Matrix Blog

Year 11

How to Use a Study Diary to Ace High School | Step-by-Step

Learn how to stay organised and on top of your studies with a study diary!

Got a study diary but unsure how to use it? Don’t fear! Here, we will show you how to use a study diary ace high school and stay organised in 8 steps.


Table of contents:


What is a study diary?

A study diary is a planner that documents important dates and reminders. Schools usually provide students with one at the start of the academic year (but you can also purchase them if you want a different style or aesthetic).

Study diaries usually include

  • A checklist for every day (usually beside the weekly calendar view)
  • Weekly calendar view
  • Monthly calendar view
  • Yearly calendar view

This might sound like a lot to stay on top of. But, in reality, this variety is very useful to help you organise your studies! So, read on to find out how you can effectively use these different calendar views.


Why should I use a study diary?

Your homeroom teacher is reading out the notices and you hear that there is an audition for drama club this Friday and a book club meeting on Wednesday. You’re interested in both.

Then you go to your first class and your teacher assigns you 2 homework exercises. Your second class comes and you get more homework AND an assessment notification. In your third class, you receive a notification for an excursion due next Monday, plus more homework.

The pile of due dates just keeps growing!

How do you possibly remember everything?

That’s right! Your school diary.

Your school diary is like your bible. It contains everything you need to remember so you can prevent nasty surprises and homework letters!

But more importantly, study diaries help you organise your events and studies, so you can complete everything at a reasonable pace and balance your personal and extracurricular activities.



What should I include in a study diary?

Now that you’re sold on the benefits of using a school diary, let’s see what you should include in them!



This is used to keep track of your homework tasks, upcoming assessments and their due dates.

  • Homework tasks and their due dates
  • Assessment tasks and their due dates
  • Previous week’s incomplete homework and their due dates

Note: If you don’t have a checklist, then you will need to draw a line down your weekly calendar and allocate one side for events and reminders, and the other side for tasks.



Weekly view: Everything (nearly)!

Your weekly calendar contains information about what is happening on the day or reminders for the following week.

  • Assessment/exam dates
  • Reminders for upcoming assessments, exams or other important dates
  • Important events (eg. Carnival, formal, school concerts…)
  • Deadlines (eg. Excursion notes, SRC applications…)
  • Meetings (eg. Club meetings, interviews…)
  • Personal information (eg. Birthdays, family events, doctor appointments, interviews…)


Monthly view:

Your monthly view is supposed to be a quick view of important dates you need to remember for the month. These include:

  • Assessments and exam dates
  • Important events (eg. School excursions, carnivals or family trip)
  • Holidays

Note: Try to keep school events and personal events in different colours, so you can easily distinguish them.




Yearly calendar view:

Your yearly calendar should be simple and organised. It gives you a quick overview of your school and holiday dates, and your assessment and exam dates for the year.

The calendar view is supposed to help you identify different school periods (eg. exam blocks, school camps and holidays)

  • Assessments and exam dates
  • School term and holiday dates
  • Trips (eg. School camp or family holidays)

Note: Don’t forget, colour code school and personal events, so things don’t get too crowded!




How to use your study diary – step-by-step

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of how to use your school diary to ace high school:

  1. Create a categorising system
  2. Housekeeping
  3. Add tasks and dates immediately
  4. Schedule reminders
  5. Rate activities based on urgency
  6. Cross out completed activities and move incomplete activities
  7. Decorate to your liking
  8. Bring it everywhere!


Step 1: Create a categorising system

It’s important that you have a system to categorise different types of information and dates to ensure that your study planner stays organised and not messy.

There are a few ways you can do this.

Note: You can choose to use 1 or all 3 of these methods for your school diary! A way you can distinguish between priorities and activities is by highlighting one and using a coloured pen for the other.


1. Colour code by priorities

Colour coding your tasks and events by priorities will help you work out what you need to complete first!

Remember, you don’t need to highlight EVERY task or events

Simply, allocate colours for priorities you want to highlight and leave everything else.

Here is an example of a colour coding system you can adopt. Use a different colour for:

  • Assessment tasks due within the week
  • Homework due the next day
  • Previous week’s incomplete homework
  • Reminders/deadlines for next week’s events/activities.


2. Colour code by activities

You can also colour code activities based on activities.

Use a coloured pen to help distinguish your activities from your priorities.

Here are some things you should consider colour coding:

  • Exams/assessment dates
  • School events
  • Personal events.

Remember, you don’t need a vast array of colours for every single small activity. You can categorise them into larger categories.

For example, blue pen for events, red pen for exams/assessments, orange for reminders/deadlines and black for everything else.


3. Separate personal and school activities by drawing a line 

As mentioned, it is important that you separate your personal and school activities to ensure that it doesn’t get too messy and confusing.

  1. Draw a line down your weekly calendar. You can put this straight down the middle or approximately 2/3’s of the way.
  2. Allocate one side for your school reminders and the other for your personal reminders. If you drew a line 2/3’s of the way, then allocate the larger slot for your school events.

Note: If you don’t have a checklist view, then you should draw a line down the middle of your weekly view to separate your events from your tasks instead.



Step 2: Housekeeping!

Once you receive your diary, you need to immediately jot down any important dates you know in the appropriate calendar.

These dates can be found in your grade handbook, subject handbooks, or school website.

It is important that you do this step immediately, instead of waiting until the date approaches because you may forget it or be thoroughly surprised.

Here are some dates you should look for:


  • Term dates
  • Holiday dates
  • School events (eg. excursions, mufti day, carnivals…)
  • Exam and assessment dates
  • Regular extra-curricular and club meetings
  • MAtrix class days/times
  • Deadlines (eg. excursion note, SRC application etc)


  • Birthdays
  • Appointments
  • Outings and events

Remember to keep personal and school-related things separate in your weekly calendar. You can draw a line down the planner to separate them and/or colour code them to know the difference.

It is beneficial to see both your school-related and personal activities to figure out your time allocations.



Step 3: Add tasks and events immediately

The purpose of a study diary is to document your tasks and events so that you remember them.

So, don’t wait until you get home to write down your homework. Do it immediately!

Always keep your study diary on your school desk.

This way, you can easily access it and jot down reminders.

Write your homework tasks and their due dates in your checklist side, and write upcoming events, deadlines, exam and assessment dates and other important reminders in your calendar side.



Step 4: Schedule reminders

How disappointing is it to write down all of your tasks and due dates, only to realise that it is Sunday and you haven’t started your assessment that’s due on Tuesday?

This is what will happen to you, too, if you forget to schedule reminders!

Since your study diaries are set out in a weekly view, it is very easy to forget to check upcoming week’s events and due dates.

This is why reminders are so important!

You should always add a reminder 2 weeks before and a week before exams, assessments and important events and deadlines.

This way, you will prevent any nasty surprises and have appropriate time to prepare for these activities.



Step 5: Rate activities based on urgency

You can’t just work through your homework tasks in order of when you receive them. You need to work through them in order of urgency!

To rate your task in priorities, you need to look at the due date and its weighting (eg. assessments due tomorrow are more important than a homework sheet due tomorrow)

A good way of determining the importance of your task is Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix.

It looks like this:



  1. Important tasks you need to do now: These are tasks that are due very soon
  2. Things you need to schedule a time to do: These are tasks that you need to allocate time to do because they cannot be ‘crammed’ into one session
  3. Tasks you can do later: These are tasks that are due soon but are not as important as 1 and 2. So, these tasks can be done after 1 and 2 are finished.
  4. Things you can ignore: These are unimportant tasks that can be ignored until its importance and urgency changes.

You don’t need to draw a table every time you rate your tasks. Simply recall the table in your head and assess the task’s importance and urgency.

Then, highlight important and urgent tasks to help you easily identify them in the long list of other tasks.


Step 6: Cross out completed activities and move incomplete activities

Once you begin completing activities, it is time to cross them out!

Isn’t it satisfying to see a whole list of ticked tasks? 

Well, sometimes tasks pile up and you don’t finish everything within the week. So, it is important that you have a system in place to identify these unfinished activities and remind yourself to finish them in the following week.

Here is what we recommended Matrix students do,

  1. Cross out/tick completed tasks
  2. On Sunday night, go through the week’s checklist and highlight all uncompleted activities in another colour (or asterisks it)
  3. Add the activities and their due dates onto the bottom of Monday’s list.

Note: When you are transferring your incomplete homework, ensure that you leave adequate space on the top 2/3 of Monday’s list so you can add Monday’s homework tasks. If you have a long list of incomplete activities, add them on Tuesday’s bottom 1/3 as well.



Step 7: Decorate to your liking!

Remember, you want to build a good habit of consistently using your diary throughout the year. So, what’s a better way to motivate yourself than decorating it!

Note: Different schools have different rules about ‘decorating’ school diaries. So, make sure you are aware of your school rules and follow them.

So, what are some ways you can decorate your study diary?


1. Use stickers!

You can find alphabet stickers (single letters) or journal stickers that say “DUE”, “EXAM” or “IMPORTANT” to fancy up your school diaries, instead of simply writing out the word.

There are also cute icon stickers that you can just stick into your diary to decorate it and make it aesthetic.

Just make sure that they aren’t too big. You still need space to write out your events and tasks.


2. Draw icons and small pictures

Use your artistic talent and draw small and relevant icons beside your events!

For example, you can draw small hearts around “Valentines Day School Foundation” or a medal beside “Athletics carnival”.

However, this isn’t an excuse to start doodling in the middle of the class! You should be concentrating on your content.

Instead, decorate your diary in your downtime at home as a way to relax.


3. Use fancy writing for important things 

You don’t always need to write in your ‘normal’ handwriting in your diary.

Spice it up and try writing your events in a different font or style.

However, don’t do it all the time because it can look messy and overcrowd your page.


4. Personalise the cover

Personalise the cover by sticking some pictures, stickers or washi tape, or writing your name in a fancy way!

Remember, you should still follow your school rules. Some schools don’t allow students to alter the school cover. So, don’t do this if your school is one of them!


5. Don’t overdo it

Decorating makes your diary fun to use, but don’t overdo it so that it’s too messy and overcrowded.

The main purpose of a diary is documenting dates for homework tasks, assessments, and events to remind you to do them! So, your study diary should still be simple, clear and organised!


Notice how they used stickers and different fonts, but everything is still clear and readable.



Step 8: Bring it everywhere!

Forgetting to bring your diary to school defeats the purpose of having a study diary!

You will end up relying on your memory to remember tasks and reminders and this is ineffective… because it’s natural for humans to forget!

Remember, your school diary is a communication tool between school and home.

Always bring it to school and place it on your school desk the moment you sit down in class.

Every time your teacher assigns a homework task or assessment date, write them down straight away. Don’t hesitate, because you might forget it later.


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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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