From the Counsellor’s Chair

Get Organised!

Our School Counsellor, Mrs Good, here gives some advice and handy suggestions for becoming organised – something which all of us should find useful!

‘As the school year progresses you may find there is more competition for your time.  More homework, more assignments, more deadlines to meet, exams, school productions, matches, concerts.  It can feel like things have gone up a gear, placing more demands on our time in general and causing more pressure.  Being better organised can really help reduce stress levels.  The earlier we can get into the habit of being organised, the more time we have for other things and the less worried we are about falling behind and not coping.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful for pupils, students and parents alike:

  • Don’t procrastinate. If ‘Procrastination is the thief of time,’ (English poet and dramatist Edward Young), and time is precious then don’t procrastinate – do what needs to be done as soon as practicable. By putting things off you are simply storing up work for yourself.  Delay eats into time set aside for others things, can make you feel guilty, frustrated and panicked.    So when you get in from school, have a timed break – whether a chat, a snack or some chill out time, but then get down to doing what needs to be done.
  • Plan and write it down. There is a misconception that planning adds time to a task.  Minutes spent in planning will be saved many times over.  Make sure homework and other assignment deadlines are noted in your school diary.  Parents of younger pupils can help them check entries and prioritise.  Do you need a pin board, post-it notes, or note book as visual reminders?  Would a calendar or general diary help to plan things?  Make them colourful and fun.  Highlight, underline, or mark with an asterisk important things.
  • Clarify. If you don’t understand the work, ASK, and if you need to then ASK  Ask your teacher, friend, a parent or a sibling.  Don’t struggle for hours over a task you are unsure of if someone can help clarify it.
  • Rank priorities. Consider what must be done, what should be done, and what could be done.  Work can be ranked in terms of what is important and what is less important.  If something is not absolutely essential to do, park it to one side and concentrate on what is important.  If a piece of homework needs to be in by tomorrow do that before a piece that needs to be handed in later in the week.
  • Work out a system. Muddle makes unnecessary work, wastes time and creates frustration. Spend time organising your environment so that you have ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ Work in a well-lit space, have a fairly comfortable chair (not too comfortable, just in case you snooze), get the room temperature right for you, ensure all necessary equipment (pens, felt tips, pencils, rulers, etc.) and books are to hand.  If you don’t want to be interrupted by family tell them.  Keep a rubbish bin handy.  Don’t end up wallowing in scraps of paper and other bits and pieces.  If you don’t need it, bin it.  Better still, recycle it.  Decide when your best time to work is but don’t work too late into the evening or close to your bedtime.  Avoid tablets, mobiles and computers an hour or so before bedtime.  These interfere with your sleep.  If you are organised you should be able to avoid working late most of the time.
  • Learn to say ,’No.’ Important tasks usually require our whole concentration and energy so watch out  for temptations that sneak in to impede them.  You know what they are!  TV, DVDs, games consoles, computer, tablet, mobile phone!  Think of these as treats.  Don’t get drawn into watching a TV programme you know will be difficult to stop watching.  If you use your computer for work remember not to use it to play games or trawl the internet for other things in your allocated work time.  Social networking? Resist the compulsion and limit the time e-mailing, texting, phoning.  Whoever texted you may have already finished their work and are in down time relax mode.  Be in control.  Unchecked, these temptations have a habit of growing, impinging on your time and even encouraging you to do things on social media you may later regret.   It’s in your gift to control them.
  • Leave slack in your timetable. Make sure you have short breaks during your home study time. Walk around, have a drink, listen to some music, rest your eyes from computer work.  Once you have finished a piece of work tidy it away.  Have a short break and start the next piece.  If something crops up a little leeway means you won’t become overwhelmed.
  • Overcome perfectionism. If you have to get everything absolutely right all the time you will find it difficult to vary your speed according to your priorities.  The perfectionist often gets bogged down in small details, missing out on the broader picture.  Do you best and dare to be ‘good enough.’
  • The next day. Get all your books and anything you need for the following day packed and ready by the door so you just need to grab your bag as you leave in the morning.  Looking for things just before you need to leave is frustrating for all.    If it helps, make a list of daily things that need to be done.  Check the list in the evening or first thing in the morning; tick the things you have achieved; evaluate what has been left and if it needs to be carried over into the new day’s list.  Compliment yourself on a job well done.
  • Keep a balance. Factor in some fun things to do at the end of the day and end of the week.  Learn to relax and take some time off to do varied and contrasting activities in different areas of your life so you are spending time in a balance between all areas of your life.’