Organizing Your Life… From the Inside Out

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Organizing Your Life… From the Inside Out

  • A Student Services Workshop

Does this sound like you?

  • “I can never find my homework.”
  • “Why is there never enough time in the day to do everything I need to do?”
  • “How can I possibly get to my next class in 5 minutes?”
  • “I’m always late in the morning because I can never find the clothes I want to wear.”
  • “I don’t do as well as I want on assignments because I always seem to forget to do some part of it…”
  • “I get myself or other people stressed out because I’m always forgetting where I put things, times when things are happening, or what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Why Are Good Organizational Skills Linked to Success…in EVERYTHING?

  • They allow you to work efficiently and effectively at any task you undertake
  • They reduce stress that can hinder your achievement
  • They buy you time and energy to reach your true potential in everything you take on
  • They allow your true talents and abilities to shine through by preventing chaos and disorder

The Impact of Poor Organizational Skills on Students…

  • According to one survey based on poor organizational skills…
    • One out of every three teens reports feeling stress on a daily basis
    • 74% of teen girls said that their teen years are more stressful than that of their parents
    • 68% of teens describe their peers as “really” or “kind of” stressed
    • 62% of high school students feel they are always or frequently rushed to keep up with high school, jobs, family and social lives
    • 43% said they would like to increase the amount of time spent with family..but don’t know where they’d find the time

Do you have an Organizational Problem?

  • Complete the quiz in your student package to determine if you are as organized as you could be.

Organizational Skills: Separating Fact from Fiction

  • Myth: Organizing is the same as being neat.
  • Fact: Organizing is not about how a space looks, but how it functions.
  • Myth: Being organized is a talent you’re either born with, or not.
  • Fact: Organizing is a learnable skill.
  • Myth: Organizing is about throwing things away.
  • Fact: You can keep everything that you want and still get organized.

Roadblocks to Good Organization

  • “Homeless” items and tasks
  • Inconvenient storage
  • Overly complex organizational systems
  • Having more stuff than space available
  • The “out of sight, out of mind” mindset
  • Fear of losing your individuality
  • The belief that organizing is boring
  • Unclear goals and priorities

What Needs to Be Organized In Your Life?

  • Space and physical possessions
  • Tasks such as school assignments
  • Your Time

The 3-Step Plan to all Organizational Tasks

  • Analyze
  • Strategize
  • Attack

Step 1: Analyze

  • Identify what’s working and what’s not
  • Identify what is essential with the space, assignment, or task that you are organizing
  • Identify what the pay-off will be for you to get organized
  • Identify what the specific problem is (i.e. the roadblocks to good organization we looked at earlier)

Step 2: Strategize

  • Two important strategies are incorporated here:
    • Use the “Kindergarten Model”
    • Estimate the time it will take to do the organization

Step 3: Attack

  • The approach here will depend on which organizational problem you are “attacking”. This could include:
    • Space or physical possessions (i.e. MP3 collection, your bedroom closet)
    • A task or assignment (i.e. an English essay)
    • Organizing your time (over a day, a week, a month)

Attacking a Space

  • There is a 5-step SPACE formula:
    • Sort: go through each possession and group of similar items
    • Purge: get rid of duplicates, excess, undesirable and irrelevant
    • Assign a Home: decide where items you keep will “live”
    • Containerize: use containers to keep items separate
    • Equalize: maintain and update your system over time

Attacking Time

  • There is a 4-Step WADE formula
    • Write it down: Write all activities in your planner
    • Add it up: Estimate how long each task will take
    • Decide when: Designate when each task will be completed
    • Execute your plan: Put your plan into action

Time Organization Challenges

  • Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything you think you need to do. Consider these 4 “D” strategies:
    • Delete the task: decide, based on your priorities, what you won’t be able to accomplish that day or week
    • Delay the task: determine what’s still important to be done but you can delay until a later time (beware of procrastination here!)
    • Diminish the task: try to determine the most efficient way to get the task done without taking the maximum amount of time
    • Delegate the task: see if you can find a helper or someone else (where appropriate) that can complete the task for you

Time Organization Challenges

  • Beware of the 2 Ps: Procrastination and perfectionism!!!
    • Procrastination: some people say they “work best under pressure.” Most people just scrape by when working against the clock, and are not able to do their best work.
    • Perfectionism: none us are perfect and no one expects your work to be perfect either. Delaying or not handing something in until it is “perfect” in your eyes typically leads to a poorer mark than if you had handed in your best work on time.

Attacking School Work

  • Whether it be homework, assignments, major projects or studying for tests, there are lots of ways you can make organizing your school work more effective
  • The key to organizing anything in your life is that it has to fit who you are – one person’s organizational system may not work for everyone!

Attacking School Work

  • Organizing a binder for a subject area:
    • Use one binder for each subject
    • Separate and label sections of the binder appropriately such as “notes”, “assignments”, “labs”, “quizzes”, “tests”, “questions to ask teacher” etc.
    • Do not overload binders until the rings can barely close – use multiple binders to split up units in a course if need be
    • Ensure that all pages are secured neatly in the binder – don’t “shove it in and hope to find it later!”

Attacking School Work

  • Completing daily homework:
    • Immediately write down the homework assignment in your planner
    • Clearly label the handout or page on which you are completing the work as “homework” and include the date
    • Make any additions or corrections to homework each time it is taken up – make notes if you need to go back and review concepts
    • Decide if it makes sense to keep the homework in your binder in sequential order, or in a separate section labeled “homework”

Attacking School Work

  • Working on an assignment:
    • Write down the assignment due date in your planner
    • Read carefully over assignment expectations
    • Do any background research required for the assignment
    • Plan ahead so that the assignment is completed over several days, if necessary
    • Clearly label assignment sections for clarity
    • Have your teacher check over a rough draft of the assignment a couple of days before it is due for their feedback
    • Keep final draft of assignment in a labeled section in your binder
    • Keep returned assignment with teacher feedback for exam review

Attacking School Work

  • Studying for a test:
    • Write down the test date in your planner
    • Put all notes, handouts, assignments related to the test in one binder or folder
    • Ensure that all notes are in order, by date
    • Review notes and highlight key concepts
    • Make separate study notes on important ideas and concepts you need to review with the teacher
    • Give yourself several days to prepare and plan out what you will cover each day, ensuring you have sufficient time to be prepared
    • Keep your marked test in a separate section in your binder, complete with corrections when taken up in class

Do you need to spend money to be organized?

  • Everyone has a different organizational style, and for some students, having organizational “stuff” seems to help them want to be and stay organized
  • Here are some examples of organizational items that may help you (look at the Dollar Store before spending more bucks at places like Staples for the same things!) Remember that your Pearson agenda was “free”!
    • Sticky notes
    • Tabs
    • Labels
    • Dividers
    • Plastic cover sheets
    • Folders
    • Duo-tangs
    • Highlighters
    • Pencil case or box
    • Tote containers of different sizes

In Summary…

  • Organizational skills are not genetic – we all have to work at them throughout our life
  • The time it takes to get organized is worth it – it saves you both time and stress in the long run
  • There is no “one size fits all” organizational system – it truly has to complement your interests and tendencies
  • Good organization requires maintenance for it to be effective – you’re never really “done” organizing your space, time, or work

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