Getting organized


General Comments 

One of the key factors which separates highly successful students from the others is their ability to organize their time and their work.  Doing so helps to find a balance between school work, extracurricular activities, family life and social life. 

Organizing your time

Start by making a weekly schedule for yourself which shows every possible obligation you have.  You can make one yourself or you can use the blank one I made below:

Student Weekly Schedule (opens a Word document)

Print it out and fill in the boxes with all your weekly obligations.  Try to include the following:

  • all your classes (if there is a big difference between week A and Week B, you may want to make one for each)
  • any CAS activity meetings or work
  • any sports that you do
  • religious obligations
  • music lessons
  • family obligations such as meal times (I hope you all eat dinner with your family)
  • anything else that you do at the same time, same day every week
Each box represents half an hour so if you have a class which lasts an hour and a half, draw a rectangle covering three of the boxes or color in the three boxes wich a special color for that subject. 

Next, you need to insert blocks of time which you can use to do school work.  Find times where ther are "holes" in your schedule.  Color them in with a color that you have chosen to mean school work time (I suggest something which sticks out such as yellow).

Your goal should be to find about two hours per day for school work.  You may find you will need more but start with that for now.  If there is a block of time that you have designated as school work time which is during the school day, decide where you will spend that time such as the library or a free classroom (Miss Burchill has a list of rooms where you can work). 

Decide which subjects you will work on and when.  Which block of time will be for History?  Which one for Enlgish?  If you find that you have the time for revision after you have completed your reading and written work, then you are all set.  If not, you will have to include extra time somewhere else for revision.  This includes re-reading (or re-writing) your class notes, re-reading chapters in text books, making and learning flash cards, going over marked work to see what comments the teachers have put and attempting to do the exercises correctly, etc. 

In addition to the schoolwork times and revision times, you should consider adding one hour or more per week for each of the following kinds of things:

  • Extended Essay research and writing
  • Internal Assessment work such as project work or essays for one or more subjects 
  • time for the college application process (searching for schools, filling out applications...)

 In the end, you should see that you really do, in fact, have some time left over for free time!

Organizing your papers 

You need to have a system at home where you keep your papers organized.  A filing cabinet is a good idea.  A system of carboard folders with elastics on the corners works well, too.  Have a separate color for each subject.  Inside each folder, have separators for notes, homeworks, test, quizzes, lab reports, etc. 

Have a similar system for your school bag.  A big folder which has separators inside is helpful for keeping papers together yet separated into categories.  I would suggest one for school work with a separate section for each subject and one for administrative stuff which would have a section to keep your carnet, another section for papers your parents should sign, another section for administrative papers to keep such as your timetable. 


It takes a while to get organized at first, but once you have a system down, you will see that it will save you time and your academic results will improve.  Do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions. 


A.W. Damon 2011


Last modification: 2011-03-01