Get Organized in 5
These brilliant life hacks will help you juggle your crazy-busy year.
Organize your homework
WHY: You’re constantly ransacking your locker looking for last night’s assignment. You did it—now where is it?
HOW: Having a million random notebooks and folders will drive you nuts. Instead, use THE COLOR SYSTEM —assign a different color to each class. For example, use red for math and you’ll always know that your algebra stuff is inside your red folder and notebook. This leads to fewer pre-class panics and less “Wait, did I bring ______ home with me?!” stress.
EXTRA TIP: Use the brightest, loudest folder as your “whatever” folder, where you stash the stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere else.
Organize your time
WHY: Last night you researched next week’s Othello paper . . . but forgot to finish your social studies project that’s due in two minutes. Yikes!
HOW: Every day on the bus home, take five minutes and force yourself to make a TONIGHT PLAN —it’s one step smarter than a vague to-do list. Write down: (1) what you need to do before tomorrow, (2) what order you’ll do it in, and (3) how much time you’ll give each task. The key is to break big jobs into smaller ones, which in turn makes those tasks feel surmountable. You’ll have more items to cross off as done, which gives you an energizing high. (Seriously! Once you feel even a little productive, you’ll start powering through all your work.)
EXTRA TIP: You can simply write things down old-school style (in a notebook or planner), or you can use a free app like Google Calendar or Wunderlist. They’ll sync across all your devices to keep you on task.
Organize your backpack
WHY: You know the permission slip you need signed is in there somewhere. But digging turns up only a stick of gum, two broken pens . . . and a crumpled math worksheet from a month ago.
HOW: Your bag is going to look like a war zone after a long week at school. That’s a given. So do the SUNDAY NIGHT SWEEP , where you take the big stuff out; turn the bag upside down; and shake, shake, shake. You want to get all those scraps and crumpled papers out of the backpack black hole and put them where they belong—whether that’s the garbage or your social studies folder. It’ll save you from carrying around 5 pounds of extra junk and ensure that nothing stays lost for long.
Organize your stuff
WHY: You show up to band without your trombone, to soccer without cleats, and to the cafeteria without your sandwich. Oops.
HOW: On most mornings, you wake up feeling more zombie than human—even putting on pants can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Instead of trusting your dimly lit morning brain to make sure you’re prepped for the day, capitalize on your late-night energy. Designate one area by the door as your GO ZONE for everything you’ll need when you leave the next day—your backpack, uniform, and so on. You’ll be less forgetful and snag extra sleep in the a.m. too!
Organize your workspace
WHY: Before you study, you spend 30 minutes deciding where to set up camp and gathering everything you need.
HOW: You’re wasting time and energy that could be used on homework, so create a designated STUDY SPOT , then stock it with whatever books and supplies you may need. Sitting there will always remind you of buckling down, and you’ll have less ground to cover when stuff goes missing. (Searching your desk is way better than tearing through the whole house!)
Expert Source: Lesley Schwartz Martin, academic coach and author of Where’s My Stuff? and Make the Grade.
Illustrations: Lauren Tamaki