productivity tips

It’s that time of year. Every flyer and every store-front sign proclaims those three words: “back to school.” Notebooks are new, pencils are sharp, and that hope is in the air that this year will be the best year. But even more important that a fresh notebook is the ability to manage time and organize surroundings. These 10 productivity tips are designed to bring success for students.

  1. Give kids an “office.” School books and supplies need not be scattered all over the house. School is the most important job a child will ever hold. Give him or her a place that is comfortable, well-lighted, and stocked with colored pencils, a sharpener, tape, glue, paper for the printer, and all the essentials. Set your child up for success.
  2. Use a student planner. The planner provides a place to trap commitments as soon as they arrive. Learning the trick of letting your “system” do the remembering provides control and peace of mind that lasts a lifetime. Mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous for teens. They are also becoming more accepted in schools. Phones are expensive, so why not get the most out of them? Leverage the tool by using a digital calendar such as Google Calendar and a task app such as Remember the Milk. Sync those apps with the desktop computer so that vital information is accessible from anywhere. If you are not already on my email list, why not join now? One of the perks you get is my ebook on how to set up Remember the Milk the way I have mine configured.
  3. Get calendars in sync. Create a Google Calendar for every family member. Share each calendar with Mom and Dad. That way, parents can see all activities in one place.
  4. Work from an organized to-do list. As soon as a task arrives, throw it on the list. Each night, put the tasks in order for the next day. A digital list makes the process easier. Put everything on the list: assignments to complete, long-term projects broken into small tasks, reminders to study for tests. Add items related to personal tasks and hobbies. Make the list the one-stop shop and put an end to “I forgot.”
  5. Establish an “Inbox” for Mom and Dad. School generates papers parents need to examine. All those papers need to be in one place. Anything for parent’s attention goes in the “Inbox.” Make handling every item in it an every-evening ritual.
  6. Identify repeating tasks and put them on autopilot. The school year is cyclical. Many projects and events happen annually. Capture the related “to-dos” and make them repeating tasks on the list.
  7. Maximize “waiting time.” Have something productive to do at all times. Read assignments and review notes from today’s classes. Read a library book. Write a thank-you note. Handle email, respond to text messages, and make needed phone calls. It’s amazing how many small tasks one can handle during those spare minutes.
  8. Get everything ready the night before. Early morning is a terrible time to finish homework and make decisions about what to wear. Lay out clothes and pack the book bag the night before. The next morning, “grab and go.”
  9. Organize reference information digitally. Evernote allows for easy access and the ability to edit information from anywhere. The search capabilities make retrieval easy. I have written about Evernote in quite a few posts on this blog.
  10. Give the gift of organization. Organization and time management are teachable skills that benefit people of all ages. While we often think some people are “born organized,” a closer look reveals learned habits. We live in a complex world and good systems make it easier to navigate. We shouldn’t make young people figure this one out for themselves.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite tip from the list. Or…do you have one to add. Leave a comment and let us know.