| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 1/11/21|
Online learning moves faster than in-person learning, so that means information also moves faster, which leads to the opportunity for academic work to quickly snowball if a student doesn't have a game plan for organization. Digital education requires students to move at the rapid pace of computers and always be on the ready for what's next with minimal teachers' instruction and supervision. But all is not lost, students can learn to operate with efficiency and purpose while engaging in distance learning. Using the three organizational pillars below, students can achieve academic excellence with ease, convenience, and clarity.
Why? Don't let it pile up. Then, it will be a pain.
There's one classic rule to maintaining organization: Nip it in the bud. If it's quick, do it now. If it's a larger project, take 5-10 minutes Now to chunk it out into your calendar from start to finish. Be clear when and how you'll do it. Either way, the magic is in the now. Now means the sooner it's taken care of (either doing or planning thoroughly how soon you'll do it), this momentum keeps your to-do list short. Always.
Whether it's filing an email in a designated folder or labeling Google Drive folders, you have to organize it the minute it comes to you. Otherwise, other things will come at you in the next hour and you will forget it. Let's put it this way: your goal is to never have organization as homework because you always take care of it as it comes right away. If you wait and think you'll remember to do it later, the reality is you won't. Keep your workload low by doing all that you can in the present moment, especially when it takes only a few minutes or even seconds sometimes.
Where? Convenience: Pick somewhere easy to find and put back (on- or offline). Also, pick the tool that will save you the most time and energy in the long run.
We're talking about storage or the organizational tool (e-folders, USB, Google Drive, notebook etc.) you need to rule your world with order over chaos. You need a good tool to make organization work for you. When you decide on what tool to use to organize, think of what would make sense for you and your lifestyle.
If it's documents and homework, Google Drive or USB would work best.
If it's notes you take on a PDF article, then you can handwrite notes in a designated notebook or save it separately as a Google Docs in the right folder. Think which will be easier to retrieve when you need it in the future (digital or paper), which will be lighter and easier to find from year to year?
If you are organizing websites, make sure you bookmark websites. But having 30 random bookmarked websites all together can be time consuming to sort and find every time. The goal is speed and efficiency. So if you have more than 10 websites bookmarked, you need to create folders for different categories of websites.
Miscellaneous information like library pin, quiz codes etc.? Put all small bits of random but important information on a single document and keep it on your desktop for easy access. Either that or having to stop and think every time you need it. Then go online and 10 clicks later, you will find what you need. Why let something take 15 minutes of your time when it should only be 3 minutes?
How? Streamline: always organize it before you even have to.
When it comes to organizing homework or anything else, you always win if you organize it right out of the gate (Got a Zoom meeting with your counselor? If she forgot to attach it in the Google invite, copy and paste the Zoom link from the email into your Google calendar ASAP. Then, the day of the meeting, just click and you're there). The more you do now, the less you'll have to do later. That leaves more free time for you to enjoy life.
Put all deadlines into one central location (digital or paper calendar) so you wouldn't have to look at 5-6 syllabi or websites.
Create digital folders for each of your classes in Google Drive a week before school starts. Set it all up before things really pick up.
Create "Need Reply" "Math" "English" "History" (so on and so forth) email folders for inbox filing so you won't have to scroll two days' worth of emails just to get to the one you want.
Autosave your websites' passwords before you get a chance to forget them.
Buy school supplies before you run out.
Design a weekly schedule every new semester or school year as needed and assign time categories for every hour that makes up your full day. Know where your time goes.
Organization is a life skill that all students need to have and hone because it is directly linked to future success. The key to being organized is proactiveness. Organization is about saving both time and energy, so the student has the luxury of time for other priorities while maintaining their academic performance. True organization is not simply about being neat (though it does help); it is about being the architect of speed, efficiency, and quality work. The real secret is organizing before organization is needed, so when the occasion arises, you won't have to, because the job is already done. 1,2,3, let's go!
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