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Dude, Where's My Homework?

Why You Need to Get Organized Now

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Attention and Focus
Problem Solving

We've heard it all before. You can't find your homework, but you swear you just had it in front of you. Avoid the embarrassment of misplacing your report 5 minutes before you have to turn it in — and all the other following scenarios — by putting some method in the your messes' madness.


You Hand in the Homework Due Nov. 11... on Nov. 12
Time flies when you're having fun — especially when you're having fun instead of keeping up with your assignments. One of the best ways to make sure you don't miss a due date is to hang a calendar on a wall in your room. Stick a tack on the wall next to it (just tell your parents that sacrificing wall paint is a small price to pay for organization) and tie a string with a pen on the end to the tack. Use the pen to write your due dates on the calendar. If you can hang more than one pen, use different colors for each subject. Every night before you go to sleep, cross off the day. That way, you'll always know how much time you have left before your science project is due.

The Girl Who Sits Next to You Is Sick of Lending You Pencils
Don't go to class unprepared. Yes, it's understandable if you used the last page in your notebook and need to ask a classmate to borrow a few sheets to last the rest of the day. But don't make a habit of mooching because you didn't bring the necessary school supplies.

To get it all together, first, make a list of everything you need in class. If possible, buy it all in bulk — pens, pencils, notebooks, rulers, paper clips, a stapler, chewing gum, whatever! Then, create a homework supply box. Fill the box with your extra school supplies and keep it in your desk or locker. The box can be anything from a Tupperware container decorated with pictures of your favorite band to a vintage lunchbox to a shoebox — it doesn't matter, as long as you can fit everything in it.

You Miss the Bus Because You Can't Find Your Cargo Pants
You want to look your best at school, but it takes forever to get ready in the morning because you can never find the perfect outfit. Are your favorite jeans in the laundry, draped on the back of your chair, on the bathroom floor, or in the scary-looking pile in your closet? Truly, it's a mystery. Keep getting-to-school time from becoming berserk by getting things in order.

If there's a place for everything, you'll find it a lot easier to locate your clothes, keep your stuff neat, and clean it all up. Use containers and closet organizers to get clutter out of the way. When fall gets chilly, move summer clothes, like tank tops and shorts, to the back of shelves and break out sweaters, sweatshirts, and fleeces. Donate anything you've outgrown or worn holes in. It'll be easier to choose outfits if there's less mess. Organizing your closet may not be an enthralling way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but think of it this way — if everything is cleaned up and cleaned out, you'll feel like you have a whole new wardrobe because you'll be able to find all your stuff!

Also, lay out clothes the night before. This one's always tough, but it does cut time in the morning if you can get in the habit.

Uh... The Dog Ate My Homework...
Your teacher asks the class to turn in last night's assignment. Everyone's reaching into folders, backpacks, and desks, pulling out the homework. But yours, alas, is not materializing. Your stomach sinks as you realize you have no clue where you put your homework.

So what happened? Chances are, you left it in the pile of papers on your desk at home. Remedy this NOW by resolving to organize your schoolwork. Here's a tried-and-true tactic to ensure you never have to use this lame excuse.

  1. Establish a homework routine. Try to do your assignments in the same place each night.
  2. Whether you choose a comfy workspace in your room or at the kitchen table, set up file baskets or bins marked "Done," "To Do," and "For Mom to sign," so you keep track of what assignments need to go back to school, what you're still working on, and if you need a parent signature for field trips or report cards.
  3. Keep all notes, handouts, and graded assignments in separate, labeled folders in a binder.
  4. When your homework assignment is complete, put it in the correct folder and zip it into your backpack. Voila! No more homework humiliation.

Your Binder/Desk/Locker Looks Like a Mini Tornado Disaster Zone
Keeping closed areas like desks or lockers neat is easy…for the first month of school. Then the novelty of new school supplies wears off and all of a sudden, you smell something funky in there and don't even want to reach your hand in to grab your calculator. Okay, not only is that disgusting, but lockers and desks are supposed to help you keep track of everything — they aren't trash receptacles or recycling bins. Here are some tips for keeping it clean in there:

  1. Put something in your desk or locker that you want to see every day — a mini poster of your favorite baseball player, a photo of your dog, a note your best friend wrote to you during homeroom. Important stuff like that is good motivation for not leaving half a sandwich in there for a week.
  2. Stick in a shelf or a divider to keep binders, textbooks, and your lunch separate. Even in a tiny area, everything should have its own place.
  3. Clean out old papers, pencils without erasers, candy wrappers, and anything else that has absolutely no use every Friday. That way, when you come back to school Monday morning everything will be tidy.

Everything's Done! Oh Wait. Except for That…
It's a terrible feeling when you think you did everything, just to realize there's one thing that totally slipped your mind. That means it's time to introduce yourself to the art of making checklists. It can be as simple as "Homework I Need to Complete," "5 Things Dad Wants Me To Do For Tomorrow," or "School Snacks I Want From the Supermarket." But the fact remains that creating and referring to lists will develop your ability to strategize tasks and organize your time. Always try to put the task that's most important at the top, and prioritize down to the least important task at the bottom. That way the thing you need to accomplish right away will be #1 on your list, boldly begging you to be crossed off and completed.

So whether you write down all of your assignments, the top 7 movies you want to see over Winter Break, or a massive inventory of all the toys you want to get for the holidays, grab a pen and make a list — and then feel the satisfaction of checking stuff off once you've done it!

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