Author gives tips to help students get organized


"Starting my freshman year I kind of was a little lost in some of my accelerated classes and couldn't figure really how to get the organization down," Saint Francis High School senior Patrick Crowley.

Crowley now has got his organizational and study skills down pat. He has perfected these skills over the past four years with the help of a Bay Area academic tutor some may fondly call 'Ms. Organized', or Ana Homayoun.

"So, the first thing we always do when a kid comes into the office is clean out their backpack. There are lots of crumpled papers at the bottom of them," said Ana Homayoun.

A messy backpack can reveal a lot about a student's school life and study habits. And over the years, she's been working on fixing a notable gender difference too.

"There's an academic trend and also an epidemic that people talk about that boys are not doing as well in high school, college and junior high. So what we look at is why they're not doing so well," said Homayoun.

As author of "That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week -- Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life", Homayoun says part of the challenge is a developmental gap between girls and boys.

"They're usually two to three years behind girls in terms of hitting puberty and developing, but they're at the same point in school, so they're struggling in ways that their female counterparts probably aren't," said Homayoun.

But with the help of 3-ring binders and calendar planners, and armed with degrees from Duke University and University of San Francisco, Homayoun has been providing solutions. Her Los Altos office sees about 150 junior high and high school students a week, in hourly sessions. The majority are boys sent there to learn organizational and time-management strategies which improve study habits.

Here are three simple solutions, that don't cost a thing:

"The first is to create a study space with their child, outside their child's bedroom, that's free of technological distractions," said Homayoun.

Also, establish a routine, two-hour block of study hall time and set-up a once-weekly re-group session to update the planner and sort through that backpack.

"It's so much easier because you set that long-term goals, and instead of cramming it in all at once, it made it a lot easier to be successful," said Crowley.

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