3 Key Secrets for Back-to-School Success

The words “Back to school” are either a very motivating or very daunting combination of words, but either way, it’s not usually something you can escape (unless you’re Ferris Bueller). However, what you can do is to come back to school refreshed, revised and ready for the classroom.

Ashton Kutcher once said that “being really smart is sexy”, but what he didn’t mention here is that “being smart” is not a talent. It is a skill that you can develop every single day. Being smart is being proactive and looking at things from a new angle.

From my perspective, being smart is being organised and ready to take on new opportunities. During the next term, your attention will be divided in different directions– whether it’s coursework, academic opportunities, sports clubs, societies, social lives or many others. This high level of activities really demands for you to be flexible and open. Near the end of my A Levels (High School) I found two applications called Todoist and Evernote; today, I want to talk to you about Todoist and some really effective ways to use this app for your studies, social lives and university/college preparation.

1. For your studies

I always struggled in school and with most of my academic work. I wasn’t a very theoretical person but this procedure I will show you really helped focused my attention on doing tasks and making things more achievable, versus hanging round and doing nothing about it.

I wrote about this in a previous blog post for Todoist; however, I want to showcase this procedure a little further. Before I explain using the screenshots below, this is Todoist– it is a simple task manager, like an online to-do list. There are many of these floating around out there, but of all the ones I have tried and tested (I’ve tested hundreds, believe me) this is the golden ball. It has great smartphone and tablet applications so you can update your to-do lists on-the-go while also staying in sync. This way you can always be in the loop whether you are on the school PC or on your iPhone/Android.

Todoist school

The massive problem that you can see in the screenshot above is that I haven’t made this task achievable or, secondly, attractive. Now, how do I make this piece of coursework achievable, and how do I make it attractive?

By achievable, I mean creating smaller tasks rather than one big task.

Todoist studies

This is achievable… Can you see why? It is simply because I have broken it down into chunks of tasks so that I can take visual bites out of the tasks rather than seeing one big, massive task. Why is this more attractive now rather than before? For the sole reason that I am no longer scared or daunted (as much) if I look at it. I can bite my way through this essay and feel that I am contributing to its completion with each task I check off.

You may understand this theory a lot better than your children may. Here’s how you can help your child understand it better (allowing you to become actively involved in their learning).

  1. Create a Todoist account.
  2. Ask your child with which email address they’ve signed up for Todoist.
  3. Ask your Child to “share Project” with your email address.
  4. You will now have access to their folder/list for this work.
  5. You are now all set to support your child in their educational journey.

todoist project sharing

2 . For your social life

Let’s say you have to organise a sports team and always need them to be doing something. Or you might be the captain of your Debate Team or a devoted member of Homework Club. Todoist can be a really useful, proactive asset to you. In this example, imagine that you are organising a surprise birthday party for your long-time buddy, Simon.

todoist shared projects

Once you’ve signed up, grab your friends’ emails and invite them to new projects. From there, you can then start assigning jobs and missions to your friends. This is amazingly useful for university group coursework as well as small projects that you may work on over your time in college/high school.


For a couple of bucks a month, or around the same amount you spend on an album or two, you can upgrade to Todoist Premium. This is super useful when you’re looking to be extremely productive with your studies or your social activities, or even looking to make better use of your free time.

Labels are really great for organising time, and this is one of the most popular usages for it. Below, you can see a range of “errands” that I need to do– I’ve used the “10mins” label on the “Extract open loops” task. Once you attach these labels to the task, you can click these labels and see what other tasks will take “10mins.”

todoist task list

This is super helpful when you have 10 minutes free and you need to complete a handful of tasks. Pretty easy idea with some awesome results if you can nail it.


If you’re looking to stock up your child/teenager/young adult with as much as possible before they leave for university, I would definitely send over a Premium package for the year so that they have no excuse to be killer productive whilst at school.

3. University/College Preparation

Todoist is actually wicked useful for setting yourself up for university and keeping track of what you need to pack, prepare and even purchase before heading to university.

Todoist location alerts

During preparation, these two nifty little features will help you stay organized. Location reminders (see above) are really useful for adding a location to a task so that you can remember it at its exact location (in case you don’t check your tasks in the morning). This is super useful, super proactive, and is a Premium feature.

Todoist reminders


And finally, Todoist’s various reminders are great a way to keep yourself alert across all your different devices or methods of communication. Fantastic if you’re offline and want to be reminded via SMS or maybe email.

These are just some super cool tools within Todoist that will allow you to become a bit more focused when going back to school/university/high school/college. They will help with your overall organisation and allow you to keep up with the pace of the world and the piles of homework and activities you’ll have while at school.

Let me know if you are applying these tips and tweet me @FrancescoD_Ales! Have a great Autumn term!

About the author: Francesco D’Alessio is a student entrepreneur, freelance social media and productivity expert, BA Business Student, runner, writer and tech geek.


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