Staying organized and managing your time effectively is very important in high school, especially if you are trying to maximize your academic performance and reduce your overall stress levels. By building a strong foundation in time management and organization, you will develop great study habits that you can take with you to college as well! Here are FIVE tips for time management and organization that I've found to be pretty effective over the past few years:
1. Have a planner! 🗓
You’ve probably heard this already from some of your family members, teachers, and older friends in high school, but trust them― you’ll need it! For school, you do NOT want to miss out on homework points just because you forgot to complete an assignment. It’s also a good idea to mark down your extracurriculars (practice times, important competitions, volunteering, etc.) so that you know if you’ll need extra time to prepare for a test a few days in advance instead of just the night before.
Here are some of my recommendations for time management tools:
Google Calendar. If you like to manage your day-to-day schedule by planning out blocks of time, make sure to check out Google Calendar! It’s very easy to use and you can easily customize repeating class schedule times (every Monday/Tuesday/Friday from 8-10am, for example) or even add shared calendars to keep track of club meetings or team practices. Many students also use this system in college, so it’s a great way to get used to the interface early on by starting to use it in high school.
Google Tasks. If you already use Google Calendar, Google Tasks is a great addition! You can use it to manage your daily tasks, like reading a few chapters for English or finishing up your Math homework. On Google Calendar, these tasks will pop up on the side, so you can keep everything you need to do for that day contained in one tab.
Notion. While not as straightforward as Google Tasks, Notion is a great option if you want to customize your workspace. You can shift around “blocks” with your daily tasks, organize notes for class, or even keep a calendar all in one system.
Paper Planner. This is the more traditional route, but one that is very useful still and does its job well! Most paper planners have space where you can mark important dates and events on a calendar as well as a place to keep track of your tasks by writing them in next to checkboxes.
2. Always prioritize ✔️
As you start to take more classes and join more and more extracurriculars, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to figure out what tasks to do and when to do them. Remember to always put assignments due first at the top of your task list. If you have a social event you really want to go to but falls in the middle of the school week, make sure to either a) plan ahead of time by making sure all of your tasks are done beforehand or b) skip out on the event altogether. While this varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the importance of the event vs. the importance of the assignment, school should always remain as a top priority if you are striving for academic success.
3. Take advantage of small breaks ⏰
Using your time wisely is one of the most important things to keep in mind as you try to complete all of your tasks. It’s easy to forget that the school schedule actually offers a lot of time in between classes/extracurriculars for working on assignments!
During a “flex” period or study hall, make sure to actually focus on your homework during that time if you want to make the most out of your work day. You can also squeeze in a few problems in between class time and extracurriculars by staying in the library instead of going back home. For example, even if I had 90 minutes in between my last class period and practice, I would opt to study in the library instead of using that time to drive back home to grab a quick snack.
If your teacher gives you time during class to get a head start on your homework, actually use it! It’s a great way to stay focused in a quiet classroom setting and your teacher can answer any questions that come up while you do your assignment. Your future self will definitely thank you later.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! ☎️
Sometimes when you’re stuck on a problem, it’s easy to mull over it and spend lots of time trying to figure it out. In order to use your time the most effectively, make sure to ask your friends, family, or even your teachers (during office hours) for help! You should only do this occasionally, of course, since it’s also a good idea to push your brain out of its comfort zone for a bit. You can also use free resources, like your textbook, videos on YouTube, or even Khan Academy, to help you review more difficult concepts.
5. Use the Pomodoro Method ⏳
In order to maximize your ability to focus and use your time efficiently, you can also try using the Pomodoro method! Just set a timer for 25-30 minutes and focus solely on the task at hand during that time period. Once the timer is up, you can take a break for 5-10 minutes before going back to another 25-30 minute study session. This method works really well if you have a tendency to procrastinate or have trouble starting new assignments/tasks in general.
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