While your new year’s resolutions might be to get more sleep or to hit the gym more often, staying on top of schoolwork is another noble goal for the new year.
1. Keep your backpack neat
Oftentimes, students fall behind in classes simply because they haven’t organized their materials. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure you keep your bookbag neat. Throw out old papers that are no longer useful to you instead of letting them clutter up your backpack. Also, make sure to keep pencils and pens in a pencil case, rather than shoving them in a side pocket of your bag.
2. Label your supplies
In order to stay on top of things, it’s important to carefully sort your school supplies. Come up with a color-coded system for your folders (e.g. red for calculus, blue for physics and green for English) to ensure that your notes stay separated by course. If you want to use the same notebook for more than one course, invest in a notebook with multiple sections and make sure you only use one section per subject.
3. Use a Planner
A physical planner is a great place to keep track of long-term assignments—as long as you use it correctly. As soon as assignments are handed out (e.g. biology presentation, MLA essay, 10 chapters by next week, etc.), mark them down in your planner. If you have a long-term project or a looming exam, make sure to block off study time in your planner. Google Calendars are another popular tool for keeping track of impending deadlines. Both the old-fashioned and new age ways work as long as you’re consistently using your planner.
4. Make Sticky Note Reminders
Stay on top of your work by creating sticky note reminders for yourself. Each evening, write down specific tasks that you need to accomplish the next day (e.g. email your teacher, add that APA website citation to your paper, pick up your book from the library, etc.), and paste the notes onto your mirror or front door. These will serve as reminders when you leave the house in the morning. If you prefer digital reminders, there are apps available for smartphones and computers.
5. Keep a Consistent Schedule
Wake up at the same time every morning and go to bed at the same time every night, if possible. Coming up with a consistent schedule will help increase your productivity. Determine what time of day works best for you to study. Some people work best early in the morning, while others like to work well into the night. Find what’s best for you, and get to work!
6. Have a Note-taking System
Taking notes in class is a necessity, but every student seems to have a different system. It doesn’t matter which system you prefer (e.g. Cornell notes, Word Notebook, color coding) as long as you’re consistent. Another pro tip: add a date to the top of your notes. Dating your notes will keep you more organized and will ensure that you’re in good shape when it comes time to study for an exam.
7. As Much As Possible, Don’t Procrastinate
Maybe this one goes without saying, but don’t save readings for later. If you fall a bit behind, you might find yourself struggling to keep up. Do all of your assignments in advance. Even if you can get away with not having done one day’s worth of work, a day’s worth quickly becomes a semester’s worth—and doing hundreds of pages of reading at the last minute is stressful and unproductive.
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