Student success is driven by a number of life skills that improve efficiency and productivity. In this post, you will learn 5 steps (get organized, big picture, set goals, time management, and prioritize) to plan for success.
The 5 steps to plan for success are:
1. Get Organized – Every student needs a planner, a note taking organization system, and space free from clutter and other distractions for studying.
A planner can be as simple as a calendar on the internet like Google calendar. For busy high school and college students this may be just the right tool. It syncs to all your devices so your calendar is always available. Make sure you put everything into your planner: assignments for your classes, the homecoming dance, sports practices, music lessons, everything. For middle school students I recommend buying a student planner from your local bookstore or office supply store. Develop the habit of writing down your assignments each day in your planner. If this is difficult to manage on your own, ask an adult for help. When you have that down, begin writing all your activities in your planner. Once this becomes part of your habit life, you will be primed for success!
Space free from clutter and other distractions can be created at home. The dining room table or a desk in your room can be terrific places to study. (Note to parents: One benefit of your student studying in the common areas of the house is that you can be available to help if needed.) If it is too noisy at home and you cannot achieve a quiet place to study, the public library is an excellent alternative.
The one element of getting organized that may take a little more time is finding the right organization system for taking notes, storing, and filing things you might need later. There are many organization systems and many people have written books about this topic. One that I find helpful and recommend for students and their parents is The Organized Student by Donna Goldberg. She has a website http://www.organizedstudent.com/ and the book can be found on Amazon.com.
2. Big Picture – Take a little time at the beginning of a new term or semester to look at the overall picture.
If you are in high school or college and received a syllabus from your teacher, scan the syllabus to identify when big tests, projects, or papers are due (Cornell University Learning Strategies Center, 2015). Write those in your planner, preferably on one page labeled “Big Picture.” If you are in elementary or middle school, this step means looking at the school calendar and writing in your planner when breaks or in-service days are scheduled, when special events are taking place, and when you have extracurricular activities.
3. Set Goals – What are your goals for this term or semester?
Do you want to improve your overall grade in a class? Do you want to get better organized and learn how to stay that way? Do you have longer term goals, like graduate with a 3.8 GPA or better, get into the college of your choice, or land your dream job after college graduation? Whatever your goals you need to write them down in a prominent place where you can see them every day and remind yourself what you’re working towards.
4. Time Management – On the Cornell University Learning Strategies Center webpage they have a video that shows you how to establish a “school day / work day routine” and block out your time accordingly (Cornell University Learning Strategies Center, 2015).
I find this strategy to be highly effective even for managing my work from home schedule. If you plan your week at the beginning of the week you will know exactly when you have school, work, study, and play time. It is important to remember to plan time for yourself in your week so you do not deplete your resources like energy and motivation.
5. Prioritize – Many tutors put prioritize under time management, but in my experience it is a separate skill.
In my experience as a student I learned how to keep a planner and schedule my time, but it wasn’t until I learned how to make a daily task list and prioritize the tasks that I started to become more efficient and effective. For this reason, I treat it as a separate skill. Setting priorities on the tasks that need to be done can help you manage your time and other resources more efficiently. Once you have made a To-Do-List simply look over the items on the list and decide where to place them on the grid below. This can help you prioritize your tasks and manage your busy schedule.
*A note about where this matrix comes from: The original idea for this time management matrix comes from a book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Many people have created versions of it. This is my version based on a combination of ones available.
After you plan for success it is time to take action (this will be the topic of another post). In the meantime, here is your plan.
Plan for Success:
Collect the tools you need and Get Organized.
Write out The Big Picture. Remember to include all important dates for the semester (big projects and tests, birthdays and celebrations, personal goals).
Write down your Goals for the semester.
Weekly: plan time for classes, primary study and homework time, and social and personal time.
Daily: write and prioritize your To-Do-List.
If you need any help putting these steps into place or are interested in online tutoring, contact me at Tami@TheTutorsTable.com or visit my website for a FREE Successful Student's Guide to a Terrific Semester at www.TheTutorsTable.com.