By Sarah Weingarten, Academic Coach & Certified Professional Organizer

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln

Preparation  is fundamental to achieving academic success. Starting off the school year organized, with the right tools in hand and a plan for how to  succeed, will carry you through the year with less stress, more time and  the ability to achieve your goals. There is no  one way to prepare. The key is knowing what works best for you. Below  are some tips and tools that have helped many of the students that I  work with to reach their full potential.

Getting Organized:

  1. Color-code  your school supplies by subject. Designate a color for each subject and  purchase all the necessary supplies in that color.
  2. Decide  what school supplies are going to be best for each subject. If you  often lose your notes, consider taking your notes in a spiral notebook.  If there are a lot of printouts, a binder might be best. However, if you  struggle with hole-punching those handouts, add binder-pockets, so you  can slide the handouts in the binder, without needing to hole punch the  pages. Have you heard of a Duo-Binder? The Duo-Binder combines the  binder and folders into one and comes in many different colors.
  3. If the school supplies solution you choose isn’t working, try something different. Don’t wait until next year.
  4. Order physical textbooks. Place that order as soon possible, so that you have your school books before classes start.
  5. Print out the syllabus for each class and keep it at the front of your binder or folder.

Planning your Assignments:

  1. Use an Academic Planner. My favorite is the Academic Planner from Order out of Chaos.
  2. Commit  to writing out a plan for all assignments that are more than one step.  This usually doesn’t take more than five minutes, but can save hours.
  3. Write  each step of your plan in your Academic Planner. You should be able to  quickly see what steps you need to complete each day by subject.
  4. Go to office hours. Your teachers are there to help you succeed.
  5. Email your teacher if you have a question. Don’t make assumptions about assignments.

Planning your Time:

  1. Write-out  or type up your class schedule. Color code it by subject. Keep this  somewhere handy, such as in the front of your Academic Planner. This is  especially important at the beginning of the academic year.
  2. Use a calendar. You can use the calendar in your Academic Planner or a digital calendar or a combination.
  3. It’s  important to be able to see your time. You should be able to quickly  see when you have time to study and when you have other commitments.
  4. Don’t  forget to allow for travel time. School may end at 3pm and soccer may not start until 4:30pm, but that does not mean you have an hour and a  half to do homework.
  5. Don’t overschedule. Sometimes, there actually isn’t enough time. Sleep is not optional.

I understand how difficult the last two academic years have been for most students. Starting strong will give you and your student the start they need to reach their academic goals, while improving their well-being and sense of self-worth.

About the Author: Growing up as the oldest of nine siblings in Upstate New York, Sarah learned to use organization and time management as her sanity among the chaos. Attending the Cornell Hotel School and working in the Hospitality Industry for over a decade, taught Sarah about teamwork and how to motivate others. She is grateful for the vast knowledge and experience she gained regarding leadership, time management, and project management. In 2016, Sarah launched Happy Spaces. By combining her passion for organizing and productivity with her knowledge of how to motivate and coach, Sarah is able to support her clients in living their best life. Sarah loves working with students to develop their organizational, time management, and study skills. With these skills, each student has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and feel good about themselves and their future.