How to Get Organized in High School

If you’re in high school, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate! You might feel overwhelmed juggling school work, friends, family, and extracurricular activities. You’re not alone. Luckily, there are several steps you can take to make it easier to organize your life. You can start by choosing some tools like a planner or app that will keep track of your schedule. You can also feel prepared for anything once you’ve developed a good study routine and taken some steps to start planning for your future.


[Edit]Scheduling Your Time Wisely

  1. Buy a planner. A planner is an easy way to keep track of your schedule and stay organized. As a student, you’re probably on the go a lot. It’s a good idea to choose a planner that is small enough that you can easily carry it or find room for it in your backpack. There are also school planner apps available for your smartphone. They show you your timetable and you can write notes or tips or reminders.[1]
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    • Look at several planners before choosing one. You might like one that has daily pages, or you might prefer weekly or monthly pages.
    • Write down all of your to-do items and scheduled activities in your planner.
    • Jazz it up by using fun pen colors or stickers!
  2. Use an app to keep track of your schedule. If a traditional planner isn’t for you, that’s okay! You can find an app on your phone that will help you keep track of your schedule. The bonus is that you will probably always have your calendar on hand. [2]
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    • Try to keep track of reminders and events.
    • Try Listastic to manage multiple to-do lists.
    • Try Focus Booster to help you divide your schedule into manageable chunks.[3]
  3. Make a to-do list for each day. When you have a lot of tasks to juggle, it can be easy to forget 1 or 2 of them. Instead of stressing about forgetting something, write down a list of things you need to do each day. You could either make your lists at the beginning of the week or each night before you go to bed. Your list might look something like this: [4]
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    • Go to soccer practice.
    • Study for Biology quiz.
    • Take the dog for a walk.
    • Take my turn making dinner.
  4. Schedule even small activities. You can manage to stay on track if you make your calendar really detailed. It might seem unnecessary, but you can save a lot of stress if you set aside time for even the smallest tasks. You might not think of these as scheduled activities, but you should mark out time for them even if they just take a few minutes. As a bonus, you’ll get great satisfaction from crossing lots of things off your list each day! Some short tasks you might list include:[5]
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    • Setting out your clothes for the next day.
    • Packing your lunch.
    • Sending a birthday card to your grandmother.
    • Watching the latest episode of your favorite show.
  5. Commit to just a few extracurricular activities. It might be tempting to join a club just because your friends are in it or run for a leadership position just because it will look good on your college application. But the quality of your involvement is more important that the quantity. Choose one or two activities that you really care about and participate in them. Concentrate your energy on doing something that you love. [6]
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    • If you are passionate about the environment, see if your club has an Environmental Club that you can join.
    • If you’re really into music, you might want to invest your time in playing in the marching band or singing in a choir.

[Edit]Creating an Effective Study Plan

  1. Create realistic goals. As a high school student, studying probably takes up a lot of your time. Work on finding study methods that work best for you so that you can save time. Start by setting some clear goals for yourself. Create both long-term and short-term goals. Write down things like:[7]
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    • Get an A in Biology.
    • Pass the AP exam in History.
    • Improve grade on next French quiz.
  2. Write down all of the steps necessary to achieve those goals. After you list all of your goals, break each one down into manageable steps. Make sure to jot down any important dates, like exam days. This will help you make sure that any major deadlines don’t sneak up on you. For example, if your goal is to get an A in Biology, you might write down steps such as: [8]
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    • Review notes for 10 minutes each night.
    • Start studying for tests 1 week before the test day.
    • Ask teacher for extra credit assignments.
  3. Find a study method that works with your learning style. Some people are visual learners while others do best listening to material. Try out a few different ways of studying to see what works for you. If you find that flashcards really help you retain information, you’re probably a visual learner. If you do better when a friend verbally quizzes you, you’re more of an auditory learner. It also helps to use multiple learning styles as opposed to just one.[9]
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    • Experiment with different methods. You can always use more than 1 way to study!
    • Feel free to use different methods during the same study session.
    • If you’re a kinesthetic learner, try studying someplace where you can stand up and walk around, and maybe even draw out your thinking on a whiteboard.[10]
  4. Make time to study every day. You can stay organized by creating an effective study schedule. That means setting aside a little bit of time for school work each day. It’s easy to find little pieces of time in your schedule each day. It’s much harder to find hours in a day each time you need to cram for a test or write a big paper. [11]
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    • Studying in small chunks will also help you better retain information. Aim for about an hour each day.
  5. Set up a good study space. If you have a go-to study spot, you won’t have to waste time looking for a place to study each day. Set up an area in your house where you can do your homework undisturbed. It might be a desk in your bedroom or a quiet corner in the den. Try to choose a spot that doesn’t have a television. [12]
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    • Make it clear to your family members that you don’t want to be disturbed when you’re in your study spot.
    • Set yourself up for success by gathering all the supplies you’ll need. Grab your books, notes, and computer. Don’t forget to grab something to drink and a healthy snack!
    • If you can’t find the perfect study spot at home, consider going to either your local or school library.
    • Keep in mind your learning style when choosing a study space. For instance, if you’re an auditory learner you probably want to be someplace quiet, where you won’t get distracted and confused by the noises around you.[13]

[Edit]Setting Yourself Up for Success in the Future

  1. Map out your classes early in your high school career. Colleges are typically looking for students who have a wide breadth of knowledge. This means that you should try to take a variety of classes in a number of fields. Begin planning your classes as early as your freshman year to make sure you fit everything in. Don’t worry, you’ll still have time to take classes that interest you! Plan to take classes in each of these areas: [14]
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    • English. Take an English class each year and aim for a mix of writing and literature courses, if your school offers all of these options.
    • Math. Take at least 3 years of high school math. Look for a combination of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus.
    • Science. Take at least 3 years of high school science. Try a combination of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science.
    • Social Studies. Take at least 3 years in this area, with a mix of U.S. history, world history, and government classes.
    • Foreign Language. Colleges like to see students with a good foundation of foreign language skills, so take at least 3 years in high school.
    • Arts. Colleges look for well-rounded students, so take at least 2 years of art courses. These might be studio art, music, or drama.
  2. Challenge yourself with AP courses or honors courses. You can really help yourself feel ready for college by taking some more difficult high school courses. Look through the offerings of AP and honors classes and choose a couple to take. Choose classes that play to your strengths. [15]
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    • For example, if you’re great with words, you might want to take honors English instead of AP physics.
    • You might also be able to get college credit or place out of entrance exams by taking these types of classes.
  3. Prepare for important tests like the SATs and other entrance exams. Most colleges in the U.S. require you to take the SAT to gain admission. This might seem really daunting, but don’t worry! There are lots of ways you can prepare. Start by choosing the date of your exam well in advance and creating a study schedule for yourself.[16]
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    • You can take review and prep courses in person or online. These are really helpful and can make you feel much more confident.
  4. Meet with your guidance counselor to discuss your plans. Your college counselor can be a great resource! They can offer you personalized advice about your high school and college plans. Make an appointment to meet with the counselor and discuss any questions you have. [17]
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    • You can ask the counselor about the best classes to take, wise extracurricular choices, and about which colleges they might recommend.
  5. Plan ahead to meet your college application deadlines. College applications take a lot of work, but with careful planning, you can make sure to get everything done. Applications are typically due in the fall, so you’ll want to be working on your applications over the summer. Start by making a list of the colleges you want to apply to and gathering all of the application information. Make a list of important things to remember, such as:[18]
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    • The date when each application is due.
    • Who will provide your recommendations and when you will request them.
    • A schedule for working on each application and when you will complete it. It’s a good idea to start with the application that is due first.



  • Adjust your schedule as necessary. You don’t want to burn yourself out by doing to much.
  • Ask your teachers for help if you fall behind in your classes. In most cases, if you’re kind to the teacher, when you ask for help, they will happily give it to you.
  • Use your extra time in the summer to volunteer or get an internship. Those look great on college applications!
  • Be sure you use your schedule given to you at the beginning of the year to your advantage. Using it will help you know exactly when you have all of your classes.
  • Keep your room and locker neat.
  • Work hard but make sure to have good friendships and have fun too!
  • Reduce stress by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.
  • Try asking your friends for help. They may have some more tips to help you stay organized, if you are still having trouble.
  • If you ever have trouble finding a class, even if you aren’t a freshman or new student, don’t be afraid to ask a teacher for help.

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