6 ways to stay organized during the school year

Good organizational habits go hand in hand with successful time management, helping students achieve their goals more efficiently. By arranging their thoughts, tools, and tasks in a structured way, students can work more quickly and with greater accuracy.

The organizational habits and routines students build now can set them up for success years into the future. Here are six ways students can keep themselves organized throughout the school year.

1. Set up your study space.

Your learning environment can help you study and complete tasks more effectively. When choosing where to study, you can consider what the lighting and internet access are like, if you’re able to set your chair and computer to heights that are physically comfortable for you, and whether there are ways you can limit distractions in that space.

And if not all of that is possible, or you’re in a place where privacy is hard, that’s okay. There are things you can do to adjust and increase your organization in whatever way works for you. For example, you might have a specific desk or a table at your house where you can sit. You might be able to close the door to have the space to yourself—or if that’s not possible, you may be able to turn your seat so you have a corner of room to yourself or even set up some kind of visual barrier, like a blanket, and wear headphones to limit distracting noises.

2. Keep your work in the same spot.

If you know where everything is located, you can find the materials you need more quickly in the moment, not to mention prevent important books and papers from getting lost. The place where you keep your work and materials could be a shelf where you’ve organized books and folders by subject area, a desk drawer, or maybe even your backpack. If you have a folder for each subject, you can keep that folder in the same spot inside your desk drawer or backpack so that you always know where to find what you need.

3. Figure out which organizational tools and apps work best for you.

There are a ton of tools and apps out there that can help you stay organized when it comes to managing your schedule, storing and studying information, and staying on top of deadlines. Before deciding which tools you’ll use, think about whether you're more likely to stick with physical or digital tools, what's worked well for you in the past, and which steps you need the most help with (such as keeping track of multiple assignments or organizing the materials you need to study for your classes). For example, you might find tools like Google Calendar, Todoist, and Microsoft OneNote to be helpful for managing your schedule, setting reminders, prioritizing tasks, and taking notes.

Alternatively, if you prefer a physical system, you can use a planner or simply write out your weekly schedule and tasks in a notebook or a piece of paper you keep in a folder with your other materials. The key is to find a system that works for you.

4. Build a routine.

Having systems and routines for keeping your study space and schedule organized will save you time and reduce stress, putting you in a better position to achieve your goals. For that reason, it can be helpful to establish a short and simple routine for the beginning and end of every day.

Think about when you’ll review your calendar, when and where you’ll update your task lists, and how you’ll reward yourself along the way. For example, in the morning, you might check your calendar and to-do list to remind yourself of what you'll work on that day. As you complete tasks throughout the day, you can check them off your list. Before bed, you can think about an accomplishment you're proud of and update your task list for the next day.

5. Reflect and revise.

It can take a few weeks to build a new habit, so don’t pressure yourself to follow every step perfectly right away. You can try new routines for a week or so, experiment with different apps and tools, and ask yourself what worked or didn’t work so that you can make adjustments moving forward. As you build these new habits, you’ll be able to streamline many areas of your life and feel more in control of your workload and responsibilities.

6. Ask for help.

Switching up your systems and routines can feel new or challenging, so don't be afraid to ask a parent, teacher, or friend for support. They may be able to help you figure out where to start and encourage you to stick with it.

The ArborBridge team is here to help, too. To support students in strengthening their organizational, time management, and social-emotional skills for academic success, we've developed a four-part Academic Mentorship program that focuses on the independent study skills and social-emotional strategies our experts know students need in order to stay on top of their academic and other commitments. To learn more, reach out to us here.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

About Erin Ohsie-Frauenhofer

As one of the highest-performing tutors in ArborBridge’s history, Erin coaches tutors and develops tools and trainings to disrupt old habits and empower new strengths. With a Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, Erin worked as a classroom teacher and student services director prior to joining ArborBridge in 2017. Her decade of success as an educator has prepared her to ensure that programs are tailored to individual students’ needs.

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