Strategies, Systems, and Steps to Get Better Organized

"We don't have a natural capacity to hold onto things in short-term memory, and so we need tools that we can rely on to support us," says Clare Kumar, Productivity Coach, whose clientele spans CEOs and others across a variety of sectors and industries. 

Kumar was among a trio of panellists convened for the second ParenTalks event of this academic year. The webinar also featured Dr. Mark Broussenko '07, family physician and hospitalist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health CAMH) and Erin Hogan, Guidance Counsellor (Grades 7 and 8) and Learning Strategist in the Learning Enrichment Centre at St. Michael's College School (SMCS).

Combining a blend of evidenced-based research with expertise in education, medicine and productivity, the discussion focused on tips for managing time and improving organizational skills. 

Here are some of the highlights:


"The science backs the need for to-do lists, it backs the needs for focused, uninterrupted time for example. If we are trying to manage a lot of things at once and flitting from one thing to another rather than being able to get into focus, we're having poorer quantity of work and poorer quality of work as well.

‘What is the most important next step’ is a really good question if you're feeling overwhelmed. 

We're struggling actually with too many messages in too many places. It used to be that you had a phone and you had a mailbox. Now we have 20 different sources of 'incoming'.

The number one thing I recommend is trying to get really clear on where you want to have important information go."

SMCS student writing notes in a workbook


"Having three things to remember. When you think about working memory, it's the size of a sticky pad --- that's as much information as you can remember --- so it's working on that. 

What I see which is interesting in this new hybrid model that we have and the paced living, the paced learning, is that the boys are being challenged on different platforms of learning and they are starting to think about how they are learning.

If you're engaged with what you want to be organized with, then you'll plan it better." 


"For adolescent boys, they become skeletally mature so they look adult human male, long before they become intellectually or cognitively mature. So the brain continues to develop well past the point where you can't tell the difference between a 21-year-old and a 25-year-old physically.

Once you create structures for yourself, that's how you can show up to all of your meetings on time, that's how you can learn most materials. Creating those systems that reliably get you to do the things that you need to get done, which also means de-prioritizing some other things."

Other topics covered include:

•    Print versus digital organizational tools
•    The pros and cons of multitasking
•    Prioritizing within priorities
•    The science of sleep
•    Procrastination

Watch the full ParenTalks webinar:

Resources referenced during the ParenTalks presentation:

Student Affairs Department: Organization Guide

Parents Group: Guidance (Edsby)

Order Out of Chaos

"How To Do It Now... Because It's Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done," by Leslie Josel

ParenTalks Archives:

Past and Future Presentations