By Devin Morrissey
Sometimes organization is second nature, but for some us it’s as natural as breathing under water: it just doesn’t happen on its own. When that happens, success in the classroom — and in other areas of life as well — can be extra challenging.
It’s a research-backed truth that being organized and being successful in the classroom are closely tied together; it’s very difficult to do one well without doing the other. The good news for those who don’t naturally operate in an organized way is that organization is a trait that can be learned.
The ways we have approached life in the past, doesn’t have to determine how we approach it in our future. Choose structure over stress, and calm over clutter.
Get the Right Motivation
This may seem like a weird place to begin a conversation about something that requires a practical application. Despite that though, if you don’t believe that organization is a worthwhile way to spend your time, you won’t invest in it. You will inevitably make initial steps that never become habits.
If you’ve always managed to be okay without it, it will be even harder to adopt a mindset that promotes it. Here’s what to focus on so that you’re motivated to organize:
Organization Helps You Prioritize
Regardless of what your priorities are, if you’re not organized on some level, you’re probably not able to give the time and attention to the things you care about the most. Cultivating an organized schedule will allow you to have the time you want to have to do the things you want to do.
Some of the most successful — and busiest— professionals in the world point out that if you want to have a balance between the things you want to do and the things you have to do, it is going to include creative problem solving in regards to your time. Using organization to prioritize things means you’re going to go out of your way to ensure you have the space in your schedule you need.
Organization Contributes to Future Success
The habits we cultivate as high schoolers oftentimes become the habits that contribute to our success afterwards. The higher your aspirations, the more important it becomes that you’re in control of both your time and the work you’re responsible for.
In their assessment of how entrepreneurs act as the backbone of American society, Rutgers University states, “One key element that Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Gates all possessed: they not only had a vision for improving the world, they were determined to turn this vision into a reality.”
Determination happens when you have a plan; the plan happens when you’re organized, and by extension prepared.
Get the Goods Organized
If you’re still reading it’s likely because you are motivated to make organization a priority in your life. Once you establish its value you can start making changes and taking practical steps towards implementation.
For students, this begins by organizing our work in a way that removes distractions and makes it easy to visualize progress.
Time-tested ways your can organize for school are:
Create a calendar: This might be a dry erase calendar on the wall, or it may be a planner you keep with your schoolwork, but the point is that you have a plan for the structure and flow of each day. Productive days don’t just happen, they’re built and usually on calendars.
Make lists: Our brains loves lists — its science! They help us remember things, but they also allow us to break big jobs into digestible tasks. Create running lists that include everything you need to accomplish. Record even the small details. The more detailed your lists, the more thorough your work will likely be.
Include non-schoolwork: According to DIY and design guru Laur Destro, a valuable component of organizing your life is accounting for all the non-school or work related things that demand our time and attention. If you’re only making space in your schedule for your homework, you’re actually sabotaging your ability to complete your homework. Your schedule should include everything that demands your time.
Organize your stuff: If your schoolwork is a mess of notebooks and textbooks, your mind will probably be a bit of a mess as well as you use them throughout the day. At the beginning of your new life as an organized individual take the time to sort through all of your books and paperwork. Put them in an order that makes sense with the schedule of your day.
Additionally, if your stuff is organized, but your work space isn’t, it’s not going to work out. Take the time to keep your space clean and organized. Less mess in your workspace boosts productivity and cuts down on stress.
Prep the night before: Whatever you’ve got awaiting you in the morning, prepping for it the night before is the best way to deter chaos. Preparing yourself ahead of time will mean you will tackle your day with fewer distractions and unnecessary frustrations. Give your organized self the best possible chance of success by working ahead.
Be a Goal Digger
This is what organization done right is really about: it’s about being able to meet goals and exceed your own expectations. It’s about not feeling like your ability to thrive is being held captive by your inability to organize your life.
If you have meaningful, long-term goals you’re working towards, you should take every possible opportunity to maximize your chances for success. Organization may seem at times like an unnecessary, time-consuming step but if that’s the way it seems to you, you probably haven’t given it a fair chance.