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Organizing Schoolwork & Assignments

Learning how to get organized, stay focused, and get things done are must-have skills when it comes to managing your schoolwork. Beyond helping you get good grades, these skills help you in just about everything in life. The more you practice, the better you'll get.

Get Organized

Organize Your Stuff. Being organized makes everything else easier. It helps you get to work faster without wasting time looking for stuff.

Keep your assignments and class information organized by subject. Put them in binders, notebooks, or folders. If you find yourself stuffing loose papers in your bag or grabbing different notebooks for the same class, it's time to stop and reorganize!

Clean out your backpack regularly. Decide where to keep returned assignments and things you want to hold on to. Offload things you no longer need to carry around.

Organize Your Space. You need a good workspace — someplace quiet enough to focus. It's best to work at a desk or table where you can spread out your work. Have a place set aside for homework. That way, when you sit down, your mind knows you're there to work and can help you focus more quickly.

Organize Your Time. Use a planner or organization app to keep track of your schoolwork:

  • Write down all your assignments and when they're due.
  • Break big projects into parts. Note the dates when each part needs to be completed. Mark in your planner when you'll work on each part.
  • Mark the dates you'll have tests, then make a note of when you'll study for them. Don't leave things until the last minute — you'll only end up working twice as hard to do half as well. One sure way to reduce test anxiety is to prepare by studying (really!).
  • Enter other activities on your calendar — such as team practices, drama rehearsals, plans with friends, etc. This helps you see ahead of time when things might get too busy to get all your work done. Use your planner to schedule what time you'll do your schoolwork on days you have other activities.

Get Focused

Avoid Distractions. When you multi-task you're less focused. That means you're less likely to do well on that test. Park your devices and only check them after your work is done.

Some people concentrate best when it's quiet. Others say they study best if they listen to background music. If you study with music on, make sure it isn't going to sidetrack you into singing the lyrics and dancing all over your room. If you find yourself reading the same page over and over, it's a clue that the music is a distraction, not a help.

Take Breaks. Taking a short break between assignments can help your mind stay fresh and focused.

Get up from your desk, move, stretch, or walk around to clear your head. Allow your mind to absorb what you've just studied. Break time is when you can put on a song that makes you dance and sing! Just make sure you get back to your studies in a few minutes.

Refocus Yourself. If you find yourself getting distracted and thinking about other things, pull your attention back into study mode as soon as possible. Remind yourself that now it's time to stay on task.

Get It Done!

Stay focused as you do the final steps and details. Encourage yourself — you're almost at the finish line! Check your completed work. Put your work into the right folder or binder. Pack up your backpack for tomorrow. Now you've got it DONE.

In summary, here's a quick checklist of things that can help you organize, focus, and get it done:

  • DO know your deadlines.
  • DO make a calendar of stages and final due dates.
  • DO include social events on this calendar for time management.
  • DO understand the assignment and expectations.
  • DO give yourself a quiet place to study with all the materials you need.
  • DO give yourself brief breaks.
  • DON'T put work off until the last minute; you'll be too frantic to focus.
  • DON'T do your homework late at night or in bed.
  • DON'T let yourself be bored. Find the aspect of the project or paper that interests you. If you're dying of boredom, something's not right.

If you need more tips on staying focused, ask a teacher, school counselor, or a parent for help. It's their job to assist in your learning.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: November 2017

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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