Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Like many other students, you have most likely had a rough time keeping track of assignments and staying focused on online schoolwork. Like you probably have, I would find myself scrolling through text messages during class and storing all of my math assignments in different drawers. As a result, I am usually unable to locate my notes, practice assignments, study guides, and anything else I need to look back to. For those who are battling this problem during remote learning, there are several ways that you can use it to create better habits especially since organization is an important skill to have moving forward when you go off to college or into the real world.
Understanding and Fixing Bad Habits
Although it may not seem like it, your ability to stay organized has a direct correlation with your habits. For example, people who are usually neat and do simple tasks such as waking up and immediately making their bed are more likely to consistently stay neat and maintain a clean workspace. However, those who wake up and immediately get onto their class meetings might find themselves failing to stay as organized because of their messy environment. People might also maintain healthy organization habits by creating schedules to keep track of due dates, setting goals, writing things down, and creating routines. Maintaining these kinds of habits is what contributes to maintaining organization.
So how can you get on track to maintaining an organized environment? Well, if you are someone who is naturally messy but is trying to work on creating an orderly workplace, it’s a good idea to start with small tasks. These tasks can range from waking up earlier to give yourself time to prepare for the day, to creating schedules to keep track of your responsibilities for the day.
Here are some important habits that contribute to developing organization skills:
Making your bed every morning
Turning on lamps/lights
Opening your blinds
Changing into fresh clothes before class meetings
Creating storage systems for each class and subject
Setting deadlines for completing assignments
Working on one task at a time; no multitasking
Using sticky notes (so that you will have a constant reminder of what you need to do)
Taking five minutes every day to think about your main goals for the day
Waking up relatively early in the morning to give yourself time to prepare for the day
Taking small breaks to boost productivity
Being able to complete even just one of the items on this checklist can help you advance forward in staying organized.
You might also have to deal with getting distracted during class. It is easy to pick up your phone and start scrolling through social media, which leads to missed lectures and bad quiz or test grades. According to socialmediatoday.com, social media consumes approximately two hours per day for the average person. To put that into perspective, the average person spends 5 years and 4 months on social media over an entire lifetime. Yes, FIVE YEARS and four months of your life are wasted aimlessly scrolling through social media.
Fortunately, there are simple ways to help eliminate these distractions. For phones, you can simply put your phone in a different room so that you don’t instinctively pick it up and start going through your text messages. Another initiative to take that can help is studying in a different room from your bedroom. This way, you are in a different environment so you won’t find yourself getting too comfortable early in the morning and zoning out. Studying in spaces such as your porch, your dining table, in the kitchen, or outside is a great way to eliminate distractions and stay focused.
With advancements in technology, many developers have created apps that can help you stay organized. They provide daily reminders and creative ways to keep track of what you need to do each day. Any.do, for example, is an app that enables you to create to-do lists, notes, and reminders that help you stay on top of your daily ordeals. Another app, Offtime, allows you to set restrictions to what you can do on your phone during certain time frames. If you are someone who gets distracted by social media during school, you can easily enable a block on social media apps during school hours so you can stay focused and on task.
When it comes to shoving all of your papers into random drawers, it is important that you recognize that there are assignments and papers that you won’t need in the future. In fact, according to amazinggoodwill.com, 80% of the stuff we keep, we never use. This may be the case with many of us because we feel that it is better to be safe and keep certain assignments on the off-chance they might help with future classes or references. However, most likely we end up almost never looking back at most of those prior assignments and we just leave them there. Being able to admit to this habit and take initiative by throwing the extra clutter away or creating a system for older assignments can help you stay more focused on your current needs.
If you thought you could watch TV, listen to music, eat, text, and do your homework at the same time, think again. The human brain has been shown to not be able to multitask, but rather it does something called “task switching”. Task switching is when the brain rapidly switches from one task to the other, instead of dividing attention to all tasks at the same time. According to coschedule.com, studies have shown that productivity decreases by 40% when the mind is focused on different tasks at the same time.
With remote learning being the new norm for education this year, there is no doubt that there are a number of obstacles that students will have to overcome in order to optimize their learning experience. Studying from the comfort of your home can open the door to bad self-management and unproductive habits. Although facing these predicaments may seem dreadful, it is an opportunity to develop habits that will stick with you for the rest of your life.