Tips on Staying Organized in High School

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    Some of the most important advice for high school relates to time management tips for students. Whether you are a high school freshman or a high school senior, it’s important to focus on cultivating good study habits and organization tips for students. Not only will this help you increase your overall productivity, but it will also help you better balance your school and social life. That means that you can find ways to still hang out with your friends and be involved in extracurricular activities without feeling too overwhelmed by your schedule.

    High school is an important time to start practicing life skills. Knowing how to choose organizational tools that work for you, incorporating your most effective study habits, and cultivating routines are all valuable skills that you will continue to practice throughout your life. Do yourself a favor and learn how to stay organized in high school, so that you can continue to find success after graduation. 

    In this article, we will focus on sharing valuable high school advice, including knowing how to practice good time management and how to stay organized for school. So if you’re looking for some practical organizational tips for students, read on!

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    The importance of routines

    Firstly, routines can be a powerful organizational tool. Not only do they help us practice time management, but the predictability of a routine helps our bodies and brains prepare for each task. For example, if your after-school routine almost always looks the same — eat a snack, take your dog for a walk, sit down for an hour and a half of homework before dinner — by the time you sit down to do your homework, you are more likely to feel focused and use your time productively. 

    Ideally, you could benefit from having several daily routines: a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine. It’s okay if you can’t manage all of this right away. After all, making and following routines takes practice! A good way to start is to identify which time of day is most difficult for you to focus on. Are you always running late to school? Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night? Do you feel restless after school?

    What are your professional goals?

    The first step toward having a successful career is to answer the question: what are your career goals? Your specific goals will vary greatly depending on your level of education, anticipated level of education, your prospective job industry, and more. Generally speaking though, the more specific your job goals the better. 

    To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

    Engaging in active self-reflection will help you to realign and readjust your professional goals as you learn more about yourself as a worker. It’s important to remember that goals and preferences can shift over time. Ultimately, this is why it’s important to periodically reflect on your career goals and recalibrate your short and long-term goals if necessary. 

    Morning routines

    If you struggle to get to school on time in the morning, you should come up with a morning routine for yourself. By planning everything out and knowing realistically how long it takes for you to get ready in the morning, you are more likely to arrive at school physically and mentally prepared — and on time. Students who rush to class in the morning often struggle to relax and readjust throughout the day. This is why a morning routine can be so helpful.

    First off, to make your mornings easier on yourself, always pack your backpack and lunch the night before. Now, let’s take a look at a high school morning routine example. Feel free to take this routine and adapt it for your own needs!

    • Wake up 
    • Brush your teeth
    • Take a shower 
    • Put on deodorant
    • Get dressed 
    • Make and eat breakfast 
    • Check your backpack
    • Go to your bus stop

    Personalize this list to fit your needs. Then determine how long it takes you to complete each task. If anything takes you longer than 15 minutes, you are probably spending too much time on that specific task. 

    After-school routines

    Some students benefit from having an after-school routine. This routine has a lot more variables than a typical morning or night routine. Some students are involved in sports, the arts, and school clubs, or are passionate about volunteer opportunities. Some students have after-school jobs or possibly even high school internships. Your after-school routine will vary a lot depending on what sorts of activities you are involved in.  

    That said, homework is a top priority for high school students and it’s important to schedule designated times to get your work done. Do you find that, generally, you can focus better directly after school or later in the evening? Do your best to find your most productive time of day to work on your homework. Then, if possible, try to find a clean, quiet place to do your work. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid studying in crowded rooms, such as your kitchen or dining room. You also don’t want to do your homework on your bed (too tempting to take a nap!). 

    Most importantly, put away your phone while you work on homework! Unfortunately, our phones are specifically designed to distract us, so it’s no wonder they’re distracting…Give yourself a minimum of two hours without your phone after school.

    Nighttime routines

    Nighttime routines are especially important for students who struggle to get enough sleep. Try your best to commit to a consistent bedtime. Limit your screen time an hour before bed, especially if you have trouble falling asleep. Do your best not to use your phone in bed. 

    Cultivating valuable soft job skills

    Entry-level jobs will help you develop valuable job skills. Some of these job skills may be industry-specific, but many of these job skills will be “soft job skills.” Remember, all of the job skills you acquire have the potential to be transferable job skills. 

    Although counterintuitive, some of the best entry-level jobs for introverts are in the customer service field. This is because confidence is key for any successful profession. You will need to know how to engage confidently and productively with other people while in a work role. 

    Let’s take a look at some of the most sought-after soft job skills you will likely develop during an entry-level job:

    You can work towards cultivating these job skills, regardless of your position. Remember, approach everything as a learning opportunity.

    Helpful organizational tools

    Finding the organizational tools that work best for you is crucial when figuring out how to stay organized for school. Let’s look at a list of some available options to help you so that you can learn how to stay organized and how to practice good time management.

    • Pencil Pouches
    • Sticky Notes
    • Backpack (Multi-Pouch)
    • Day Planner
    • Day Planner Apps
    • Folders, Notebooks, and Binders

    The most important organizational tool you can have in high school is a day planner. Write everything down. Include deadlines and highlight important dates. Write yourself reminders before upcoming tests or projects. Include social events as well. That way, you’ll be able to know which weeks are going to be extra busy well ahead of time. 

    Schools will often provide you with a day planner. If not, there are plenty of options if you want to buy your own. Physically flip through a few at a store to see which format is most appealing to you. You can even download helpful organizational apps, such as Any.doFocus Booster, Listastic, and MyStudyLife. If you prefer using digital tools, check out more apps designed for students here

    Everyone has different organizational methods and preferences, but consider the following method as a helpful starting point: 

    Step 1

    Buy a notebook and folder for each class. This will help you keep all relevant information and materials together. You may even want to color code your school supplies. For example, maybe for math class, you have a red notebook and folder and for chemistry, you have a blue notebook and folder. That way, if you’re in a rush (either at home or at your locker), you’ll be more likely to grab the correct materials. 

    Step 1

    Step 2

    Then buy yourself a three-ring binder and keep all of your notebooks and folders together.

    Step 2

    Step 3

    Make sure you have a roomy backpack with plenty of pockets. You may want to designate certain pockets for certain items so it’s easier to find things later on. For example, maybe you always keep your binder in your largest pocket and your pencil pouch in your smaller pocket.

    Step 3

    How to make a to-do list

    Knowing how to make an effective to-do list can help you stay organized and manage your time wisely. Write everything down in your day planner and detailed notes about your teachers’ expectations for each assignment. One of the keys to writing successful to-do lists is to have weekly and daily to-do lists. 

    Break your assignments down into manageable tasks. For instance, if you have a week to write a history paper, choose your essay topic and write your thesis statement on Monday. On Tuesday, conduct your research and find your sources. On Wednesday, read your sources and outline your essay. On Thursday, write your paper. Ideally, you should try to finish your assignments a day or two before their actual due date. This will help you stay organized and avoid procrastination. It will also give you extra time to polish your assignments before turning them in.

    Organizing your backpack & locker

    Some helpful, though underrated advice for high schoolers: keep your backpack and locker organized! Get into the habit of periodically cleaning out your backpack and locker. Your locker and backpack can be great organizational tools, but they can also get messy and overwhelming quickly!

    Clean out your backpack once a week. Take everything out to the resort and reorganize. Have a place in your house (or in your locker) where you keep things you want to keep but do not need to access every day. Another important student organization tip is to routinely clean out your locker. This isn’t something you necessarily need to do every week, but it is something you should try to do once a month. After all, no one wants to be the student frantically rifling through their locker with papers spilling out into the hallway while searching for an important assignment. 

    Know what study methods work for you

    Chances are you’ll have a better idea of what study methods work for you during your sophomore year of high school or your junior year of high school. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to discover what works best for you and that’s okay! Everything is a learning process. If you’re wondering how can students improve their grades? learning good study habits is one of the surest ways to do so.

    Besides finding enough time to study and a quiet place where you can feel productive, individual study methods are an important part of finding academic success. Some students gravitate towards flashcards; some students like to study in pairs and verbally quiz each other; while some students like to organize and rewrite their notes. Other study options include making a “mind map” on a whiteboard, explaining concepts to a parent, peer, or sibling, reviewing past assignments, and reciting key information.

    There is no right or wrong way to study and many students will use combinations of the methods discussed. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you may even find it helpful to pace while you study. 

    Ask clarifying questions & email your teachers

    One of the most important tips for high school students is always to ask clarifying questions. Know exactly what is expected from you for each assignment. Confirm important dates and deadlines. Know exactly how you should turn in an assignment. Do you need to email your teacher by a specific time? Do you need to bring your assignment printed out to class? Can you handwrite your assignments?

    You’ll also want to get in the habit of emailing your teachers if you have to miss class. That way, you can return to school feeling more prepared. It can be difficult to catch up with classes after being sick, so it’s extra important to practice all of your organizational and time management skills! Ask your teachers and peers lots of questions, send emails, write everything down, confirm deadlines, etc.

    Meet with your guidance counselor

    Periodically meet with your guidance counselor to check in about graduation requirements, your class schedule, Honors and AP Classes available to you, and college preparation. Your guidance counselor is a valuable resource and will have valuable tips for high schoolers. They can help you brainstorm for your college list and answer important questions such as, what should you be doing the summer before your senior year?

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    High school can be both a challenging and an exciting time. If you feel that you are struggling, reach out to your teachers and guidance counselor. Many schools offer tutoring opportunities and teachers are often willing to meet with students before or after school to review key concepts. Remember, there are lots of resources available to help you succeed. If you feel like you could benefit from professional assistance, especially during college application season, reach out to learn more about our services

    Contact a Prepory college admissions coach and start your college admissions journey.

    Our college admissions experts are here to guide you from where you are to where you should be. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and online workshops, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

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    • Assess your student’s applicant profile and higher education goals 
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