The beginning of the academic year provides an opportunity to think about goals for the year ahead, creating an impetus to get organised; to start the year well. Of course, beliefs about what organisation entails can differ from one person to another; between parents and adolescents. There are those whose concept of organisation includes a significant degree of order, rigid structure and extensive categorisation; whereas for others, organisation involves a broader, more flexible arrangement, with action focused upon only a few activities that are considered essential for day-to-day comfort. Having an open discussion about each person’s concept of organisation and developing a common understanding between family members can help to clarify expectations and minimise the likelihood of conflict about organisation arising within the family. Essentially, organisation involves: the management of materials, scheduling of time, prioritisation of tasks, the development of associated skills and routines.
It takes a great deal of effort to change existing habits and this doesn’t occur without persistence. It can be useful, at this early stage of the year, to identify critical patterns of behaviour to focus upon and discuss how the establishment or maintenance of these habits might be supported within the family. Although not specifically part of organisation, per se, identification and visualisation of goals, determination of incremental steps, commitment and persistence are also required to achieve personal goals. Some students, including those who developed collections (coins, stamps, rocks etc.), may already have a good understanding of categorisation, prioritisation, delayed gratification and persistence towards goals, while others may still need to establish these organisational and personal skills that are so important to achieve one’s academic, extracurricular and life goals.
The establishment of neural pathways depends upon repeated thoughts and behaviours. Establishment may initially require considerable effort and support; however with persistence, repeated behaviours become routines, and then automatic habits, with little cognitive energy required to maintain this pattern of behaviour. Organisation of materials depends upon: identification of purpose, categorisation (colour coding can be useful to link subject-related materials and/or determine relative importance), location (consider accessibility) and associated patterns. Efficient usage of time begins with active learning in class; allocation of time to prioritised tasks; an initial guesstimate of time (with experience enabling more accurate estimates) required for the different elements of a larger task. With a vision of one’s goals to guide difficult choices and the exercise of self-control strengthening the capacity for delayed gratification, students become more skilled at efficiently and effectively utilising the time available to complete tasks in a timely manner.
© Michele Juratowitch