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Organization Skills for Students: 10 Ideas that Really Work

The fact is that some teenagers need more help than others when it comes to developing and teaching organization skills. And while parents shouldn’t take over—or save their teenager from every organizational slip up—they should provide the support their teenager needs to build these skills. To that end, Your Teen asked readers to share the organizing strategies that worked—yes, worked!—for their teenagers, from middle school to high school. Here’s our top-10 organizational skills list.

Our 10 best organizational skills

1. Embrace what works for your teenager.

Though you may swear by your daily to-do list, your teenager may prefer to use a project-based checklist or another tool. If it works, that’s just fine. The best organizational skills for students are those that work for your teenager.

2. Install a white board calendar on or near your teenager’s desk.

Help your teenager learn to use it to track assignments, due dates, meetings—everything.

3. Encourage your teenager to schedule due dates, with reminders, in his smart phone.

Take advantage of the positives of technology;  the phone can be your teenager’s best tool for organization.

4. Work the planner.

Your teenager can write down assignments and appointments in a daily planner that stays in the backpack. Your teenager should check items off when accomplished.

5. Use written reminders.

Have your teenager write a to-do list at the end of the day, which should be kept where she’ll see it when she gets to school the next morning. Include tasks like handing in homework assignments, books or other materials to bring home, or whatever else she needs to remember.

6. Or use task apps.

There are many apps that can help keep teenagers on track with to-do lists, email reminders, text alerts, even tweets.

7. Create a distraction-free homework period.

The research is clear: teenagers cannot effectively do their homework and using their electronic devices to check social media etc. And it’s hard to stay organized when you’re distracted. So, talk to your teenager about the importance of turning off the phone for some period of time each day in order to focus on academics.

8. Track your time.

Your teenager can improve his time management skills by spending a few weeks keeping track of just how he’s using his time. This can be a real eye-opener when it comes to understanding how your teenager can more efficiently use his time.

9. Think visually.

For some students, color-coded notebooks and folders for different subjects (red is science, blue is math, etc.) are an easy way to keep materials organized.

10. Use the weekend. 

Pick a time on Sunday evening to sit with your teenager and help her plan for the upcoming week.

Diana Simeon

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.