Starting tomorrow, students in Canada will change from a relaxed summer schedule to the structured program of school and other activities. The key to success in achieving your academic goals is good organization and time management.
As you head back to school, here are a series of tips that can help students get organized:
Improve your work habits
- Have all the materials you need: pen, sharpened pencil, paper, etc.
- Listen carefully to your teacher.
- Don’t talk to friends during class instruction.
- Learn to take better notes.
- Finish all assignments and make sure they are handed in on time.
- Participate in class discussions.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand.
- Organize yourself each night for the next day by putting assignments, books and materials you will need at school into your backpack.
- Use a folder to put your assignments in so they don’t get ripped or bent.
- Do homework in a quiet place.
- Set a regular time to do homework every weeknight.
- Talk to your parents or older brothers and sisters about your work and ask for ideas about how to be a successful learner.
Manage your time
- Use a calendar to write down tests and due dates. Keep your calendar in an easy-to-see place, such as on the fridge or on the family bulletin board.
- Break larger assignments into smaller parts and do one part at a time.
- Set deadlines for finishing your work, and stick to them.
Take notes to help you study
Write down the important points the teacher makes during a lesson:
- your teacher will add information that isn’t in the textbook
- notes are your source of material to study for a test
- writing things down helps you to understand and remember what you hear
- taking notes makes you a better, more active listener.
How to take and organize notes
- Write down a date and title for each lesson. If the teacher doesn’t give you a title, make one up.
- Don’t write down everything the teacher says. Focus on the important points – things the teacher writes on the board, things the teacher says more than once and any questions the teacher asks.
- Underline, star or circle anything the teacher says is important.
- Skip lines and leave wide margins so you can add information later.
- Put question marks beside things you don’t understand.
How to use notes to study
- Re-read your notes carefully, and out loud. Repeating the information will help you remember it.
- Rewrite your notes neatly and clearly so there isn’t anything that is confusing or too hard to read.
- Make your notes stronger by adding additional information from the textbook, a class discussion or a handout. Use a highlighter to mark important information.
It’s never too early to develop good time-management systems. The productivity skills you develop as a student will serve you well the rest of your life.
From Alberta Education
Close your eyes and picture the Zen-like state of your desk in a paperless world. When you need data from the last quarter, you speak to your computer and a soothing voice responds with the information. When it’s time to pay the bills, you instruct your computer where the payments are to come from.
Now, look at the paper sitting on your desk, dressers, tables, shelves, filing cabinets, etc.
The ideal of a paperless office has been around for at least three decades. While individuals, such as Eric Mack, experiment with paperless solutions, or online services offer paperless solutions, paper usage has increased significantly.
In 2003, Canadians used a whopping 2, 867,442 tonnes of paper, compared with 1,198,100 tonnes two decades earlier. Source: CBC News
For whatever reason, you’re stuck working with paper. Here are some tips for managing your piles (paper, that is).
- Keep only the work at hand visible. If you’re working on the month-end report, have it in front of you. Other pending work should be stored in some form of filing system, which makes it easy to retrieve, but keeps it out of sight.
- Have a fixed time each day to process routine paperwork. There are regular systems that dump a daily amount of paper on our desks: mail, filing, circulating files, etc. Set aside a few minutes every day to make sure this paper dealt with and not left piling up on your desk.
- Keep large wastebasket and/or shredder near your work area. Some percentage of the paper you process can go straight to recycling or garbage: used envelopes, advertising brochures, last week’s cafeteria menu. Toss it immediately.
- Don’t use a bulletin board. It’s a burial ground. I have a bulletin board in my office, but I am ruthless about what gets pinned to it. If you can’t be consistently ruthless, don’t put one on the wall.
- Organize your stationery. If you have to keep blank stationery on hand, get some type of storage system. Not only does lose stationery add to the cluttered look, it ends up dog-eared, frayed and unusable.
- Get a notebook. Resist the urge to take notes on dozens of pieces of scrap paper, notepads and sticky notes. Find a notebook that works for you and keep it with you at all times. That way, not only will you have a single, neat source of all your notes, you’ll only have one place you have to look to find information.
It doesn’t look like paper is going away anytime soon. You will need to have systems to control your paper flow.
There is something about e-mail that fosters poor communication habits. Users see it as a form of instant communication and therefore, doesn’t require the same care and attention that a letter might.
For many organizations, e-mail has become the preferred means of communication, both formal and informal. Here are some tips to make your e-mail as effective and efficient as possible:
- Use short paragraphs. E-mail is generally read from a computer screen. Keep your paragraphs short –50 words or less– to ensure maximum readability.
- Get personal. Use second person terms. Words such as “you”, “your”, and “yours” let the recipient know you’re thinking of them specifically.
- Don’t send spam. This includes forwarding every bad joke and poem your second cousin sends you. People don’t like receiving junk paper mail at home and they don’t like the electronic version either. If you’re building a new relationship with a customer, don’t bury them in your sales spam.
- Check spelling and grammar. You should invest as much effort in checking the content of e-mail as you do any other written communication. A sloppy e-mail message will communicate negatively about your professionalism.
- Include a signature section. Most e-mail software will automate this process for you. Your signature should include your name, job title, contact information, and company name.
- Respond efficiently. Develop at set of personal rules for processing your email in a productive way. Read: Five fast email productivity tips @ 43 Folders
- Ignore the above tips. If you exchange a large number of messages with a particular co-worker, create a set of rules to optimize the way you each process e-mail. You can develop short cuts and templates that bypass some of the above tips and steps because you have worked out you own protocols.