Monthly Archives: February 2015

Strategies for Students: Staying Organized in an Unorganized World


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

  • Everyone has a million and one different things going on and it’s hard to manage everything without getting overwhelmed. Whether you’re a teenager or an adult staying organized can be a challenge. Having a planner is a great way to stay organized but for many people it’s not easy to use a planner.  There are so many options and even when you choose one it is hard to get into the habit of using it. However, as difficult as it can be to consistently use a planner it is a great tool that can help you reduce stress. Developing your organizational and time management skills will help you succeed in accomplishing your goals.
  • I love planners and creating new systems. Last year I went to Office Depot and bought a fancy leather planner with your standard templates that I used every day. For Christmas, my friend sent me a packet of moleskin notebooks with a note about the Bullet Journal ( She explained how great it was and asked me to give it a try. I have been using it for 2 months and absolutely love it! I have made my own template, which I am still tweaking. I even have a section each week for reflections because I do think it is important to reflect on your week. There are endless possibilities. I can create any list I want and prioritize my schedule. I can create and recreate templates to suit my life. A friend of mine recently told me about Planner Pads, which look cool. She said she used it in college when she couldn’t find any other planner to suit her and still enjoys using it now. I recently read an article from a local teen on Teens Got Cents about the Uncalendar. This planner looks so cool with various useful colorful boxes where you can put your own notes or lists. Plus, it has the standard calendar where you can keep track of important events. And also prioritize tasks. Oh and I also recently discovered Franklin Covey’s planners, which look phenomenal. There are so many options! The point is you have to choose a planner that suits you. I like the Bullet Journal because I want the freedom to create my own thing (see pic below of my planner). However, it might not be suitable for someone who is new to planners or organizing.
Academic Coach, Melanie Black's planner based on Bullet Journal guidelines.

Academic Coach, Melanie Black’s planner based on Bullet Journal guidelines.

Here’s my advice for staying organized in an unorganized world.


  • Finding a planner: Get a planner that suits you and your life. Check out the student Futures Planner for students HERE.
  • Setting up your planner: Keep a pen in the binding and use a binder clip or paper clip to mark your current page.
  • How to use your planner and make it a habit: Make it accessible by keeping it in the front part of a bag or purse. Write quickly using symbols and abbreviations. Using texting language can also be helpful. Create a habit of using your planner by designating certain times and days for reviewing it. Sundays are a great day to plan for the following week. This would be a great activity to do as a family. Everyone will feel great and in sync.  If you attend classes or meetings what do you normally take out when you arrive? If you take out a note pad, binder, notebook, etc. take your planner out at the same time. Another option is to look at your planner at breakfast. Then, look at it again before you leave work or school. You have to find the right times of day for you to review your planner. Do it at the same times every day so that you form a habit of using your planner.
  • Have fun with your planner: This is not a chore! How can you get intrinsically motivated to use your planner? Use different markers, highlighters, stickers, etc. Being intrinsically motivated to use your planner is essential to your success.


 Happy planning!  

Feeling overwhelmed? No worries. Student Futures’s academic coach, Melanie Black has a passion for helping students succeed. Click here for more helpful resources. Contact Student Futures today and schedule a free academic coaching consultation and learn more about how we help teens set and achieve goals. Student Futures serves middle school, high school, and college freshman students in Jacksonville, FL and surrounding areas.We want to help you succeed!

Keep smiling and reach for the stars!

Moving Public Education Forward


I had the opportunity to attend Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s One By One Convention with over five hundred other people in our community. This event was huge! The mission of the event, to move public education forward, drew me to apply to be a delegate at the convention. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect except that we were going to spend the day talking about the status of education in our community.

Highlights of the Day

1. Spotlight on Students: We had breakfast made by students from local high schools. Salmon cakes with grits! Yum! A boys choir and female dancers performed. They were awesome!

2. Everyone sat at assigned tables where there was a JPEF volunteer coordinator. I was impressed that each table had a diverse group of citizens with teachers, students, business owners, and other people in our community. In our groups we discussed and charted specific ways to help move public education forward in our community.

3. Mayor Alvin Brown  gave a speech about his passion for improving education in Jacksonville and programs that have been implemented to move education forward such as a summer jobs program for youth and the Young Leaders Advisory Council.

4. Superintendent Vitti gave an informative presentation describing all the programs and organizations that have been put in place to help students succeed.

5. At lunch we all separated to our chosen break out sessions. I chose to attend “Student Voice.” I enjoyed listening to students talk about their concerns. I wish we had more time though! We had about fifteen minutes for discussion and it was definitely not enough time. Students spoke about their concerns with communicating with adults in the schools like teachers, counselors, etc. They don’t feel like their concerns are taken seriously. I was impressed by those students who spoke up. I know it took nerve.


My Take Aways and Thoughts

I am impressed at all the work that has been done to help students in Duval County Public Schools succeed. There are so many programs and organizations that are guiding students in the right direction. However, there is still work to be done. People have a tendency to blame the school system for so many things. All I have to say is, What are you doing to move education forward? Have you visited a school?

1. Have you visited a school? After this event I visited a local high school through the Discover Duval program and was impressed with all that I saw.  The tours are FREE!

2. Students need to be heard. Communication is key to the success of any relationship, business, or organization. My idea: Lessons in mindfulness, communication, and empathy need to be incorporated into classes.

3. Teacher morale is low. It needs to be improved. I would love to see a program like the Teaching for American History Grant in which I participated. Teachers participated in field experiences to various places in Jacksonville and surrounding areas where they always left motivated and inspired to get back into the classroom to prepare and implement engaging lessons for our students. This kind of opportunity could do wonders for teacher morale if offered to teachers of all subject areas.

One thing is clear. “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” If we move education forward, we move our community forward. 

Melanie Black of Student Futures is an academic coach for teens and has a passion to help students succeed. Academic coaching helps students develop life skills and gives them strategies to increase self-efficacy, self-motivation, and self discipline. Contact us today for a free consultation. Click here to learn more about academic coaching and how we are helping students in Jacksonville and surrounding areas.