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The Top 5 Organizational Skills For Teens

The Top organizational skills for teens

You are probably here because you want to know the organizational skills for teens that your child is missing.

By the end of this article, you will have everything you need to divest responsibility and let your teenager take the reins.

But first, I want to tell you a story demonstrating the importance of these skills.

Several years ago, I met with a family that claimed to have a son that was incredibly gifted but lazy and unorganized. I thought we would be a great match; I would teach the family the same skills and methods outlined in this article. 

After working with the son for about 10 minutes, he exclaimed, “Mom. I’m hungry.” 

The mom appeared, gave the son a snack, and disappeared. The son promptly ate the snack and threw the wrapper on the floor. 

I was aghast. The son was fifteen years old and in high school. I feared the mother would return and start yelling at the son in front of me. Instead, she came and picked the wrapper off the floor and put it in the trash. 

I asked to see the son’s backpack and folders, which were an absolute mess. I asked him if he had ever cleaned out his backpack. He said, “No, but my mom sometimes does.”

At the end of the session, I spoke with the mom and dad and told them there would be no improvement until they expected their son to be responsible for himself and organize his belongings. 

The parents stone-walled me and said I should focus on helping their son, not the two. That was the first and only session we had.

You can avoid this outcome with the skills and methods I outline in this article. It is not too late to empower your teen to be responsible and shift the responsibility from your shoulders to theirs. 

The Key to Academic Success: 5 Essential Organizational Skills for Teens

Let’s dive into the organizational skills your teen needs to succeed. Each of these skills is essential for the success of any teen, both in the classroom and in life.

Due Dates are one of the most impmortant organizational skills for teens

1. The Most Important Organizational Skill For Teens: Keeping Track of Due Dates

This organizational skill is critical for success in school. Few things are more stressful than realizing a project is due tomorrow and you haven’t started it. Keeping track of due dates is a foundational organizational skill because it facilitates many more complex organizational tasks like planning study time and time management.

Your teen needs to learn to track when assignments are due and plan accordingly. This organizational skill will help your teen succeed in school and avoid last-minute scrambling.

There are many ways to keep track of due dates, but I recommend using a planner. Many school districts provide students with free planners; if your teen’s school does not, consider purchasing one.

Alternatively, if your teen feels like a planner is old school, they can use an app or their phone’s calendar. What matters is that they write down the due dates, not how they do it.

How to Teach This Organizational Skill to Teens:

The best way to teach this skill is to model it yourself. Show your teen how you keep track of your meetings and responsibilities. As your teen sees you using this system, they will be more likely to use it themselves.

You can also sit down with your teen and help them get started using a planner or organizational system. Show them how to write down upcoming due dates, and help them get in the habit of checking them regularly.

Many teens try to remember due dates or write them down at the end of the day. I encourage you to challenge your teen to write down due dates as soon as the teacher shares them.

It can also be helpful to check their planner weekly to ensure they write down their assignments and due dates.

2. Notebooks and Folders Maximize Organizational Skills For Teens

Another organizational skill your teen needs is to have a separate notebook and folder for each class. Notebooks and folders will help them organize their materials and make it easier to find what they need.

Ideally, your teen should have a three-ring binder for each class. They can use the binder to store their syllabus, handouts, and other materials. The three-ring binder will also make it easy to add and remove papers as needed.

If your teen prefers not to use a three-ring binder, they can use a folder for each class. The folder can hold their syllabus, handouts, and other materials.

How to Teach This Organizational Skill to Teens:

The best way to teach this skill is to model it yourself. Show your teen how you organize your materials for work or school. Explain why having a separate notebook and folder for each class is helpful.

You can also help your teen start by purchasing the needed materials and sitting down with them to organize their notebooks and folders. Show them how to store their syllabus, handouts, and other materials.

If your teen needs help staying organized, you may want to check their notebooks and folders weekly. A weekly check-in will help ensure they keep up with their organizational system.

You can't forget digital organizational skills for teens

3. Digital Organizational Skills

Digital organization is one of the essential organizational skills for teens. Schools are moving more and more of their materials online, and Google Drive is rapidly replacing physical folders and notebooks.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t show their teens how to do this because it is not a part of their educational experience.

Digital organization is crucial because it will help your teen keep track of their materials, access them from anywhere, and share them with classmates and teachers.

How to Teach This Organizational Skill to Teens:

The best way to teach this skill is to model it yourself. Show your teen how you use Google Drive or another online organizational system.

You can also help your teen get started by creating a Google Drive or online account. Then, sit down with them and show them how to upload, download, and share files.

Ideally, your teen should have a folder for each class. Each class folder should be a folder for homework, notes, and projects. It would also be wise to show your teen how to label google docs so they can be found later appropriately.

A weekly check-in is a good idea if your teen struggles with digital organization.

4. Utilize Organizational Skills With Study Time and a Workspace

Another organizational skill your teen needs is study time and workspace. Many teens chronically underestimate the time they have to do their assignments. This habit can lead to getting stuck in the late work cycle and constantly trying to catch up.

I recommend that teens block out a portion each day to do their assignments. Their study time can range anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on their amount of homework.

In addition to having scheduled study time, a designated study time will help your teen focus on their work and avoid distractions.

A workspace is also crucial because it will help your teen stay organized. A designated workspace will give them a place to store their materials and tidy their work area.

How to Teach This Organizational Skill to Teens:

The best way to teach this skill is to use a calendar. I recommend using a whiteboard calendar because it is easy to edit and change and is a physical reminder. Your teen can keep the whiteboard calendar above their workspace.

Your teen should write down daily responsibilities like sports practice or other extracurricular activities. Additionally, your teen should fit study time into each day.

I recommend teaching this by creating the schedule together. As much responsibility should be put into your teen’s hands as possible. They need to know the times of their practices and any other practices they are involved with. If you keep track, your teen will not learn how to keep a schedule.

In regards to the study space, let your teen create this space. Please provide them with the material they need (i.e., a desk, chair, etc.) and let them make the space their own. Giving your teen control over their study space will help them feel more comfortable and invested.

Teens must learn how to manage their time as an organizational skill for teens

5. Time Management Is One of the Most Important Organizational Skills For Teens

Time management is perhaps the most critical organizational skill for teens. It is also one of the most difficult to teach. To be successful at time management, your teen must be comfortable with all the other skills on this list.

Time management will ensure that your teen dedicates enough time to different assignments and planning. Good time management will prevent sloppy mistakes and late assignments.

How to Teach This Organizational Skill to Teens:

The best way to teach this skill is to converse with your teen about time management. Talk about the importance of time management and how it can help them succeed. I recommend asking as many questions as possible. Some helpful questions include:

  • Does rushing stress you out?
  • Did you have enough time to do all your homework this week?
  • Did you have to rush to get anything done?
  • What could you do better in the future, if anything?
  • How much time do you think it will take to complete your assignments?
  • What other responsibilities do you have this week?

Then, create a plan together. This plan should involve creating a schedule and priorities.

Your teen’s first step is outlining all their responsibilities for the week. These responsibilities can include homework, extracurricular activities, and any other plans.

Then, have your teen estimate how much time each activity will take. Once they have an estimate, they can start to schedule their week.

I recommend using the same whiteboard calendar your teen uses to schedule their study time each day.

Tips for teaching organizational skills for teens

Tips for Teaching Organizational Skills For Teens

Now that you know the essential organizational skills for teens, I want to include some general guidelines on how to teach these skills.

Be Patient with Your Teen

When teaching organizational skills to your teen, patience is critical. It will take time for your teen to implement the skills and for you to see results. Do not get discouraged if you do not see results immediately.

Additionally, each teen will learn differently. Some organizational skills will come more naturally to your teen than others. It is essential to be patient and tailor the approach to organizational skills based on your teen’s needs.

Select a Specific Organizational Skill 

It may be tempting to try and teach your teen all the organizational skills at once. However, this is overwhelming and counterproductive. I recommend teaching organizational skills in the order that I listed above. Introducing them in order is particularly important because the skills build on each other.

Identify where your teen is at and what organizational skills they currently have. Then, focus on one managerial skill and help your teen improve. Once they have mastered that skill, you can move on to the next.

Approaching organizational skills in this way will keep the process manageable. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your teenager.

encouragement is essential for teaching your teen organizational skills

Give Teens Praise For Their Use of Organizational Skills

Praise is one of the most important ways to support your teen as they improve these skills. Positive affirmations will encourage your teen to keep going hard and improve their self-esteem.

It can be easy to focus on the negatives and what your teen is doing wrong, but this is not motivating and will have the opposite effect. It would be best if you aimed for a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative praise.

Your support is also essential. If organizational skills are causing your teen stress, have a conversation about it. Provide reassurance and support as your teen goes through this process.

Use an Organizational Skills Checklist for Students 

All the new information your teen is getting may be overwhelming. It might prove difficult for them to stay on track and use the skills they have developed. A great way to help them apply their organizational skills is to use a checklist. 

If your teen has a checklist, they will know precisely what to do each day/week. 

You can create your own or download the one I’ve designed specifically for this article. 

Ask your teen questions

Ask Questions About Your Teen’s Organizational Skills

Asking questions is another great way to facilitate your teen’s growth and improvement. It can be easy to become prescriptive and tell your teen what they are doing wrong or how to improve, but this is not helpful.

Instead, ask your teen questions about their organizational skills. Here are some examples:

  • How do you feel when you are rushing to get things done?
  • What is one organizational skill you would like to improve?
  • How can I help you as you work on improving your organizational skills?
  • What do you think is the biggest obstacle to being organized?

Remember, the goal is to help your teen develop organizational skills, not to do it for them. Asking questions will help you understand your teen’s perspective and how you can best support them. It also puts them in the driver’s seat, giving them the answers and solutions to their challenges.

Wrap Up

Organizational skills are not easy to learn. However, with time and effort, your teen can develop the skills they need to be successful.

Remember to be patient, focus on one skill at a time, give praise and support, and ask questions. If you follow these guidelines, you will be well on your way to helping your teen develop essential organizational skills.

If you want assistance teaching your teen these organizational skills, let’s talk. I have worked with hundreds of students and helped them build the skills they need to succeed in school and life. 

Every student has specific needs and challenges; let’s talk about how we can help your teen become a master of organization and help them take responsibility for their academics – book your free discovery call here. 

About the Author: John Hyde

I am an academic coach specializing in teaching students academic fundamentals and a growth mindset. 

After I graduated from Duke University in 2015, I taught at a public middle school from 2016 to 2019. Although I loved working with students in the classroom, the public education system was not teaching students the skills essential to academic success. 

I left the classroom in 2019 to start Academic Empowerment Academy. Since then, I’ve helped hundreds of students realize their academic potential by building confidence and empowering them with the skills and mindset to meet their goals in school and life. 

If you’d like to discuss how I can help your teen be more motivated, foster good habits, and improve academic organization/performance, Book a Complimentary Discovery Call Here

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Author Spotlight

Hi I’m John, author of this blog, academic coach, and founder of AE Academy.

I help teens reach their academic potential by empowering them with academic fundamentals, a growth mindset, and critical thinking. 

If your teen is struggling to reach their academic potential, or isn’t learning the skills they need to succeed in school, we should connect.

It’s on me – Book Your Free Call Here