How to Get Organised
Published: 19 Mar 2012
We all know the importance of organisation...the ability to manage your time effectively, to be always prepared. Organised people have schedules and maps guiding their actions for the day, the week, the month and even use yearly planners. They are reliable and, importantly, seem to remain buoyant and in control when things don't go according to plan. In fact, organised people use the same set of skills and thinking to plan their way out of troubled times.
Organisation is not a genetic trait. You are not born an organised person. It is frustrating to hear students lament that they are naturally disorganised and make the claim that "It's how I have always been!" Organisation is a learnt habit, adopting a set of skills that take a long time to refine. Parents clearly then, play the most influential role in how well students develop their organisational skills.
There have been a number of concerned parents raise the issue of their child's poor time management and lack of organisation at school. Quite often this issue is linked to a lack of mission or motivation. Many Year 12 students still continue to micro-managed and supported with their planning. There is no easy-fix and quite often we all tend to plug the gaps, break down tasks for students, micro-manage their weekly routines, force them to work.
Perhaps more strategically, parents and teachers should invest their supportive energies in two areas.
Firstly, developing a positive mindset towards organisation as opposed to a negative one is crucial. Adopting a positive habit of thinking towards organisation might include:
- The importance of setting goals and that goals can help you to generate more success at a task
- Planning ahead will assist you to get things done without the worry and allow a student to have the time to work through some of harder, more time-consuming tasks when they arise
- Scheduling is beneficial because it takes decision making out of the equation when it comes to deciding whether to work or do other things.
- Getting a better finished product will arise if you have all the equipment, spend time on bookwork, maintain an organised folio.
A negative mindset associated with disorganisation is thinking that it is pointless to have a goal as it will not add to success or thinking that everything will be okay if tasks are not started straight away and broken down into smaller sub-tasks or steps. This thinking is that near-enough is good enough, the problem will go away or that everything will be OK.
Parents and teachers need to be discussing the thinking habits behind organisation with students and 'selling' the virtues of a positive mindset and revealing how destructive and limiting a negative attitude can be.
Secondly, the transition from disorganised student to organised one needs lots of encouragement, enforcement and practise. Teachers and parents need to insist on students setting up a regular working schedule, to reveal their time plans and to establish short term goals that are meaningful and achievable. This is best done when the student works closely with their parents and teachers. This is a major exercise which is not done in episodes. Rather it is an on-going weekly, in some cases daily, undertaking............as a partnership.
The key, of course, is to start the ball rolling early in a child's life.
I commend the many students who graduate through our Junior and Middle Schools with so many of these skills developed. On top of a willingness to work hard and meet study expectations, our students also understand the need plan their time so work is not rushed, have all their supplies and equipment ready, keep track of due dates, understand teacher's instructions for each task and use their diary so effectively. They have matured into independent, responsible learners.
I know full well that they have relished having parents and teachers alongside them not only passing on all that vital information about planning and time management but also continually reinforcing and rewarding a positive mindset.
Head of Senior School