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English 7-8

5 Ways To Get Organised For High School

The key to doing well in high school is staying organised! So, here are 5 essential tips to help you (or your child) get organised for high school.

The transition from Primary to High School can be daunting. If you’re not organised for High School keeping up with your cohort will be unnecessarily challenging. Add to that, that, as students, you are always told that you need to be organised.


5 Ways To Get Organised For High School

Your parents will often worry about how to help you get organised for High School. Your Primary teachers will tell you that you need to be organised for High School. Why?

Because disorganised students quickly fall behind and can’t get on top of their workloads. So, to help you out, in this post, we will look at 5 ways to get organised for high school success!


The 5 Ways To Get Organised For High School:

  1. Plan your life
  2. Keep distractions at bay
  3. Eliminate ‘dead time’ 
  4. Make notes
  5. Write down questions when they arise… and ask early 


1. Plan your life

To be organised, you need to know what is going on and when it is happening. Students have a constant barrage of homework, assignments, and other commitments. Students need to balance their home life with their school life. What are some ways to keep track of these things?

Let’s have a look at what you should employ to organise your life for High School:


1. Calendars

Calendars are great for long-term planning.

Calendars are useful for tracking your assessment schedule over the course of a term, or figuring where Grandpa’s birthday fits in with your school sports calendar.


Calendars are cheap if you want a physical one to hang in your room, or by the fridge.

There are also free alternatives like Google Calendar if you’d prefer an online one.


2. Diaries

Diaries are great for detailed planning.

These will help you organise the things you need to do on a day-to-day basis.

You can use diaries to keep track of the various tasks you have had set for homework; the meetings that you have; and the other extra-curricular commitments that you have.

Below is an example of a school diary from our article: How to Use a Study Diary to Ace High School. Take a read of our article to learn more about how to effectively use study diaries.



3. Study Rhythms

Study Rhythms are where you plan out your daily and weekly study routines.

At the start of every term, you should plot out what subject areas most need your attention and how much time you need to allocate to each subject.

Successful students like Kia use study rhythms to achieve remarkable results (an ATAR of 99.15). Here is an example of her study rhythm. You can read more of her High School Hacks here.



4. Lists:

During your day you will often pick up tasks that you need to complete.

Your teachers might give you tasks, your parents may ask you to do some chores, or you might spot things that you need to do throughout your days.

Add these to your daily list and cross them off when you are done.

Here is an example of Matrix Scholarship holder and James Ruse student, Amanda’s, list. Read more about her study methods at Amanda’s Hacks: How to Get into a Routine for Exam Success.




5. Online Planners:

There are many tools online to help you stay organised.

Platforms and apps like Evernote and mystudylife are great ways to track all of your various projects, notes, and calendars online.

If you are a student, or parent, who likes to use online tools to remain organised, then apps like these may be ideal for you.



Get organised for High School by studying ahead

At Matrix, we guide you through your school’s content a term early to ensure that you are always organised and ahead!

Get ahead with Matrix+ Online

Expert teachers, detailed feedback and one-to-one help. Learn at your own pace, wherever you are.


2. Keep distractions at bay

There is no way you can effectively study if you have Netflix running on the side, or snapchat notifications beeping every minute. So, it is crucial that you organise yourself and keep distractions away.

Here are a few ways you can do this:


1. Set yourself a focused study session

You will get less work done if you are studying for 6 hours whilst watching Netflix on the side, compared to doing a focused 2-hour study session.

This is why you need to set yourself 1-2 hours for a focused study session each day.

This means that you need to:

  • Allocate a specific time slot for your study session
    • Use your diaries or calendar to do organise a specific timeslot
  • Remove technology
    • Put your phone and laptop in another room if you don’t need it for your work
  • Use Website blockers on social media
  • Find a quiet and comfortable study environment
    • This can be your study desk, the library, a cafe etc. You can always spice up your study sessions by studying in a new location


2. Set yourself goals each study sessions

Another way to organise your study sessions is to set yourself goals!

This ensures that you know exactly what you need to complete each study session, so you don’t waste unecessary time.

So, write down 1-3 specific tasks you want to complete during your study session.

It is crucial that these tasks are specific, and not broad.

There is no point jotting down a broad task like “Do English” because it doesn’t tell you exactly what you need to complete. Instead, give yourself tasks like “Finish English Macbeth worksheet” or “Complete Maths 5.4 exercise”.

The more specific the task, the more you can stay on task!


3. Take frequent breaks

Do you know that feeling when you’ve been studying for hours on end, and suddenly you’re distracted by every little thing around you. Well, this is a sign that your brain needs a break!

It’s important that you are taking frequent breaks to give your brain some time to rewire itself.

The best way to do this is to give yourself a 2-5 minute break for every 25-35 minute study session.

Use this time to go to the bathroom, stretch your legs or drink some water.

After 2-3 small study sessions (25-35 mins), you can give yourself a big break for an hour!

This is also known as the pomodoro method.




3. Eliminate “dead time”

Think about all the wasted time in a day: travelling to and from school, waiting for your laptop to update itself, looking for your missing exercise book and pens…

Well, this is your dead time. But don’t worry, there is a way to take advantage of this time!

Let’s see how we can do this:


1. Identify your dead time

The first step to eliminating your dead time is to identify it.

There may be some obvious dead time tasks like commuting to and from school, and there are other tasks that are less obvious… like mindlessly looking at your notes.

This is why it’s important that you identify these dead time activities. There will be tasks that seem productive but are not.

For example, your study for history might be an hour on your timetable. But if 35 minutes of that each week is spent organising disorganised notes, that’s dead time. You should have kept neater, more organised notes in the first place.

To do this, you should:

  1. Reflect on your day
  2. Actively identify what you are doing
  3. Determine whether or not it has value


2. Organise your time with schedules

To despatch dead time, you should organise your time with schedules and goals.

This ensures that you know exactly what you need to do during the day, so you don’t waste any valuable time.

To do this, you should:

  1. Identify 3 main tasks you aim to complete during your study session/day
  2. Identify a few secondary tasks that you can complete in your ‘dead time’ over a week

Your secondary tasks are tasks that are not urgent but still needs to be completed.

For example, reading your English related texts, revising your notes, or researching information to extend your knowledge.

So, instead of wasting your study session time, you can use your dead time to complete these tasks!



4. Exercise

Sometimes, we get carried away with studying and forget about our physical health.

However, it is crucial that you aren’t doing this!

Studies have found that exercise not only reduces your chances of heart disease or diabetes, but it also increases your memory and your learning. If you’re not healthy, you’ll spend more time staring at your books rather than engaging with them!

This is because when you exercise, your heart pumps more blood to your brain, which increases oxygen levels in your brain. And we all know that cells need oxygen to function… So, in short, by exercising your brain is charging up with more brainpower!

So, while you’re waiting for your laptop to update itself or for your friends to come for a study session, you can go for a short jog or walk, do some stretches, or even some starjumps.

Use time to get your blood pumping through your body and your brain so you don’t have dead time staring at your books!




4. Make notes

For many students, the worst feeling is remembering that you have an exam in a few days and realising that you haven’t prepared any revision notes at all.

Don’t put yourself in this position. Prepare early and consistently update your notes!


1. Write class notes

Too often, students treat class time as catch-up time with friends. However, this is highly detrimental because they are significantly hindering their study.

During class, your teacher breaks down your content into manageable chunks of information, you can ask for help, and you have more revision time when you get home.

If you waste your class time, you are starting at square one at home. You’ll need to learn the information yourself. You’ll have no one to ask for help. And… you’ll lose your crucial revision time!

So, here are some tips to help you write effective notes during class:

  1. Actively listen and engage in class
    1. This includes listening and understanding what your teacher is saying, actively participating in class discussions and asking for help when you need it
  2. Write down key ideas
    1. We write significantly slower than we speak. So, it’s crucial that you are not scribing your teachers word-for-word. Instead, listen, understand then write down the key ideas.
  3. Transfer notes to study notes
    1. Your class notes won’t be neat and that is okay. When you get home, you can transcribe the key ideas from class and add it into your master notes.
    2. Then, add additional information to clarify these key points.
  4. Extrapolate important information only
    1. Try not to get distracted by interesting (but off-task) information when you are writing your notes. Stay focused on the keywords and information.
  5. Add additional notes 
    1. These include additional research, analysis or tips/things you need to remember

If you want to reach more about writing study notes, take a read our article: How to Write Perfect Study Notes for Revision.

It’s okay if your class notes get a little messy! You should focus on documenting information, as opposed to making your notes look clean.


2. Textbook/source notes

Don’t neglect writing notes for your textbooks or texts. These notes are as equally important as your class notes.

So, let’s go through how to do them:

  1. Read or watch the source 
    1. On your first reading, you shouldn’t pick up your pens or highlighter.
    2. Instead, simply read to garner a general idea about what is happening. This can be for your English film, Science textbook or History sources.
  2. Highlight important information 
    1. Now, you can go through your texts again and highlight key ideas and relevant information. (Don’t be tempted to highlight everything)
  3. Summarise the key information 
    1. Now, it’s time to summarise what you’ve highlighted in your notes!
    2. You should use headings and subheadings to help you organise your notes.
  4. Add further detail 
    1. Notes are supposed to reflect your learning. So, don’t just leave them alone once you’re done! Continue to add more detail as you learn and research.

Again, if you want to learn more about writing notes from a textbook or source, take a read of our How to Write Perfect Study Notes for Revision.


3. Handwrite your notes

The best way to remember your notes is to handwrite them.

This is because more areas of your brain are engaged when you handwrite your notes, which helps you retain information better.

It also forces you to be more selective about which information to record because it takes longer than simply typing. So, this means that you are actively engaging with the information and sorting the key ideas from the supporting ideas.

So, get out a few different coloured pens and hand-write your notes!


4. Allocate time during the week to catch up on your notes

Too often, students procrastinate during the term and leave their study notes until the week before their exams.

This is detrimental because they are not only sabotaging their revision and practice time, but they are adding unnecessary stress… which will inadvertently affect their exam performance.

So, to prevent this, allocate some time during your week to catch up on your notes. It will save you in the long run!

There are many ways to do this:

  • Set 30-60 mins per day to update your notes for classes taken that day
  • Spend 30-60 mins a day for each subject
  • Give yourself one day to update your week’s notes
  • Spend time over the weekends to update your week’s notes

You can update your notes in any way you like, as long as your notes are updated for every week.




5. Write down questions when they arise….and ask them

Let’s say you were struggling with algebra in Term 1, but you never bothered to ask for help. Then in Term 2, you begin to learn trigonometry.

The only problem is… trigonometry relies on your knowledge of algebra. And now everything is chaotic because you can’t begin to grasp trigonometry.

This is why it’s crucial that you tackle your problems early to ensure that your study is organised.

So, how do you do this:


1. Have a questions book

A question book is a notebook where you document all your questions and weaknesses.

It is one of the best ways to keep track of your questions to ask your teacher later.

It’s like a mistakes book, but for your questions!

It’s crucial that you keep your question books organised, so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.

So, how do you keep a question book?

  1. Find a small notebook that you can easily bring around
  2. Keep a question book by your side as you study
  3. Start a new page for each subject/task (don’t fret if you only write one question on a page)
  4. When you come across confusing concepts, errors in your past papers or any other questions in your studies, jot it down
  5. Use your question book to ask your teachers and friends for help
  6. Highlight the question after you’ve sought help.
    1. You don’t want to cross off the question because you still want to be able to identify your questions when you revise for your subject


2. Seek help from teachers or peers ASAP

Don’t leave your questions to bubble over the months. Deal with them immediately!

The longer you leave your problems, the more they grow.

Remember, everything you learn is inter-related. If you have a missing gap in knowledge, it will affect your understanding of other topics.

This is why it’s crucial that you deal with your problems as soon as possible.

So, how do you do this?

  1. Ask your teachers, Matrix teachers, or Matix tutors for help ASAP 
    1. You can book an appointment with your teachers, or book a free 1-1 workshop with a Matrix tutor if you’re a Matrix student
    2. If you are in class, simply put up your hand and ask your question
    3. If you are shy, you can always ask your teacher after class or email them
  2. Always ask a specific question
    1. Your teachers can’t help you if you aren’t identifying your problems. So, instead of saying “I don’t understand anything about evolution”, say, “I don’t understand how the finches aided Darwin’s theory of evolution”
  3. Work with friends 
    1. A good way to learn and tackle your problems is to work with friends! They can help clarify difficult concepts and you can also teach them too. Remember, the best way to learn is to teach other people! This is because you consolidate your understanding by communicating it out loud.

Written by Tammy Dang

Tammy is a former student of Matrix and is now studying Law / Media (Screen and Sound Production) at UNSW. She is a Digital Content Writer for the Matrix Education blog. Tammy aspires to become a lawyer in the future while continuing to run her art business.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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