ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE Good organizational skills can be applied to every aspect of your life, whether you’re planning a birthday party or trying to maintain a hectic daily schedule. Setting goals and time management are two of the skills that can help you keep things running smoothly. When your life is running smoothly, chances are you’ll do better in school.
Have you ever heard, “No one plans to fail. They just fail to plan?” Those words sum up nicely the importance of having a plan whenever you set out to accomplish something. Before you can have a good plan, though, you have to set goals. And the key to setting — and attaining — goals is to be realistic. Don’t expect to learn to play the piano in a day. Set step-by-step goals that are possible to achieve. And remember: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Finally, be sure to reward yourself when you achieve your goals.
Positive reinforcement will encourage you to work even harder the next time.
If you constantly put things off to the last minute or can’t remember where you have to be and when, then you need to learn a few basic time management skills.
First, try making “to do” lists each day. Jot down the things you NEED to do, then prioritize them. Don’t make the mistake of overburdening yourself with too many things. You might also make a reminder list — one for home and one for school.
Second, keep a calendar. It will help you schedule long-term projects and important events and activities while still leaving time for studying.
Third, learn to break down big jobs into little ones. If you have to give a speech in class, determine how long you have to complete the speech. Then assign yourself a set amount of time each day to prepare. Working a few minutes every day for a week is better than three or four hours the night before the speech is due.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT ACTIVITIES 1. In writing, describe the place where you study after school. Check your description against the suggestions listed in teh previous blog under “Organizing your study time.” Assign your study place a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F. With your parents, discuss improvements you need to make, then make them.
2. Now, find a lengthy article in today’s newspaper. Take the article to the place where you study and read it through once.Without referring back to the article, write down the five W’s of the story: who, what,when,where, and why. Were you able to concentrate enough to remember the details? How important was your study time and place in helping you concentrate on the assignment? Discuss.
3. Using information found in your newspaper, plan a weekly schedule for your favorite comic strip character. Be sure to include study time, chores, TV time, sports activities, entertainment, and anything else your character might need or want to do each day during the week. When you’re finished, put your newfound time management skills to work and create a weekly schedule of your own.
4. Find a story in your newspaper’s sports section about a team that needs to improve its game. Imagine that you are the coach and come up with a game plan to help the team get better before the next competition. How much “study” time do the players need? How much “homework” should they do? Write out your game plan and share it with the class. For discussion: How is practicing for a game like studying for a test?
5. Long before you learned how to read and write, you learned how to think. You learned how to recall, or remember something you learned. You learned how to understand,which goes beyond recalling what you know and requires you to show you understand it well enough to talk or write about it. And you learned how to apply information, or use what you’ve learned.
Now, you’re learning more sophisticated ways of thinking.You’re learning to analyze,which means to study information carefully. You’re learning to synthesize, or use what you already know to create new information. And, you’re learning to evaluate, which requires you to judge or defend what you have learned.
For this activity, you will use the newspaper to demonstrate these different ways of thinking. Ask your teacher to select a lengthy newspaper story for the class to read. Then, with a partner, test each other on your abilities to recall, understand, and apply information from the story. As a bonus activity, demonstrate your abilities to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information in the story. Be prepared to explain your thoughts.