My big fear in 2012 was procrastination. I went back to University after a 30 year break with a sneaking suspicion that I would spend the year cleaning my house rather than focusing on my reading and writing. I am glad to report that I was able to resist shining my windows and spot cleaning the carpet, and I finished the year with a Post Graduate Diploma in Education.

Determined to ignore my drooping interiors for another year I have signed up to complete my Masters in 2013. But as the work gets more complex I need to become a whole lot more organised in my approach. Putting good structures in place right from the beginning of the year will make all the difference to my work this year, as my Professor reminds me.

I know what a difference it makes to students of all ages and stages to get good processes in place right from the beginning. As parents there are a few practical ways we can help our children make a confident start to a new school year. Putting in place systems to help them manage the large amounts of information they will get at secondary school is a valuable way to empower your secondary students. This year I intend to heed my own advice:

  • Buy a diary and write in all the important dates, especially those where assignment work is due to be handed in.
  • Write in the diary all the tasks I have to complete. Tick them off when they are completed.
  • Buy all the stationery I need at the beginning of the year.
  • Have copies of all the textbooks I will need for the year – try to purchase second hand from older students.
  • Set up a workstation that is tidy, with good lighting, and set in place regular routines for working there.
  • Clean up my laptop. Organise all work into folders and delete what I don’t need.
  • Date all my work so I know which work represents the latest copy of what I am working on.
  • Back up my work and save a copy to Dropbox. Dropbox software can be downloaded for free and work that is saved there can be downloaded from any computer so won’t be lost if your computer is.
  • Complete all written work as carefully as I can right from the beginning so I don’t have to spend hours checking spelling, grammar etc. later on.
  • If I quote another author, I will make sure I write down the source and page number straight away and add it into the bibliography immediately.
  • Ask my teacher/Professor to check my rough copies regularly so I know if I am on the right path or need to make some changes well before my work is due in.

I would have made 2012 a lot easier if I had done these things from the beginning. Good habits are a great foundation for any year and a practical way for us to really help reduce work stress for ourselves and our youth.

The nice thing about a new year is we can begin things differently and perhaps create some more positive outcomes for ourselves and our children in the process.

Have fun getting organised!


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Julie Mulcahy is married to Peter, a Primary School Principal and is descended from a long line of teachers. Julie has taught Years 4 through to Year 13, moved from country schools in Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland and spent the past 10 years in Auckland where she has worked for six large secondary schools taking referrals for senior students who had learning or behaviour needs.

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