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Opinion

How to Stay Organized for the School Year and Beyond

December 27, 2018
Noah Vermes

Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States

You walk through the door to your house after an exhausting Monday at school, nothing on your mind except the upcoming 11:59 PM essay deadline, the homework due, and the math test tomorrow, let alone the numerous other assignments and exams scattered throughout the rest of the week. Sitting down to begin the hours of writing and studying awaiting you, your mom walks into the room.

“Ready for your doctor’s appointment? We’re going to try to get in early so that we aren’t late for our dinner plans!” She proclaims cheerfully.

Oh no! How could you forget the two things that your mom expected you to remember? You’ve had nearly a week to write this essay and to study, and all you have is an improperly-formatted heading and half of a thesis statement! Now, what are you going to do? Will you disappoint your mom by canceling her dinner plans to work on your homework? Or will you rush to put together a halfway-decent essay and then stay up until 3 AM studying for the test?

If this situation sounds familiar, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many others across the world, including myself, have been in similar positions, too.

This year, I’ve made a promise to myself to become much more organized as, in years past, I’ve often forgotten about plans with friends and family, upcoming appointments, due dates, deadlines, and the like. I’ve now found that, after incorporating new methods and actions into my lifestyle and daily routine, I can truncate and streamline the amount of time I spend on my work and know what I have planned for the upcoming week(s). Below, I have listed tips that have helped me, in the hopes that they can help you, too!

1. You are the only one who can be accountable for you!

While it may be convenient to ask your friends and family to remind you of the homework that’s due or of your upcoming dentist appointment, it’s not their fault if they forget to tell you when you can’t remember. With everything going on in their life, you can’t always expect them to be responsible for your schedule, too. Even though it does help to have an extra person to help you straighten out your daily life, you are ultimately the one in charge of your life!

To stay on top of your undoubtedly busy schedule, I suggest keeping a calendar. I personally use a monthly calendar — similar to that you can buy at Staples or Office Depot — to keeps track of my monthly meetings, weekly work schedule, and daily homework assignments. You can make your schedule as detailed or as simple as you want, but make sure that the calendar works for you and is regularly updated to fit your needs!

2. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!

Stay consistent — when I come home from school or work, I always make sure to start my assignments in the same spot and at similar times every single day. By doing this, I incorporate my to-do list of work into my daily routine and allow it to become a habit. Consistency is crucial when you want to stay organized and want to get everything done!

3. Use your “distractions” to your advantage!

As teens and young leaders in the 21st century, we live in a world teeming with amazing innovations in technology. However, we can sometimes be distracted when working near our cell phones or laptops. For me, I use Apple’s “Screen Time” feature to regulate my cell phone usage when working on schoolwork. Not to mention, I use apps like Spotify and Soundcloud to listen to music when studying.

Note: Be sure that the music you listen to won’t distract you from your work. Playlists that play white noise or nature sounds can honestly make a huge difference!

4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

I get it. After-school jobs, extracurriculars, sports, and the like can make it difficult to find the time to complete all of your required schoolwork. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I always make sure to speak with my work supervisor and my parents to work out a plan that will help me to get everything done that I need to. Effective communication is crucial if you’re feeling overwhelmed or if you just need more time for specific deadlines.

Note: Not that it will always guarantee you an extension, but it will always help to communicate with your teachers if there are any extraneous circumstances that will prevent you from reaching certain deadlines!

5. Change will happen slowly but surely — don’t rush it!

I wholeheartedly believe that following any or all of these tips will help you become a more organized person in the future. However, I don't suggest attempting to integrate all of these tips into your daily routine at once. I recommend that you try out each of these, one-at-a-time, to see which ones work for you. What works for me may not necessarily work for you, and that's okay!

6. Enjoy yourself—overworking yourself will never have a positive effect!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” —Ferris Bueller

Above all, make sure you’re leaving time for you. While school does hold an impact on your future, don’t let your grades define who you are. Let your interests, your passions, and your aspirations determine who you are and who you want to be. Spend time doing what you love and away from the monotony of homework, deadlines, and work. Enjoy the here and now, as there is no moment like the present!

Noah Vermes is an Aleph from South Jersey Region and enjoys traveling, exotic food, and Brockhampton.

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