surviving thriving in school
I don’t know about you guys, but I always start a new year of school with high hopes. “Maybe this will be the year I bring in all my homework on time”, “I’m going to arrive on time for school every day”, and “I’m going make the best notes so I don’t have a stressful time when I have to revise ” are a few examples of thoughts that go through my head when September rolls around. However, my efforts usually die within the first two weeks, and pretty soon I’ve left my planner at home, and am desperately texting people asking to borrow a history textbook. As it’s my last year in school, I’ve decided to make a much more conscious effort to be on top of school admin this year, and thought I would share my tips and tricks with you, so we can all have a productive year together.
Pack your bag the night before. The days I’ve actually done this, I have saved so much time! There’s no mad rush five minutes before you have to leave, so the chances of leaving something out is significantly smaller. Also, it saves time in the morning, so you can hit the snooze button one more time.
Get a good night’s sleep. Trust me, you’ll be so much more productive when you’ve slept well, rather than being fuelled by caffeine. Being well rested will mean you’re way less likely to zone out in lessons, therefore meaning there’s no gap in your notes come the end year exams.
Eat breakfast. Seems obvious enough, but it’s such an easy thing to miss out. You need your blood sugar not to drop so you can concentrate and make the most of the day. If you find you don’t have enough time in the morning, I’d suggest cereal bars, or at least a piece of fruit. Or if you’re really forgetful, stick some cereal bars (I wouldn’t recommend fruit for this) in your locker, so you’ve got a back up plan. But it you do have time, a piece of toast is normally a solid choice.
Charge your laptop. If you know you have a terrible battery life, at least charge it before you go to bed, and then turn it off (don’t leave it charging overnight!), so you can get through periods one and two.
Organise your notes. If you’re using paper, make sure you have a folder with dividers, and don’t be tempted to just slot pieces of paper into the back of the folder and say to yourself “I’ll sort it later” (you won’t!). If you’re using One Note, make sure everything’s in the right sections, and organise it in a way that makes it easy to look back on at the end of the year.
Ask for help. If you’re really struggling with an essay, or just can’t get your head around balancing equations, ask someone to help you! As daunting as it is to knock on a staffroom door (especially the humanities one!), the teachers really do want to help you. Just send them a quick email, and you can find a time to go over whatever you want to. If the idea of that is still a bit too daunting, each subject has a small group of sixth form subject leaders, and so go and find them! They’d be more than happy to help out, or find someone to meet with you regularly (the maths department are great at this).
Join a club. We’re really lucky because we have such a long lunch break. Don’t waste it! You don’t need to do something every lunch (it’s good to keep some free in case you’ve got a particularly busy week and need to get some work done), but they are a great way of relaxing. There’s such a vast range of things you can do, so go through that booklet from ClubsFest, and find something you’ll really enjoy.
Avoid procrastinating. Of course, it’s inevitable that you’re going to put off some parts of your homework. But try and just put your head down and do it. Sometimes if I have something I really don’t want to do, I say to myself that after doing it I can go and watch tv, or do something else I enjoy. Get the worst bits out the way first so you can enjoy the time you’re not working without whatever homework it is looming over you.
Put the phone down. As tempting as it is to keep your phone next to you when you work, studies have shown that moving your phone just to the other side of the room increases productivity, and moving it out of the room increases it further. The New York Times has a great article about this if you’re not convinced (the link is at the end of the page). I’d recommend the app ‘Forest’- you set the amount of time you want to work to, and the app starts growing a tree. If you leave the app screen, the tree dies. It’s a good thing to do if your phone is in the room with you. Put it on silent as well and turn it upside down to avoid distractions.
Give yourself a break. You’re only human, you can’t work at full speed all the time. Take time to go out with friends and do things you enjoy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you have to take a time out to give your brain time to figure out what to do. Ultimately, if you overwork yourself, you’ll burn out. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!