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Student Planners

Organize Your Time With a Day Planner

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"The assignment is due when? Tomorrow?"

We've all been there at some point. Somehow, that assignment due date just slipped right up on us without our noticing.

That is why organizational skills are so important to school performance. Who can afford to score a big fat "0" on a paper, just because we got lazy and didn't pay attention to the due date? Who wants to get an "F" because we forgot to put our completed project in our book bag the night before it was due?

Poor organization skills can reduce your final scores by a whole letter grade. That's why you should learn to use a day planner the right way.

Tips for Using a Planner

  1. Pick the right planner. Take your time when choosing a pocket planner. Find one that fits inside a special pocket or pouch in your book bag if you can. Avoid planners with locks or zippers that will only annoy you. Little things like that will become a hassle and create bad habits.

  2. Name your planner.Yes, give it a name. Why? You're less likely to neglect something with a name and a strong identity. When you name an object you give it more of a presence in your life. Call it something goofy or something sentimental—it doesn't matter. You don't have to tell anybody if you don't want to!

  3. Make the planner a part of your daily routine. Carry it with you at all times and remember to check it every morning and every night.

  4. Fill in your assignment due dates as soon as you learn them. Get in the habit of writing in your planner while you're still in the classroom. Don't put it off!

  5. Learn to use backward planning. When you write a due date in your planner, go back a day or a week and give yourself a reminder that the due date is approaching.

  6. Use a color-coding system. Keep some colored stickers on hand and use those for reminders that a due date or other important event is approaching. For instance, use a yellow caution sticker to serve as a warning two days before your research paper is due.

  7. Put everything in your planner. You must remember that anything that takes up time, like a date or a ball game, will keep you from working on an assignment. If you don't put these things in your planner as time out, you may not realize how limited your homework time really is. This leads to cramming and all-nighters.

  8. Use flags. You can buy sticky-note flags and use them as tabs to indicate the end of a term or the due date of a large project. This is a great visual tool that serves as a constant reminder of a imminent due date.

  9. Don't discard old pages. You will always have important information in your planner that you'll need to see again at a later date. Old phone numbers, reading assignments—you'll want to remember those things later on.

  10. Go ahead and congratulate yourself ahead of time. On the day after a big project is due, put in a reward appointment, like a trip to the mall or a meal out with friends. This can serve as positive reinforcement.

Things to Include in Your Planner

It is important to block off anything that consumes your time, in order to avoid conflict and crisis. Don't forget:

  • Regular blocks of homework time
  • Assignment due dates
  • Test dates
  • Dances, parties, dates, celebrations
  • Family gatherings, vacations, excursions
  • SAT, ACT test dates
  • Sign-up deadlines for standardized tests
  • Fees—due dates
  • Holidays
  • *College application due dates
  • *College visitation days

    *It's a good idea to include college dates even if you're a freshman and you're not applying or visiting colleges yet. You will become familiar with how rapidly test dates, application deadlines, and college visitation dates come and go.

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