not to mention, since it’s on your cell phone, you’re sure to see it right away.
5. Make the Choice to Get Organized
Sometimes it feels like there’s a never-ending list of things to do and it can be completely and utterly overwhelming. The best thing to do is to take a step back and tackle it piece by piece. Keeping your life organized helps you budget your time and reduce that overwhelming list to a manageable one. Try some of these simple tips and choose the ones that work best for you. Choose all of them if you can! It’s amazing how much easier your life can be with a little organization.