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If a pharmaceutical company developed a drug that made people more organized, every shareholder could retire tomorrow.

We’d hazard a guess that, of the students that don’t reach their academic potential, 9 out of 10 are simply disorganized.

Disorganized is a word that describes a lot of people. Including a lot of high school students.

They’re absolutely NOT impaired by any lack of intelligence or talent.

Being disorganized prevents students who are capable of getting fantastic grades from achieving them.

Getting good grades at high school isn’t something that you stumble upon

Your teen isn’t going to get good grades by being slack all year.

They’re not going to get good grades by completing a three week assignment the day before it’s due.

This is simply not how school works.

It actually requires your teen to be disciplined and focused throughout the year. Not just at the end when exams are right around the corner.

Being disorganized is a common problem

A lot of parents ask us about strategies to help their teen get their study/life organized.

Of course there are a LOT of practical things your teen can implement to get more organized (like making subject maps), but what we’re going to tell you today is actually MUCH more important.

Being disorganized is a state of mind.

We can give your teen all of the organizational tips in the world, but if they don’t organize their brain first, there’s absolutely no point.

How many times have you nagged your teen to tidy their room?

And when they finally did clean it – how long did it last? An hour? A night? If you’re really lucky it might have stayed clean for a few days before it returned to the beginnings of a landfill.

If your teen is currently disorganized, there’s no point in them tidying their desk. It would be only a matter of hours (possibly minutes!) before it became covered with paper and everything else under the sun once again.

Students (and all people) who are disorganized need to sort out their head space FIRST before they can start to sort out their physical space.

They need to change their habits.

They need to change their benchmark of what is acceptable.

An organized student would never let their study space become a bomb site in the first place. They’d never get themselves into the position where they had an assignment due tomorrow but had only read the instructions.

Their habits would be such that they maintained a constant level of organization.

An organized student might have a system whereby they immediately put the instructions into a folder which will contain all of the material they accumulate for that assignment.

This would be instead of chucking the instructions for an assignment on the floor or leaving it in their schoolbag!

So what can you do to help?

If being disorganized is something that’s holding your teen back from getting the grades they’re truly capable of, you can help them.

What you don’t want to do is simply nag. This will only waste your breath and increase your blood pressure.

You’d be much better off sitting down and talking about what regular systems your teen can implement to help keep their life and schoolwork in order.

And, tell them WHY these measures are important.

No successful person has gotten where they are without their own systems of organization.

These systems don’t need to be anything over the top.

Just simple stuff.

A great start could simply be putting all the materials your teen has for each subject into a separate folder of some kind. It’s important to keep everything together.

Never again will your teen lose notes or assignment instructions.

But whatever you decide, the change needs to start in their HEAD. If it does, the rest will fall in to place.

If you come up with any cool organizational strategies with your teen please share them in the comments below!

Image Credit: Schilling 2 on Flickr



  1. Instead of taking a folder with a refill in it to school for each subject like English,Media,Chemistry & Bio.
    My year 12 son decided to invest in a light weight document file that has a compartment for each subject & then just takes 1 refill with that to school & puts the notes in the right compartment after each class.
    Obviously you still need a maths book but it’s cut down on alot of clutter for him.
    Hope this is helpful for someone else.

    • Hi Lisa,

      That’s a fantastic way to do it! When it comes time to study for exams he’ll have everything in it’s correct order, so things will be that much better.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. Hi 🙂 I’m at uni now, but your site has helped organise my life 😀
    I think a good idea to stay organised is to review the classes you’ve had either at the end of every day, or every weekend. As long as it is regular. Then you can stay up to date with assignments and making notes etc.

    • Hi Ali,

      I think you’re exactly right! I personally like to make sure I’ve had a quick browse over my notes at the end of each day and make a few notes on what I need to cover. Then I can lazily go over them on the weekend.

      So glad you like the site!

      Good luck, Clare 😀

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