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(Stock photo)

(Stock photo)

By Mae Mastin, Joliet West 

As an oldest child with a Type A personality, organizing is my favorite hobby.

This year, I’ve found that it’s more important than ever to have a system for keeping myself organized. In the past, I’ve used a few different systems—mostly a weekly homework document where I list assignments and due dates. Now, between a full class schedule, multiple extracurricular activities, and the paperwork of junior year, I need a little bit more than that, so I came up with three different systems to keep myself on track.

Homework Log

This is my main system for keeping track of assignments. I created a template (this year, it’s a Google Doc, but I’ve used Word in the past) listing each of my classes and space to record the name of each assignment, the date it was assigned, the date I completed it, and the date it’s due. When I turn it in, I cross out the date in the “Due Date” section.

I use a new document each week, and I save the old documents in case I need to refer to when I was working on a particular topic. Plus, it’s fun to look back at the work I’ve completed.


I use my planner mostly for indicating dates of extracurricular activities and for reminding myself about important tasks. I’ve used planners before for homework tracking (especially before high school), but this year I’m keeping it mostly for tasks that I do outside of class, with the exception of dates of tests or other major class events. In addition, I use it to plan ahead for things I want to do in upcoming weeks, which lets me scribble something down on a date I think will be appropriate and then know that it’s taken care of until I need to complete it.

For example, this week I’ve planned the date of a Chemistry test, the date of a Garden Club meeting, and the date I’m submitting this article :). On Thursday, I’m planning to email my counselor with questions about classes for next year, my registration form for the PSAT is due on Friday, and I have other “to do” tasks planned all the way through Winter Break.

I use my own variation of the Bullet Journal notation for my planner. This is something that I started looking into in the summer and which works really well for me, especially in this situation (even though I’m not actually “bullet journaling”). I use a dot for tasks and then use an “X” to indicate completion or a “>” to indicate movement of the task. I use an open circle for events and then fill it in once the event is over. I use a star for important items (like tests). If anything is canceled, I just cross the whole thing out.


The last system I use is a notebook to store all my to-do lists. I make a page for each list (sometimes daily, weekly, or just for certain tasks or events) and write whatever I need to do. It’s not necessarily just for important items, like my planner, and I don’t include specific homework assignments (although “homework” as a whole is often on the list). In the past, I’ve tended to write little lists on scraps of paper, so this is just a way more organized version of that habit.

What organizational tools do you use? Any tips for other busy high school students? Please comment!

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