Getting organised

Starting high school often means extra demands on your time. The following tips on getting organised will help you balance your school work, homework, assignments, and your life outside of school.

Your diary

Your school diary is going to be one of the most important things in your school bag, so find one that works for you. Your school may provide a traditional diary or they may have an e-diary. There are also lots of diary-style apps if you have a smart phone or tablet. Some students have found that using a combination of an app or e-diary with a printed planner works well - just be sure to update all of them! Also, check the school policy on using your phone at school.

Tips for using your diary

Write down your assigned homework for each day, as well as the date the homework is due.

Flick ahead and write down the due dates for larger assignments.

Once you have decided how you will approach your major assignments, give yourself some regular deadlines for when you'd like specific elements finalised e.g. have section one drafted by 1 June.

Try colour coding your diary and/or calendar e.g. homework (black), assignment due dates (red), extra-curricular activities (blue).

Writing to-do lists can be helpful. Have different lists for tasks you want to finish today, this week, this month and this term.

Getting organised

Lets get organised! Here are a few tips to help you get and stay organised.

Tips for getting organised

Don't wait until the last minute to do things. Think about the consequences if you decide not to study for a test and choose to watch a movie instead. Try creating a "possible consequences" list to help you make these decisions.

Develop good study habits. Try to schedule time to do your homework, plus work on long-term projects, every day.

Set up a study space where you can keep, and have easy access to, all of your textbooks, dictionaries, reference guides, study booklets, folders and other important material. A study space is also useful for storing all your equipment and stationery. Use a separate folder/notebook/binder for each subject.

Know where all parts of your uniform are (sports kit, hats etc.).

Keep your room, desk and bag clean and tidy so it's easy to find things when you're in a hurry.

Don't forget to take a break, eat nutritious food and have fun!

Understanding your timetable

Your timetable tells you how your school day will be divided; giving you an idea of which subjects you have on what day and at what time. You can use your timetable to plan your day and week ahead.

Tips for using your timetable

You may have single and double classes/periods throughout the week. Double periods can often be used for completing practical tasks or studying topics in greater depth.

Colour code subjects on your timetable so you can easily see when you next have English, science or history.

Print out multiple copies of your timetable and keep them in your diary, near your study space at home, on the fridge, and in your locker (if your school has them).

Before you go to bed, check your timetable and pack your bag with books and materials for tomorrow's classes.

Study tips

Set goals

Setting goals is a good way to keep motivated with your study. Goals can be short-term, like finishing your homework tonight, or long-term, like achieving a certain grade in a class.

To set goals, think about what's important to you. Then write down specific things you want to accomplish and a date or time-frame you want to complete it by. Then think of small and achievable steps you can target to get there.

To be realistic, your goals should be things that are within your control, within your skills and abilities, and a little flexible, in case things go wrong.

Manage your study time

It helps to plan when you will study and how you can make the most of your study time. Use your assessment planner, diary or a calendar to help you keep track of assignment due dates and exams, and plan ahead. You could also make copies for your study space wall, the inside of your diary, your fridge at home or even your locker (if your school has them).

Be sure to space out your study time for the term or plan some extra study in the lead up to exams. Don't try to cram it all in the night before! Do the hardest work when you're feeling your best. Save the easy stuff for when you're tired.

Maximise your concentration - if you find playing music helps you concentrate, keep the volume low. Making a sign with 'Quiet please, I'm studying' or 'Please do not disturb' can help remind people in your home to keep the noise and distractions to a minimum while you're studying.

Create a flexible study plan

Before throwing yourself into studying, think about making a study plan or schedule for doing homework and regular study. Creating and following a study schedule can help you concentrate, remember the things you've learned in school and effectively manage your time. Follow these steps to make a flexible study plan:

  1. Create or purchase a calendar or planner for each term. Make sure there is enough space under each day to make notes.
  2. On your planner, block out the hours you're busy at school, doing after school activities (such as, sport, music, dance and other activities), or spending time with your family.
  3. Decide how many hours of study a week you plan to do. Four to five hours per week is a good starting point for students in Junior Secondary. Highlight when you plan to do this study.
  4. Decide how much time you need to allocate to each subject (they may not all be equal) and slot these into your study planner.
  5. Add the due dates of your assignments and scheduled exams. Then work backwards, allocating blocks of study time, to make sure you've enough time to prepare.
  6. Schedule most of your study during the week to leave your weekend free. If something unexpected arises, you can use some of your weekend to catch up and still meet your study goals.
  7. Put copies of your study planner on the fridge, on the wall near your desk or quite study space, and in your diary.

For examples, search "how to create a flexible study planner" on the internet or YouTube.

Make your desk work for you

Having a well-equipped and organised study area is important for good studying. It should be quiet, well equipped and free from distractions and interruptions. Having a study planner and your diary easily accessible will help you focus your attention on how you will spend your study time.

Your desk or table should be large enough to hold everything you need. A bookshelf or other storage space can help you organise your essential items and keep your desk free from clutter. You may have long stretches of study time sitting down, so finding a chair that's comfortable is important. So too is having enough light so that you can see your work without straining your eyes.

If your study area is in a shared space, try working out a roster so that everyone in your home will know when you're going to be using the space. Don't forget to have regular breaks, snacks on hand and plenty of water.